How to Get a Bad Smell Out of Your Sink Drain

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Ideally, you prevent smells in the bathroom and kitchen sink drains by watching what you put in the drains, but you don't always have control of what goes in there and -- let's face it -- you probably throw in smelly things yourself sometimes. Grease, hair, soap fibrous vegetables and many other things can collect in the P-trap, decay and cause odors. Not only that -- mold can grow in the moist drain opening and add to the unpleasantness. Start by clearing any drain clogs, then take care of bad smells with remedies that include the old standbys -- vinegar and baking soda -- as well as a list of other odor-eating chemicals.

Clearing a Clog

Your drain odors may be the result of a slow-moving drain, and before you treat the odors, you should clear the clog. You can usually do this with a sink plunger -- fill the sink with an inch of water, cover the overflow holes with duct tape and plunge repeatedly.

Stubborn clogs caused by hair or vegetable fibers may require a sink auger or -- preferably -- a handy, inexpensive flexible plastic tool called a hair snare. It easily zips into the drain and has barbs that hook onto hair and debris so you can pull them out of the drain. In some cases, the best course of action may be to remove the P-trap and clean it out with a garden hose. Once the drain is running smoothly, you can do something about the odors.

The Vinegar Volcano and Beyond

One of the most well-known methods for controlling drain odors is pour in a combination of vinegar and baking soda, which interact to create a fizzy volcano of deodorizing cleanliness. Besides controlling odors, this concoction also kills 82 percent of mold species. The procedure is simple:

Step 1

Pour a half cup of baking soda in the drain.

Step 2

Add a cup of white distilled vinegar.

Step 3

Cover the drain and wait for 30 minutes

Step 4

Flush the drain with hot water.

Other Deodorizers

In the unlikely event that the vinegar volcano doesn't deodorize your kitchen or bathroom sink, try one of the following deodorizers:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Tomato juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Liquid fabric softener

If the smell is coming from your garbage disposal, treat it by grinding lemon or orange peels along with a handful of ice. Mix in a little kosher salt for good measure.

Warning

  • If you smell sewer odors in a bathroom sink or a tub or shower drain, you could have a blockage in the vent lines. The blockage creates suction in the drain pipes that may have emptied a P-trap, allowing sewer gases to escape. Look for other signs of clogged vents and clear them, if necessary.

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