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How to Clean a Smelly Drain

How to Clean a Smelly Drain
Smelly drain solutions!

What’s worse than a smelly drain? Well, I guess you can argue that a smelly clogged toilet is worse, but a stinky kitchen is up there on the gross scale. We’re sure that you’ve probably experienced this at some point in your life. Stinky drains are not fun to live with and we’re used to hearing stories about people pouring bleach down the drain or lemon slices in the garbage disposal. Those are two very wrong ways to go about cleaning your smelly drains. We’re here to help you with some solutions that will help!

What Causes Smelly Drains?

There are a handful of reasons as to why drains can get smelly. The most popular cause is due to gunk and bacteria. This includes food particles, grease, hair, soap particles, and anything else that can sit in the pipes. Although most of these can cause clogs, which in turn create foul smells, sometimes it’s not a clog issue that causes the smell – it can just be these materials hanging out on your pipes releasing old, stinky smells.

Another reason why your drain smells can be due to clogged vent pipes. This happens when debris clogs the drains, causing water to pool in the sink. The water that pools will produce bacteria and when it eventually goes down the drain, it’ll lead to foul odors in the pipes.

Sewer gasses can also play a part in this gross phenomenon. This happens when a sink isn’t used a lot, forcing the P-trap to empty, allowing sewer gasses to rise from the drain. This is the least likely cause of smelly drains, but if there is a sink that you barely use – this can happen.

Lastly, plumbing errors can cause your drains to stink. Most of the time this happens when a homeowner tries to go the DIY route in trying to repair a sink. Missing traps or vents, leaks, and rotting drain tubes can cause odors to rise, making the entire kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room smell.

What to Use to Effectively Clean the Drains

When it comes to a smelly drain, there are ways you can clean it effectively without having to call a plumber. However, if the issue continues or comes back in a short amount of time, there may be more of an issue that you’ll want to have an experienced plumber come take a look at.

For starters, you can try this hack to attempt to fix the smelly issue:

All you have to do is run hot water for a few seconds and pour one to two cups of baking soda down the drain. Then, add a couple of cups of hot vinegar. Let it foam up and wait for an hour or two, followed by flushing it through using boiling water.

If the smell is coming from your garbage disposal, the popular lemon slices hack doesn’t actually clean it, it just makes it smell nice for a short amount of time. It basically acts as a bandaid to fix the issue for a couple days. So, how to clean a garbage disposal?

  • Step 1: sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into your disposal and let it sit for 30 minutes to absorb odors and loosen sticky debris.
  • Step 2: Add a cup of vinegar and let the bubbles work for 10 minutes
  • Step 3: Turn on the cold water, then turn on the disposal for about 10 seconds.

If you believe it might be the P-trap causing the smell, grab a pair of rubber gloves and place a bucket under the curved portion of the drainpipe under the sink. After you’ve placed that, remove the curved portion and empty any water and gunk from the trap into the bucket. You can take the P-trap outside and rinse it out with a garden hose or a bucket of water, and then reassemble it before using the sink again.

Can You Clean Drains Often to Prevent Future Smells?

Yes. To prevent future odors you can run the disposal and faucet for 20 seconds every time you dispose of food down the kitchen sink – although you should throw food out instead of flushing it.

You can also pour near-boiling water down the drain once a week to keep up with any particles that may be attaching to the pipes.

What Not to Put Down Your Drain

This section may seem obvious to most, but you’d be surprised by how many people we’ve talked to that didn’t know these materials shouldn’t be put down the drain. So, buckle up for some surprises.

  • Flushable Kitty Litter: Although the word “flushable” is in its title, it’s not an accurate description of the product. It can still cause a clogged drain, creating a lot of problems for your plumbing systems as well as your septic systems. Plus, as cute as your kitties are, the litter is still full of bacteria, which is not healthy for you or your family.
  • Coffee Grounds: Did you know most of the clogs we see are due to coffee grounds? This is the most popular reason for clogged drains that we and other plumbers see on a day-to-day basis. Simply throw the coffee grounds out to avoid any damage.
  • Eggshells: Eggshells are small and dainty, so you’d think they’d be fine taking a swim down the drain. The garbage disposal does grind them up, but they usually get stuck in grease, fat, and other substances that have been put down your drain, causing a clog.
  • Grease, Fat, and Oils: Speaking of grease, grease, fat, and oils account for more than 47% of all sewer overflows that happen in the U.S. every year. These substances basically act as a binder for all other materials, creating a thick layer coat on the pipes, blocking anything else from getting through.

These are the most common substances that we find being the culprit of many drain clogs every day.

When You Need a Plumber, Pilot Is Here

With over 15 years of business and thousands of five-star customers, we pride ourselves on being the best affordable plumbing company for the surrounding communities – prompt and reliable plumbing services you can trust.

We’re not only here to help you with any kind of plumbing issue or need, we’re here to supply you with knowledge about the industry and how to take care of your plumbing systems so you don’t have to deal with extensive, expensive damage.

If you’re looking for a great, local plumber in the Vancouver, Washington area – you’ve come to the right blog.

Contact us today for a FREE QUOTE!

About Andy

Andy Davis, father of 6, CEO & Founder of Pilot Plumbing & Drain, has been a plumber for 18 years and decided to start Pilot Plumbing & Drain from seeing first-hand how important it is to have a reliable, honest plumber available to help the community. He believes in efficiency and takes pride in the cleanliness of his staff and their reputation for being polite, hard working, and professional.

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