6 Reasons Your Sink Drain Smells Bad

close up of water dripping from tap - 6 reasons why your sink drain smells bad

Whether you like it or not, you’ll have to deal with a smelly sink drain every once in a while. Not only is the smell frustrating to deal with, but it can also cause you and your family discomfort. 

If you’re wondering why your sink drain smells bad, keep reading to learn about the most common reasons.

1. Bacteria Buildup


The foul smell that comes from your sink could be a result of something as simple as bacteria buildup. Bacteria are natural, and they can actually do you a favor, as they help break down organic slime that builds up in the pipes. But if the wrong kind of bacteria accumulates in your sink drain, they can cause a terrible smell. 

Think about the number of things that are sent down the sink’s drain: food, dirt, hair and so on. Eventually, these substances will clog up and attract bacteria, which then release a nasty odor. 

Clearing the pipes and the drain will effectively eliminate the uncomfortable smell. You can hire a trusted plumber to provide drain cleaning for your home every now and then. 

2. Dirty Garbage Disposal


Your garbage disposal needs to be rinsed with running water so it can get rid of food waste. Though they’re a helpful tool to have at home, garbage disposals can start emitting a foul smell when rotting food gets stuck on their blades. Aside from not using running water, throwing a lot of waste in contributes to the problem. 

To avoid a smelly sink caused by your garbage disposal, you can put some ice cubes down the disposal after using it. Don’t forget to use cold running water to get rid of food that may stick to the pipe walls. 

3. Improper Use Of Garbage Disposal


water running down drain - 6 reasons why your sink drain smells bad

Most homeowners like to use their garbage disposal the same way they use their garbage can. This is a recipe for disaster, however. Improper use of the disposal can clog it up, resulting in a smelly drain.

Hence, you should avoid disposing of anything that shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage disposal, such as large particles of food, bones, wrappers and harsh chemicals.

4. Clogged Vent Pipes


Drain pipes are connected to a series of vent pipes, which help in bringing in fresh air while keeping away wastewater gas and bad odors. So when your sink smells bad, it could be that the pipes are clogged. The gases that are supposed to be sent out of the pipes are trapped and built up, which not only cause a foul smell but other drainage problems, too. 

This is pretty common in houses that aren’t always occupied, such as vacation homes. To address the problem, you may need to unclog the vent pipes or contact an experienced professional to do it for you. 

5. Grease


Another major reason why there’s a foul smell coming out of your sink could be the buildup of grease and oil in the drain. These substances accumulate in the drainpipes and then decompose, giving off a rotten odor that spreads throughout your home. 

It’s always recommended that you avoid pouring oil and grease down the sink. Aside from causing a horrible smell, throwing oil and grease down the sink can lead to clogged pipes. 

If you notice that there’s a grease buildup inside the pipes, here’s what you can do:

  • Get ½ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of salt and let them flow through the drain.
  • Pour some white vinegar until foam and bubbles rise up.
  • Leave the drain for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, clean the drain with hot water.
  • Lastly, rinse the drain with cold tap water.

6. Unused Drain


As mentioned earlier, drains that aren’t frequently used can cause bad smells. Drain lines have a trap that’s designed to keep sewer smells from getting through your kitchen via the sink. If you don’t use the sink on a regular basis, the water from the trap evaporates. As a result, a putrid sewage smell travels through your kitchen sink, entering your home easily. 

You can prevent this from happening by running hot water down the sink drain every now and then, especially if you’re not using it often. The goal here is to never let the drain pipes run dry.

Final Thoughts


Even if your kitchen is stylish, built to last long, and equipped with state-of-the-art cooking equipment, it won’t be appealing when its sink drain starts releasing a foul stench. Knowing the most common reasons why a sink drain smells bad will help you prevent future problems and maintain your kitchen’s aesthetics and functionality. You can always call in an experienced plumber to unclog the sink or maintain a clean drain yourself.

Feature image: Mukesh Sharma; Image 1: PublicDomainPictures

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