Smelly drain / sink – how to remove bad odor from drain

Are you suffering from a smelly drain or bad odor in your sink? The good news: In this article we let you know how to remove that bad smell from your drain or sink. And you are not alone:

We all use our sink drains heavily and even if you use a sink strainer / drain screen or carefully watching out what to flush down the drain – you are not safe from clogged drains or a smelly drain. The odor might even live in the sewer.

And this bad odor will not disappear accidentally. You have to work on it and we provide you with the right tips and tools on how to remove that bad odor. Below you will learn what the reasons for smelly drains are and find advice on how to make a drain smell fresh again.

Watch out: Please make sure that your drainage system is sealed properly before applying the tips below. Such leaks often cause very unpleasant results or odors when dealing with a smelly drain.

Best tips to get rid of a smelly drain

Let water run regularly

let water run regularly
let water run regularly

There are many reasons for bad odor in a drain. Very often its caused because the sink / tap is not used regularly. If this is the case a sink or drain can develop bad odor within days. The result: a smelly drain which might lead to an awful situation in your household. Sometimes unpleasant smells develop due to water remaining in the trap for too long. Therefore, we recommend rinsing every drain regularly – if possible using (boiling) hot water. This will keep the water in the drain moving and prevent bad smell from your drain as it will not stay in there too long.

Flush hot (boiling) water down the smelly drain

Boiling water - remove odor from drain
Boiling water – remove odor from drain

If there is a bad smell coming from the bottom of your drain you may try the following. We heard from many readers that this one will do the trick. As a first step please boil some water and let the hot water flush down the drain. If you want to add some extra fresh smell you can add some dishwashing detergent to the sink before pouring down the water. Try this frequently (every time you have some left-over hot water from cooking) and if this does not fully remove the bad odor from your drain you might want to try the next tip…

White vinegar + boiling water

Use vinegar to remove bad odor from sink drain
Use white vinegar to remove bad odor from sink drain

This is one of the top tips and most famous household remedies to remove bad odor from a smelly drain. As in the trick before you want to add some vinegar to the drain. There are two options:

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a) Pour some vinegar down the smelly drain. Leave it there for 60 minutes. Then flush boiling water down the drain to wash all vinegar and stinky stains / food particles down the pipe.

b) Prepare a load of boiling water. Now add vinegar to the boiling water and let the mixture slowly rinse down the drain. As you know it from descaling water boilers or clean coffee machines this will also do the trick with your stinky drain. Let the mixture rest in the drain for some minutes. Then pour some more inches. Repeat the steps until the odor disappears.

Feel free to repeat these steps until you are completely satisfied. So whenever you are descaling a water boiler or cleaning your coffee machine – flush the winegar + boiling water down the drain.

Baking soda + hot white vinegar + warm water

This trick is also fantastic and has proven to remove the bad smell from your drain. Buy some baking soda (easily available in the supermarket). Go to the stinky drain and fill a hand full of baking soda into the drain. Having done that you can heat up some white vinegar and also pour it down the drain. And then…. fizz, fizz, shhhh, shhhh, fizz, fizz – you will see some bubbles… The baking soda and vinegar will clear the clogged drain and remove the foul odor. Leave the mixture in there for five minutes. After that just open the tap with warm water and pour enough water down the drain to remove all baking soda and vinegar. Done! By the way: you will save a lot of money on drain cleaning products.

Watch this video – it will explain what you have to do:

Drano / drain cleaner

chemical drain cleaners
A drano might also remove bad odors in drains

If the smell is too strong or the cause of trouble is too tough and your household remedies do not punch through you could fall back to the proven track-record of drain cleaners: In this article you can learn more about drain cleaners and how they work.

If you are not a big fan of these we do have some more tips to solve the problem of stinky drains

Remove stain with a drain snake to get rid of the smell

drain snake / spirale / spindle to clear clogged drain
drain snake / spirale / spindle to clear clogged drain

Sometimes you need to clear clogged drains as household remedies do not solve your problem. In this case you might want to have a look at our top tips on how to clear clogged drains or maybe want to learn more about how to use a drain snake.

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Clean the odor trap properly

Clean the odor trap to remove smelly drain
Clean the odor trap to remove smelly drain

A dirty trap that is clogging up the drain often times results in a smelly drain – which frequently happens with sink drains. In this case, it makes sense to clean the trap and remove the foul water. In some cases, this requires dismount the plumbing trap. Let a technician assist you if you are not entirely sure how to go for it. Once the trap of the smelly drain is dismounted, it can be “soaked” in a mixture of water and detergent. Leave it in there for some time to properly clean it and to remove the bad odor in the drain. Then, you can use a wire brush or pipe cleaner to remove any persistent dirt.

Watch this video for a step-by-step guide:

Inadequate ventilation causing smelly drain

If your pipe system is ventilated inadequately or assembled incorrectly, this can also result in a smelly drain. To solve this problem, you need to identify the smelly drain first. If it is not actually clogged, there might be an issue with the pipes / ventilation. Either they are assembled incorrectly, ventilated inadequately or the drainpipe is blocked. All this could cause a smelly drain. In this case, it is recommended to talk to your landlord or a technician. They will be able to assist you in taking the necessary steps to make your drain smell fresh again.

Do you have tips on what to do about bad odor in a drain? Let us and other users know within the comments! We appreciate any advice on what to do about a smelly drain. Also, if you can recommend cleaning companies for professional drain cleaning, we’d love to hear about it!

Due to an increase of requests for advice on “what to do about a smelly drain”, we decided to put together some hacks that will make your drain smell fresh again. Our solutions also refer to toilet drains when dealing with a clogged toilet.

If you can think of any tips on what to do about a smelly drain or know any effective tools that are not listed above, please feel free to let us know. If you are suffering from a smelly drain you should act fast. Unpleasant odors will have a negative impact on your well-being and also make a bad impression on guests. If you are unsure on how to solve the problem on your own please always consult a professional company to get help.

Attention: Please always check if your drain and the seals can resist boiling water.

Go to drain clogged to explore all drain related topics.

3 replies on “Smelly drain / sink – how to remove bad odor from drain”

My mom has a what she calls a slow drain in her basement it has some connection to her subpump, the slow drain has an awful oder,but not the subpump, the slow drain is outside at the bottom of the basement steps which can become damp,the subpump seems to be working properly so can I use the vinegar trick?

I need help! I’m a home owner/landlord, I have 2houses & 1 trailer,1 house also has an apartment in the basement. So total there’s up to 9/10 people living on the property. I only have 1 well. I live in the main house & my toilet clogged up for no apparent reason? It only took a few times to unclog it but as I plunged I heard noises in the sink as well as foul smell. We recently had a lot of rain do to a hurricane. Do you have any idea what could be causing this let me know thanks. Susan

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