Why Do My Drains Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Thornton & Grooms smiling plumber, wearing branded shirt, holding up a pipe wrench with his right hand, standing in front of a branded service van.

Drains smell like rotten eggs? Find out why!

Peeeee-yuu! What could be causing your drains to smell like rotten eggs?

The answer in nearly every case is bacteria. A colony of bacteria has made a home inside your drain and is releasing hydrogen sulfide–a gas that smells a lot like an open sewer, petroleum, and yes, good ol’ rotten eggs–into your kitchen or bathroom.

Now that you know what’s causing that smell, the next thing on your mind is how to get rid of it. Well, we can help you answer that question as well. You’ve got a few options:

  • Clean and maintain your garbage disposal
  • Look for clogs
  • Test the water
  • Call a plumbing professional

Hang tight. We’ll go over each of these options in more detail below.


Not sure where to start? Our plumbers can sniff out the cause of any smelly drain fast.

Thornton & Grooms has been resolving drain issues for our customers for over 85 years. You could say we have a nose for this kind of work. Whether the issue is coming from your drain, sewer, or even the water, we can have it resolved in just one visit to your home.

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Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Large bright yellow plastic bottle laying next to a bright green, small washcloth and a pair of blue and yellow rubber gloves

Use chlorine bleach and a long-handled brush to clean your garbage disposal.

Bacteria love to hang out inside your garbage disposal. If the disposal unit isn’t run frequently or hasn’t been cleaned in a while, bacteria can build up. The end result is a blast of hydrogen sulfide hitting you in the face every time you stand over the sink. Yuck!

If the smell comes from the garbage disposal, that’s good news because it’s a fix you can take care of yourself. Chlorine bleach is an effective agent to use against the bacteria inside your garbage disposal. Simply pour some down the drain and start scrubbing with a long-handled brush.

Safety is important. Make sure to unplug your garbage disposal before you start cleaning it. And if you need to fish something out of there, do it with some tongs, never your hands!

For an even quicker fix, try tossing some lemon wedges into the disposal and running it. That should reduce the smell or eliminate it entirely.

Look For Drain Clogs

A diagram showing secondary drain lines feeding into the main sewer line

A sewer line clog can cause multiple drains to smell.

Bacteria love collecting around clogs. Chances are, if the rotten egg smell is coming out of one drain, that’s a good indication the clog is inside that drain. But if the smell comes from multiple drains, you may have a sewer line clog on your hands.

A sewer line clog is best resolved by calling a professional. But if you track the clog down to one drain, some of the following tricks may help:

  • Try to break up the clog with some drain-unclogging solution.
  • Remove the p-trap and thoroughly clean it. Clogs love hiding within the u-bend of a p-trap, so if a smell is coming from your drain, it’s hiding there.

If all else fails, a plumber can swing by with a drain camera and get a good look at what’s going on. The plumbers at Thornton & Grooms can take care of most drain clogs in under an hour.

Test the Water

An old anode rod lying on a brick path next to a new anode rod.

An old anode rod can cause your drains to smell like rotten eggs.

The most common reason for a rotten egg smell around a drain is bacteria. But the water may also be the culprit. To see if it really is the water, you’ll want to test both the hot and cold water in your home. Let’s talk about why the temperature of the water can provide clues as to what’s causing the smell in the first place.

If it’s only the hot water that smells like rotten eggs, the culprit is almost always the water heater. More specifically, the anode rods housed within the water heater need replacement with new aluminum rods.

If you smell hydrogen sulfide in your cold water, that may be caused by something called Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria, or SRBs. The bacteria itself is harmless. But you’ll still want to call a plumber to see about getting rid of them for cleaner, more pleasant-smelling water.


Call for a friendly plumbing professional at Thornton & Grooms!

Close up photo of a uniformed Thornton & Grooms tech sticking his left arm out the window and waving and smiling to the camera.

Contact Thornton & Grooms for reliable drain service!

Want the cleanest drains on the block? Thornton & Grooms can help. We truly care about providing 5-star service to our community. And with thousands of great reviews and more appearing every day, it seems our customers agree!

It’s not always readily apparent where that rotten egg smell comes from. So, if you try one or two of the options above and still can’t seem to shake the smell, give your friends at Thornton & Grooms a call at (248) 644-7810 or click the button below to make a same-day appointment. We’re open late on weekdays and all day Saturdays. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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