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How To Get Rid of Smells in Sink with or Without Disposal

A stinky sink can make a clean home feel filthy. Fix the problem with these methods.

Even if you clean your sink thoroughly every day, it can still host some gnarly smells. Not only does this make the sink area smell bad, but it can cause odors throughout your whole kitchen.

We have excellent methods for how to get rid of smells in a sink. These home remedies are suitable for homes with or without a garbage disposal.

Whether you’re trying to remove ongoing odors or an occasional rotten egg stench, we’re here to help.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify the cause of sink odors, which can include mold, mildew, clogged sewer vents, bacteria, or sulfates.
  • Use home remedies to tackle smells, such as pouring boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar down the drain for a deep clean.
  • Prevent sink smells by using a drain screen, daily cleaning, avoiding grease, and boiling the drains regularly.
  • Call a professional plumber if odors persist or there is a suspected clog in the plumbing system.

Why Does My Sink Smell Bad?

Before learning how to make a sink smell better, you need to identify the cause of the odors. Many factors can lead to a musty sink. Here are the top causes:

  • Mold and mildew: If there is a leak in the plumbing system, mold and mildew can grow. The smell will come up through the kitchen sink.
  • Clogged sewer vent: If you notice a smell like sewage, it can be down to a clogged sewer vent elsewhere in the house.
  • Bacteria: One of the most common causes of sink smells is bacteria. This can smell like dirt and be caused by poor cleaning, bad plumbing, food and drink residue, and clogs.
  • Sulfates: You know that rotten egg smell that can seep up from a sink? That’s due to too much sulfate in the water system. Normally this isn’t too harmful, but it’s worth dealing with it before using the water system in your home.

Usually, you can identify the smell by giving a sniff test. But if you can’t determine the smell, call in a plumber.

How To Get Rid of Smells in a Sink

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to tackle smells in a sink. These home remedies are easy and cheap but super effective. We’ll walk you through various methods that work for homes with and without garbage disposal.

With a Garbage Disposal

Tons of food and drink waste goes through a garbage disposal, and food residue is inevitable. However, this can lead to bad odors.

Here are seven ways to remove odors from a sink with garbage disposal:

  • General cleaning: There may be food stuck in your garbage disposal. With the disposal turned off, remove any big chunks of food, then clean out the rubber flange and entrances since food can hide behind here. Run the water for a few minutes to flush out leftover food.
  • Citrus: Put some chopped citrus fruits (such as lemons, oranges, or lime) in the garbage disposal and turn it on. The citrus will kill foul odors while leaving behind a pleasant scent.
  • Brush: Use a garbage disposal brush to remove food waste — this can instantly freshen up your sink and remove odors.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: Lift the rubber flange and pour ½ cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal. Follow up with ½ cup of distilled white vinegar. Leave for one hour before turning the garbage disposal on and running cold water for a few minutes.
  • Ice cubes: Fill the garbage disposal with ice cubes and turn it on until the ice has been ground. This can remove foul smells and buildup while sharpening the blades.
  • Bleach: Turn the cold water on and pour one teaspoon of bleach down the garbage disposal. Flush with cold water for another few minutes. You can use this method in combination with ice cubes for even better results.
  • Garbage disposal cleaner: Last but not least, why not use a product designed to remove odors from your garbage disposal and sink? We recommend BioWonder Septic Tank Treatment or Plink Garbage Disposal Cleaner. Follow the packaging instructions for the application method.

Safety First

Always turn the garbage disposal off at the breaker or switch to avoid potential injury. You should also be careful with bleach as it can damage the garbage disposal and pipes — always check with the manufacturer and avoid bleach if you have a septic tank. Never pour another cleaning chemical down the garbage disposal along with bleach, as this can lead to toxic gasses.

Without a Disposal

If you don’t have a garbage disposal, you can still effectively remove odors from the system. These are our favorite methods for killing odors — tried and tested at home.

  • Boiling water: Boil a kettle and slowly pour it down the drain, a little at a time. Give it five minutes to loosen any gunk and kill bacteria before flushing with cold water for a few minutes.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: This is our favorite home remedy for removing odors from your sink. It’s natural but, in our experience, most effective. Pour one liter of boiling water down the drain. Then pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of distilled white vinegar. This will fizz up and loosen bacteria and gunk. After a few minutes, pour another liter of boiling water down the sink. Flush with cold water.
  • Mouthwash: If you want to try a method without baking soda, pour a few capfuls of mouthwash down the drain. Leave it for 15 minutes before flushing cold water down the sink.
  • Remove the p-trap: Under your sink is a u-bend-shaped pipe. Place a bucket underneath and remove the p-trap pipe. Wash it out well with hot soapy water and flexible scrubbing brushes. You may find food residue or a clog that could be the source of the bad smells.
  • Baking soda and lemon juice: Pour boiling water down the drain and add ½ cup of baking soda. Then squeeze a few lemons into the drain and leave it to soak for 15 minutes before adding more boiling water. Then flush with cold water.
  • Baking soda and essential oils: Try this method if you want a lovely scent after neutralizing the odors. Pour boiling water down the drain, then add ½ cup of baking soda. Add 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oils (mint or tea tree is great for sinks) and leave it to sit overnight. Rinse with boiling water.

How To Fix a Sink That Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If there is a rotten egg smell coming from your drain, this is akin to a sulfur smell. It could be because you haven’t used your drains for a while. The u-shaped pipe underneath your sink has a special trap to prevent sewer gases from entering your sink.

However, if you haven’t used the drains in a while, the water in the u-shape pipe can evaporate, leading to a rotten egg stench.

Sometimes it’s as easy as running the water for a few minutes to add more water to the p-trap pipe. Afterward, use our vinegar and baking soda hack to clean the sink.

If the odor persists, you should call a plumber, as this stench could signify a more serious problem.

How To Stop a Sink From Smelling

You’re all clued up on how to get rid of sink smells. While it only takes a few minutes here and there, it’s worth knowing how to prevent stinky odors in the first place. Here are our top tips:

  • Drain screen: Place a drain screen over the plughole to prevent large food deposits from entering the pipes. We use these, and it helps a lot. At the end of every day, simply toss the debris into the trash can, rinse out the screen and replace it.
  • Daily cleaning and weekly deep cleaning: Clean your sink out with a surface spray and cloth every day. Every week, implement the baking soda and vinegar hack to absorb odors.
  • No grease: Don’t pour grease or fat down the drain. Instead, wipe it up with a kitchen towel and toss it in the trash. If you have a large amount of grease, pour it into a disposable container and toss it in the garbage.
  • Boil the drains: Every time you have leftover water in your kettle, boil it and pour it down the drain to kill bacteria.
  • Watch the foods: Don’t put the wrong foods into the garbage disposal. This includes grease, oil, coffee grounds, pits, seeds, stringy produce, rice, oatmeal, pasta, egg shells, and onion layers. Don’t discard animal bones, potato peels, nuts, or general trash.

When to Call a Professional to Clean a Sink

If you’ve tried a bunch of odor-eliminator methods and nothing works, it’s time to call a professional.

You should also call a professional if you smell sewage odors, as a blocked sewer line could cause this.

Likewise, call a professional if you suspect a clog and aren’t sure how to fix it.

We also recommend getting a professional to deep clean your sink and drains yearly. This is preventative and can reduce the chances of bad odors and clogs in the future.


What is a Good Drain Deodorizer?

If you’re looking for a commercial cleaner, here are three recommendations:

  • BioWonder Septic and Drain Treatment: This removes odors, bacteria, and debris from garbage disposals, sinks, toilets, and septic systems. It’s a non-toxic and natural formula that is eco-friendly and biodegradable. It breaks down organic waste, kills odors, and prevents septic backups.
  • Drano Max Gel Cleaner: Drano is a fantastic product if you suspect a clog is the reason for your sink smells. It can unclog drains super quickly. It works for hair clogs, food clogs, and more.
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Probiotic Drain Maintenance Liquid: This cleaning solution uses micro-helpers to prevent buildups and kill odors. It also leaves behind a super refreshing lavender scent. It’s made with 88 percent plant-derived ingredients, including essential oils.

Is It OK To Pour Bleach Down the Sink?

From time to time, it’s okay to pour a small amount of diluted bleach down the sink. We’re talking one tablespoon per gallon of water.

However, plumbers recommend doing this sparingly. Bleach is a corrosive substance that can break down your pipes and interact with other chemicals. This can lead to hazardous fumes.

For instance, never mix bleach with vinegar, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, acetone, and other household cleaners. If you regularly use these substances, then never use bleach to clean your sink or garbage disposal.

How Long Can You Leave Hydrogen Peroxide in a Drain?

You can leave hydrogen peroxide in your drain overnight. However, if you only have 10 free minutes or a few hours before you need to use the sink again, hydrogen peroxide will still be effective.

Hydrogen peroxide helps clear clogs rather than just eliminating odors.

To use hydrogen peroxide in the sink, pour cold water down the drain, followed by one cup of baking soda. Leave for 10 minutes before pouring one cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide down the drain. Leave it in the drain for at least a few hours, but you can wait overnight.

Pour hot water down the drain to flush it clean.

What Is the Black Gunk in My Bathroom Sink Drain?

If you notice black gunk in your sink, particularly around the drain or faucet, it’s usually a buildup. This is caused by bacteria, either from hair, soaps, lotions, toothpaste, bodily fluids, or skin cells.

The bad news is if this is coming from the drain or faucet, then it’s probably an issue within the pipes — and it’s growing. This kind of bacteria thrives in water, so the best way to fix the problem is to hire a professional plumber to clean it out.

However, if you want to attempt fixing the problem yourself first, try using a strong drain cleaner. If that doesn’t work, try and remove any clogs with a plunger or drain snake.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!