Sink Stinks and What to Do About Them to Stop the Stench

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Whether you use a garbage disposal or a sink strainer, you’ve probably dealt with sink stinks. A smelly drain is enough to ruin your desire to cook — or even eat! — in your kitchen, so it’s important to get rid of the smell as quickly as you can.

Luckily, the problem is easily solved. Whether you have a garbage disposal or not, here are some DIY methods that will help you get rid of the stink.

What Causes Sink Stinks?

When you clean your house, chances are that you don’t even think about cleaning your sink drain. The truth is that a kitchen sink drain is one of the dirtiest places in your house.

That’s because every time you put something down the drain, it can stick to the garbage disposal blades, the sidewalls, or even to your pipes.

And all that stuck and hardened food grows bacteria. And guess what? Bacteria stinks. In fact, that’s the number one reason your sink stinks.

So, what can you do about a stinky sink drain? Let us count the ways. Here are some great ways you get rid of those sink drain smells — whether you have a garbage disposal or not.

How to Get of Sink Stinks When You Have a Garbage Disposal

Cleaning your sink drain is easier done when you have a garbage disposal because it affords you more options. Here are five ways to rid your sink of stinks when you have one of these handy pieces of equipment.

1. A sink full of water may do the trick

One of the easiest ways to get rid of sink stinks is to put a stopper in the sink drain and then fill it with hot water. As it’s filling, add some liquid dish detergent to form a soapy mixture. Once the sink is full, remove the stopper and turn on the garbage disposal.

The reason this may work better than simply running water down the drain and pouring in some dish soap is that when you empty an entire sink full of water into the disposal, it fills up the garbage disposal. And if that’s the source of your sink stinks, it will wash it away.

2. Grab the lemons

If that doesn’t work, you will have to grab some other odor-eliminating items from your kitchen and give it another whirl. To do this next step, grab some ice, lemon peels, and some coarse salt.

The idea behind this method is to clean the blades on your garbage disposal because sometimes, a stinky kitchen drain is caused by crud that’s attached to the blades.

To perform this method, put a handful of ice cubes and coarse salt down the drain and turn on the garbage disposal. This should rid the blades of any stuck-on substances.

Then, throw a few lemon peels down the drain and run the garbage disposal again to completely rid it of any lingering odors.

Not only will this method help clean the sludge off of your garbage disposal blades, but it will leave your kitchen smelling fresh and lemony. Who doesn’t want that?

3. Lemons a different way

If you love the idea of your kitchen sink smelling like lemons instead of sink stinks, you can make the job easier by pre-preparing some lemon and vinegar ice cubes and using them to rid your sink of the smell.

Start with some ice trays and then add cut up some lemon wedges and add one to each cube.

Next, pour vinegar over the lemon wedges and put the ice cube tray in the freezer overnight. The next morning, put a couple of these ice cubes down the drain and turn on the garbage disposal.

It’s easy and the result will be well worth the overnight wait!

4. No baking soda? No problem

If you don’t have baking soda or vinegar lying around the house, you can use other methods to rid your sink of the stink. Start by pouring eight tablespoons of Borax down the drain and follow it up with a handful of ice cubes.

Then, turn on the garbage disposal and allow the abrasiveness of the ice cubes to mix with the cleaning power of the Borax to wash away all the stink.

5. The flange could be the culprit

This method of cleaning requires a bit of elbow grease but is well worth it.

The sink flange — that round area located at the top of the garbage disposal where it meets the sink drain — can easily become caked with crud and stinky bacteria. When it does, it will emit an odor that you will recognize as the sink stinks.

When gunk collects around the sink flange, it can’t simply be rinsed away with water. Instead, it requires scrubbing — and that’s where you come in.

Start by unplugging the garbage disposal from underneath the sink. As an alternative, you can cut the power to the disposal from the breaker box.

Next, put a few drops of liquid dish soap on a cleaning bush and lower it into the sink drain. Your goal is to scrub the sink flange with the brush as thoroughly as you can. After you’ve scrubbed it, run the hot water to rinse away any gunk you removed with the brush.

To make your kitchen smell good again, you can throw some lemon peels in the garbage disposal afterward to completely remove the sink stinks you’ve been living with.

If none of these tricks work, you may have to resort to more drastic measures to get your garbage disposal clean.

How to Get Rid of Sink Stinks When You Don’t Have a Garbage Disposal

Even if you don’t have a garbage disposal, you could still have sink stinks when running water in your kitchen sink or even when the dishwasher runs.

Here are six ways to get rid of sink stinks when you don’t have a garbage disposal.

1. Boil it

If your kitchen drain stinks and you don’t have a garbage disposal to clean, you can always try the boiling water trick.

To do it, simply boil some water and take it directly off the stove and pour it down the sink drain. This will remove any sludge from your pipes or release any out-of-sight food that’s hardened.

You can also use this as a preventative measure. Every time you boil water—whether it’s for your morning coffee or nightly tea, pour it down the drain to prevent any gunk from sticking to your pipes.

2. The trio

For an effective way to rid your drain of sink stinks, gather together one cup of baking soda, two cups of vinegar, and some hot, boiling water.

Start by putting the baking soda down the sink drain, then add the vinegar. Let it sit and bubble for a few minutes and then pour the hot water down the drain.

Other people put the vinegar in the microwave before putting it down the drain. The thing is this: the hotter the water and vinegar, the more bacteria it will kill. And to rid your kitchen of sink stinks, you have to kill whatever bacteria is causing the smell.

3. Ramp it up

If you love the idea of the tried and true baking soda and vinegar trick, but your sink stinks too much, try adding some coarse salt to the mixture.

The idea behind this is that the salt adds just enough abrasiveness to lodge free any stinky bacteria. You will carry out this method a little differently.

Start by pouring 1/2 cup of course salt, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and one cup of vinegar down the drain. Put the stopper on and allow it to sit for 30 seconds. Then, pour at least one kettle of hot, boiling water down the drain and wash away all those sink stinks.

4. Lemons for the disposal-less!

If you love the thought of your kitchen smelling like lemons but don’t have a garbage disposal to chop up the peels, take heart. You can also use lemons as a way to combat sink stinks. It may cost more, but the delicious smell will likely be well worth it.

Start by juicing some fresh lemons or buying some lemon juice. Then pour some baking soda down your stinky sink drain followed by the lemon juice. The combination of lemon juice and baking soda will bubble just like it does with baking soda and vinegar.

After you allow the mixture to sit in your sink drain until it bubbles, pour some hot, boiling water down the drain. Now your kitchen should smell like a fresh lemon instead of the stinky crud that caused the problem!

5. Do it the fancy way

If your sink stinks and you want to replace that icky smell with the scent of roses, citrus, mint, or any other smell, you can use a combination of baking soda, essential oils, and hot, boiling water. Just think: you can create a custom smell for your kitchen?

Wait until you’re ready to go to bed for the night before starting this process. First, pour some baking soda down the drain, and then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil cleaner. Let the mixture sit in your sink overnight.

The next morning, boil a kettle full of water and then pour the hot liquid down the drain. What a way to start the morning: no more sink stinks but instead the luxurious smell of the scent of your choice!

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    6. Coffee pot vinegar

    You know you have to clean your coffee pot with vinegar every now and then to keep that coffee flowing and the parts clean. But don’t you feel wasteful when you throw out the vinegar at the end of the cleaning cycle?

    Here’s the great news: you can use that vinegar to keep the sink stinks out of your drain.

    After you’ve cleaned your coffee pot, pour the hot vinegar down the drain. Doing this every time you clean your coffee pot should help to keep those ugly sink stinks at bay!

    When All Else Fails

    Whether you have a garbage disposal or not, this last method is what you should resort to when all else fails. In other words, if you’ve tried some of the above methods and are still dealing with sink sinks, it’s time for drastic measures.

    Your final step is to clean the P-trap and cleanse it of all the grunge that has likely collected there. But beware — this is a dirty job!

    Start by disconnecting the power to the garbage disposal and turning off the water to sink. Then, place a bucket underneath the sink and use a wrench to unscrew the P-trap. Place a rubber pipe plug in the open end of the main drain pipe.

    Now, run hot water and allow it to fill the sink to just above the level of the drain. Pour some powdered oxygen bleach into the sink and allow it to sit and help disintegrate the concealed crud for about an hour. After an hour, remove the pipe plug and you should see the sludge fill the bucket.

    Reinstall the P-trap and then run hot water in your sink. The sink stinks should be gone!


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          Call in the Pros

          If you’ve attempted all of the DIY methods and your sink still stinks, it may be time to call in the professionals. Every house has a plumbing vent, and that vent runs out of the top of your roof. Sometimes it can become clogged, which can cause a smelly sink.

          Either climb to the roof and investigate the vent yourself or call in a professional to do it for you. If a clog is the reason for your sink stinks, the smell will go away as soon as the clog is cleared.

          Solved: How to Get Rid of Sink Stinks

          When your sink stinks, it can cause you to avoid your kitchen because the smell can be difficult to take. But by following the tips listed above, your sink will be smelling fresh again in no time.

          Do you have any sink stinks remedies that we didn’t mention? If so, please leave them in the comments below!

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