A person standing over a shower drain with the words, "why does my shower drain smell?"

Showers are meant to be a place for getting clean under the stream of water as it relaxes your muscles. However, it can be difficult to feel clean and relaxed if there is a strong odor coming from your shower drain. Shower drains smell for two reasons: either biofilm has formed a clog or is caking the drain, or there are sewage gasses that are escaping into your drainage pipes. Either way, your shower can’t be a clean and relaxing place again until the problem is taken care of. Here’s what you should know about a shower drain that smells.

A Musty Smelling Drain

A musty smell in your shower drain is typically caused by mold growing in your drain. The metabolic process of mold results in mold spores that releasy tiny puffs of gas that have a distinct musty smell. This gas can also be dangerous if inhaled, causing headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. 

How to Handle Mold In Your Drain

If you suspect that there is mold growing in your drain, there are a few steps you can take to mitigate the worst effects. To do this, you will need:

  • Baking Soda
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Boiling water
  • Old toothbrush
before and after image of a shower remodel

The first step to removing mold from the shower drain is mixing equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste. Use a toothbrush to apply the paste liberally over the shower drain. Wait ten minutes to give the mixture adequate time to remove the mold. Then, use a toothbrush to scrub the entire shower drain thoroughly. Repeat these steps several times to loosen up the mold around or under the shower drain. 

The next part of the process requires you to boil 10 quarts of water. Wait for the water to cool off a bit and pour it slowly down the drain. Next, pour a cup of vinegar down the drain slowly. Finally, pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain. If the smell returns after you have completed this process, this means you likely have a larger mold problem and the drain needs a professional cleaning

My Drain Smells Like Rotten Eggs or Sewage

If your drain smells more like rotten eggs or sewage than something musty, you are likely dealing with either biofilm or escaping sewer gasses.

Biofilm typically results from a clogged drain. To clear biofilm, first run water in your shower for 2-5 minutes. If the water is slow to drain, the buildup is likely from bacteria and decomposing debris inside of your drain, also known as biofilm. This bacteria acts as a sticky glue-like substance that can stick to almost any surface. To get rid of the smell, you will need to clear the clog and debris, that is trapped and feeding all the bacteria. To do this, you will need:

  • Drain brush cleaner
  • Boiling water
  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar

The first step to removing a clog is removing the shower drain with a screwdriver. If you have a push-pull drain, you can unscrew the drain by turning it counter-clockwise. Next, boil 5 to 10 quarts of water and let it cool to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. After cooling, pour the boiled water down the drain. Then, pour one cup of vinegar into the drain immediately followed by a half cup of baking soda. Finally, wait 2 hours before pouring another gallon of hot water down the drain and use a drain brush to remove any leftover debris. If you are still dealing with a clog after completing this process, you will need to seek out a professional plumber.

The other reason that your drain may smell like rotten eggs or sewage is that sewer gases are escaping your pipes. If the water isn’t slow to drain after you let your water run in the shower for 2-5 minutes, then you are most likely dealing with sewer gases, also known as hydrogen sulfide. Thankfully, this type of gas isn’t dangerous for your health; it is merely inconvenient and smelly. This issue indicates that there is a larger problem with your sewage lines, so you will need to call a professional plumber to inspect your drainage and sewer pipes for leaks

Denton and Collin County’s Trust Plumbing Specialists

Once you try to tackle a smelly shower drain, you may never look at your shower the same again. It might be much more difficult to feel clean and relaxed in this space, even after you have spent hours scrubbing away and pouring hot water down the drain. This is especially true if the smell persists despite your best efforts. Let the skilled team of professionals at Bewley Plumbing help you make your shower feel like your at-home spa again. We’ll put your mind—and your nose—at ease by ensuring your drains and general plumbing are in excellent shape. Call us today for all of your plumbing needs!

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