Cleaning Guides

How to get rid of smelly drains

It is quite an unpleasant surprise to walk into your kitchen or bathroom and get hit by a nasty smell coming from the drains. While running the water for several minutes fixes the problem, every once in a while you have to get down and dirty to clean those drains.

So, if you:

  • Moved into a new home and there’s a funky stench coming from the bathroom
  • Your kitchen sink becomes stinky when you run the water
  • Sometimes after a rainfall, you drains emit an unpleasant odour

Then read along!

Table of Contents:

What causes smelly drains?

  • Blocked pipes
    Food leftovers, grease, and hair can clog pipes over time. Once this happens, bacteria will start to build up and soon a musty smell will follow. The easiest and surest way to check for a clog is to let the water run for several seconds. If it starts to pool, then there’s definitely gunk somewhere in the drain, which is clogging it. 
  • Water issues
    If you happen to notice a smell of rotten eggs, it’s because of sulfates in your water heater. Sulfate-reducing bacteria enters the system and reacts with the sulfates in the water heater, thus emitting the unpleasant smell. In this case, your drain is not the problem.
  • Dry P traps
    In your home, you have P traps beneath your sinks, bathrooms, toilets, and showers. If the sink or room in question hasn’t been used for months, chances are the water inside the P traps has dried up. When that happens there’s nothing stopping sewer gas from rising up and invading your home. The smell is that of a sewer.
  • Bad Plumbing
    Leaks or rotting would easily lead to mould and mildew growth. In turn, the bacteria will emit bad smells. Improper drain installation can also lead to the same result.

How to get rid of smelly drains

Remove the smell in a kitchen

It’s really easy for your kitchen sink to develop a bad odor, with all the food particles which go and get stuck inside the drain. Fortunately, there is an eco-friendly method of how to remove odor from the kitchen sink.

Kitchen sink without a garbage disposal

You probably already have baking soda and white vinegar at home. An alternative to white vinegar is lemon juice. Combine them with some hot boiling water and that smelly drain should become a thing of the past. Here is how to do it.

  1. Sprinkle one cup of baking soda in the drain.
  2. Pour one or two cups of white vinegar over the baking soda.
  3. Wait 15 to 20 minutes until you stop hearing the fizzing.
  4. Pour hot water down the drain.

The hotter the water, the better, as it will kill more bacteria. That doesn’t mean boiling water, however, as it can warp and damage your pipes.

Kitchen sink with a garbage disposal unit

You need to clean the disposal blades of any old, rotting food particles. You will only need two ingredients: ice cubes and coarse salt.

  1. Put some ice cubes into the disposal unit.
  2. Sprinkle some coarse salt in. 
  3. Activate the unit.

These ice particles will knock off any food leftovers, while the salt scrubs the blades. You can also add some lemon peels for freshness. You can use this method or the one for sinks without waste disposal units. As long as you manage to clear out the smell from the drain, the method which gets results is the right one.

Visit our website for this and other plumbing solutions.

How to get rid of smelly drains in the bathroom

There are several solutions to this problem, depending on the type of smell you sense.

Musty smell

Mildew loves dark and damp places, that’s why your sink pipes make the perfect habitat. Once the spores inside develop, they will clog the drains and release a foul odor. Fortunately there is an eco-friendly way to tackle the problem. Ingredients you need beforehand: distilled white vinegar, baking soda, hot water and an old toothbrush.

  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste.
  2. Apply the paste into the shower drain with the old toothbrush.
  3. Wait 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Scrub the shower drain as thoroughly and as deeply as you can.
  5. Pour hot water down the drain. This is done so the mould causing the smell dies.
  6. Sprinkle some baking soda, accompanied by white distilled vinegar down the drain.

Repeat the process if necessary. If it so happens that the smell disappears, but then returns after a short while, you may have a more serious mould problem.

Do not apply this method if you’ve poured a commercial drain cleaner recently.

Sewage or sulfur

If your bathroom smells like sewage or rotten eggs after a shower, then you probably have either of these two problems: biofilm from a clogged drain or sewer gas escaping from the P-trap.

Run some water into your shower. If the drainage is slow, there’s definitely a layer of decomposing debris inside. To remove the biofilm from the drain shower, use the following method:

  1. Remove the drain cover. You might need a screwdriver for this step if it’s been screwed to the ground, or if it’s just hard to remove by hand.
  2. Slowly pour very hot water down the drain.
  3. Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar in.
  4. Next, pour in baking soda right afterwards.
  5. Wait about an hour and pour more hot water into the drain.
  6. Clear out all remaining leftovers with a drain brush.

If you don’t have a slow drain, then that means sewer gas is escaping through the pipes. Check the shower drain to make sure there’s no sewer back up. All you need to do is point a flashlight into the drain to inspect it. Run the water to be sure you’re not experiencing back up. Another explanation is loose pipes or caps. Sewer gas may enter your home through small holes from loosened pipes.

Still have problems with your drains?

Fantastic Services can fix this problem!

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Hire professionals

If you feel this task is overwhelming and you can’t seem to eradicate the cause of the bad smell coming from your drains, then we suggest you get in touch with us. Fantastic Services works with well-trained technicians who are adaptable and fully equipped for any plumbing situation. 

Our London plumbing services will give you back your peace of mind and the bad drain smell will become a thing of the past. It’s very easy to make a booking, just use our online form and choose the date and time that suits you best.


  • Keep your sink and shower drains clean from gunk.
  • Always make sure your P-traps are full of water to prevent sewer gas from coming back up.
  • Make sure your plumbing is in order, so no sewer smell would escape through any holes.


Have you encountered smelly drains before? How did you fix them back then? Do share your experience and opinion in the comment section.

Image source: Shutterstock / Tolikoff Photography

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