Bad Smell From Kitchen Sink Drain: What Should You Do?

You have guests coming over, but you have a foul odor coming from your kitchen sink drain. You need to get rid of it right away, but you do not know what to do.

Here’s some information that may just save the day for you …

First, check if the drainage is clogged. If it is, you will need to get it cleared. Clearing a clogged drain will require some plumbing know-how and tools and materials. If you are handy with tools, it can be done fairly easily in under an hour. But if you cannot tell a Allen wrench from a pipe wrench, this task is best left to a plumber.

But in many cases, it isn’t a stopped-up-drain  that’s the problem. The water is flowing, but the smell persists.

In that case, here’s what you can do …

  • Pour a couple of liters of moderately hot water down the drain.
  • Next, take 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour it down the kitchen sink. Afterward, pour a cup of white distilled vinegar.
  • You should immediately see bubbles. Let the faucet run for a few seconds. Do this a few times and the smell will most likely go away.

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate – alkaline) and vinegar (acetic acid – acidic) react to produce carbon dioxide.

The reaction is pretty violent. It will loosen up all the sludge in the drain. And flushing will dislodge all of that and clean up the drain.

This may actually be a better option that using a drain cleaner liquid because this is more environmentally friendly. And it works.

Caution: Do not pour boiling water down the drain. If you have PVC sink drain pipes, you would be asking for trouble if  you did that. You see, PVC drain pipes have a melting point of 176 degree F, while the temperature of boiling water is around 200 degrees F. Boiling water can soften the PVC pipes.

Using some chemical drain cleaners may also not be a good idea if you have PVC pipes. Enzymatic drain cleaners are in some ways better than chemical drain cleaners. And then there are always mechanical methods to unclog drains.

But what if for some reason you are out of vinegar?

You could use lime juice instead. Lime juice, like vinegar, is acidic as well. So using baking soda and lime juice should work just as well.

Here are a few other alternatives…

Use scented bleach. Pour a couple of cups down the drain, and flush it with running water a couple of minutes later. You would want to remember that bleach can corrode old pipes. This is just a one time quick fix. You would not want to do this regularly if you live in an old building.

If you have a garbage disposal unit installed, maybe you could run a lemon or orange peels through the disposal. That should work too.

Use an air freshener or incense: Keep the faucet running for a few minutes and see if you can mask the odor with an air freshener or some incense sticks.

If you live in a multi-level apartment complex, it is possible that your kitchen drain is connected to a main drainage chamber. You will have to ask the apartment’s maintenance service personnel to clean that chamber as well.

In any case, the smell most likely is an indication of bacteria and fungus buildup somewhere in the drainage system. If you find that using vinegar and baking soda is not getting rid of the smell, your best bet would be to hire a reliable plumber to get rid of the underlying problem. The drain pipes will need to be taken apart and cleaned.

Once the pipes have been thoroughly cleaned and put back together, you will need to ensure you keep the drain clean. Ask your plumber what cleaner or chemical would be safe for your drainage system. Using corrosive liquids like bleach regularly like some people do does not work for everyone.

In fact, one of the very first things to do when you move into a new property should be to know what kind of cleaners and chemicals you can use. It may sound odd, but most people realize the importance of the drainage system only in an emergency. Use the wrong kind of cleaners, and you can end up in some pretty deep water 🙂