How To Clean A Kitchen Sink Drain

How To Clean A Kitchen Sink Drain

Although most folks clean their sink regularly, cleaning the drain is often a forgotten project. Well, until it starts smelling. Once pungent odors start wafting from the sink drain, most folks put cleaning it on the top of their cleaning to-do list. Food debris, grease, and dirt can build up in the drain, leading to unpleasant smells in your kitchen.

But how do you clean a kitchen sink drain? Let’s find out.

What Causes A Smelly Kitchen Sink Drain?

Generally, the culprit behind your smelly sink drain is bacteria and rotting food. Tiny food particles that get washed down the drain can get stuck in the drain pipe, especially if you pour grease down the drain. With a moist environment and plenty of food scraps, this is the perfect place for bacteria.

As the food decays, it’ll begin to release pungent (not-so-nice) odors. Alternatively, the smell could stem from mold and mildew, which also prefer dark, moist environments.

Why Does My Kitchen Sink Drain Smell Like Sewage?

If the drain smells like the sewer, there’s a good chance that sewer gases are sneaking through the plumbing vent or drain trap. Unfortunately, this problem won’t stop until you remedy the actual culprit. So, if the drain trap isn’t full of water, refilling it should prevent sewer gases from entering your kitchen.

If that doesn’t remedy the issue, it’s probably the plumbing vent, so you might need professional assistance.

How Do You Clean A Smelly Sink Drain?

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A smelly sink drain in your kitchen isn’t ideal. After all, this is where you make delectable meals, so the smell wafting from the sink drain can put a damper on things. Luckily, cleaning the drain and getting rid of the scent is straightforward. Here are a few methods to try.

Hot Water And Dish Soap

Sometimes, all it takes to relieve a smelly kitchen sink drain is a bit of dish soap and some hot water. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Grease-cutting dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Heat-proof bowl
  • Spoon

Pour a few cups of hot water into a heat-proof bowl. If you have metal plumbing, you can use boiling water, but if the pipes throughout your home are made of plastic, stick with hot tap water. Mix a few drops of dish soap into the hot water, stirring until the soap is incorporated.

Pour the soapy solution into the offending drain and let it sit for five minutes. After a few minutes, flush the drain with hot tap water.

Baking Soda And Vinegar

Since smelly kitchen drains are often the result of bacteria residing down there, baking soda and vinegar are an excellent way to tackle the issue. Both offer deodorizing properties, while vinegar offers disinfecting properties. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water

Pour about ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. The mixture will foam in the drain, which is the reaction happening between the two. Give the solution about 15 minutes to work, then flush the drain with hot water.

If you have metal pipes, you can use boiling water to rinse the drain. However, if you have plastic pipes (PEX, PVC, etc.), don’t use boiling water, as this can damage the plumbing. In this case, hot tap water will do.

Baking Soda, Salt, And Vinegar

Baking Soda And Vinegar

Take things a step up by adding salt to the mixture. Although baking soda and vinegar should do the trick in most cases, adding salt can help break gunk buildup from inside the drain and subsequent plumbing. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Table salt
  • Vinegar
  • Microwave-safe bowl

Heat one cup of vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. It doesn’t need to be boiling; it just needs to be hot. Once you heat the vinegar, set it aside. Mix ½ cup baking soda with ¼ cup of table salt, then pour the mixture into the offending drain.

Next, pour the heated vinegar into the drain. The mixture will begin to bubble and foam – let it do its thing. After 15 minutes, flush the drain with hot tap water to remove the residual mixture from the pipes.

Commercial Drain Cleaners

If you prefer the convenience of pre-made drain cleaners and sprays, you can always use a commercial drain cleaner to tackle the smells inhabiting your kitchen sink drain. To relieve the potential stress that commercial drain cleaners can place on the plumbing in your home, opt for an enzyme or bacteria-based cleaner.

These products enlist the help of concentrated enzymes and bacteria to eat through drain clogs and other gunk that causes unpleasant odors.

Lemon, Salt, And Ice (Garbage Disposals)

If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, you can approach the problem differently. While the above methods will work, you can also enlist the help of the garbage disposal to remove gunk caked within the canister (which causes the smells).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Ice

Grab a few ice cubes and toss those into the drain (don’t turn the disposal on yet). Add a few tablespoons of salt, turn on the cold water, then turn on the garbage disposal. Let the unit run until it finishes grinding the ice cubes, then flush the canister with water.

Next, slice a lemon into small pieces (large pieces could cause clogs) and toss those into the garbage disposal canister. Alternatively, use the lemon for something else and chop the peels for this project. Turn on the cold water and let the garbage disposal run for a few minutes until it finishes crushing the lemons.

Now, your garbage disposal should be free of gunk. Bonus: the lemon peels will release lovely citrus scents. Talk about fresh!

What Is The Best Way To Clean A Sink Drain?

The best way to clean a kitchen sink drain depends on your preferences. For example, if you don’t like using harsh chemicals to clean your home, the baking soda and vinegar methods are good options. Or, if you like the convenience of a commercial cleaner, that might be your best bet.