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April 29, 2024

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Comprehensive Guide: How to Fix and Prevent Smelly Drains

Smelly drains are not only unpleasant but can also be a source of frustration in any household. The last thing you want is for your bathroom or kitchen to be plagued by foul odours emanating from the drains. However, don't worry because there are effective ways to tackle this issue and prevent it from recurring. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the causes of smelly drains and provide you with practical DIY solutions to fix and prevent them. From hot water flushes to natural cleaning remedies, you'll find all the information you need to maintain fresh-smelling drains.

Understanding the Causes of Smelly Drains

Food Particles and Residue

One of the most common culprits behind smelly drains is the accumulation of food particles and residue in your kitchen sink's drain. Over time, these tiny bits of food can decompose, emitting a nasty smell reminiscent of rotten food. This problem is particularly common in kitchens where food scraps often find their way into the drain.

To address this issue, consider implementing proper disposal practices. Avoid tossing leftover food down the drain, and use a strainer to catch food particles. Regularly clean the strainer to prevent clogs. Additionally, you can run hot water down the drain after every use to help flush away any lingering food particles.

Soap Scum Buildup

In the bathroom, a different culprit can lead to smelly drains - soap scum. Over time, the residue from soap and shampoo can accumulate within your shower drain, leading to an unpleasant odour. Understanding how to tackle this issue is essential for maintaining a fresh and inviting bathroom.

To combat soap scum buildup, consider a regular cleaning routine for your bathroom drains. Use a drain brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of the drain, removing any accumulated soap scum. You can also pour hot water down the drain to help dissolve and flush away the residue. Periodically using a vinegar and water mixture can help break down soap scum, leaving your drains smelling fresh.

Sewer Gas and Sewer Smell

Sometimes, the foul smell from your drain could be due to something more sinister - sewer gas escaping from the plumbing system. This issue causes an unpleasant odour and can also be a health concern. Sewer gas contains harmful substances like methane and hydrogen sulphide.

If you suspect sewer gas is the culprit behind your stinky drains, promptly addressing the issue is crucial. This may require professional intervention, as identifying and fixing a problem in your plumbing system can be complex. Calling a professional plumber to inspect and repair any leaks or damaged pipes is the safest course of action in this situation.

DIY Solutions 

Hot Water and Cold Water Flush

One of the simplest solutions for foul-smelling drains is to use hot water and cold water flushes periodically. This can help clear away minor blockages and eliminate odours caused by stagnant water. The heat from the hot water can help dissolve grease and grime, while the cold water helps flush it away.

To perform a hot water flush, simply let your hot tap water run for a few minutes down the drain. Follow this with cold water to ensure any loosened debris is washed away. Doing this regularly, perhaps once a week, can help prevent smelly drains in the first place.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixture

A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar can work wonders in breaking down grease and grime in your drains. It's an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners and can be very effective for mild to moderate clogs.

To use this method, start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain to soften any clogs. Then, pour a half cup of baking soda followed by a cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Finally, flush the drain with hot water. This combination will help break down organic matter, neutralise odours, and clear away blockages.

Using a Drain Snake

A drain snake is a handy tool for more stubborn clogs causing smelly drains. This long, flexible wire with a hook or coil at the end can reach deep within your plumbing system to dislodge blockages.

To use a drain snake, insert it into the drain and turn it clockwise while applying gentle pressure. If you encounter resistance, rotate the snake to break through the clog. Once the clog is dislodged, pull the snake out, and flush the drain with hot water. Drain snakes are particularly effective for clearing hair clogs in bathroom drains and should be part of your plumbing toolkit.

Preventing Smelly Drains

Proper Disposal Practices

Prevention is often the best solution. Adopting proper disposal practices can significantly reduce the chances of four-smelling drains in your kitchen. Avoid pouring grease, oils, or food scraps down the drain, as these are common causes of blockages and odours. Instead, use a strainer to catch food particles and dispose of them in the trash.

Additionally, consider using a compost bin for food scraps, which helps prevent smelly drains and benefits the environment by reducing landfill waste. Regularly clean the strainer to ensure it remains effective in catching debris.

Regular Cleaning Routine

A regular cleaning routine for your drains can prevent smelly drains from occurring in the first place. Include drain cleaning as part of your weekly or monthly cleaning schedule. Use natural cleaning solutions like baking soda and vinegar to maintain clean and odour-free drains.

Remember to clean the drain covers as well. Remove them, scrub away any debris, and rinse them thoroughly before reinserting them. Regular maintenance prevents buildup and ensures your drains stay fresh.

Installing Drain Covers

Installing drain covers is a proactive measure to prevent debris from entering your drain pipes. Various types of drain covers are available, including mesh screens and stoppers with strainers. Choose the one that suits your needs and fits your drains snugly.

Mesh screens are particularly effective at catching hair, preventing it from going down the drain and causing clogs. Regularly clean and sanitise these screens to maintain their effectiveness.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

While DIY methods are effective for most cases of stinky drains, there are instances where you should call a professional plumber. Recognising when to seek expert help is crucial to prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

Some signs indicating it's time to call a professional plumber include persistent smelly drains despite DIY remedies, slow or completely blocked drains, gurgling sounds from your pipes, or water backup in sinks or toilets. These issues may indicate more severe plumbing problems requiring professional attention.

Looking for top-quality plumbing services? Sewer Surgeon is here to help! With years of expertise and a commitment to solving all your plumbing problems, Sewer Surgeon is your trusted partner for any plumbing issue. From fixing four-smelling drains to handling complex sewer problems, our team of skilled plumbers is ready to deliver prompt and professional service. We pride ourselves on our reliability, quality workmanship, and customer satisfaction. Don't let plumbing issues disrupt your life; contact Sewer Surgeon today for the best plumbing solutions in town!


Smelly drains can be a persistent nuisance, but with the right knowledge and proactive measures, you can keep your drains clean and odour-free. By understanding the causes, applying DIY solutions, and adopting preventative practices, you'll ensure that stinking drains are a thing of the past in your home. Don't hesitate to seek professional help from Sewer Surgeon when necessary, and enjoy the pleasant, fresh-smelling environment you deserve. Remember, a little maintenance goes a long way in keeping your drains smelling sweet.