sink drain
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
February 20, 2024 ·  4 min read

The Easiest Way to Destink Your Smelly Sink Drain

You clean every nook and cranny in your bathroom and kitchen. But despite them looking immaculate, there’s a gross smell lingering. You might want to take a look at your drains. Gunk can gather in drains and pipes for many reasons but a build-up can reek. Even worse, it might cause drainage issues where the water drains slowly or not at all. Before you call a plumber, there are many ways to clear a smelly sink drain on your own.

Where Does the Smell Come From?

There are many reasons a drain might stink. One is a clogged pipe or garbage disposal that traps waste and lets it rot. There could also be a clogged or blocked air vent or aerator. Another cause could be rotten-egg-smelling bacteria that builds up in the drains. Mold can also be a reason since drains are dark, wet, warm, and filled with debris like food. 

Keep in mind the drains may be perfectly fine. The smell may emanate from the drain plug, which is prone to trap bacteria and grow mold because of its perpetually damp environment. So give it a good cleaning by hand or even put it in the dishwater. Clean around the sink drain as well and see if that fixes the smell. Once you figure out the issue, the more easily you can eliminate the smell. After that, it’s recommended to add drain cleaning to your regime. [1]

How to Clean a Smelly Sink Drain

Start by removing any trapped objects like hair, soap, toothpaste, and such. Then use a bendable plastic drain stick to grab out any hair clots. A wire clothes hanger can also be effective. Beware, your probably going to scoop out a gross-looking mess. But once that’s clear, it’s time to clean.

There are many ways to go about this. The simplest one is to boil a full kettle of water and slowly pour it down the sink. You can also add dish detergent to combat the smell, which is advisable if the issue is related to grease.

If that doesn’t help, the combination of baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water is a tried and true method of cleaning a sink. Start by pouring hot water down the sink, then add a cup of baking soda. Let it sit for a while, and you may add half a cup of kosher salt or coarse salt to add more abrasion to the cleaning. Next, pour a cup of white vinegar. You will witness a foamy reaction reminiscent of a classic volcano science project. Leave the sink to sit for an hour or longer, then pour boiling water to rinse away the baking soda and vinegar. [2]

Vinegar on its own can be another effective method. Boil about four cups of vinegar and pour half of it down the sink. Turn on the tap to allow cold water to solidify any obstruction left behind and pour the rest of the vinegar to flush it out. 

Read: Simple hack gets rid of condensation in mere minutes

P-Traps and Garbage Disposals

The P-trap is the L-shaped pipe under the sink and it can gather a lot of gunk. Remove the P-trap (some require tools to do this) and clean out the goop manually. Cleaning gloves are highly recommended for this task. If the gunk is really disgusting, wash it out with a hose outside. Then proceed to flush the sink with the baking soda, vinegar, and hot water method.

Another goop trap is the garbage disposal. Give that a good cleaning by placing several slices of lemons or limes and letting the disposal do its thing. The acidic fruit could remove the stink and remove any buildup. You can do this at any time as a preventative measure as well. Alternatively, you could use a combination of Borax, ice, and salt to clean garbage disposals. To clean the disposal by hand, turn off the electrical breaker and use a sponge to clean it with a mix of baking soda and enough water to make a paste. Make sure you reach the underside of the baffle. After that, use the baking soda, vinegar, and hot water method described above to clean the sink’s opening.

Preventing Smelly Drains

Here are more preventative measures for smelly drains: For one, you could sprinkle some baking soda down the drain when you clean the sink. It’s unlikely to unclog anything, but it can fight odors. You can also pour hydrogen peroxide down the drain once a month to keep the drains clear. And after washing particularly dirty dishes, add some dish detergent and run hot water from the tap to ensure any debris has properly washed through the pipes. 

You can also pour a full kettle of boiling water down the drains in the kitchen and bathroom once a week. Here’s a helpful tip: When you have leftover boiling water after making a coffee or tea, get into the habit of pouring it down the drain. [3]

Keep Reading: People Are Obsessed With This Hack For Making ‘Vegan Bacon’ Out of Banana Peels


  1. “How to Clean a Smelly Drain Naturally.Tree Hugger. Robin Shreeves. June 17, 2022
  2. “How to Clean a Bathroom Sink Drain.” Better Homes and Gardens. Megan Boettcher. September 28, 2022
  3. “How to Clean a Stinky Drain.The Spruce. Mary Marlowe Levertte. October 28, 2022