Why you should never pour salt down a kitchen drain – according to experts

The popular trick may be causing long-term problems for your kitchen – here's what to do instead

Small kitchen painted blue
(Image credit: deVOL)

When faced with a bad odor in your kitchen, it is a widespread practice to clean your sink with salt. Homeowners have trusted this accessible technique for centuries because it is seemingly impossible to get wrong. However, experts have revealed that this kitchen sink cleaning tip is not worth your time – and may be causing bigger problems over time. 

The salt trick is not an efficient way of removing the foul odor – especially over a long period. But if you leave your salt for some time, then experts have warned that an unpleasant smell may be the least of your problems. Here's what they recommend doing instead. 

Why you should not pour salt down your drain 

Grey Belfast sink filled with flowers

(Image credit: Border Oak)

'I don't recommend that people pour salt down their drains or in their garbage disposals and think that it will remove the smells. In fact, that may do some damage over time if you forget and leave it there for days,' says Andrew Miles, an Alabama-based plumber who has over three decades of experience. 

Jake Romano, the Manager at John The Plumber, agrees. He adds that this age-old kitchen sink idea won't do anything to solve the problem over a long period of time as the smell comes from matter accumulating in the drain. Therefore, the salts are simply concealing the smell – and not getting rid of the matter. 

1. Physical drain cleaning

sink kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

According to Jake, the best solution is to physically clean your drain – because while this process is long – it is the best way (and safest) way to ensure you eliminate bad smells for good. 

'Most plumbers don't recommend chemical drain cleaning for several reasons, but a very practical reason is they can turn a bit of gunk into an actual drain blockage,' Jake says. 

'If there's some gunk caked on the inner pipe stretched along a pipe, chemical drain cleaners (including home remedies) may loosen the accumulation. Some of this sludge may begin to move while other sections don't.' Therefore, as some of the matter moves towards the gunk at the bottom, you may be left with a blocked drain.

2. Drain enzymes

green shaker kitchen with shiplap panelling and shelving. Fluted bulters sink and brass taps

(Image credit: Devol)

Alternatively, the plumber suggests picking up some drain enzyme sticks online (such as these sticks on Amazon). 'They're scented, they smell pretty, and they can help prevent gunk from accumulating in the drains,' he explains. 

However, it is essential to remember that some enzymes may interfere with certain types of pipes. Therefore, you should check the product's compatibility with your sink before installing it. 

3. Citrus peels

Kitchen in the Bunyans' Grade II listed 16th century former coaching inn from Period Living magazine

(Image credit: Penny Wincer)

You may have heard about using orange peel to deter pests in the garden, but its natural power isn't limited to the great outdoors. Andrew explains that you can use citrus fruit peels to help deodorize – and while this solution will not unblock your sink – it will take care of the odor naturally. 

'Start with the peel of one orange, lemon, or lime and grind it up until it's gone. See if the bad smell persists and if so, rinse and repeat with more citrus peel until the smell is pleasant again,' the plumber shares. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.