How to Naturallly Banish Smelly Drains (and When You Should Be Concerned About the Smell)

Once something is washed away down a drain, it should be gone. You certainly don't want to be reminded of whatever might have been washed away by a lingering odour. But this is an annoyingly common matter with household drains. Sure, there are many chemicals that will deodorise your smelly drains, and yet perhaps you would prefer a more natural solution? An unpleasant lingering odour can quite easily be banished using products you probably already have at home, although there are also times when a lingering odour can be a sign of a more serious plumbing problem. So what are some straightforward and efficient ways to deodorise your household drains? And when might the problem need more than deodorising?

A Kitchen Sink with a Garbage Disposal Unit

Check the owner's manual for your garbage disposal unit (or source the information online for your specific unit). Some manufacturers might suggest that you can clean the unit by placing ice chips into it while it's running. To deodorise the unit, you simply need to take this one step further. Freeze some lemon wedges overnight and then place these into the unit before switching it on. The hard frozen components of the lemon will clean the blades of the unit while releasing citric acid which has deodorising capabilities.

Standard Sinks

If you don't have a garbage disposal unit, you should just use baking soda. It's an effective deodoriser and it works by reacting with the acids in your drains that are causing the odour. It acts as a sequestering agent, isolating and altering the components of the acids that have an offensive smell, and then releasing this as odourless carbon dioxide. So really you just need to liberally sprinkle baking soda into your drain, allow it to sit (and how long it needs to sit will depend on how bad the smell is), before flushing the drain with hot water. Particularly offensive scents might benefit from following the baking soda with white vinegar, another potent natural deodoriser.

In the Bathroom

The use of baking soda (and potentially vinegar as well) is also effective in your bathroom drains, but here you need to be mindful about the nature of the scent. Does it smell like human waste? This might be coupled with your bath or shower and bathroom sinks draining slowly. If the scent could conceivably be human waste, then you need to immediately call a plumber as your main drain line might be clogged. This is infinitely more serious than standard blocked drains as it means that waste from your toilet cannot drain to the sewer, and so is being pushed back into your pipes. The plumber will be able to unblock your main drain line and so any odours will then dissipate of their own accord (although feel free to speed up the process by using baking soda).

Smelly drains can easily and efficiently be banished, but it's important to be aware of the times when the smell is an indicator of a more serious problem.