If you’ve just scrubbed, wiped down, and mopped every inch of your bathroom but there’s still a funky smell, there’s a good chance it’s the bathroom sink drain. Here’s how to banish the odors.
Drains of all kinds can get smelly, but a stinky bathroom drain usually sneaks up on you. Unlike the drain in your kitchen sink—which gets hit with very hot water and strong detergents courtesy of your dishwasher draining one or more times a day—your bathroom sink doesn’t get the same hot water/harsh detergent treatment.
As a result of that a combination of hair, grime, skin oils, and other gunk builds up over time and needs to be occasionally attended to. Thankfully de-griming your bathroom sink drain isn’t hard.
In most instances, you can get the job done in a few simple steps. First, snake the drain with a simple plastic drain snake—there are tons of cheap ones on the market, but we love the very sturdy drain snakes from Cobra Products. Snaking the drain will remove any hair, and even if there isn’t much hair, it will still scrape through and break up built-up gunk. Flush the drain with hot water from the tap to wash away the loose gunk.
Next, pour a cleaner down the drain. If you prefer to use a more natural and less aggressive cleaner, pour some white vinegar down the drain and let it sit for a while. If you’re not opposed to using something strong, you can pour some toilet bowl cleaner down there (which is what I do with great success). You also can use a drain cleaner explicitly intended for the task, like Green Gobbler, which is formulated to break down organic material like skin oils and bio-films. (If you do opt for the stronger chemical route, be sure to put the cleaners directly down the drain and avoid pouring them on the drain stopper or drain flange, especially if they’re chrome, as the cleaner can permanently discolor the surface.)
If your bathroom sink has an overflow drain hole (and most do), we recommend pouring a little cleaner and hot water down that overflow drain to clean out the drain cavity within the sink. It’s an often overlooked step, but many times there’s some gross stuff hanging out in there.
After you use the cleaner, plug your sink and fill it to the brim with hot water (let some water flow through the overflow drain to flush that area out). Unplug the sink and let the hot water flush all the dissolved gunk away—and enjoy your fresh smelling drain.