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10 Non-Toxic Tricks Plumbers Use to Eliminate Drain Odor

Head and shoulders photograph of Lucy Adegbe
A plumber working with a plunger in a kitchen sink.
It's difficult enough to take care of unpleasant odors coming from your drain without worrying about the toxic chemicals found in most drain cleaners. These chemicals are harmful to your and your family's health, and they can also cause damage to the environment. Thankfully, there are many useful non-toxic tricks for getting rid of drain odor.

Drain odor is a fairly common problem, and many people can attest to at least one experience with unpleasant drain odors due to plumbing blunders or a clogged pipe. Professional plumbers (which may be covered by your home warranty) employ many non-toxic tricks to eliminate drain odor at home.

We have 10 of these tricks listed below. Let's dive in!

1. Clean the Sink Surge

Plumbers use this process to help eliminate clogs in your sink surge that cause unpleasant odors. This process involves wearing gloves and poking a tube brush into the drain. They occasionally remove the brush to rinse it and continue brushing until the block is gone.

You could also use a funnel to pour hot water down the drain to flush any blocks.

2. Refill Water Traps Under Sinks and Showers

Water traps, or P-traps, refer to the U-shaped part of the pipe located right under your sink. Their purpose is to hold water and keep noxious gases and unpleasant drain odors out of your home.

Water traps are usually refilled whenever you use your sink or shower, but frequently refilling the water traps of a sink or shower you rarely use can help to eliminate drain odor.

3. Replace Worn-Out Toilet Wax Rings

The exact origin of unpleasant odors in your home may not always be known, so plumbers often employ a method of securing diverse areas. This may include the replacement of old toilet wax rings, which is covered by some of the best homeowner warranties such as Choice Home Warranty and Cinch Home Services.

Disconnect the water supply leading to your toilet, remove your toilet from the flange (the pipe connecting the toilet to the drainage system), and set it aside. Scrape away the old wax ring and replace it with a new one. Lower your toilet back onto the flange, close the lid, and sit down to compress the wax ring.

4. Caulk Your Toilet

This method helps seal all the escape routes from which unpleasant odors can be emitted.

Flush your toilet to make sure there aren't any leaks. A leak might mean you need a new wax ring before applying the silicone adhesive. If there aren't any leaks, scrape away any previously applied caulk using a utility knife and clean the base of your toilet. Use a caulk gun to apply the caulk along the joint between the floor and the toilet. Run your finger along the caulk to seal it and allow it to cure for about 24 hours.

5. Unclog Your Sink With a Plunger

When there is no free and fast passage of water from your sink, bacteria can grow on the dirt, causing the blocks to emit offensive smells. For this non-toxic trick, you can rely on your trusty plunger.

First, remove the bottom sink trap, let out the dirt, and then unclog it with a plunger. While others may recommend certain chemicals, plumbers find it safer to stick with the conventional plunger, which releases blocks and result in no pipe damage.

6. Fix Your Backwater Valve

Backwater valves help to impede offensive odors from traveling through the pipes into your home. It allows water or sewage to flow out one way and immediately seals when it starts to flow back.

Simply put on some gloves, open up your floor drain, and remove the assembly from the drain. Next, inspect the flapper valve and clean it to remove any debris. Then, replace the valve and firmly close the cover.

Don't hesitate to call a plumber if you notice any serious damage.

7. Thoroughly Clean Your Garbage Disposal

There are pros and cons to having a garbage disposal in your home. While they make for a convenient waste disposal process, they can be one of the major causes of unpleasant odors because of the bacteria build-up caused by food particles.

This is why plumbers recommend that garbage disposals be given a thorough cleaning once or twice a week. Simply turn off the power to the garbage disposal and use a brush and detergent to scrub the interior. Then, rinse with cold water.

8. Flush Your Drain With Boiling Water

As mentioned previously, a smelly drain is caused by gunk such as food particles or hair that sits in your drain and creates bacteria. Getting rid of this gunk is often as easy as pouring hot water down your drain.

Simply bring a good amount of water to a boil and pour half down the drain. Allow it to flush out any clogs for a few minutes and flush with cold water to solidify any remaining gunk. Lastly, pour the other half of the water down the drain.

9. Check for Plumbing Mistakes

Nobody is perfect, not even your plumber. When searching for the origin of unpleasant drain odors, plumbers may check for errors that could have occurred during installation, especially in cases where the home is new with no worn-out items to cause issues.

One or two valves may have been installed incorrectly, causing odors to leak from your drain. These errors, once detected, should be fixed as quickly as possible.

10. Snake the Drain

While there are other brushes and plungers to help unclog blocked drains, some might not be enough for intense clogs. Plumbers often use a drain snake, also referred to as an augur, to get rid of difficult clogs that could be causing unpleasant odors.

Simply insert the drain snake, then twist and turn it around the drain. Take out the snake from time to time to remove debris and repeat the process until the drain is clog-free.

Final Thoughts

Eliminating unpleasant drain odors doesn't have to be complicated. Plumbers use these effective tricks to get rid of odors permanently by addressing the leading cause of the problem. And while you may find these non-toxic tricks useful for eliminating drain odors, it’s always advisable to get a home warranty that covers plumbing repairs and maintenance.

Head and shoulders photograph of Lucy Adegbe
Lucy Adegbe contributes to Top10.com as a distinguished financial writer specializing in personal finance, e-commerce, FinTech, and cryptocurrency. She began her career as crypto trader and advisor at Guru Capital LTD, and has since worked for several blockchain-focused companies. In addition to writing for Top10.com, Lucy has also worked with publications such as The Balance, CRD Network, and DeFi Planet.