Why Does My Shower Drain Stink?

Written by kay wagers
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Why Does My Shower Drain Stink?
Clogs in your shower drain can cause it to stink. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A foul odour coming out of your shower might be enough to make you consider trying sponge baths. Before you go out and buy a basin and some sponges, try to get rid of the odour first. The cause of most stinky smells can be eliminated with a little elbow grease and prevented with monthly maintenance of the shower drains inside your home.

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The most common foul odour wafting up from a shower drain is the sour smell of bacteria, like something is rotting inside the drain. This smell is usually present all the time and occurs in showers that are used often. It might fade while you are using the shower but will return within minutes of turning it off when water stops running down the drain. The bad smell is often associated with drains that run very slowly.


The cause of the foul smell is most likely bacteria living inside the shower drain. Bacteria thrive when hair and other items build up inside the drain. The hair catches debris, such as soap and dead skin, holding them in place instead of letting them sluice down the drainpipe and disappear into the sewer system. The hair and debris clog up the drain and give the bacteria something to feed on. While the bad smell might be blocked by water running into the drain while the shower is in use, it will return as soon as the water is no longer present to act as a barrier.


Getting rid of the bacteria in your shower drain should get rid of the stink. Begin by removing any hair clogging the drain. Straighten a wire hanger and use it to pull hair out of the drain then dispose of the hair. Next, combine 1/4-cup baking soda with 2 cups water and pour the mixture into the drain. Let it sit for 20 minutes then rinse it away with hot water. This will remove any lingering odour of bacteria. If you still smell something bad, pour a few cups of white vinegar down the drain to flush the last of the odour out.


Prevent the bad smell of bacteria from returning by keeping your shower drain running freely. If bacteria does not have anything to feed on, it won't come back. If hair down the drain is an issue, place a mesh trap over the drain. This will catch hair before it gets into the pipe and can be easily cleaned after every shower. Every month or so, pour boiling water down your shower drain. This will help clear any clogs before they have a chance to become a problem.

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