Why is There a Foul Odour Coming from my Drains?


Nobody likes a smelly kitchen, and when there is a foul odour coming up from your sink drain, you’ll want to deal with it as soon as possible. But what causes it and what can you do?

Causes of Drain Odour

The main reason why there is a smell in your drain is because there is a blockage of food or other organic material somewhere below that has gone foul. It’s not enough to actually stop the water from draining, but it’s clinging to a bend in the pipe and getting smelly. A garbage disposal can get gunked up with food residue as well, leading to more smell.

There usually isn’t any underlying plumbing issue beyond the need for a cleaning. If you do find that it happens a lot, there may be some blockage issues in the pipes and a call to the plumber might not be a bad idea (click this link).

Clean It Out

Using a dose of the usual drain cleaner can often be enough to freshen up a drain, but since this isn’t necessarily about a blocked drain, the harsh chemicals may be overkill. Even so, it’s an easy option.

For a milder approach, use baking soda and vinegar. Run some very hot water down the drain, and then pour about a 1/2 cup of baking soda down. Use a funnel if you have to, so that it doesn’t all stick to the sides right at the top. Then pour down about a cup of white vinegar. Plug up the drain to keep the fizzy reaction down in the pipes. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain (at least 3 cups worth). Not only does the fizzing help to break up any food build-up, the baking soda naturally deodorizes at the same time.

If you are dealing with an aromatic garbage disposal, you have a few other options. You can do the same thing as above, running the disposal as you pour the boiling water down. Another popular trick is to run the disposal with a cup or two of ice cubes in it. They break up and help scrub away any residues. Lastly, you could also drop a chopped up lemon (rind and all) into the disposal and run to help clear up any odors.


The best way to prevent drain odor is to keep food pieces out of the pipes in the first place. Use a sink plug with a strainer basket and empty it after each time you rinse off plates or dishes in the sink. Give it a scrub now and again too, so you don’t get a smelly drain from the strainer. Take care to scrape any grease or oil off plates and into the trash rather than letting that go down the drain too.

Doing a regular clean-up with baking soda and vinegar can help keep build-up to a minimal and can prevent larger blockages from growing (and getting smelly).