How To Clean A Stinky Drain

As one of the most used parts of our home’s plumbing system, drains face quite a lot of dirt and waste materials passing through. Whether it’s from washing the dishes after cooking or taking a shower after working out, all the dirt, soap and tiny bits of scraps end up going down the drain. Normally, the waste and the used, unclean water simply passes through your plumbing to eventually be cleaned and retreated.

However, there are times when something makes your drains stink. Whenever you go to wash the dishes or take a shower, some smell almost like sewage wafts up from the drains and stinks up the entire room. 

On occasion, it can even waft up and out into the rest of the house. With how much time you spend at home, that stench can make living there incredibly difficult, especially when you’re just trying to eat.

To help you get back to living and get that horrible smell out of your house, we’ve gathered some of the best stinky drain fixes, both commercially purchasable and ones made with things from your pantry. And, to make sure that it doesn’t happen again later on, we included the main causes, what to do to prevent it and how to clean a stinky drain. 

If you find that none of these solutions fix your stinky drain, call Clover Contracting for help.

The cause of a smelly drain

There are many possible reasons that you might be getting a foul smell out of the drains in your home, each varying depending on where and in what room of the house it’s in. When it comes to the drain in your kitchen, the most common cause for a stinky drain is food residue and bits of scraps. 

When combined with hardening food oil and grease, the scraps and other food waste can solidify and cause a buildup. While it may not clog the pipes, the food waste can still start to rot if not simply produce bacteria, which create the source of the smell.

Stenches coming from your bathroom drains can be caused by much of the same kinds of buildups, though due to a mix of other kinds of grime. Shower drains have quite a lot of soap and body oils mixing together and combining with dirt and dead skin cells. When the soap and oils harden, they form a similar buildup to ones that form in your kitchen sink. Over time, the clumps can start to decompose, creating the stench.

How to make a drain smell better — 3 useful strategies

The best way to deal with a stinky drain is to clean it out. Since the cause is most likely a buildup of either food waste or soap and dirt, cleaning out the buildup should efficiently clean out the smell from your drains. And to make the deal much better, many of these methods don’t need any heavy duty cleaners or uncloggers. All you need is some hot water and a few other items from your own pantry.

The quick hot water method

One of the more well known things you can do if you want to learn how to clean a stinky drain is to just use hot water. Since the main cause of the smell is a semi solid mixture of oils and other waste products, one of the best ways to get rid of the buildup is to make the oils liquid again. The heat from the water will be enough to loosen the oils while the water itself flushes away the more solid pieces.

To start with this method of cleaning drains, boil a pot of water until it starts to bubble. After turning off the heat, you can add a few squirts of dish detergent to further help loosen the buildup while also improving the drain’s smell. 

Pour half of the mixture into the sink and let it sit for roughly five minutes to loosen up any oils. Turn the cold water on fully to turn any lingering grease before pouring the rest of your hot water mixture in.

Hot water can also be used in combination with baking soda or vinegar. Different methods using either ingredient or even both have been used to quickly and effectively clean the smell and any clogs out of the drains.

Clean stinky drain units near garbage disposals

If your kitchen sink has a particularly smelly drain but also has a garbage disposal unit that you think might interfere with the cleaning process, there are a few solutions that you can use. Fortunately, the different ways on how to clean a stinky drain can carry through to sink drains with garbage disposals as well, so try some of the earlier methods if the smell isn’t coming from the disposal unit.

Ice cubes

Combined with using hot water to loosen the grime and oils, using ice can be a good way to scrub away any lingering grease from the food scraps put into it. 

After loosening any oil and grease with hot water – by leaving it running for at least a minute – push two cups of ice into the garbage disposal and turn it on. With the cold water running fully, the ice should scour off any grease. Then, to make sure it’s clean, turn the hot water back on for another minute before turning the disposal off.

How to use a stinky drain cleaner

If you’re looking for a much stronger way of cleaning your stinky drain or if none of these methods work as well as you’d like, you can always invest in getting a commercial chemical drain cleaner. 

While many drain cleaners are highly corrosive due to the chemicals that are needed to really eat away at the buildup, there are a few more non-toxic or environmentally friendly options you can also choose from. These options are just as effective and will more than likely be incredibly safe for all sorts of pipes.


There are many other different ways you can make your own stinky drain fix or simply buy one from a hardware store. There are also other alternatives to using chemical cleaners or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, especially if you would rather avoid them. Drain snakes are just as useful as cleaners, though they only reach a set depth into the plumbing. 

If none of these solutions help, you can rely on the team at Clover Contracting.

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