Bad Smell Coming from Shower Drain – Steps to Take

Shower drain with beads of water on gray tile.
After a long day, you step into the shower ready to unwind and wash off the day. Suddenly, you are stricken by a strange odor coming from your shower drain. While not enjoyable, a bad smell coming from a shower drain is not uncommon. Odor-causing bacteria that feed on the debris in the pipe can be one reason for your smelly situation. These anaerobic bacteria live in fetid water in the P-trap. While occupying the water, they trap and produce sulfide gas, which unluckily for you, smells like sewage.

Let’s face it, your shower drain has to put up with a lot, of dirt, soap scum, hair, etc. These things can all contribute to that smelly shower drain you are experiencing. To help you regain that enjoyable shower experience we have put together some tips and advice that will help you deal with and eliminate your bad smell from the shower drain situation.

First, What NOT to Do

When dealing with this bad smell from shower drain situation your first reaction may be to drown the drain in bleach, but DON’T! Many homeowners think the answer to getting rid of bad smells is by using excessive amounts of bleach. However, in this case, it is not the right solution (literally). Although it may help lessen the smell, pouring bleach down the shower drain may also damage the pipes and leave you with an even bigger mess. So, avoid the urge to use bleach in this situation.

Remove the Strainer

In order to do a deep clean on the drain, you’ll have to remove the strainer first. Since most shower strainers are connected using one or two Phillips screws, a Phillips screwdriver should be all you need to get this done. Once you remove the screw(s), lift the strainer up. You may need a flathead screwdriver or other tool (like a paint scraper) to do so. Now that you have access to the drain, let’s get rid of that odor.

Scrub the Drain and Strainer

After you remove the strainer (you might want a pair of rubber gloves for this) you will typically find a mixture of gunk (usually hair and soap scum) underneath it. For most people this is the really unpleasant part, remove any hair or debris that is lodged in the drain opening. Clean in and around the drain opening using warm, soapy water and a sponge.

If desired, you can also mix in some disinfectant with water to create a cleansing mix. If you notice that there is also soap scum and hair coating the drainpipe, pull out as much as you can. It may be helpful to use a plastic drain cleaning tool (an old toothbrush will work too) or something that has bristles to remove gunk from the drainpipe. You can also try using a small foam paint roller head (if it fits the pipe opening) to clean. Soak the roller in soapy water first, then twist it around in the drainpipe to loosen and remove any debris. You may have to rinse the roller off several times before you get the drain completely clean.

Disinfecting the Drain

You can disinfect the shower drain using some common household materials, such as baking soda and white vinegar. First, pour one cup of baking soda followed by one cup of white vinegar down the drain. Cover the drain and allow the mixture to fizzle inside of the pipes for a few minutes. Once the fizzle starts to subside, rinse the drain with hot water. You may have to repeat this process a few times to completely disinfect the drain and eliminate the smell.

Related Topic: Why There's a Sulfur Smell Coming from Your Drain

Still, Have a Bad Smell?

A shower at the end of a long day is one of life’s simple pleasures. However, if every time you step into the shower you are greeted by an unpleasant odor your joy can be quickly replaced with frustration.

If you’ve tried these tips and are still experiencing an odor coming from your shower drain, it may be caused by a more complex problem, like a leaky pipe or blocked plumbing vent. In this case, it is important to contact a professional to resolve the issue and avoid any further damage.

Our team of experienced plumbing professionals is trained to quickly diagnose your plumbing problem and can offer solutions that meet your needs and budget. From a smelly shower drain to whole home plumbing inspections and repairs, your local Mr. Rooter is here and ready to help. To learn more, give us a call or visit us online to schedule an appointment.