Kitchen Sink Smells Bad – How To Clean & Deodorize Stinky Drains

Kitchen sinks are some of the most utilized spots in your house. Grease, food particles, and other unwanted debris are bound to accumulate over time. No matter how rigorously you clean your sink, it might start producing a smell, but in most cases, such issues can be solved easily without calling a plumber. To do so, I explain now why those unpleasant odors can occur and how to get rid of smelly drains in kitchen.

Why does my kitchen sink smell?

If you are wondering why your kitchen sink smells like sewer or musty, then you are not alone. There can be various reasons responsible for the odors so to know how to stop it from stinking, in the first place, let’s reveal the most common reasons why it can be smelly.

Unused drain

One of the reasons why the kitchen sink drain smells bad is that the drain pipes have not been in use for quite a while. This can happen if you had gone away for the weekend or had a longer vacation.

kitchen sink with sponge

The kitchen sink has a trap that blocks sewer smells from returning through the drains. If it is not used for a while, the water in the trap evaporates, thus allowing bad odors from the sewer to enter. However, the bad smell should be gone quickly when you start using the sink again.

Grease build-up

Most of us are guilty of dumping oil or grease into the drains that slowly coagulate in the drainage system and begin to decompose making your kitchen sink smells like rotten eggs.

cleaning a dirty pan in the kitchen sink

Grease build-up can be easily avoided; first, do not pour such stuff directly down the drain. Second, wash oily pots and pans in the proper way: scrape any leftover food on the dishes into the trash, wipe extra oil and grease by using a paper towel, and rinse them off with soapy, very warm water. Don’t forget to clean the whole sink too when you finished doing the dishes to prevent residue build-up on its walls.

Clogged sewer vent

Your drainage system has a plumbing vent or P-unit that allows fresh air to come in and ensure that water runs smoothly. If the kitchen sink smells like sewage when water runs, then this could be the problem.

Clog Remover

Green Gobbler Clog Remover

  • effective formula that clears clogged drains and liquifies grease, hair, paper, soap scum and everything organic that‘s causing clogs within your pipes
  • works faster and more effective than most other drain uncloggers on the market by lowering the pH level in drains at rapid speed, destroying anything in it’s path
  • safe to use in pipes, toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers

If the sewer vent is blocked deep inside, you may solve the problem easily by using a powerful clog remover but if there is no blockage and the sink still smells bad, you may need to get a professional to inspect it.

Food debris stuck on the pipes

Food particles are going to get stuck and sometimes even block drainpipes regardless of how thoroughly you shred them. The greasy food will gradually form mold, mildew, sulfates, and bacteria that will in turn emanate a garbage smell in the kitchen. Over time, you will find that your sink smells like a sewer, owing to a combination of all these substances. Cleaning the sink and the pipes regularly as explained below will solve this!

Author’s Tip: The sulfur smell can occur also because of sulfate in the water. It is a very common compound found in nearly all water wells. It is typically not considered a health risk, but kids and people not used to drinking water with high levels of sulfate can experience laxative effects. According to WHO’s drinking water standards, up to 500mg/l of sulfate water is intended for human consumption. EU standards suggest a maximum of 250mg/l.

Plumbing errors, leaks

If your kitchen sink smells horrible even if it is clean and not clogged, then it might be an error with the pipes. There might be a missing component, a leak due to a crack or hole somewhere or improper handy work. Call your plumber to deal with the issue.

plumber repairing kitchen sink

How to get rid of smelly drains in kitchen – Best cleaning methods explained

If you want to get rid of stinky drains in kitchen sinks before you need to call a professional because the problem most likely is just a minor build-up or removable clog that you can manage on your own, try out one or more of the following methods.

Rinse with hot water and dish soap

You might be lucky, and your sink only requires a decent cleaning. The first remedy that you can try is filling in your sink with very hot water while the plug is intact. Add some dishwashing soap to the water and agitate the mixture to make it bubbly. You can then release the mixture and let it run through the drainage for cleansing.

Disinfect with bleach

Using bleach might seem obvious when it comes to cleaning surfaces that harbor microbes, but alone it will not help you to get rid of bad kitchen smells. Bleach is a powerful disinfectant and can help get rid of odor-causing bacteria, but essentially, it is not a cleaner so you need first clean the sink and just then start the disinfecting process.

kitchen sink filled with water

Do not use too much of it! Pouring about 1 tablespoon of bleach and a gallon of water down the drain should stop sink odors. Make sure to use bleach safely protecting your eyes and skin. Also, keep in mind not to mix it with other cleaners because it can cause a chemical reaction producing toxic fumes. Dilute it with cold water only since hot water decomposes its active ingredients and it won’t be that powerful.

Deodorize with baking soda and vinegar

One of the tried and proven tricks to use for kitchen sink drain stinks is vinegar and baking soda. This method is used to both cleanse and deodorize and will stop your kitchen from smelling.

75% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar

Calyptus 75% Pure Super Concentrated Vinegar

  • highly concentrated and powerful formula that is 15X stronger than normal vinegar
  • can be diluted up to 1:13 with water or used at full strength
  • created in the US from domestic high purity ingredients, carefully and conscientiously produced, not for human consumption

You simply need to boil water and while it is getting hot, pour one cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda down the drain. Let the two ingredients sit in the drain for approximately ten minutes, then flush the boiling water down the drain. Finally, rinse the sink drain with cold tap water. You can use your everyday white vinegar, but for cleaning purposes, I recommend concentrated cleaning vinegar that is more effective it comes to removing dirt and grease.

Author’s Tip: these two ingredients can be used in various ways to create a fresh-smelling environment in your house such as deodorizing pots and pans, get rid of bad smell in the dishwasher, wash smelly dish towels, and disinfecting dirty kitchen sponges.

Clean with ice, salt, and lemon peels

If running hot water and dish soap or the vinegar-baking soda mixture doesn’t solve the problem, then salt, ice cubes, and lemon or citrus peels might do the trick. I love this sink drain deodorizing method because it uses natural ingredients only and leaves a fresh smell in the kitchen.

lemon and salt for natural kitchen cleaning

Turn off your garbage disposal, put some ice cubes and coarse salt in the drain pipe then turn it on and allow the salt and ice to be processed for a few minutes, finally throw in citrus peels. The purpose of salt and ice is to disintegrate any physical residue in the drainage, while the peels will freshen the stinky sink.

Use a kitchen sink drain cleaner

In case these natural sick cleaning and deodorizing methods fail, you might need a commercial drain cleaner to get to work done. Choose one that is powerful, but safe for the pipes. I have good experience with the above-linked clog remover and also with Drano.

This solution is a thick gel so it will sink directly to the clog to resolve the problem at its source by dissolving grease, soap scum, and other dirt build-ups. Use it as instructed on the label so it can do its magic and you can enjoy a clean drain that doesn’t stink!

Inspired? Pin it!

kitchen sink drain smells bad what to do - pin