A stinky sink is an annoying sink. While a smelly sink drain is extremely unpleasant, it can actually point to a more serious plumbing issue. The most common reasons why your sink drain is stinky could be germ buildup, food scraps, organic debris in the pipes, or a lack of water flow. While you can learn how to unclog a kitchen sink, we're going to teach you how to fix your smelly sink drain DIY-style, manually, and with chemical cleaners.
Identifying the Cause of the Odor
Before getting to how to fix your smelly sink drain, you need to figure out what's causing it. The cause of a stinky sink could be debris, food, germs, or the lack of flowing water. Before using our cleaning methods, you might want to try to turn on the garbage disposal to clear up the drain.
Here's the step-by-step process so that you can pinpoint what's causing your smelly drain:
- Start by visually checking the drain and garbage disposal for any accumulation or apparent particles. Look down the drain for any possible grease, food particles, or other organic materials.
- Turn on your faucet and let the water run. If the smell is present even when the water is flowing, it is most likely a plumbing problem rather than a problem with the garbage disposal or drains.
- Check on the garbage disposal and turn it on. If the garbage disposal is running and the smell gets stronger, it's possible that food scraps or other debris have become stuck in the blades or the drain that leads to the disposal.
- Examine the P-trap, the curved pipe under the sink that keeps sewer gases out of the house, which should be in good working order. If the p-trap is clogged with trash or food scraps, it could cause your sink to smell.
If sink drains are not cleaned thoroughly or if there is a plumbing issue, mold may begin to grow there. Keep the pipes and sink dry and spotless, and keep an eye out for any symptoms of water leaking to avoid mold growth and more serious plumbing issues. If you can't figure out where the smell's coming from and how to fix your smelly sink drain, call an expert plumber.
How to Fix Your Smelly Sink Drain
You can make your own natural cleaner with white vinegar and baking soda, use a plunger, wire hanger, or drain snake, buy a chemical cleaner, or use ice to try to fix your smelly sink drain:
Using a plunger, wire hanger, or drain snake:
- To use a plunger, place the cup over the sink drain.
- Turn the water on to create suction and use the plunger to try and dislodge what is causing your sink to stink.
- If this doesn't work, you can try to use a wire hanger or drain snake to push debris or food scraps down the drain.
- After using any of these tools, let the water run down the drain to make sure that it's clean.
Remember to take care using these tools and trying to damage your sink or the pipes.
- To use the garbage disposal to get rid of leftover food or other organic debris, make sure it's working by turning it on.
- If there is still a smell, add ice cubes to the sink and let the garbage disposal run.
- This will clean your garbage disposal and get rid of any food scraps that weren't disposed of previously.
- Afterward, process an orange or lemon slice in the garbage disposal to clear up the smell.
- You can also let the water run through the sink drain afterward for 15 seconds or so.
Using chemical cleaners:
- First, purchase the right chemical cleaner designed specifically for your sink drain and pipes.
- Read the instructions and pour the recommended amount of the chemical cleaner down the drain.
- Following the manufacturer's recommended time, let the chemical cleaner sit in the sink.
- Afterward, let the water run through the sink drain to clean it.
Make sure to read and adhere to all safety instructions and precautions specified on the chemical cleaner's product label.
Using Baking Soda and Vinegar:
- Pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain and then sprinkle baking soda right after.
- The liquid will bubble up, cleaning and freshening the pipes as it does so.
- Let the mixture sit in the sink for 15 minutes before you let the water run and clean the sink.
Any one of these methods can be used if you need to fix your smelly sink drain. If a stinky sink persists, you should contact a professional plumber right away.
Preventing Future Smelly Sinks
After learning how to fix your smelly sink drain, you can do a few things to prevent it from happening again like letting the water run after every use, grinding ice cubes and citrus rinds, not pouring grease down the drain, using a drain screen, keeping the sink clean, and not using harsh chemicals:
- We recommend letting warm or hot water flow freely down the drain after every use whether you're washing fruit, the dishes, or doing routine cleaning.
- To keep your garbage disposal clean and the sink smelling fresh, grind ice cubes and citrus fruit peels. The ice helps dislodge food scraps and organic debris while the citrus fruit peels help deodorize the sink drain.
- Learn how to install a sink drain or use a drain screen or cover to catch food and other debris before they can stink up the sink.
- Don't pour grease down the drain, ever. Grease can solidify and cause a clog which means that your sink will definitely smell.
- Keep your sink clean. A clean sink means that there won't be anything there to clog it or cause it to smell bad over time.
- Don't use harsh chemicals in or around the sink. Over time, these can damage the pipes and cause a smelly sink.
You can stop future stinky sink drains by paying attention to these suggestions.
Bottom Line: Solving Smelly Sink Drain Issues
Resolving a smelly sink drain requires identifying and addressing common causes such as food debris, bacteria, mold, poorly maintained garbage disposals, and clogged pipes. Regular cleaning and maintenance, using solutions such as baking soda and vinegar, and using tools like a plunger, drain cover or screen and pipe snake can help eliminate odors and prevent future issues. Additionally, avoiding pouring grease and using soap and hot water to clean the sink and its surrounding area are also important steps to maintain a fresh-smelling sink. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to consult a plumber for further assistance. Consider also researching articles and resources online for more information on sink drain maintenance and repair.
FAQs on How to Fix Your Smelly Sink Drain
How do I fix a smelly sink drain?
To fix a smelly sink drain, you can either:
- Use a plunger, wire hanger, or drain snake to remove whatever's clogging up your sink drain or causing it to smell bad.
- Use vinegar and baking soda to get rid of smelly food scraps and debris.
- Turn on your garbage disposal, and grind up ice, as well as citrus fruit peels to get rid of the smell.
- Use a chemical cleaner according to a manufacturer's instructions to clear up a stinky sink drain.
How do I identify the source of the odor?
To find the source and then fix your smelly sink drain, look at your sink drain and turn on the garbage disposal. Let the water run and also check the p-trap to find the source of your smelly drain.
How can I stop future bad odors from coming from the sink drain?
To prevent a smelly sink drain:
- Keep your sink clean after use.
- Let the water flow through your sink after using it.
- Use a sink cover or screen.
- Don't pour any grease down your sink
- Clean your garbage disposal often with ice and citrus fruit peels you have on hand.
What should I do if the aforementioned remedies don't work to eliminate the odor?
If you've tried to fix your smelly sink drain with the methods above but nothing worked, it may be a plumbing issue, in which case you should contact a certified plumber as soon as possible.
How frequently should I clean the drain in my sink to stop odors?
To remove stains from your sink and keep it clean, which means that it won't get smelly, you should do a routine cleaning every month.
A smelly sink drain can be fixed by hiring a plumber, but how much does it cost?
The cost of hiring a plumber to fix your smelly sink drain will depend on where you live, the plumber's experience, and how severe your problem is. To figure out the best and most budget-friendly plumbing services, request a quote from different plumbers.
Is a smelly sink drain harmful to your health in any way?
A smelly sink drain may be a sign of microbial, bacterial, or mold growth. These sources can be a health hazard which is why you need to learn how to fix your smelly sink drain or hire a professional to do so right away.