Is That Smell Coming From Your Kitchen Pipes?

Is there a rather unpleasant, rotten egg smell lingering in your kitchen? Have you tried taking out the trash, wiping the counters, and cleaning out the refrigerator to no avail? News flash: it’s probably your kitchen sink. We don’t often think about the kitchen sink as being a trap for all the food, liquid, and smells that accompany them because they disappear before our eyes, but they sure are. Think about how many times you wash your dishes in a day and how all that excess liquid and food — the left-over yogurt in the bowl, bits of garlic, the pasta sauce left on the plate — gets washed down your kitchen sink. It’s no wonder those smells are wafting around the room. In more serious situations, it may even be time for you to replace your piping. If you can’t seem to get rid of your sink smell, here are some common causes and how to treat them.

Girl Staring at Sink Faucet


Pouring grease or vegetable oil down a kitchen sink is a no-no. The reason why is because grease and oil can easily stick to the sides of pipes, as well as your drain and disposal. When it sticks to the sides, it can also collect food coming down the drain. That food stays trapped there and begins to rot, as does the grease as it starts to break down, and thus you get a putrid smell wafting up through the sink. In order to fix this problem, first, be sure to collect all cooking grease or vegetable oil in a jar instead of pouring it down a sink. In order to get your sink smelling back to normal, you can pour equal parts baking soda and vinegar into the drain. Let this sit for about 10 minutes as it bubbles and collects all the grease. Then, take a pot of boiling water and slowly pour it down the drain, washing away the traces of your mixture.

Garbage Disposal

Much like the way grease traps food on the sides of a pipe or drain, so can the blades of garbage disposals. Again, the food will sit here for a while and start to rot, which causes that terrible smell. To avoid this from happening, try to use the garbage disposal only when you really need it. When used often, it has more chances of collecting food and this whole cycle occurring. One way to clean up this smell is to put equal parts ice and salt into the disposal while it’s running. Be sure to also run cold water down the disposal as well to help flush out any stuck food. Allowing the blades of the disposal to cut up the ice with salt helps to get out any food that might be caught on a blade and rotting away. You may also want to consider adding some citrus fruit rinds down the disposal in order to incorporate their refreshing smell.


If your sink smells more than just rotting food and more like a sewer, it’s possible that your drain vent is clogged. This plumbing vent connects the main sewer line to the outside, therefore allowing a balance of pressure inside the pipe. This component is important because, without a balance of pressure inside the pipe, water could leak out of the trap in your sink and allow sewer gas to seep into your home. When these vents aren’t working properly, it’s possible that something is blocking it. Because they are usually located on the roof of a home, it’s not uncommon for a tree or birds’ nest to be the culprit. However, it’s best to let a professional plumber handle the issue, as it could also be due to a leak in the shaft of the vent.


Another viable cause of sewer smell is your kitchen sink trap not working properly. The trap is a U-shaped pipe that’s located underneath the sink basin that holds a bit of water in order to prevent sewer gas from coming up into the pipes and into your home. If the water has evaporated, just run the sink to let it fill back up again. If it seems like your trap can’t hold water, you may have a leak. In this case, you should call a professional plumber.

If your home has some old pipes that haven’t been cleaned or replaced, you may want to consider getting new pipes. There may be leaks or grease that have collected so much so that they can no longer be cleaned. If you can’t seem to get that pesky smell out of your kitchen, give Nautilus Plumbing a call at 323-629-4627 and we’ll assess the problem for you.

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