The kitchen sink in our home has recently been producing an odd aroma - depending on the day, it's a mix of boiled eggs, sulphur, brackish water, or old food.

What we have tried

  • garbage disposal cleaner
  • clorox
  • ajax
  • regular dish soap

After any of our attempts so far, the smell returns within 1-2 days - even with no dirty dishes anywhere to be seen.

What we can't do* (it's a rental home)

  • replace the sink
  • major plumbing

What can we do to address this issue?

* if it requires anything "major", it will need a maintenance request, but we're hoping to avoid that and find something simpler

  • 3
    possible duplicate of How can I make my sink smell better?
    – Niall C.
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 18:22
  • 1
    Call in the landlord.
    – aphoria
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 12:10
  • 4
    No, call in the plumber. From here, this "smells" like a sewer gas leak due to a poorly designed plumbing system. Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 1:43
  • I've been having this issue myself. It's this very strong musty smell, though. It doesn't necessary smell like food, but a very damp, moldy basement x 1,000. I've poured bleach, vinegar, and boiling water down the drain and it doesn't help. The smell appears to eventually go away on its own, only to return again at its own whim. Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 1:31

9 Answers 9


Get a couple of boxes of baking soda. Run the hot water, and gradually pour the soda into the drain. Let it sit for a couple of hours, then pour some vinegar down the drain. Run the hot water for a few minutes to flush everything out.

  • You can also try some Borax + hot water, it also works pretty well.
    – Alex Moore
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 13:24

you could try removing the disposal and p-trap and cleaning those out.

also, if your sink has an air gap under it, check to make sure that it's not stuck closed. if it is stuck closed, then when you sink drains, the water that's supposed to be in your p-trap is sucked out and sewer gasses can come up the sink.

  • 1
    The P-trap is designed to keep sewer gases in the sewer. If you are smelling them, somehow the water in the P-trap is being drained away. This opens the path to the smelly gases.
    – AWMoore
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 10:53
  • 9
    isn't that what i just said?
    – longneck
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 16:19

Chop some lemon (with peel), throw into sink, run hot water and switch on the garbage disposal.

  • 1
    Is this a fix for the problem, or simply a way to cover it up?
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 14:52
  • 1
    Admittedly, chris's answer above is probably more correct, but the chopped lemon method does seem to work for milder odor. And it's fairly easy and safe.
    – LordHits
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 18:05

It might be your dishwasher, since it is hooked to the waste/garbage disposal line under your sink. If you don't use it enough, the water stays in the bottom and begins to stink like stagnant water. Throw some baking soda in it and turn it on.

  • don't have a dishwasher - but a good thing to keep in mind for a future house :)
    – warren
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:02

maybe an active biological solution will help, like this - bio-friendly sludge eating bacteria. personally, i prefer those products over those harsh chemicals.


Do you have a reverse osmosis water filter system? Does it drain the waste water into this sink or drain that your smelling this order from?

If so, it sounds like bio-fouling in your filter usually due to high content iron in your water or just due to a lack of filter maintenance. The filter manual it should tell you how to clean and change the filters.

Once you take the filter apart for cleaning you'll see a black/red "dusts" inside the systems 1st and 2nd stage filter (not mold). Amazing your water will still taste fine because the RO filter is the last thing this water goes through but the waste water smells like nasty sulfur eggs.

Otherwise. do some of the above techniques.

  • no water filter system - the house is pretty much just connected to city water. Neither the bathroom nor the laundry smell like this, either
    – warren
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 15:26

After a minor plumbing disaster a couple months ago, it was discovered that the drain from the garbage disposal to the main pipe was not installed properly - after it was replaced, the smells have completely disappeared.


I have just had the same problem. I found out there was a problem with piping under the house. The garbage disposal was broken and I found a pile, and I mean a big pile, of old food and water under the house. Get a plumber out ASAP


I had this same problem. I tried the same thing you tried also with no lasting result. First plumber acted sleazy and said I needed a new hot water heater fast about $900. No thank you. Second plumber (good reputable company I'd used before) said it might be that the water heater needed cleaning. A little over $100. Okay. They cleaned it. Worked for a couple of days then the stink was back. Then someone told me that if the water evaporates from the drain (p trap maybe) then the odor from the sewage can back up into pipes because there's no water barrier to keep the odor from drifting up the pipes. Sure enough now I run some water into the sink on the right that I rarely use and there's no odor any more. Back in the day...if water stayed in the p trap it started stinking. Completely different now.

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.