Why Does My Kitchen Sink Smell and How Can I Fix It?

Your kitchen sink is probably the most hard-working fixture in your home. It has to put up with a lot of food debris and grease that we dump down there every day. So it comes as no surprise that these things can build up quickly and lead to some pretty terrible smells. It’s not all about smelly food though. There are also other plumbing issues that could be happening to cause the smell. In this guide we are answering the question why does my kitchen sink smell.

Is Food to Blame?

Food particles may well be the reason why your kitchen sink smells. They get trapped in the sink drain and garbage disposal, creating a really rotten smell. However, these smells could be hiding something a lot more serious. Grease and oil can easily coat the inside of the drain pipes that will then trap the food particles, stopping them from being flushed out and emitting a pongy sewer gas.

Cleaning Your Sink Drain

If you are tired of thinking your kitchen sink smells then we have some great tips to get rid of food debris both in the drain and garbage disposal.

1 – Dish Soap and Hot Water

First up you will want to plug your sink up with the stopper and fill it up so it is at least halfway dull with nice hot water. Now you can stop those kitchen sink smells by squirting some of your standard dish soap into the water. Pull the plug out and turn the garbage disposal on as the sink drains the water out. This will help to flush out any food particles that can easily be removed. For a smellier sink drain you will need to use something a bit stronger.

2 – Baking Soda and Vinegar

To use the baking soda and vinegar method you first need to measure out one cup of baking soda and pour it down the sink drain. Then do the same with the vinegar, adding it to the baking soda in the sink. Let this mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes. While you wait for the baking soda to do its job you can boil some water ready for the next part of the process. Pour this water down the sink drain to move any residual food waste and get rid of that sewer gas smell.

3 – Ice, Salt and Citrus Peels

It’s not only boiling water that can help save a dirty garbage disposal and kitchen sink drain. Throwing some ice cubes into the drain along with a handful of coarse salt can help too. Run your disposal for 10 to 15 seconds. The ice cubes work as a scraper to get rid of any bits of food that have stuck to the sides and blades of your disposal.

Once this part of the process has been done you can add in some citrus peels from oranges, lemons or limes to your garbage disposal which will grind them up, acting as a deodorizer against the sewer smell. You will want to run the water while the citrus peels are grinding up so that no more food debris gets stuck in the sink or garbage disposal.

All of these tips will mean that your drain is completely clean. If the sewer gas smell hasn’t gone away and is persistent then the issue is more than likely to do with your plumbing.

Plumbing Issues

The plumbing system in your home has been carefully designed to contain any harmful gases and sewage, flushing it away from the property so that you are left with nice clean water. If you can smell sewer gas from your sink then there could be a bigger problem in the system, not just with the garbage disposal.

This issue can be stressful as plumbing problems can be costly and are also a hazard to your health. Sewer gases are very toxic and can be incredibly dangerous if you are breathing them in for long periods of time. This is especially true for those who have compromised immune systems, or the very young. Below we are going to look at some of the plumbing issues which could be causing you to smell sewer gas.

1 – P-Trap

If you don’t know what the P-trap is, it’s the curved part of the pipe that sits under your sink and it looks like a p or a u. It’s the fixture that isolates the drain line from the main sink and should be stopping any sewer smell from emerging. The trap works by holding in water at the bottom of the curved part which then blocks the smell.

Taking a look at the P-trap, if you notice it is dry then this would be a good cause of a sewage smell coming from your sink. A sink that is used regularly means you can eliminate evaporation smells being the cause of your issue.

2 – Blockages

The baking soda and boiling water method is a good way of removing blockages but if bad smells are persisting then there could be a much bigger clog. In the curve of the pipe there is a cap that allows you to check for any blockages and remove them if there is one.

Blockages can be cleared with hot water and soap. Make sure to run the water for a few seconds after to fill the trap back up to the optimal level.

3 – Leaks

If you look at the side of the P-trap you will notice connections. These are easy to remove and then you can take the P-trap out. Just be careful because it will probably be full of water. Give the pipe a good inspection to see if there are any leaks, and then clean it out. Any leaks that you find should be recorded so that you can make sure you get the right size replacement trap. If no leaks are found then reinstall your P-trap and move on to the next potential cause.

4 – Clogged Plumbing Vent

Every home has one main plumbing vent that exits out through your roof. It will be up to your local coding laws as to how large it is, but most say that it has to have a diameter of at least four inches. Every fixture is supposed to be vented so that air can come in and allow for the water to move through the pipe smoothly. Having a clogged vent means that the water flow slows down and it won’t drain properly, causing standing water and smells.

Anyone who has a slowly draining sink drain should try the methods we gave above including trying to pour baking soda and vinegar to resolve the issue.


In the event that none of the advice we have given you in this article has worked, it’s time to call in a professional plumber. They can snake your drains and remove anything that could be causing it to smell. Remember to check out the rest of the guides on our website for more handy plumbing tips.


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

You can use any of the tips we have mentioned in the article above to get rid of a smelly kitchen sink. Most of these are natural as well so won’t cause harm to children or animals.

Why does my kitchen sink always smell bad?

The main cause of a smelly kitchen sink is that there is a build-up of food and other debris in the drainpipe. Over time these particles decay, building up a lot of bacteria that will then smell.

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