What to Do About a Shower Drain Smell

Shower drain smells result from the build-up of bacteria, mold, and in some cases, sewer gas. Regardless of the cause, cleaning a shower drain and removing the bad smell is easy.

To eliminate the smell, you need boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda. If your shower drain is clogged, you might need a drain snake, too.

How to Fix a Sewer Smell from a ShowerView in gallery

Here’s what to do.

Look for a Clog First

Hair mixed with soap scum and germs can cause bacteria to grow and a foul odor to form. So, before treating the smell, check to see if hair is clogging the drain hole.

If the hair is visible, pick it up and unclog the drain by hand. If you aren’t having luck with that method, you can try removing the drain cover or using a plumber’s snake.

  • Method 1: Remove the cover and unclog with pliers. Locate your drain cover. If there are removable screws, unfasten them with a screwdriver. Then use needle nose pliers or a wire coat hanger to remove the hair. Replace the cover afterward.
  • Method 2: Use a plumber’s snake. If your cover isn’t removable, purchase a plumber’s snake. These inexpensive tools attach to power drills. They have a long metal wire, similar to a coat hanger. They reach far down the drain, twisting and pulling the hair out.

Treat a Bad Smell with this Easy Shower Drain Odor Remedy

With the drain unclogged, eliminate smells with boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda. 

Start by boiling a large pot of water and pouring it down the drain. Allow the drain to cool, and add one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white distilled vinegar. Next, place a rag over the drain. After ten minutes, remove the rag and flush the drain with a pot of boiling water.

The boiling water will help kill bacteria, the vinegar will kill mold spores, and the baking soda acts as a deodorizer. While simple, these three ingredients will leave your shower drain smelling fresh.


How to Fix a Sewer Smell from a Shower That Doesn’t Get Used

If a nasty smell comes from a shower that doesn’t get used, the culprit is often sewer gas. The drain can dry out when a shower goes unused, and sewer gas can permeate. To battle this, run water in the shower for a few minutes.

How to Prevent Bad Drain Smells from Coming Back

If you want to prevent bad drain smells from recurring, try these tips:

  • Use a mesh stopper to keep hair and other small particles from going down the drain.
  • Freshen the drain with baking soda and vinegar every two weeks.
  • Never pour grease down the drain.
  • Run water at least once per month in sinks and showers you don’t use often.

When to Call a Plumber

Most of the time, combatting a stinky shower drain is something you can do yourself. But if the smell comes from multiple sinks and showers, you need to call a plumber. Also, contact a professional if you cannot unclog the drain or if there’s standing water in the shower.