Arrant Construction

A Complete Drain Cleaning Guide for Your Smelly Shower Drain

A Complete Drain Cleaning Guide for Your Smelly Shower Drain

Ever been hit by an unpleasant odor wafting from your shower drain? That funky smell isn’t just an inconvenience but a common plumbing problem with a few simple solutions.  

Dealing with a smelly shower drain can be a real hassle, especially when all you want after a long day is a relaxing shower. 

These common plumbing problems usually come with a clogged drain and that nasty rotten egg smell. But fret not! You don’t always need a professional plumber. There are simple fixes to clear the blockage and get rid of the stench.  

But how? Want to know? In this drain cleaning guide, we will walk you through the best ways to tackle that smelly shower drain. 

So, let’s get rid of that unpleasant stinky shower drain! 

Common Cause of Shower Drain Smell 

Before moving to fix the issue of your smelly shower drain, it is important to understand what causes this smell. So, let’s explore the common causes of this issue! 

Mold Growth 

One of the primary culprits behind that unpleasant odor wafting from your shower drain is mold. In the moist, warm environment of your bathroom, mold finds a cozy home to flourish. It sneaks into the drain, clinging to the walls and edges, emitting a musty and foul smell that can quickly invade your space. 

To emit the smell, use chlorine bleach and hot water! 

Residue Accumulation 

Over time, various residues like soap scum, hair, and other debris build up within the drainpipes. When these substances combine and decompose, they create a breeding ground for bacteria. This buildup not only causes blockages but also contributes to the foul smell emerging from your drain. 

Sewer Gas 

Sometimes, the smell is not solely due to internal issues within the drain. Sewer gases might seep through dried-out drain traps, producing a foul odor that resembles rotten eggs or sulfur. This occurs when the water in the drain trap evaporates, allowing odorous gases from the sewer to enter your home. 

Biofilm Formation 

Another hidden culprit is biofilm, a thin layer of bacteria that coats the inside of pipes. This biofilm thrives in damp environments and releases a pungent odor as it accumulates, further adding to the foul smell emanating from your drain. 

Biofilm, a slimy substance formed by bacterial waste, has the potential to accumulate on shower tiles and inside the shower drain. Similar to mold, biofilm presents health hazards as it can harbor bacteria known to cause diseases such as Salmonella, E. coli, and various other pathogens. 

Clogged Drain 

A blocked drain often contributes to smelly shower drain lines and is usually identifiable by certain signs. Slow drainage or a complete lack of drainage are common indicators of a clogged drain caused by the accumulation of soap scum, hair, and various small items. 

To tackle this issue, employing a hand auger can effectively remove the debris causing the blockage. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution while using the hand auger, as improper usage can potentially damage the piping and disrupt the drainage system. 

Dry P-Trap 

A shower drain emitting a sulfurous odor might signal a dry P-Trap. The function of the P-Trap is to maintain a small water reserve within the pipes, preventing unpleasant sewer gases from infiltrating your living space. However, when this section of the pipe dries out, it allows foul-smelling sewer gas to permeate upwards. 

The most effective remedy for this issue involves pouring two cups of water down the drain and allowing it to settle for approximately an hour. After this time, inspect the drain to verify if the water is visible inside. If it is, the problem is likely resolved. If the water is not visible, it could signify cracked pipes that require replacement or your plumbing system service. 

Problems with Lines Connecting to Sewer  

Issues with the lines connecting to the sewer can lead to various plumbing problems, causing unpleasant odors in shower drains. Cracks, leaks, or blockages within these connecting lines are common culprits. When these lines develop faults, they can allow sewer gases to escape, leading to foul smells seeping into your home. 

Regular maintenance and inspections by a professional plumber can help identify and address any issues with these connecting lines. Repairing or replacing damaged sections of the sewer lines, and plumbing system service, are often necessary to prevent further problems and eliminate the unpleasant odors originating from your shower drain. 

Fixing a Smelly Shower Drain  

Fixing a smelly shower drain involves several straightforward steps to eliminate the odor and restore freshness to your bathroom: These steps are as follows: 

  • Identify the cause of the odor. 
  • Use a drain cleaner or a homemade solution of baking soda and vinegar to clean the drain and eliminate any buildup causing the odor. Ensure to flush it with hot water afterward. 
  • If the smell is due to a clogged drain, use a hand auger or a plunger to remove the blockage causing slow drainage. 
  • Pour water down the drain to ensure the P-Trap retains water, preventing sewer gases from entering. 
    If the smell persists, inspect the lines connecting to the sewer for any cracks, leaks, or blockages. Seek professional plumber assistance if needed to repair or replace damaged sections. 

Ways to Clean the Drain to Emit the Odor  

Now let’s move to the most important part of our drain cleaning guide and understand how you can clean the drain yourself without the need for a professional plumber, to get rid of smelly shower drain. 

Using a Toilet Plunger 

Typically, clearing the drain emitting the foul odor can resolve the issue, and the simplest method involves using a toilet plunger. Start by filling the shower stall or tub with enough water to cover the rubber bell of the plunger. Position the bell over the drain opening and commence plunging, allowing the water to dislodge the clog. Repeating this process might be necessary until the drain resumes normal function. 

Employing a Drain Snake  

When material isn’t easily dislodged, a hand auger or drain snake can prove effective. Remove the drain cover and insert the snake into the drainpipe until encountering resistance, signaling the clog. Rotate the auger to break up or capture the debris. Upon clearing the blockage, run the shower at full force to remove remaining particles. Use hot water and an all-purpose cleaner to clean the drain cover before replacing it. 

Using Chemical Drain Cleaners 

Chemical drain cleaners, typically alkaline-based with ingredients like sodium hydroxide, dissolve clogs causing unpleasant odors. Pour the cleaner down the clogged drain, following the provided instructions. Ensure proper safety measures like eye protection and gloves. Consider environmentally-friendly enzyme-based cleaners that won’t harm pipes. Pour boiling water afterward to clear any remaining debris. 

Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution 

A mixture of vinegar and baking soda can dissolve soap scum, eliminating odor-causing bacteria. Boil approximately four cups of water and pour it down the shower drain. Use warm water for PVC pipes to prevent damage. Then, pour one cup each of baking soda and distilled white vinegar down the drain, letting it sit for around ten minutes. Finish by flushing the drain with more hot water for a thorough cleaning. 

Preventative Measures 

Regularly clean your drain to prevent buildup, use drain covers to catch hair and debris, and consider using enzyme-based cleaners to maintain a clean and odor-free drain. By following these steps, you can effectively address the root cause of the smelly shower drain and enjoy a fresh, odor-free bathroom experience. 

To ensure a fresh and clean shower experience, addressing plumbing problems like a smelly shower drain is crucial. Simple solutions and preventative measures can significantly improve your bathroom’s atmosphere.  

Regular maintenance and DIY cleaning methods, as discussed in this comprehensive drain cleaning guide, play a key role in combating odors and maintaining a healthy plumbing system.  

However, for complex issues or if you prefer professional assistance, contacting skilled plumbers or seeking plumbing system services is advisable. By taking proactive steps and addressing plumbing concerns promptly, you can enjoy a pristine, odor-free shower every day. For professional plumbing assistance and maintenance services, consider reaching out to Arrant Construction and keep your plumbing worries at bay! 


Why does my shower drain smell like sulfur or rotten eggs? 

The smell of sulfur or rotten eggs usually indicates sewer gas leaking through a dry P-Trap. Pouring water down the drain can refill the P-Trap and prevent sewer gas from entering your home. 

When should I seek professional plumbing help for a smelly shower drain? 

If DIY methods fail or if there are signs of more significant issues like cracked pipes, damaged sewer lines, or persistent odors despite attempted fixes, it’s advisable to contact a professional plumber for expert assessment and assistance. 

Scroll to Top