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How to Clean a Stinky Drain

How to Clean a Stinky Drain

Have you walked past the kitchen or bathroom sink and noticed a faint odor? If so, then your drains are likely smelly, and you should clean them. Often, you don’t require harsh chemicals.

Generally, a smelly drain is caused by the buildup of grease, soap, hair, food, and more. Learning how to clean a stinky drain is best so that you can keep it from getting out of hand. If you leave the drain alone and don’t treat it, the buildup of debris is likely to cause a clog.

Use Baking Soda

One of the best ways on how to clean a stinky drain is to use baking soda and vinegar.

Hot Water

The first step is to pour hot water down the drain. Try to get the hottest water possible from the tap and then let it run for a couple of minutes. This loosens up any soap scum and debris and washes it down the drain.

If you can’t use tap water, you can heat some water on your stove. Just make sure that it’s not boiling hot.


Next, you’re going to pour about ½ cup of coarse salt into the drain. Salt works like an abrasive and can clean the sides of your drain from the debris. Even if it’s not the reason for the smell, it could form a clog or attract bacteria, which could cause odors later.

Consider using kosher or coarse salt rather than table salt.

Baking Soda

You now need to add ½ cup of baking soda. Remove any stoppers and drain covers if you’ve got them. Slowly pour the baking soda into the stinky drain, trying to get it all inside. Some of it is going to be on the sides of the pipe, but this is okay. Just do your best.


Once the baking soda is down the drain, you can slowly pour 2 cups of white vinegar down there. Use the stopper or a towel over the drain, which forces the bubbling mixture to go down the pipe. This also deodorizes the drain while it treats the clog. You may heat up the vinegar in the microwave or on the stove, as well.

Wait about 10 minutes so that the bubbling action takes effect. You can leave the mixture overnight for very stubborn smells. Make sure the drain stays covered, which is going to keep the cleanser from being forced up the pipe and into the sink.

Flush the Drain

When you’re ready to finish, turn on the hot tap water again and let it go down the drain. This washes away the mixture and the rest of the gunk that was in your pipe. The odor should now be gone, but it could linger for a few moments.

If the smell is very nasty, you may need to repeat the whole process and might also consider using lemon juice instead of vinegar.

Use an Auger

Sometimes, you are going to notice a slight clog in the stinky drain. If that happens, you should use an auger.

Clean the Drain Plug

Make sure you remove any debris from the drain plug and then sprinkle baking soda on it. You should do this monthly or more often to prevent buildup.

Utilize an Auger

Shine a flashlight into your stinky drain and see if you can find the clog. Then, you can use a drain stick or auger to knock the clog-free. Just lower it into the stinky drain and pull it back up slowly to remove each piece of the clog. You can continue using the tool until the material is all gone.

If you don’t have an auger, you can make one with a wire hanger. Just straighten it and then adjust one of the ends so that it looks like a hook that is still going to fit down the drain. It can pull out hair and other debris.

Flush the Drain

Once you’ve gotten rid of the materials clogging up the drain, you can run hot water down it to clear the rest out. Just make sure that your water isn’t boiling. If you still notice the smell, you may want to use the baking soda and vinegar trick to deodorize the drain. Learn more about how to unclog your kitchen sink

Clean Your P-Trap

The P-Trap looks like an ‘S’ shape, which connects the sink to the wall outlet. It should have two nuts that look like rings. Use a wrench to loosen them (counterclockwise). Then, wiggle down the P-Trap and away from the other pipes.

  • Have a bucket nearby because the P-Trap is sure to have water in it.
  • The P-Trap should be underneath your sink, but it could be on the floor.

Use a paper towel and a nylon bottle brush to wash the P-Trap. The brush can go all the way through and clear any grime and clogs that might be producing the foul odor.

Install the P-Trap back under the sink. Now, you should mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide and about a tablespoon of baking soda. It is going to fizz, so be quick and pour it down the drain. This is going to finish clearing away debris and odors.

Prevent Odors

It’s often best to prevent odors from happening, and then you don’t need to know how to clean a stinky drain at all.

Once a month, consider sprinkling baking soda down the drain. A tablespoon is all you need, and you can pour it down every drain in the home.

If you have a garbage disposal, use lemon peels or slices to help deodorize the space. Just drop a few peels or wedges into it, and activate the disposal. Everything is going to get ground up, and you are going to smell lemons instead of the debris.


Now that you understand how to clean a stinky drain, you aren’t likely to have many issues. Complete these steps once a month or as often as you need them so that your drains have no odors and smell pleasant.

If you’ve tried the steps above and it hasn’t helped, you may need the help of 24H Plumbing Pros. Contact these professionals and make an appointment today.

About The Author:

Scott Reyes, our proficient Managing Editor and a true plumbing aficionado with over 10 years of dedicated expertise. With an in-depth understanding of the plumbing industry, Scott is your go-to source for all things plumbing-related. His wealth of experience ensures that our content is not only informative but also a reliable resource for your plumbing needs. Dive into Scott's articles to tap into his extensive knowledge and insights.
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