Why does my kitchen sink smell bad? (quick & easy fixes)

Kitchen Sink Graphic

We’ve all been there. You walk in the door and you realize your room (or whole house) stinks to High Heaven! 

Then you play that fun-filled game called “find the nasty smell”. It could be a full trash can or even a bathroom that needs to be cleaned but sometimes your astute nose leads you right to the kitchen sink

What on earth can come from your sink that smells like trash or a bathroom? Well, the good news is that there are really only a couple of possibilities. In this article we will let you in on what the smell could be and also how to get rid of it fast. 

If you think it's time to replace your sink, checkout our roundup of the best farmhouse sinks for potential fits.

1. Bacteria from Decaying Food or Grease

Bacteria from decaying food or even grease inside your drain can cause offending smells. This variety may smell more like the kitchen trash can than a bathroom. Teeny tiny pieces of food get caught going down the drain and over time start to rot and stink.

2. Sewer Gas

Sewer gas can also come up through the pipe in your kitchen sink. Usually this smells a lot like a bathroom since you are literally smelling the sewer. Others have described this smell as rotten eggs.

3. Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal (if you have one) could also be to blame for these smells for similar reasons. In that case, check out our tips on cleaning disposals here.

Regardless of the source, you definitely don’t want to have these smells sticking around your kitchen. Let's get into some of the practical and easy solutions for getting your kitchen smelling fresh again, after you've determined which of the aforementioned issues are causing the smell.

Determining the Cause and How to Fix Them

Besides the above mentioned differences in the kinds of smell (trash/old food versus bathroom/methane gas), think through the recent use of your kitchen.

If you have been away on a long trip or have not used the sink in a while it could be that the trap under your sink has become too dry.

Fixing a Dry Trap 

Without enough water in that trap, sewage gases are able to escape upwards out of your sink. Simply run the faucet and that should take care of the problem. If you notice this kind of smell happening often you may want to call a plumber to take a look at how the sink was installed. There is a chance that you don’t have the proper trap in the first place and therefore have nothing is preventing those smells from coming up constantly. 

Trap Underneath the Sink

Curved trap pipe underneath the sink can dry out, allowing gas to escape upwards out of the sink hole.

If you have used the sink and run the water recently your problem may be the issue of food going down the drain. As far as ridding it of these rotten bits of food and grease, we have an answer for that too. All you need is a couple household items like baking soda and vinegar followed by some boiling hot water to wash and disinfect the drain pipe.

Getting Food Out of the Drain 

Baking Soda

Baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water are safe methods of cleaning food out of a sink drain that might be causing bad smells.

Simply sprinkle some baking soda down the drain (amounts aren’t super important but if you are a recipe/directions lover I would say 1⁄2 to 1 cup). After a few minutes chase that with twice as much white vinegar and enjoy the satisfying sound of those bubbles disinfecting your pipe. Once the foaming stops rinse with a large pot of boiling water. That’s it! Salt is also helpful with its natural disinfecting properties as well as its ability to rub away grime, Citrus juice can also cleanse and add a fresh scent to your sink so feel free to add those items as well. 


In reality even though it may seem difficult, maintaining a clean and fresh smelling sink and disposal area isn't terribly time consuming or complex and is always well worth the effort. Hopefully this has given you some help in determining what is causing the smell so that you can get rid of it as soon as possible and go back to enjoying a pleasant smelling kitchen and home. 

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