How to Clean and Remove Shower Drain Odor

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Your bathroom is your spa. And, when it starts releasing bad odor because of smelly shower drains, the situation gets annoying and challenging to deal with. From this, you should be eager to know how to clean shower drain odor.

In most cases, molds growing underneath the shower drains act as the primary reason for the smell. However, it is not the only reason. Some of the reasons might be soap scum and shower drain clogging, among others. 

How to Clean Shower Drain Odor?

There are professional and systematic ways to get rid of the shower drain odor all by yourself. So, before you plan on hiring a plumber, you should take time to learn how to clean shower drain odor. 

Step 1: Identify the Reason for Smell

As stated above, few reasons might be responsible for your smelly shower drain because of poor maintenance, irregular cleaning, or negligence due to your busy life. But, it is a must to eradicate the foul odor from the bathroom for the sake of personal hygiene. Therefore, you must identify the cause of the foul smell occurring in your shower before proceeding further.

You need to follow an unpleasant yet essential process for carrying out this step:

A shower drain with white tiles
  1. Lean down to smell the drain.
  2. If it smells musty, then it is probably due to mold growth underneath the drain.
  3. But if the smell is not musty, then it is probably soap scum smell over, around, or underneath the drain.
  4. If the smell is like sulfur, then the problem might be a dry P-trap. A P-trap is a pipe with a P design for preventing sewer gas from entering the home. It traps a little bit of water for serving the purpose. If it is dry, then it will smell like sulfur. 
  5. Pour water to check if it drains smoothly or takes time. If it takes time, then it is probably drain-clogging. 

Step 2: Remove the Drain Strainer

  1. Put on your pair of gloves.
  2. Check whether the drain strainer is sealed or not.
  3. If it is loose, then it indicates mold build-up underneath it.
  4. Take off the strainer.
  5. If the strainer is sealed properly, then you will need separate tools to remove it. 
  6. Pry off the strainer with the use of a screwdriver to open it. 

Step 3: Clean the Drain & Strainer With Soap & Water

  1. Check for mold build-up around the opening of the drain.
  2. Check for hair clogging on the underside of the strainer.
  3. Pull out as much hair as possible with your hands. 
  4. Look inside the drain for scum coating around the pipe. 
  5. Prepare a solution of soap and warm water in a bowl. (Use equal quantities for mixing)
  6. Get a foam paint roller (without roller attachment) or a commercial cleaning tool for the drain. 
  7. Dip the roller in a soapy solution and rub it around the pipe to clean it. 
  8. Take the roller out and rinse it, and go in again.
  9. Continue the process until no scum remnants are seen on the roller. 

Step 4: Disinfect & Deodorize

  1. Prepare the 50-50 solution of water and household bleach.
  2. Mix it thoroughly and pour it down the drain for disinfecting the drain. 
  3. Cover it up for a few minutes.
  4. Now, mix a cup of baking soda and pour it into the drain.
  5. Following that, pour a cup of white vinegar into the drain.
  6. Cover the drain, and let the solution work inside the drain for a few more minutes.
  7. It will deodorize the shower drain. 
  8. Flush the drain with hot water, and check the smell.
  9. Repeat the process if the smell persists.

Step 5: Preventing the Odors From Returning

  • Pour hot water into the drain once every week to eradicate the soap remnants that build up the scum. 
  • If you are not washing your hair for the day, then it is better to use shower caps during the bath to avoid hair clogging in the shower drain.

Check out the exact demonstration in this video to understand how to carry out these cleaning steps for removing the odor.

Step 6: Calling the Professionals (Conditional)

After following all of the steps above, if you still cannot get rid of the shower drain smell, there might be some serious problem within the septic tank or sewer. In that case, it is undoubtedly not a DIY job, and you will need the help of professionals. Look for plumbers who are licensed & insured to carry out effective measures to solve the odor issue.

A circular drain with old tiles

Frequently Asked Questions

Will My Shower Drain Smell Even if I Am Not Using My Shower More Often?

Yes, even when you are not using your showers, the drain will start to stink over time. This is the type of smell released when the drain is sitting idle for a long time.

The P-traps, when they remain unused, are responsible for the sewer smell out of the drain. Along with that, methane gas would also enter your home. To know more about what will happen if you leave your shower or drain unused, refer to this article.

What Are the Things That I Should Avoid Putting Into the Drain?

Some of the things you should avoid putting into your drains are eggshells, coffee grounds, cotton balls, household fluids, etc. Learn more about such things in this article.

Flushing down inappropriate things into the drain might result in clogging. Hair is not the only clogging element.


Shower drain clogging and smell is a prevalent problem amongst households. But, timely maintenance is what will help you overcome it. This includes cleaning the shower floor itself, materials such as, plastic shower floor and pebble stone shower floor.

These DIY methods will definitely assist you in cleaning the drains, which in turn will remove the odor. By following the guide, you won’t need the help of a professional and will get rid of that smelly drain completely.  

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.