Tips to Stop Shower Drain from Smelling Like Mildew

A friend of mine was visiting recently and after she finished in the bathroom she let me know that my shower drain was emitting a musty odor. I hadn’t noticed it until then but once I put my nose up to the drain I could definitely tell what she was talking about. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to stop your shower drain from smelling like mildew. Here we will go over what causes that smell and how to get rid of it once and for all.

Using baking soda to deodorize a shower drain from mildew.

Causes of Shower Drain Odor

Shower drain odor is often caused by a buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew in the drain and pipes. The warm and moist environment of the shower drain provides a perfect breeding ground for these microorganisms to thrive. Over time, they can produce an unpleasant odor that can permeate your bathroom.

Another common cause of shower drain odor is a clog in the drain. Hair, soap scum, and other debris can accumulate in the drain over time, creating a blockage that traps moisture and allows bacteria and mold to grow, leading to a foul smell.

Tips to Stop Shower Drain from Smelling Like Mildew

  1. Regular Cleaning: Regular cleaning of your shower drain is crucial to prevent the buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew. You can use a drain cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean the drain. Simply pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes, then flush the drain with hot water. This will help to break down the grime and eliminate any foul odors.
  2. Remove Hair and Debris: Hair and debris are common culprits for shower drain odor. Make sure to remove any visible hair or debris from the drain regularly. You can use a drain snake or a plunger to clear any clogs and prevent the accumulation of hair and debris in the drain.
  3. Dry Out the Drain: After each shower, try to dry out the drain as much as possible. Use a towel or a paper towel to wipe down the drain and remove any excess water. This will help to prevent moisture from lingering in the drain, which can promote the growth of bacteria and mold.
  4. Use a Drain Cover: Installing a drain cover or strainer can help to catch hair and debris before they go down the drain, preventing clogs and foul odors. Make sure to clean the drain cover regularly to remove any trapped debris.
  5. Ventilate Your Bathroom: Proper ventilation is essential in preventing mildew and mold growth in your bathroom. Make sure your bathroom is well-ventilated by using an exhaust fan or opening a window during and after showering. This will help to remove excess moisture from the air and prevent it from settling in your shower drain.
  6. Use Lemon or Baking Soda: Lemon and baking soda are natural deodorizers that can help eliminate mildew odor. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice down the drain, followed by a tablespoon of baking soda. Let it sit for a few minutes, then flush the drain with hot water. The lemon and baking soda will help to neutralize the odor and freshen up your drain.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If you’ve tried all the above tips and your shower drain still smells like mildew, it may be time to seek professional help. A plumber can thoroughly clean your drain and pipes, identify any underlying issues, and provide effective solutions to eliminate the odor.
Boiling vinegar in a kettle to clean mildew from a shower drain.

A shower drain that smells like mildew can be unpleasant, but with proper maintenance and regular cleaning, you can easily eliminate the odor. Remember to clean your drain regularly, remove hair and debris, dry out the drain, use a drain cover, ventilate your bathroom, and use natural deodorizers like lemon or baking soda. If the odor persists, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Pouring boiling vinegar down a shower drain with baking soda to deodorize and unclog.

Time needed: 2 hours

How to freshen a musty shower drain with baking soda and vinegar

  1. Pour baking soda down drain

    Pour at least a cup of baking soda down the drain. You may need to use a funnel. Do this before bed and let the baking soda sit overnight. It will help deodorize the drain.

  2. Boil vinegar

    The next morning after the baking soda has been in the drain for a few hours, boil about 2 cups of vinegar in an electric kettle. You want the vinegar nice and hot. As a bonus, this will also clean your tea kettle.

  3. Pour the vinegar down the drain

    Pour the boiling vinegar down the drain onto the baking soda. This will create a reaction with the baking soda. The vinegar also has disinfectant and deodorizing properties.

  4. Insert the drain plug

    Right after you pour the vinegar over top of the baking soda insert the drain plug. When you combine baking soda and vinegar it creates carbon dioxide. When you insert the drain plug as the gas is forming it creates a vacuum that helps pull down gunk and clogs in the drain.

  5. Rinse with water

    After the bubbling dies down rinse the drain with water. Your shower drain will be nice and fresh. Keep the plug inserted when not in use.

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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