How to Get Rid of Smelly Drains: A Michigan Plumber Explains

Is there a strong, foul-smelling odor coming from your kitchen or bathroom? There’s a good chance that the smell is coming from your drain.

Smelly drains are a common issue for homeowners. No matter how careful you are about what goes into your drains, food/soap particles, grease and other gross things will eventually cause your drains to reek. It’s best if you handle the smell now, instead of waiting for it to get worse.

There are a few remedies you can try yourself to rid your drains of this unbearable odor.

If you wish to go the DIY route, you’ll need a few things, such as:

  • Boiling water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice

In this blog, we’ll explain what to do with each of these household items and how they can remedy the smell coming from your drains. We’ll even tell you what’s causing this awful smell in the first place.

Rather have a professional get rid of the smell for you? That’s what we’re here for! Just contact us and one of our plumbers will have your drains smelling fresh in no time.

Schedule an appointment today

What causes a smelly drain?

Sink and shower drains are known for developing unpleasant smells over a length of time because various things can go wrong inside the pipes.

The most common causes of stinky drains include:

  • Bacteria and gunk: As we mentioned earlier, food, hair, grease and soap particles, among other things can clog your drains over time. These elements can eventually create bacteria, which can give off a smelly odor.
  • Sewer gases: Your P trap is a U-shaped pipe under your bathroom sink that should always contain water. Empty/dry P-traps allow smelly sewer gases to rise from the drain, which poses a health risk. This frequently happens in sinks that receive infrequent use.
  • Blocked vents: Plumbing systems come equipped with vents, which allow trapped gases to travel through the pipes and escape to the outside. Then, they dissipate without leaving an unpleasant odor in your home. If your vent becomes blocked, these gases will leak out through your drains.

Solution #1: Boiling water

Don’t underestimate the power of boiling hot water. Sometimes, all your drain needs is a nice hot flush. The heat from the boiling water may be enough to flush away any gunk that may be causing the smelly odor.

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
  2. Pour half the pot of boiled water down the drain.
  3. Wait a few minutes while the hot water flushes out any food particles or gunk that may be stuck in the drain.
  4. Pour cold water down the drain to rinse the pipe and solidify any lingering gunk that may be left behind.
  5. Pour the rest of the boiling water down the drain.

Solution #2: Distilled white vinegar

Vinegar is a great remedy for keeping your drains clean and fresh. It’s especially effective if it’s heated. The acetic acid of the vinegar helps to neutralize the source of the odor. The acid in the vinegar can easily penetrate the grease and has disinfecting properties as well.

Follow these steps:

  1. Heat four cups of white vinegar until it simmers.
  2. Pour half down the drain and let the water run for about 60 seconds.
  3. Repeat the process with the remaining amount of hot vinegar.

This method typically powers through any small clogs in the drain, which is usually the source of those smelly odors.

Solution #3: Baking soda and salt

Baking soda can make a huge difference in the smell and the efficiency of your drains. The abrasive nature of the salt, mixed with the cleaning power of the baking soda, can effectively remove the odor from your drain.

For the best results, follow these steps:

  1. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain.
  2. Pour a ½ cup of salt down the drain.
  3. Allow the mixture to work/sit for a few hours (or overnight if it’s a tough clog).
  4. Heat two cups of water to a boil and pour the water into the drain.

The hot water flushes out the mixture along with any debris that’s dislodged during the process.

Solution #4: Lemon juice and baking soda

This combination can leave your drains clear and smelling extra fresh. Lemons are rich sources of natural citric acid. When mixed together, the lemon juice and baking soda create a foaming action, which can help remove clogs and smelly odors from your drain.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Pour a 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain.
  2. Pour a 1/2 cup lemon juice down the drain as well.
  3. Plug the drain and let the solution work for one hour.
  4. Finish by running the hot tap water down the drain.

As we mentioned above, the hot water flushes out the mixture and any gunk that’s loosened during the process.

Looking for a professional who can get rid of that nasty smell? Look no further than Thornton & Grooms!

Schedule an appointment today

We’ll send one of our trustworthy plumbers to your home to sniff out the source of the problem and get rid of that smelly odor once and for all.