How To Get Rid Of A Mildew Smell In The Shower Drain?

A Mildew smell creeping up from the drain in your shower is very common. It can happen after a large amount of water sits in the drain for a while, say when you are on vacation. Even if there isn’t that much standing water in the shower, it might just need to be cleaned out to prevent shower drain smells like mildew. There may also be times where you have this problem but don’t know why your mildew smell is coming about.

Then this blog post will help you to catch up with the problem and provide you with an easy and effective way to get rid of the smell.

What is the reason behind Mildew Smell?

There are many reasons why your drain is producing this unpleasant odor, but the most common cause is simply dirty water sitting in it. Even though we shower every day, some of us don’t clean out our drains daily (or even monthly). If there isn’t any standing water, then that probably means that your drain is just dirty.

So first off, you need to clean out the shower drain with a snake or plunger before doing anything else. After doing these things, you may be up to a decision on what to do now.

However, the obvious solution to eliminating this odor is to pour bleach down into the drain and scrub around with a brush. This will kill any bacteria or mold growing inside the PVC pipes leading to the sewer system so that they will no longer release an unpleasant scent throughout your bathroom. However, bleaching these pipes could potentially damage them so it’s important to take precautions before doing this.

How to clean a smelly shower drain?

If your shower drain smells like mildew and wants to get rid of the musty smell perpetually then you’ll need to follow down the procedure outlined here-

Try Hot Water Treatment:

Before using soap or bleach mixture, you can try a pot of hot water into the drain. If it is not badly blocked or clogged with hair, then hot water should work well to dissolve any accumulated soap scum and unclog the mildew smell from the shower drain. If it doesn’t work then go to the next step.

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Remove hair and debris

Hair and debris can cause the drain to become clogged and filled with mold, which can cause an unpleasant mildew smell. So you need to remove hair or other objects that may be obstructing it before anything else.

A great way to do this is by using a plunger. Apply pressure on one side of the drain (preferably where it smells) until all the standing water has gone out of your drain.

Then put the rubber end of the plunger over the drain opening and push down hard several times in fast succession. Repeat this process for another 10 minutes until no more soap scum comes loose from the pipes down below. 

A mixture of Bleach And Vinegar (Super Effective)

You can also try a mixture of bleach and vinegar if your shower drain smells like mildew. It’s the best way to clean the mildew smell from your shower drain.

  • Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup bleach in a bucket filled with water. Pour this solution into the drain by using a goblet or hand-held plastic funnel.
  • Allow it to stay for 15 minutes then you have to flush it off with water running hot through the showerhead.
  • For DIY treatments, allow 30 minutes before flushing out any clog and cleaning up the mess.
  • If after the half-hour, there is still no improvement (and your drain isn’t badly blocked), then try this step a second time. If no result was found, then called professional.

Precautions: Always wear rubber gloves while cleaning the drain with bleach, vinegar, or bacteria mixture because it can cause irritation to the eyes and skin.

Clean the Drain Pump Screen:

The drain pump screen is located at the bottom of many types of bathtubs. It’s a black, circular mesh-like filter that keeps debris from entering the waste line attached to your home plumbing system. This pump screen is generally removable and easy to clean out if it has lots of accumulated dirt on it.

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Clean the Drain Trap

After all the above steps, you can follow down below to clean out the drain trap under the bathroom sink. Remove the p-trap and take it apart carefully.

Also, remember to replace any rubber washers that may be worn out or missing from around pipe joints before reassembling everything back together. Finally, check for any cracks or holes inside the p-trap’s bend and replace if needed.

Clean the Shower Grout Lines

There are some mildew smell problems related to grout lines which can be removed by cleaning thoroughly with bleach or vinegar solution mixed at 1/2 cup of both ingredients respectively per gallon of hot water.

Moreover, you have to allow extra time for the bleach/vinegar solution to sit on the grout for at least half an hour before scrubbing them away using a brush or sponge. After that, you can write off scrubbing, rinse with clear water then apply grout sealer to avoid future mildew problems.

How To Prevent The Musty Smell from the shower drain?

There are several ways you can take to help prevent the musty smell from the shower drain.

1. Regular check:

As mentioned above, you need to inspect your drain frequently for stuff that can cause a mildew smell. Hair and soap scum are the main culprits of this problem, so make sure to remove them from time to time.

You also need to check if there is any water left in the shower after using it because sometimes small amounts of standing water will invite mold or mildew growth which can produce a bad odor when it’s exposed to air.

2. Prevent Condensation

Fix any water leaks to help reduce the added moisture condensation that can lead to mildew problems in your bathroom.

3. Use Fabric Softener Sparingly

Try not to use too much fabric softener during laundry because it’s known for leaving unpleasantly scented residues that attract mildew and mold growths on your bathroom rugs, towels, etc., so try to wash them regularly with detergents without fabric softener.  

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4. Remove Moisture with a Dehumidifier

If you live in an excessively humid climate, then you can remove moist air using a dehumidifier which will help prevent mold growth in the bathroom where humidity is high enough for these microorganisms to thrive.

5. Take extra care when Wet

Be very careful when taking wet showers or baths so that water doesn’t flood down your drain and create excess moisture inside it.

6. Clean the Drain Trap

Clean out the drain trap under your sink monthly to remove dirt, hair, soap scum, etc. that will produce a mildew smell if they are not removed regularly. You can also use enzyme-based cleaner/degreaser to break down soap scum, hair, etc., so it’s easy to flush out of the drain trap with water.

7. Use Exhaust Fans

Install an exhaust fan in your bathroom which is very effective for removing moist air and bad odors coming from mold or mildew growths inside your home plumbing systems.

So these are the ways to prevent your Shower Drain from Smells Like Mildew and accomplishing how to get rid of mildew Smell in Drain. Even if you can’t follow all the steps mentioned above, at least applying the first two/three methods will help.


Though it’s not a difficult task to deal with the mildew smell coming from your shower drain, if neglected for a long time then it will become more troublesome. So try to maintain good bathroom hygiene by regularly removing any shampoo/soap residues inside the drain, using fabric softener sparingly, etc., so that you don’t have to experience the same problem again.

If you are still having trouble after trying out all these methods mentioned above or want some help from professionals for further guidance about bad smelling drains in your city area. Then you can get in touch with Drain cleaning services and they’ll ensure quick action to avoid this kind of problem again.

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Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba is passionate about home improvement and design. As a child, she grew up helping her dad renovate their childhood home. Many of her skills came from this experience. Jessica loves DIY projects and sharing her passion for home design with others since she lives in Los Angeles.

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