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How Do You Clean and Disinfect a Drain?

Have you ever been in the kitchen and noticed a foul odor whose source you couldn’t locate? Maybe your go-to response was to take the trash out, thinking there was something rotten in there with the smell seeping out. Then, after doing that and making sure the trash clean was clean and had a new bag, you found that the smell hadn’t gone away.

There’s a good chance the odor was coming from the drain in your kitchen sink.

We have a tendency not to keep our drains clean, thinking that the running water when we’re rinsing washes debris away. Or we think that the disposal always takes care of things.

The truth is that rinsing isn’t always enough, disposals don’t always remove everything, and we sometimes forget even to run our disposals. Plus, not every kitchen sink has disposal, and even if you use a filter that keeps solid waste from getting into the drain, it’s more likely than not that debris will get into it.

That waste can rot and produce bad smells while also attracting harmful bacteria when it does.

Although it isn’t much fun, cleaning and disinfecting drains in your sinks, showers, and other fixtures should be something you do on a regular basis, once a week if possible. Most of the time, it isn’t hard to do. Let’s look at how to do it.

First, Keep Things Clean

After cooking and eating, no one feels like doing the dishes, and it’s tempting to just let dirty dishes sit in the sink. “I’ll get to them later or tomorrow,” you think. Only you don’t. So those dirty dishes sit there, and the waste on and in them starts to turn, producing unpleasant odors and maybe mold as well. So keep your sinks clear of dirty dishes unless you’re washing and rinsing them.

Clogged Drain

Remove Possible Clogs

If a sink, shower, tub, or toilet is draining slowly or not at all, there may be a clog, and it might be one you can address yourself.

All you need for this is a standard plunger. However, it’s probably not a good idea to work on the kitchen sink with a plunger you use for toilets, no matter how much you might clean all of them!

Place the plunger over the drain and press it down to create a seal, and then fill the basin with enough water to cover the drain. Then apply quick pumps, as many as necessary, to clear the clog. If your sink has two bowls, make sure you close both off before plunging.

Your local grocery store will have chemical products that can clear clogs, but be aware that they can sometimes damage your plumbing, depending upon what type it is. Make sure you read all directions and warnings before purchasing and using these products.

There is also a “natural” way to remove clogs that don’t involve plungers or chemicals. You can purchase enzymatic or bacterial drain cleaners that dissolve organic materials. They take longer to work, but they’re safer for you and your plumbing than chemicals are, and they require less work.

Sanitize the Basin

Once everything is out of the sink, it’s time to sanitize the basin. Put on some rubber gloves and give the sink a quick rinse. Next, it’s time to scrub the sink.

If you have a stainless-steel sink, avoid abrasive scrubbers and bleach-based products as they can damage the sink’s finish. Instead, use a softer scrubber like a sponge, and use baking soda and dish soap with hot water. Start with the sides and scrub down so that debris goes down the drain and you’re being efficient. Rinse well, and then wipe the sink down, so it doesn’t spot up.

White sinks are more susceptible to rust and stains, and baking soda and hydrogen peroxide will help. After rinsing, coat the sink with a thin layer of baking soda, sprinkle some drops of hydrogen peroxide on top, and scrub with a sponge or brush. Wash everything down the drain afterward.

For a porcelain sink, take the same approach as for a white sink, but if a rust spot persists, try sprinkling salt on half of the lemon and scrub it that way.

Wipe Down Faucets and Handles

Although we haven’t addressed the drain itself yet, next, give faucets and handles some TLC. Get scrubbing with soapy water, a sponge or brush, and maybe an expendable toothbrush for spots that are hard to reach. If there are white spots afterward, that’s lime buildup from minerals in the tap water, and you can add some vinegar to your soapy mixture to tackle them.

Clean the Drains and Eliminate Odors

Now, with everything clean and clear, it’s time to sanitize those drains themselves so the odors will be pleasant, not nasty.

Here’s one method:

Use baking soda and vinegar in a 1:2 parts ratio. First pour baking soda down the drain, and then pour the vinegar after it. This will create a bubbly mixture; let it do its work for 15 minutes, and then pour water brought to a boil down the drain to rinse it out and clear any remaining residue.

And here’s another if your sink has disposal:

Put salt, ice cubes, and a few lemon wedges into the disposal. Run cold water and turn the disposal on. The salt (coarse salt like rock or sea salt is best) works as a scrubber for the blades, the ice cubes help remove any remaining waste, and the lemons leave a pleasant, fresh scent.

These tips should help you keep your drains clean and fresh-smelling. If bad odors are persistent or you can’t free a clogged drain, then professional help is probably necessary. For a clogged drain or drain cleaning in Fletcher, Hendersonville, or Weaverville NC, just contact Asheville-based Four Seasons Plumbing. You’ll get honest pricing with no hidden fees or changed quotes, friendly and experienced service, and quality you can’t beat!

How Do You Clean and Disinfect a Drain
Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.