Sink Maintenance: How to Defeat Smelly, Clogged Drains

Ways to prevent a clogged sink or bathtubKitchen sinks that smell and induce nose-holding fits -- and showers clogged with huge clumps of hair -- are reoccurring problems for most small spaces. And bringing roommates into the mix only escalates these domestic messes, not to mention feeds the drama.

So, before you drone on about how the stench of unwashed dishes is ruining your quality of life, and you start to seek out apartment ads for a new studio -- breathe! It might be something else causing the foul waft of air.

Typically, if water is not properly flowing down through your drains, then air is stuck, too, and this is what creates what you and your roommates are calling "the funkiest smell ever."

Check out these no-hassle tips on how to remove, as well as prevent, buildup in your drains, and in turn, keep your sink smelling rosy.

Remove hair routinely.
While picking up the amassing hairball in the bathtub seems so simple, none of us can ever seen to get around to this mindless chore. But removing hair regularly from the drain before it begins to block up the shower is one easy trick to keeping the water moving smoothly. To further help the situation, try running hot water down the drain after a shower to rinse away soap remnants that can build in the drain opening.

Use liquid body washes. Liquid soaps produce less residue than your old-fashioned bar of soap, which will help keep the drainway free and clear over the long term.

Put the toilet plunger to work.
If a couple of inches of water is backing up in your bathtub or shower, take the toilet plunger and place its head over the drain hole. Pump a few times to clear the passage way. The water draining is a sign that the blockage has been dislodged.

Turn to baking soda.
For both kitchen or bathroom, a simple baking soda concoction can create a chemical reaction that will dissolve fatty acids or grime collecting in your drains, and prevent those nasty scents from permeating throughout your house. First, measure about four tablespoons of baking soda and dump it into your drain. Next, take 3/4 of a cup of white vinegar and slowly pour it down your sink. Then, finish by flushing out with warm water. This remedy can even be used as a preventative measure -- before your drain clogs -- by repeating it in either your bathroom or kitchen sink every three months.

Clean strainers or stoppers.
Muck sticking to parts of your drain may even be contributing to the blockage. Consider unfastening the screws of the strainer, and loosen to cleanse thoroughly. If you have a stopper, unplug it and clean, along with wiping down the base of the drain.

Don't put food scraps or cooking fat down the sink.
A garbage disposal will break down any pesty pieces of small food that missed the trashcan. If you don't have one, see if your landlord would be open to installing one, or use a drain filter to trap any food waste that gets into the sink. For cooking fat, try storing it in old tin cans and disposing via the trash. At the very least, cooking fats should be diluted with boiling water before going down the drain.

Clean out your P-traps.
P-traps are the u-shaped pipe under your kitchen or bathroom sink. They can be unscrewed and rinsed out. If your kitchen or bathroom sink is missing this type of pipe, this could be the root cause of the stench. Let your landlord know and see if one can be installed.

And even if you have to end up calling a plumber, don't think all this work has gone to waste -- showing a little bit of effort on the home front just may help you and your roommates maintain that amicable relationship.

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