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Preventing drain odours

If you're experiencing unpleasant odours from your sinks or shower, it may be due to food scraps, kitchen materials, hair, soap residue or shaving oils decaying in the drain.

Removing odours

Household plumbing diagram
  • Clean the S-bend: in some cases you may need to remove the S-bend and clean it with a hose. Depending on the plumbing design, you may need the help of a plumber or handyman.
  • Use a plunger: fill the basin with water, remove the plug and, while the water is draining, rapidly use the plunger. This will create a force that remove materials lining the drainage system. You may need to follow this with a cleaning product.
  • Use a drain cleaning product: many drain cleaning products are available at the supermarket or hardware store. Follow the directions on the containers. These work by dissolving scum and other materials in the pipes. They commonly require being left in the drain for 15 minutes to do their work and are then flushed through. Cleaning may need to be repeated. Contact with skin, eyes and ingestion must be avoided.

Preventing odours

As part of your regular home cleaning routine, you may wish to undertake one of these preventative measures:

  • Bleach: pour one cup of bleach into the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Flush with hot running water for one minute. Repeat monthly.
  • Bi-carb soda and vinegar: pour one cup of baking soda into the drain. Add one cup of warm vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes. Flush with hot running water for one minute. Repeat fortnightly.

If odours remain after carrying out these cleaning procedures, there may be a problem with other aspects of your household plumbing. You should call a plumber to investigate.

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