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How Do I Stop My Drains from Smelling?

Our sinks, showers, and anything else with a drain are supposed to be places we turn to when we need something to be clean. Yet, nothing can make these important stations of our home seem less ready to help us than the terrible odors that can come from their drains!

Often, a smelly drain is an inconvenience that can be fixed quickly. In other instances, it’s a sign of a more serious problem with your plumbing. In this post, we’ll go over why your drain might smell and what you can do to fix it! Understanding the causes and solutions to smelly drains can help you decide what steps to take toward having an odor-free home!

Our plumbing pros are ready to handle your smelly drain issues quickly when you call us at 919-383-7000. We’re standing by to take your call and schedule your appointment right now!

Why Does a Drain Stink?


While it might seem like the most obvious source of a drain’s odor, a clog might not be obvious immediately. In fact, terrible smells might be an earlier indicator of a developing clog as they can develop before a drain starts to work slowly. A clogged drain can be fixed with products designed to clear debris from pipes. When clogs are stubborn, they’ll require the attention of a plumber.

Dry P-Traps

The p-trap is that pipe with the strange bend in it underneath your kitchen sink. It carries water that forms a seal against smells from the larger sewer system beyond it. When the p-trap dries out, the smells move in. This problem often happens in vacation homes or in sinks that don’t see a lot of use (such as in a guest bedroom). You can correct it simply by running the sink periodically to ensure that the seal is maintained.

Sewer Breaches

A breach in your sewer line is a serious issue that can affect your entire property. You can usually spot a sewer breach because the disgusting smell produced by one will appear in all of your sinks rather than one or two. When you notice it, you should call in a plumber immediately.

Blocked Venting Pipes

Venting pipes help release trapped gases from your system. Over time, they can become clogged by all types of debris. Once a clog is severe enough, it can send the gases back into the system and ultimately out your sink or toilet. A good plumber can clear the blockage and fix the problem.

What Causes Kitchen Sink Odors?

Our kitchen sinks take a lot of abuse. Often, their drains will work for years until they finally develop smells or clogs. While having a garbage disposal can help prevent a sink from developing blockages, it’s typically only a matter of time until organic waste causes odors to come from your kitchen’s drain. These smells are produced by tiny organisms that feed on the waste accumulated in your drain.

To prevent kitchen sinks from smelling, do the following:

  • Use food stoppers and drain screens to prevent scraps of food from going down the drain. This is the most important step. With these in place, you can probably avoid most local blockages that lead to smells.
  • Pour boiling water down your drains every so often to clear your drains, especially if you nearly always use your dishwasher, or tend to use only cold water.
  • Periodically pour a small amount of distilled white vinegar down the kitchen sink. Vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial acid that will destroy many types of bacteria without the damaging side effects of toxic drain cleaning liquids.

What If My Garbage Disposal Unit Smells?

Sometimes, a clogged drain isn’t the only thing making your kitchen smell bad. Sometimes, garbage disposals can develop odors that can be alleviated with a few tricks.

You can try deodorizing your garbage disposal by:

  • Running it with a few lemon or orange peels inside of it.
  • Adding a cup of ice to your disposal, turning it on, and adding a half cup of kosher salt. This will help scrub out the inside of your disposal.

If you’re feeling adventurous, recreating a classic elementary school science experiment can help eliminate odors from your garbage disposal! First, add a half cup of baking soda into your garbage disposal. Then, add vinegar slowly while being careful to prevent the foaming reaction doing so will produce! Allowing this mixture to sit for about 10 minutes before clearing your disposal with hot water.

Some drain problems require expert help. Call our Durham plumbers today at 919-383-7000 for help solving your drain odor issues!

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