August 1, 2023

How to Keep Your Shower Drain Clear and Odor-Free

Maintaining a clear and odor-free shower drain is more than just an element of basic hygiene; it’s a key aspect of ensuring a pleasant and refreshing bathing experience and preserving the longevity of your bathroom fixtures. Gradually, elements like hair, soap residues, and miscellaneous debris can accumulate in your shower drain, potentially leading to unpleasant odors and serious blockages over time. Such problems can not only interrupt your day-to-day activities but, if left unchecked, may result in expensive repair costs. Hence, keeping your shower drain clear and odor-free is an essential task for a clean and functional bathroom.

What causes a smelly shower drain?

Your Drain Is Clogged

The primary cause of an unpleasant odor emanating from your shower drain is often a clogged shower drain. Accumulations of hair, soap scum, and other miscellaneous debris can obstruct the smooth passage of water in your pipes, leaving behind residual matter that eventually begins to smell. Despite using hair traps, a shower drain cover or being confident about not having lost any small items down the drain recently, the buildup of soap scum alone can significantly impact your plumbing. A scent resembling sewage is typically indicative of a clog somewhere within your shower drain system.

Clogged shower drains are usually quite apparent. Visible obstructions or accumulated residue within the drain can often be seen, and there may also be an unpleasant odor emanating from the area surrounding the drain.

Your P-Trap Is Dry or Dirty

A sewer-like odor emanating from your shower drain could signify a problem with your P-trap. Similar to the curved section of the pipe beneath your bathroom sink, the P-trap under your shower drain serves a crucial function. It accumulates hair, soap residue, dropped items, and other debris over time, safeguarding the rest of your piping system from blockages. Additionally, it retains a small quantity of water at the bottom of the trap to prevent sewer gases from reversing into your bathroom.

If you notice a sewer gas odor coming from your P-trap, it could indicate that the pipe is either blocked or has dried out. Factors that can cause the P-trap to dry out include prolonged periods of not using your shower, residing in an extremely hot environment, or the presence of a leak somewhere within your plumbing system.

Mold or Biofilm

The conditions within a bathroom, especially in drains, create an ideal environment for mold and biofilm to flourish. The persistent warmth and dampness, coupled with the multitude of microbes we wash off during showers, can lead to a significant issue in our drains. This accumulation not only produces a musty shower drain smell, but it also has the potential to result in blockages.

Leaky Pipes

In severe instances, the wastewater from your shower may fail to reach the drain line. The presence of smells akin to rotten eggs or sewage could also indicate a pipe leak. Such a leak could cause wastewater to infiltrate the floors and walls around your bathroom.

A leak in the P-trap or drain line can also result in a foul-smelling shower drain. The gaseous emissions from the sewer, usually confined by the structure of your trap, could seep back into your bathroom if there’s leakage, making your showers less refreshing.

Tips on how to clean a shower drain and remove smelly odors

Sanitize your shower drain

Keeping your shower drain clear is crucial to avoid unpleasant odors and potential clogs. Here are some tips:

  1. Consistently follow each shower with a flush of hot water, and introduce baking soda into the drain opening, which should then be chased with additional hot water. Baking soda serves as an excellent cleaning agent, aiding in the breakdown and removal of grime.
  2. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar can also be effective. Pour boiling water down the drain first to loosen the debris, then add a cup each of vinegar and baking soda.
  3. Limiting the quantity of hair and similar debris that enters the drain can contribute to preventing blockages. This can be achieved by employing a drain cover or habitually eliminating observable hair.
  4. For a more aggressive approach, you can pour one cup of bleach into the drain at night and run warm water for a few minutes in the morning.
  5. Or simply sanitize your shower drain with a commercial drain cleaner and follow the instructions on the container.

Remember, it’s easier to prevent clogged drains than to deal with them later on. Regular maintenance can save you from potentially costly repairs in the future.

Clean The P-Trap

The P-trap, which resides directly beneath your shower drain, can be cleaned simultaneously while you clean your drain. Use any of the sanitation methods above, and extend the soaking period before rinsing.

However, if you suspect that the odors are originating from your P-trap and cleaning it doesn’t solve the issue, you may be dealing with a more serious problem. Under such circumstances, it’s crucial to contact a local plumber for an inspection to determine if there’s a leak in or around your P-trap or worse, deeper in your system.

Unclog Your Shower Drain

When you notice water accumulating around your feet during a shower, it’s often a sign of a shower drain clog, which could be the source of unpleasant shower drain smells. There are multiple methods to unclog a shower drain, ranging from manually removing the obstruction with your hands or a drain snake, to employing a concoction of common household items as previously mentioned, to break down the buildup.

Manually Remove the Clog

In some cases, the shower drain clogs may be visible and accessible without the need for specific tools or products. While it might make you uncomfortable, donning a pair of cleaning gloves allows you to manually reach into the drain and extract the source of the clog.

Try a Drain Snake

A drain snake is a bendable instrument designed to delve into a clogged drain and remove blockages.

Gently insert the snake into the drain, turning it as you go until you encounter some obstruction. Keep maneuvering the snake to either ensnare the blockage or disintegrate the buildup. When you no longer encounter any obstruction, cautiously retract the snake from the drain.

Dispose of any obstructive substances that are retrieved by the drain snake, which could include a mixture of hair and soap scum. Be prepared for potentially foul smells during this process. It could be beneficial to ventilate the room by opening a window while performing this task.

Plunge It

Plungers are not exclusively designed for toilet use. As a matter of fact, many of the smaller plungers available in stores are ideally suited for clearing blockages in sink and shower drains.

Call a Plumber

There are multiple situations where it becomes necessary to engage a professional plumber as soon as an unusual odor emanates from your shower drain. If you notice indicators of a leak in your bathroom, such as staining on your ceiling, damage to the floor, or an odd, damp smell pervading the room, don’t hesitate to contact a plumbing expert right away. The task of repairing bathroom pipes goes beyond DIY capabilities and water leakage can lead to substantial damage in a matter of days.

The regular maintenance of shower drains is crucial for a variety of reasons. Not only does it help in the efficient operation of your bathroom fixtures, but it also greatly minimizes the likelihood of expensive repairs and replacements in the future. A clean drain also helps to ward off unpleasant smells and possible health risks tied to the proliferation of mold and bacteria. Therefore, investing time in routine drain cleaning can save you money, protect your health, and enhance your overall showering experience.

Interested in installing a shower in your home? Contact us today for a free consultation.