What Can Make Our Bathroom Drain Smell Better?

Bad smells in bathroom drains are fixable.
Bad smells in bathroom drains are fixable. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Fluffy towels and spotless counters make a bathroom look inviting, but that effort can be all for naught if a bad smell is coming out of one of the drains. To prevent an odor from ruining your bathroom's ambiance, fix the smell using household cleaners and tools.

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Odor Identification

An odor wafting up from one of your bathroom drains is likely one of two distinct scents. The first is the foul smell of bacteria, like food that has gone bad. This usually occurs in drains that are running slowly. The second smell is the stink of the sewer. This odor is most often found in drains in guest bathrooms that aren't often used.


The bacterial smell in a bathroom drain is caused by bacteria feeding on skin cells and other debris caught inside the drainpipe. When hair is washed into the drain, it can tangle and stick. Over time, debris gets caught on the hair, giving bacteria food and a place to multiply.

The sewer smell occurs when the trap in your drainpipe goes dry. This curved section of pipe is usually filled with water, which seals off the pipe and keeps sewer gas out of your home. If the drain is not often used, the water inside the trap can evaporate, unsealing the pipe.


If the problem is bacterial, removing the clog in your drain will get rid of the bacteria's place to live. Straighten out a wire hanger and use it to pull hair and other debris out of the drain. Once water is running through the pipe freely, combine 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup hot water. Mix them thoroughly, then pour the mixture into the drain. Let it sit and it will absorb any lingering odor. Rinse the drain out after 20 minutes.

To get rid of a sewer smell, fill the trap with water. Just run water from the faucet for 15 or 20 seconds to seal the pipe.


Prevent bacteria from returning by keeping your bathroom drains running clog-free. Install a mesh cover at the drain to trap hair and other debris. Be sure to clean it out after every use.

To keep sewer gas out of your home, pour water into each drain every few weeks. This keeps water in the trap, which keeps the pipe sealed.


  • "2,001 Amazing Cleaning Secrets"; Jeff Bredenberg; 2004
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