My bathroom drain stinks! The smell gets worse after you run the water. My husband cleaned the P-trap and I cleaned the drain itself. I used baking soda and vinegar about a month ago and it worked, but last week I noticed the smell coming back so I used Drano just in case. Now the smell is back full force :/ the drain looks great! I don't have an overflow so I know it's not that. What else could it be if the P-trap has been cleaned and the drain is clear as well?

  • 1
    Do you have a Air Admittance Valve connected to the sink?
    – Edwin
    Feb 5, 2014 at 4:57
  • 3
    When the smell is present, is there water in the trap?
    – DJohnM
    Feb 5, 2014 at 5:04

2 Answers 2


Foul odors are usually due to the water seal in the P-trap failing for some reason. Sometimes the water simply evaporates in little used fixtures. Probably not the case here. The other cause for failure is the lack of proper venting. Without a proper vent, the water seal gets siphoned out of the P-trap after the fixture is used.

If you have an air admittance valve serving as a vent, it could be failing to open properly, or it could be stuck open, allowing sewer gases to enter the room via that path rather than the P-trap. These devices should be accessible. Simply manipulating the valve disc by hand can dislodge it from it's stuck position and allow it to work again. Or the device might have failed and needs replacement.

You quite possibly do not have an AAV, but the more common vent through the roof. This time of year in Northern climes, the vent could become obstructed by ice or snow. Simply clearing the blockage will solve the problem. It's also possible a bird decided the vent would make a nice warm nesting site. Other vent problems could be more endemic of the installation itself, being either undersized or even non-existent or otherwise ineffective, or an alternative, less effective, trap arrangement such as S-traps or drum traps. If you've lived there for a while and the odors just started happening, these endemic issues are probably unlikely.

  • Another possibility is the trap is leaking. That slow leak allows enough water out of the trap over several hours to make an air path and sewer gases enter the room. Inspect the trap carefully or set the faucet to trickle water into the trap. If that fixes the problem, or you see a leak you will need to replace the trap or repair the leak.
    – mfarver
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:04
  • I agree and suspect the water in the trap is being siphoned out when another drain is used. Common culprits are toilets. This always points to a vent problem as you described in your answer bcworkz Feb 5, 2014 at 22:13

Wild guess, maybe the slit on the side of the sink closest to you as you stand over it has smell coming from it? I had a smelly sink in bathroom because I had drained some not so good stuff through it. I ended up pouring a whole bottle of draino down the bottom sink hole, and noticed the smell still. So I plugged the sink hole, and filled sink with bleach/water and let it drain down the slit. This seemed to permanently remove the smell.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.