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How to Get Rid of Kitchen Sink Smell

How to Get Rid of Kitchen Sink Smell

Kitchens do get dirty fast, so we clean them often. Unfortunately, despite all the kitchen cleaning that happens several times a day, a bad odor sometimes lingers. If the trash bin is empty and there is still an odor in your kitchen, it’s likely coming from the kitchen sink. Rotten food and kitchen plumbing issues are the main reasons for the foul smell from the kitchen sink.

A smelly kitchen sink is often a clogged sink drain, dirty garbage disposal, a dry sink trap, or a blocked plumbing vent. Home remedies for eliminating drain odors include dish soap, hot water, ice cubes, lemon peels, baking soda, vinegar, or Borax. Also, a bio-enzyme drain cleaner is an effective commercial alternative.

However, in rarer instances, it’s a sign of a serious plumbing issue that requires professional help. Our article will go over why the kitchen drain smells bad and what you can do to fix it and prevent future occurrences.

Why does my kitchen sink smell so bad?

Before you start cleaning your kitchen sink, it’s important to identify what is causing the bad odor in the kitchen sink. Understanding the causes of a smelly kitchen sink will help you decide on the best solution. Below are the most common reasons why your kitchen sink smells bad.

Dry P-trap

If you have been out of the house for a while and haven’t been using your kitchen sink, it will develop an unpleasant smell. This is because the kitchen sink has a P-trap underneath containing water that blocks sewer gases from escaping into your kitchen through the sink. Gravity keeps the water in place, and it is refreshed every time you run the tap. So when you don’t use the sink for a long time, the water from the trap evaporates, allowing an unpleasant sewer smell to enter your kitchen.

A dried up P-trap is also a reason for a smelly shower drain.

Leaking sewer trap

A hole or crack in the trap will also prevent the trap from working as it should since water will be leaking. Again, you will have to consult a plumber to inspect and fix this issue.  

Greasy drain

Often during cooking or washing dishes, we pour oil and grease into the sink drains, which can cause a smell sink. The grease and oils from the food solidify in the drainage pipe and decompose gradually, giving off a rotten smell in the kitchen. Other than making the kitchen smell bad, pouring oils and grease into the sink can cause pipe blockage.

Dirty garbage disposal

A garbage disposal gives the convenience of breaking down food particles and sends into the sewer system to cut down on blockages. Usually, a garbage disposal needs plenty of running water to be clean and free from food particles. But sometimes, food caught in the blades will start to rot and cause your kitchen sink to smell. Other than lack of sufficient running water, a damaged garbage disposal that’s not working can also be the reason for the rotten smell from the kitchen sink and will need a replacement.

Blocked plumbing vent

Your kitchen sink drain has a plumbing vent that allows fresh air inside the drain, ensuring water runs smoothly through the drain pipes. If the vent is blocked, it slows down water movement, and the sewer gases accumulate and escapes through the kitchen sink and into your kitchen.

A clogged vent also creates a vacuum in the piping. If the vacuum becomes large enough, it can suck water from the traps, allowing sewer gases to enter your home through a dry trap.

Sometimes, critters and small animals like rats, mice, and birds can get stuck and die inside a plumbing vent. If your kitchen smells like a dead animal, get a professional plumber to help get it out to get rid of the smell.

Organic waste in the pipes

Food debris can get stuck and block the drain pipes even with a garbage disposal. Greasy foods harden along the sides of the drain pipes, rot, and the odor escapes through the kitchen sink. Over time the food accumulates in the pipes, narrowing them and eventually causing a drain blockage.

How do I get rid of a bad smell in my kitchen sink?

If the source of the kitchen sink smell is minor, you can easily fix the issue using household products or readily available products from your local store. But severe issues such as a malfunctioning garbage disposal or trap will require professional help. Below are all the tricks and tips to help get rid of a bad odor from your kitchen sink

Home remedies for a smelly kitchen

Use the following household ingredients to eliminate kitchen sink odors.

Hot water and dish soap

  • Ensure the garbage disposal is off.
  • Boil some water and pour liquid dish soap into it.
  • Slowly pour the hot soapy solution down the plughole
  • Wait five minutes, then run cold tap water to force any remaining grease and oils to harden and flush through.

Baking soda and vinegar

White vinegar is a multipurpose cleaning solution. It is a natural anti-bacterial acid, while baking soda helps to scour away food particles and grease stuck along the sides of the drain.

  • Pour half a cup of baking soda down the sink drain.
  • Then pour one cup of distilled white vinegar down the sink drain.
  • Allow the solution to foam up and allow it to work for a few hours.
  • Finally, pour hot water down the plughole to melt any remaining grease residue.
  • Then run cold tap water through.

Citrus peels, ice, and salt

  • Power on your garbage disposal and turn on your cold tap water.
  • Throw a few ice cubes and a handful of Kosher salt down the sink plug hole to scour food particles off the blades.
  • Turn the garbage disposal for about 15 seconds.
  • Toss a few citrus peels in the disposal, open the tap water, and run the disposer to deodorize it.
  • Once the blades are clean, check if the smell persists. If it does, the garbage disposal will need replacing.
  • Remember to use cold water only when the garbage disposal is on to help cool the motor.


  • Pour about three to four tablespoons of Borax into the sink drain.
  • Run the tap water and disposer to eliminate the sink odor.
  • If Borax alone doesn’t fix the issue, run some citrus peels and ice cubes through the garbage disposal.
  • Open the tap and turn on the disposal.

Chemical cleaning methods

The following are chemicals useful for getting rid of kitchen sink smells.

Bio-enzyme drain cleaner

Bio-enzyme drain cleaners are environmentally friendly cleaners that can break down organic matter and remove odor. It’s good to note that these cleaners typically work more slowly than chemical cleaners, but they are safer for the pipes and the environment. You may have to do multiple rounds to clear a clogged drain completely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the product as each brand has different use directions. Consult a plumber to fix your smelly kitchen sink if none of the home remedies work.

Check the sewer gas trap.

Locate the gas trap under the kitchen sink and look for breaks or leaks. This trap should always have water to prevent sewer gases from escaping the sink plughole. Look for signs of drips or damp patches under the sink; then consult a plumber to replace it. Look for obstruction, remove the trap with a wrench and clean it out with a wire brush.

How to prevent my kitchen sink drain from turning smelly again

After cleaning your kitchen sink drain and successfully eliminating the odor, it’s best to follow preventive practices to avoid future incidences. Try the following tips:

  1. Install a drain screen over the sink plughole to block food particles from entering the drain pipes.
  2. Avoid pouring oils and grease down the kitchen sink drain. Instead, use a kitchen towel or paper towels to soak up or scrape fats from your cooking pans before washing them.
  3. After cleaning dishes, always pour a kettle of hot water down the drain to melt any grease and fats and kill bacteria.
  4. Proper use of your garbage disposal helps prevent clogs and build up of food debris that will rot and smell.
  5. Pour a mixture of baking soda and white distilled vinegar or bio-enzyme drain cleaner down your kitchen sink drain once a week. The white vinegar will kill the bacteria growing in your drains, and the baking soda is an excellent drain odor eliminator.
  6. Use the garbage disposal for soft food. Avoid dumping hard food waste like bones and fruit cored into the garbage disposal since they can get stuck and block other food from draining through the sink plumbing.
  7. Schedule regular plumbing service checks to ensure your pipes are clean and in good condition.


We now believe that you’re confident enough to eliminate your kitchen sink odor. Before going to the store for chemicals, you probably have a few home supplies such as white vinegar, baking soda, Kosher salt, lemon peels, and hot water to help unblock clogged drains and also deodorize the sink drains. If cleaning doesn’t help, there’s likely a plumbing issue that requires a professional.