Asked on Dec 12, 2014

Moldy-smelling water from bathroom faucet

Libby Walker
by Libby Walker
Recently I've noticed a funky mold/mildew smell coming from the water in my bathroom sink. I'll wash my hands and the smell will linger on them. Any idea what could be causing this? Do I have an issue with my pipes?
  32 answers
  • Nancy Spencer Carlson Nancy Spencer Carlson on Dec 12, 2014
    That's a new one... My first thought is to remove the areator (it just screws off where the water comes out) and check to see if there is anything growing there. If this is the only faucet with the problem, that's the most likely thing? @Douglas Hunt do you have any other ideas?
    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Dec 13, 2014
      @Nancy Spencer Carlson I'm afraid plumbing is completely outside my range of expertise. And I have the receipts to prove that!
  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Dec 13, 2014
    I'd also check the supply line under the sink. If it's the only faucet with this problem, perhaps replacing the line would help.
  • Mary Tonningsen Mary Tonningsen on Dec 13, 2014
    @Libby Walker, do you have a drainage hole for the water to go into when the sink gets too full, so that the sink won't overflow? If so, the moldy smell may be coming from that. I was noticing a smell from mine the other day! And, I'm not sure how to get rid of it. Bleach maybe? Or some vinegar? I was going to ask my brother when he was here, then forgot.... But that is something you might check.
    • See 3 previous
    • Chelle P Chelle P on Sep 01, 2018

      Do you run hot water after the baking soda and vinegar, my bathroom sink has me about to pass out from that stinky mildew smell.

  • S S on Dec 13, 2014
    Are you o a well? We are. And when that happens to us, it's time to flush the water lines and aerator tank. We usually have to use bleach, starting in the tank. Clean that really well. Next empty the tank and add clean water and more bleach. Then draw it through all the waterlines, to every outlet. We try to let it sit for as long as possible then flush the lines. I usually do a load of whites in the laundry right away to make sure I use all that bleach water up. Then, we are good to go for another 6-12 months.
  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Dec 13, 2014
    Hi Libby. We had the same exact problem. Ours was the overflow. It was slam caked up with gunk to the point of solid blockage. We filled it up with hot water and just kept pushing weed whacker strands, (5 per hole), up and down. Finally, we broke through and did like a flossing motion. Just keep flushing how water down through the overflow. Then filled it with straight bleach. It was finally cleaned out and no more smell. Weed whacker line was the only thing that would bend to make the curve and stay strong enough to be able to break through the crud. Good luck.
  • Ampenny3 Ampenny3 on Dec 13, 2014
    Is it from the water or from the drain that, when it gets wet smells because of the gunk that builds up in it. We finally had to take our drain plug out in order to get into the drain to clean it out thoroughly. They make the plugs so light weight these days that they have to have them connected to the lever that opens & closes the plug, so you cannot take it out to clean it well. Try getting a brush down in it with that plug in the way & there is no way you can do a good clean job. That solved out odor problem.
  • Pamela Miller Pamela Miller on Dec 13, 2014
    Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda and at least 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain. Let sit for about 15 minutes then chase with hot water. I do this every few weeks as part of a maintenance routine and it does get rid of that funky odor.
  • Louis Lieberman Louis Lieberman on Dec 13, 2014
    check the drain-it maybe clogged especially if the washing machine is on the same drain-pipe
  • Linda Green Linda Green on Dec 13, 2014
    Had the same problem. It was a clogged drain that shared a drain for the garage sink. After cleaning it out and pouring hot water down the drain and overflow, it smelled fresh again and drained better. Now we're careful of everything we put down the drain especially the garage sink. I've installed mesh filters to catch hair etc from going down and causing more problems again. Bleach took care of the smell and moldy dirt problem.
  • HippieBob HippieBob on Dec 13, 2014
    The problem will be from the drain/overflow. Bleach, citrus based cleaner, etc., put down the overflow will eliminate the smell, at least temporarily.
  • Christi Christi on Dec 13, 2014
    Had this same problem. Called the water company and they came out and ran the fire hydrant for some time. Said some areas are trying to conserve water and it sits in the supply lines too long. Every solution seems to create another problem. Most likely it is nothing in your home at all.
  • Cheryl Markus Reynolds Cheryl Markus Reynolds on Dec 13, 2014
    @Libby...If the smell is lingering on your hands, as Nancy suggested it's probably coming from the spigot or water line, not your drain.
    • See 2 previous
    • Arlene Arlene on Feb 28, 2020


      Did you ever determine the cause for smell coming from water pipe? I replaced my shower head and tubing. The smell is still there. It is only in this one faucet. After water runs a few minutes the smell goes away. I’m afraid it could be dangerous.

      I previously removed drain cover and cleaned drain. No problem there.


  • Gloder Gloder on Dec 13, 2014
    Hi! Unscrew the piece at the end of the faucet. Take the entire piece to Home Depot and get a new piece which will include fresh screen. Before you attach take q-tips and scrub the inside of the faucet removing as much mold as possible. Also, clean out the plunger as it probably has mold growing on it. Run baking soda and vinegar down the drain. If your sink is dripping a little bit of water also repair. Hope this fixes your problem, it fixed mine!
    • See 1 previous
    • Mary Thompson Mary Thompson on Mar 03, 2018

      We have a water conditioner and a very good one. We have had this problem, for a very long time with or without the water softener/conditioner!

  • Wglindner Wglindner on Dec 13, 2014
    I agree with Pamela baking side and vinegar. But i boil real hot water pour down drain then the baking soda the pour vinegar it will boil up. Let it do this until it stop the pour hot water down the drain. Best stuff i used.
  • 918210 918210 on Dec 13, 2014
    As Cheryl pointed out if the smell is ON your hands it is the water NOT the drain or overflow. However it is a good idea to periodically clean out the flange tube, p-trap and overflow. Use 1/2 cup of bleach fill the sink and allow it to run down the overflow. Do this 1Xmonth (Never combine bleach with any other chemicals or cleaners) Now with that said, are you on public city water or well water? Certain types of bacteria in water will react with the anode rod in your water heater creating a rotten egg smell. Using a water softener can make it even worse. A new aluminum/zinc alloy anode rod in your water heater might do the trick, just make sure the smell is coming from your hot water before spending money to attempt a fix. It might be a good idea to have your water tested too. Good luck!
  • Susan Susan on Dec 13, 2014
    yes thank you will try it but will also do in the kitchen although i smell the water in ther its nasty we dont use to cook or drink any ideas on that????
    • 918210 918210 on Dec 14, 2014
      @Susan Sounding more like a reaction with the anode rod if you also have it in the kitchen. Replace with an aluminum zinc alloy rod. A whole house water filter with activated carbon cartridge may also help. get your water tested though to see whats in it.
  • Carol Jensen Carol Jensen on Dec 13, 2014
    Do you have "galvanized pipes", waterlines or such? I know it is an expense but if they are, you might want to change those. I would have the water checked for purity. One may have good water for years and then, changes. We had to hook up a good water filter system where we used to live. Not a softner...Filter. It not only smelled but left scummy gunk in the coffee that you could see. Better to not take a chance. Get it checked. If it is O.K. then see about all the other stuff. Ours was well water and it went into a different water table and began to change then. Hope this helps.
  • Kelley M Kelley M on Dec 14, 2014
    You also need to clean your faucet screen or replace it. It just screws on the end of your faucet. Soak it in white vinegar 8 hours to overnight then brush any residue off with an old toothbrush. Screw it back on and run some water thru.
  • Susan Susan on Dec 14, 2014
    Thank You Gary will try....
  • Libby Walker Libby Walker on Dec 14, 2014
    Thanks, all! I bought a new aerator (didn't know those things came off :) ), and it seems to have solved the problem. Hooray!
    • See 2 previous
    • Kelley M Kelley M on Dec 16, 2014
      I bet the water tastes better too. Plus your not adding that bacteria to your tooth brushing. Lots of people don't know that all those little surfaces on the aerator can grow all kinds of funk depending on your water source. Bleach it every month or so to kill the bacteria and rinse it well. You will be happy and germ free.
  • Janet Janet on Dec 15, 2014
    Once a month I put A&H baking soda in mydrain, pour half cup white vinegar down & then follow with boiling water.
  • Orchidmg Orchidmg on Dec 15, 2014
    I rent and my faucet in the bathroom had to be replaced because of that too. I ended up washing my hands in the kitchen for a few weeks before my landlord would have the maintenance guy come out to look. He turned off the water and removed the faucet and there was grim and crap in it. It was over 20 yrs old. He said he could clean it with vinegar and bleach but in less than a year the water would smell again. So he put a new on in for me. You can take that screen off and stick a Q-tip in there to see what comes out or an old toothbrush. And if black grim is in there, either remove the facet, turn off the water first! and clean it with bleach and vinegar. Or buy a new facet.
  • Carol Jensen Carol Jensen on Dec 15, 2014
    An easy way to clean up faucet screens,( maintenance), is to pour vinegar in a cup and immerse the faucet end in the cup and scrub lightly with an old toothbrush at least once a month. Usually that prevents the screen from clogging, ever. Merry Christmas!
  • Dorothy Dorothy on Dec 17, 2014
    i think baking oda and vingerar shoud do the trick great idea
  • Linda Apodaca Linda Apodaca on Jan 01, 2015
    My master bathroom faucet water also smells bad mostly in the morning, but sometimes it is smelling at night when I brush my teeth. The other bathroom and kitchen don't smell. We have had our plumbing all replaced about 10 years ago. When my son took off the bathroom sink to remodel the bathroom ,there was a looooooong tongue of yucky gook in the drain. I cleaned that out real well, but still have the smell in the water. I will try the vinegar for the strainer. I use vinegar to clean the sink as needed almost daily.
  • Linda Apodaca Linda Apodaca on Feb 10, 2016
    I might have found the source of the smell in my bathroom sink. I don't smell it in the water any more since the city replaced all our neighborhood plumbing. But I was still smelling it in the sink when the water ran. Then I poured bleach down the drain and cleaned with an old toothbrush. We had to take the plug out to replace since it had rusted and wouldn't work any more. After doing without the plug for awhile, the smell seems to be gone. So I don't know if it was the plug or just a stinky, crush drain.
  • Smi7574613 Smi7574613 on Jun 23, 2016
    It was the overflow hole in my sick that was moldy.
  • Lex Olssen Lex Olssen on May 21, 2017

    mine is coming from just one faucet and smells like a moldy dishrag only about a thousand times stronger. Rhe house is only 6 months old. The airator is buried inside the faucet so I don't even know how to replace it. do I need to replace the faucet or the line? It is so bad it was causing allergies and sore throats. Also when the water hits the drain stop it splashes and sprays the moldy water all over the floor and our clothes. I can't figure out how to remove the stopper as it is attached.

  • Eil22229440 Eil22229440 on Mar 03, 2018

    Have you used GOOD cleaners in the pipes? Do it several times, rinsing after at least every 2/3. before using.

  • Eil22229440 Eil22229440 on Mar 03, 2018

    If cleaning doesn't help, may be necessary to take apart. Something may be lodged. Hope you have a friend who is a good amateur plumber.

  • Crystal Cohen Crystal Cohen on Nov 15, 2020

    Hi all, I have 2 extra kitchen sinks, that were added on (Coffee bar & Island sink) The smell is flowing with the water, not the drain and not the garabe disposals. Straight from the water. My main kitchen sick, for washing dishes, is not effected. I have replaced the entire facet on both moldly smelling ones, and it continues to smell very strongly. I have decided not to use the sinks although, without thinking, I accidentally turn one on and even if I turn it off right away, the smell fills up my entire kitchen.

    I had a plumber come out and he couldn't grasp that it was the water, not the drain. Wanted to sell me a filtration system. I would like to have that, but not until I know why this smells so badly.

    I don't know how to fix this myself, so would greatly appreciate any insight to the issue. I have city water if that helps to figure it out.

    Bleach alone or baking soda, vinegar & hot water doesn't do the trick, because it is the water, not the drain.

    Thank you, Crystal

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 06, 2021

    Hi, Check out your Water tank to see that all is well!