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Few things can ruin a relaxing shower more than a persistent funky smell coming out of your shower drain. Sometimes that smell means you need to do some significant plumbing work, but sometimes you’re a quick DIY solution away from keeping your shower drain smell-free. The first step to ousting that smell is figuring out the cause. It’s usually one of three things: Mold, Drainage Line Problems, or Biofilm.

If you have a musty smell, it’s probably mold.

Mold can be a real health hazard if left unmitigated! If the infected area is small (less than 10 square feet), you should be okay to address it yourself, according to the EPA. If you have a large infestation, call a professional! If you’re just addressing mold in the drain you’ll need some simple household ingredients: baking soda, white distilled vinegar, boiling (or very hot) water, and an old toothbrush.

Remove the drain cover and apply a paste of baking soda and water to exposed surfaces with the toothbrush. After 10 minutes, scrub the exposed surfaces thoroughly. Repeat as needed until any mold is loosened. Now it’s time to flush the plumbing.

If you have standard PVC piping, boiling water can damage it. So if you have PVC or don’t know what kind of drain pipe you have, heat about 10 quarts of water to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit and pour it slowly down the drain.

Follow the hot water with a cup of white distilled vinegar. Finally, follow the vinegar with half a cup of baking soda.

If you have a sewage gas smell, it’s probably drainage line problems.

The only quick fix here is to refill your P-Trap with water. If your drain isn’t holding water in the p-trap (or doesn’t have a p- trap) you are going to need to do a bigger plumbing project to diagnose or fix the underlying issue.

If you have a rotten egg smell, it’s probably biofilm.

Biofilm is a pretty gross buildup of decomposing debris mixed with a bacteria that helps the whole package stick to just about anything. It is able to build up when a drain is slow. So the solution here is to unclog the drain and to kill the bacteria. If your drain is REALLY slow, you’ll want to start with the clog. That may mean using a commercial drain chemical or doing some manual drain cleaning.

If a lot of hair has built up in your drain, this will be a pretty intensively gross (but necessary) experience. Hair can catch a lot of other debris that these bacteria feed on. Once the drain is relatively clear, it’s time to flush the bacteria. This is really similar to the solution for mold. You’ll need boiling (or hot) water, white distilled vinegar, and baking soda. Again, if you have standard PVC piping, boiling water can damage it. So if you have PVC or don’t know what kind of drain pipe you have, heat about 10 quarts of water to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit and pour it slowly down the drain.

  • Follow the hot water with a cup of white distilled vinegar.
  • Follow the vinegar with half a cup of baking soda. Wait about two hours and pour another round of hot (or boiling) water down the drain.
  • If you have a drain brush, finish with a scrub to ensure any leftover debris has been dislodged.

If these simple DIY’s don’t solve the problem, you may need to take a deeper look at your plumbing.

Shower pan drains are notorious for developing long-term drainage issues. The right hardware can go a long way in preventing shower drain issues. The Wondercap is an award-winning design that offers a triple seal connection to the drain. Which means no more shower pan leaks! The Wondercap catches hair and other debris that would cause blockages and backups. It’s also manufactured with an antibacterial agent, to stop that biofilm from growing! The Wondercap offers stylish, interchangeable, and high-quality square and round strainers in a variety of finishes available in both Square and Round to fit into any bathroom decor. Click here to learn more about the Wondercap and where you can buy it.