You go to brew your cup of morning coffee, fill a glass of water, or grab a midnight snack, and it hits you: the unmistakable odor of a smelly drain. Dealing with pungent, foul odors coming from your sink drain can be a nightmare. These smells are often insidious, starting so small you only catch a whiff here and there until one day you can’t go near your kitchen sink without wrinkling your nose in disgust. They can also be hard to get rid of long term, sometimes creeping back shortly after you thought you fixed the problem. Fortunately, there are a number of at-home remedies to clean smelly drains and banish these unpleasant odors from your home – this time, for good.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common causes of a stinky drain, be it in your home’s kitchen, bathroom, or tub, so you can know where and how these odors are breeding. We’ll then take a look at some of the best methods to get rid of these smells. Boiling water, drain snake, baking soda, hot vinegar, drain cleaners – the options can seem overwhelming. We’ll go over how to best diagnose and treat your drain smell and stinky sink, and how to avoid this problem in the future altogether.
The Most Common Causes of Smelly Drains
Perhaps the most common cause of a smelly drain is the build up of food scraps, hair and soap scum in your drain pipes. When we don’t take the proper care to ensure that things that don’t belong down the drain don’t end up there, such as excess amounts of hair, soap scum and food particles like coffee grounds, we risk the accumulation of drain clogs that are a breeding place for mold and bacterial growth. Avoid the nasty smell of these stinky sink culprits by using a drain cover or strainer to catch excess debris before they end up in your pipes. Since you can’t prevent anything from going down your drains, clean them regularly to help prevent stinky drains, clogs and foul smells.
When you experience a clogged drain, it is easy for water to accumulate. When this water is not able to successfully pass through the blocked pipe because of food, skin or hair build up, it sits stagnant in your drain, harboring bacteria and making it the perfect breeding ground for that signature sewer smell you may encounter now and then from your drains.
Dirty Garbage Disposal
When our garbage disposals are heavily used, it is inevitable that they will experience a gradual build up of food scraps, particles, and bacteria along the blades. Properly cleaning your garbage disposal is essential to avoiding these conditions which can harbor unpleasant odors.
Dry P Trap
If you notice smells coming from a bathroom or kitchen room that you rarely use, the likely culprit is a dry P trap. The P trap is the “U” shaped pipe that runs under your sink, whose 180 degree design is designed to trap odors from wafting upward. When a drain remains unused for a long period of time, the water will evaporate, which can cause the airlock effect of the P trap to stop working. This can result in sewer gases being released from your drain pipes, which smells exactly as bad as it sounds.
Tips For Cleaning Sink and Shower Drains to Eliminate Unpleasant Odors
Clean Your Sink
Though it might seem obvious, if it’s been awhile since you last properly cleaned your actual sink, go ahead and do that first. With the help of a grease-fighting cleaning agent and hot water, scrub your sink and drain opening. You can also use a spare tooth brush to really get into the grooves and hard to reach areas of your drain opening and remove any gunk or build up that might be trapped.
Lemon/Citrus Peels and Ice Cubes for Garbage Disposal
Tossing a few ice cubes into your garbage disposal is an effective way to remove scrap food particles and debris that can cause foul smells. You can also add coarse salt, which helps to further sharpen the blades of your disposal, as well as lemon peels for its deodorizing properties and fresh scent. Of course, always be cautious when dealing with or cleaning your garbage disposal to avoid harming yourself.
Clean The P Trap
Due to its design, it can be easy for debris to become lodged in the P trap of your kitchen or bathroom sink. Clean this part of the drain by using a wrench to remove the curved part of the drain, using a bucket to trap any water or gunk from inside. Rinse outside using a garden hose, and reassemble the P trap before using your sink again.
DIY Drain Cleaning Recipes
Boiling Hot Water or Distilled White Vinegar
Bring a pot of hot water or white vinegar almost to a boil and slowly pour half of it down your trouble drain. This will help to break up the clog causing a foul smell in your pipes. After a moment, pour cold water down the drain. This will help to solidify the remaining part of the clog that was not washed away with the initial hot water or vinegar. Then, pour the remaining hot liquid down the pipe to rinse away any remaining debris. Vinegar is an especially effective choice due to its ability to neutralize odors.
Baking Soda and Coarse Salt
Begin by pouring one cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by half a cup of salt. This mixture is an effective method of clearing clogs due to the abrasive nature of salt and the cleaning power of the baking soda. After leaving for a few hours or overnight, pour boiling water down your drain to clear away the mixture and any debris it has hopefully loosened and broken down.
Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
Mixing half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of lemon juice in your drain is an effective way to clear a clog and leave behind a fresh scent. The citric acid in the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda, resulting in a foaming action that is an effective cleaning agent. After pouring the components down your sink, plug the drain and allow to sit for at least one hour. Finally, finish by running hot water down the drain to clear away the mixture and any dislodged gunk.
Preventing Future Drain Odors
Weekly Boiling Water Cleanse
Making a weekly habit out of pouring a kettle-full of boiling hot water down your kitchen, bathroom, and/or shower drain is an easy and effective way of softening and eliminating minor clogs before they have the chance to worsen and eventually cause stagnant water and other bad smells.
Periodically Running Water in Unused Rooms
For rooms in your home that are not regularly used, make sure to periodically run water through their drains to prevent your P trap from drying out and allowing sewer gas to flow through your pipes, causing unpleasant odors.
Professional Sewer and Drain Cleaning Services in Colchester, Connecticut
When it comes to more serious, stubborn drain cleaning solutions in Colchester, Connecticut, All Things Sewer & Drain Care is your go-to provider of the most efficient and reliable services. With a specialty in rooter plumbing cleaning, we offer solutions for regular maintenance as well as 24/7 emergency services for any sewer and drain issues you may encounter. Using only the most state-of-the-art equipment, video camera inspection, and hydro-jetting technology, we are able to effectively clean your pipes to get them running like new again. When drain issues arise in your home, contact All Things Sewer & Drain for the quickest and most reliable solutions!