Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Oooh, That Smell

A good friend contacted me the other day. She said her sink drain had a terrible stink, and asked if there was anything I could do to help. I told her it was a problem I'd heard of before, and I had a few tricks up my sleeve that I would be happy to employ.

A foul smelling sink is an indicator that something nasty is in your drain. Nasty things in your drain need to be killed and flushed out of that drain. There are a couple ways to do this, and with the smell she described, I rounded up the whole arsenal.

The first trick I gave her was to pour boiling water down both of her drains. This is great for clearing things like grease and fat residues that can go rancid and smell horrid. Boiling water made a bit of a difference, but it definitely didn't fix the problem. When I got to her place, I confirmed that her sink really did smell as bad as she had described, so I broke out my $5 anti-smell arsenal and got to work.

The first thing I did was pour about a pint of white vinegar down each drain, then I put her drain stoppers in place and filled each sink about half full with the hottest water her system would put out. I let the vinegar sit in the drains while I prepared the second half of my knockout combo.

Plain old grocery store lemons make up the second half of this dynamic duo. By the time I finished cutting them in half, it was about time to pull the stoppers and flush the vinegar and anything it had broken loose.

It's important to flush your pipes between different cleaning agents to prevent possible bad reactions. While lemons and vinegar are both mild acids and won't cause a problem, if you were to use an acid and a base cleaner, you could get a very impressive and possibly dangerous reaction. Other cleaners (notably things like ammonia and bleach) combine to make lethally toxic fumes. Flush your drains well to prevent dangerous chemistry!

I squeezed the juice from the halved lemons down the non-disposal side, which led straight to her P-trap. We then cut the lemons into much smaller chunks and fed them to the garbage disposal one lemon at a time. (Any time you run your disposal, you want to run the sink faucet full-blast into it to flush the bits down the drain, and this process is no exception.) The acid and oil in the lemons make a wonderful cleaning agent, and the rind provides just enough abrasive to scrub away any lingering undesirable wastes.

The combo cut the smell dramatically, and hopefully as she keeps running water down her drains it will continue to dissipate. If not, there are some commercial products that are far more aggressive. Most drains can be cleaned with this method though, and it is both very safe and cheaper than a large at Starbucks.


1 comment:

  1. I used to put a bit of the septic tank enzyme down the drains when they got smelly. It comes in a box and would do two or four drain treatments. It's probably a little more expensive than lemons, but it works pretty well if you follow the directions.


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