How-To Videos

Eliminating Sink and Bathtub Drain Odors

By: Allen Lyle
Using a drain cleaning zip tool to remove hair and other organic matter from a tub drain.

Using a drain cleaning tool to remove organic matter from a tub drain.

Most odors in sink or tub drains aren’t caused by sewer gas, since water in the drain trap acts as a barrier to prevent sewer gas from coming up into your home.

Instead, the usual culprit is bacteria growing in organic matter—such as hair—which becomes lodged in the drain.

To remove organic matter and odors from a drain:

  1. Insert a drain cleaning tool in the drain.
  2. Pull the tool back out and remove any hair or other organic matter.
  3. Repeat until the drain is clear.
  4. Pour diluted bleach or hydrogen peroxide down the drain (one or the other, don’t mix the two together) to kill any remaining bacteria.

Watch this video to find out how.

Further Information

Video Transcript

Allen Lyle: Isolated odors are not uncommon. We get the question all the time, “I’ve got this smell coming from just one sink “or just one tub. What is it?” Biggest fear is that it’s sewer gas. And it’s possible, but it’s not probable. Here’s why.

Under all plumbing, whether it’s an old house like this or a brand new one, you’ve got what’s called the P-trap. What happens, as water drains out of the sink or out of the bath tub, a small amount of water stays right in there, and that becomes a barrier to all of that sewer gas.

So, if you’ve got a crack in that pipe or a leak fix it, that’s probably all it will be. But more than likely, it’s the bacteria. Think about it, washing your hair, shaving, you get a lot of organic matter down a sink, and down a bath tub drain—this is really notorious here.

As you get the clog, bacteria begins to grow. What you need to do is just remove the clog. Easy to do, I’ve got a little zip tool here. We’ll slip that inside.

Once you remove the clog, you want to take a little diluted bleach, maybe some hydrogen peroxide, pour it down the drain—don’t forget about the overflow. That’s going to kill both the bacteria and the odor.


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10 Comments on “Eliminating Sink and Bathtub Drain Odors”

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  • Pamela Goodson Says:
    February 15th, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    This happens only in cold weather. You can retire at night and when you get up in the morning our bathtub is solid brown. This happens when the warm and cold air meets. It doesn’t happen in the summer. We have been living in the house for 37 years and it was built in the fifty’s.

  • Raymond Coleman Says:
    September 1st, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    I have been in a my home that was built eight months ago. In the kids bathroom there’s a bad odor that comes when you flush the toilet. And somethings it brings in the sink drain that smell bad.

  • B. Clifton Says:
    May 18th, 2018 at 3:42 am
    There is a horrible odor that comes from our master bathroom tub. The house is about 10 years old and was new when we moved into it The tub is a jetted tub was never used, we shower. We live in VA and have a septic tank. Our plumber tells us to half fill the tub with water and let it drain out. It does go away for a while (sometimes a little while, sometimes a year). What could be causing this? Thanks
    Ps. I should say a lot more rarely the laundry room sink has the same problem.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    April 13th, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Hi, Dave,

    Wet and Forget has some useful information on these odors.
    Check out this article,, and let us know if it improves!
    Thanks for your question.

  • Dave Runge Says:
    April 7th, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I have a bad and STRONG mildew odor coming from the tub drain, stuck a 30 foot snake down there, couldn’t find a clog and the tub drains fine. The odor is so strong it makes your nose and eyes irritated and spreads into the other rooms when the door is open. What could this be and how do I get rid of it???


  • Tony Says:
    February 18th, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Ordor from shower drain.. sometimes gone for weeks .. then back for weeks .. very strong
    sewer smell enough to to go bedroom area
    I tried peroxide .. seemed to work a little.. Bathroom high point of drain is tub . then two
    vanity sinks .. shower and toilet.. then drain.. But smell is from drain in shower

  • Official Comment:

    Lindsay Hughes Says:
    August 17th, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Mike, the ratio for bleach is 1:30, which equates to about a 1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. No need to dilute household 3% hydrogen peroxide, as it’s already diluted.

  • Mike mcguire Says:
    August 9th, 2017 at 11:17 am

    At what ratio do you dilute bleach and hydrogen peroxide to pour down bathtub drain.Thanks Mike

  • Official Comment:

    Lindsay Hughes Says:
    June 20th, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Hi, John, if you use hydrogen peroxide, no need to dilute it. Best of luck!

  • John Green Says:
    June 14th, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I have been fighting an odor coming from our shower drain for quite a while now using several different odor killing products, but with out any results. I just saw your video and am going to try it using hydrogen peroxide. You said in your video to use diluted bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Does the hydrogen peroxide need to be diluted also and if so what is the dilute rate?

    Thank you
    John Green

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Eliminating Sink and Bathtub Drain Odors