This Is What's Really Causing Your Drain To Stink

If you've ever walked into your kitchen, detected a foul odor, and couldn't quite locate the source of it — you're not alone. The mysterious stink was probably coming from the drain and/or garbage disposal of your kitchen sink.

Even if your sink looks spotless and you can't visibly see anything that could ostensibly be causing the smell, your sink is likely the culprit. It's one of the dirtiest places in your whole house, according to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson (via Food & Wine). On top of that, the sponges and dishcloths that you use to clean in and around your sink and to scour dirty dishes are filthy, too, he says, which only adds to the problem.

For the nitty-gritty details of what's really causing your kitchen sink drain to stink, keep reading. But be warned: You may never look at your drain the same way again.

It's all about bacteria

According to Dr. Charles Gerba (via Food & Wine), "there's more E. coli in a kitchen sink than in a toilet after you flush it. That's probably why dogs drink out of the toilet — because there's less E. coli in it." Very funny, doctor.

Because your kitchen sink is constantly wet from running water, E. coli bacteria — which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping, and more — thrive there. In addition, the food and drink you wash off your dishes and into your drain or disposal act as fuel for the bacteria to grow even more.

As mentioned, you may think that cleaning your sink with a dishcloth or sponge will help matters, but doing so is actually adding insult to injury. Dr. Gerba found that 10% of 1,000 kitchen sponges and dishcloths tested in a study contained salmonella. That's due to the very same reason your sink is dirty: Sponges and rags remain constantly moist and regularly come into contact with food, encouraging the growth of bacteria. "The most E. coli and other fecal-based bacteria in the average home are on a sponge or cleaning cloth," Dr. Gerba added.

So, do yourself a favor and clean your kitchen sink drain on a regular basis. You'll thank us.