How To Clean A Sump Pump – Best Sump Pump Cleaners

The quality of the sump pump cleaner is important in removing germs and keeping the sump pump odorless. Regular sump pump cleaning is important to keep the system functioning properly. This includes cleaning the sump pump, check valves, drain valves, and the pit. Since you are not aware of how to clean the sump pump, here is a guide with a step-by-step guide of the process.

sump pump cleaner

How to Clean a Sump Pump?

Before you start, make sure that the area is dry and it’s not raining outside. Check and confirm that there’s no water draining into the sump pump basin. Follow the steps indicated here to clean your sump pump.

  1. The most important step is to disconnect the sump pump from the power supply. Unplug the sump pump from the power outlet or turn off the dedicated circuit breaker. 
  2. Disconnect it from the discharge pipe and loosen the sleeve using a screwdriver. Hold the sump pump for a moment to drain any water in it.
  3. Wrap the bottom of the pump in a plastic sheet to save it from extra cleaning. Then set it up in a suitable place so that you can easily clean all the sides.
  4. To start the cleaning, spray the pump with water using a garden hose. Remove the residues with water and scrape off any debris stuck on them. You can use a rag and a scrub brush for this process. 
  5. Drain the sump basin using a bucket or a dry/ wet vacuum. Remove any dirt or gravel at the bottom which might clog the pump.
  6. If the sump pump is on a grate, remove it and clean using a rag. Clean the sump basin walls with water and clear the drain holes. 
  7. Drain the check valve using a bucket to catch the water from the valve.
  8. Use bleach, vinegar, or a suitable cleaning solution to wipe the exterior of the pump. This prevents the growth of mold, mildew, and other germs on the surface.
  9. Disinfect the sump basin to prevent any germs from residing in the cracks and crevices. 
  10. Remove any standing water from the sump pit using a wet/ dry vacuum. 
  11. Replace the sump pump centered in the basin and reconnect it. There should be enough room for the float arm to move freely without touching the basin walls.
  12. Connect the pump back to the discharge pipe and tighten the sleeve. The sleeve clamp should be tight enough not to leak but not too tight.
  13. Reconnect the pump to the power source and turn it to the On position.

How to Clean the Drain Pipe?

Cleaning the drain pipe is equally important as cleaning the sump pump. Pour a few buckets of water down the discharge pipe to check whether the water passes through it. Use a suitable cleaning solution to disinfect the interior and the exterior of the pipe and the check valve. Debris accumulated inside drain pipes is the main reason for most clogged sump pumps.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sump Pump?

It is necessary to clean the sump pump and basin at least once every three months. But you should clean it more frequently if it runs very often. Also, check the inlet screen for clogs as you clean. Even if you don’t run the sump pump frequently, you need to test it every month by adding water to the basin until the pump turns on. Inspect the pump for signs of corrosion and damage once every year. Go through the user manual to see whether you need to lubricate the pump bearings.

What is the Best Sump Pump Cleaner?

Regular household white vinegar is one of the best sump pump cleaners. It is inexpensive and removes all dirt efficiently. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water to make a solution. Then use a cloth to wipe the sump pump with this solution. Use a scrub to remove dirt or grime on the pump. Using white vinegar to clean a sump pump will prevent bad odors. Here’s a recommended product that you can use to clean your sump pump.

Lucy’s – Natural Distilled White Vinegar

White vinegar is a low-cost alternative cleaning agent to reduce odors. This natural distilled white vinegar with 5% acidity can be used for all suitable requirements from cooking to cleaning. The durable bottle comes with a secure seal and Kosher certification. When used for cleaning, it breaks down the mineral deposits from the surfaces. This chemical-free cleaning agent removes any heavy-duty stains and undesirable odors.

Can I Use Bleach Instead of Vinegar?

If there is mold on your sump pump or if it has a pungent odor, you can use bleach instead of vinegar. Create a sump pump cleaning solution with a quarter cup of bleach for a gallon of water. Use a rag to clean the sump pump and the basin with this bleach solution. Once you replace the sump pump after cleaning, add another quarter of bleach to the sump pump basin to prevent odors. The following liquid bleach is recommended for your sump pump cleaning requirements.

Clorox Splash

This concentrated laundry bleach has a thicker formula that delivers a controlled pour with fewer spills and splashes. This liquid leach cleans all hard stains off the surface in no time. It removes all stains and deodorizes the surfaces with its scented formula. This helps to remove bad odors from your sump pump and keep it smelling fresh for a long time. Since this may be an eye and skin irritant, avoid contact with the eyes and wear rubber gloves when using the product.

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips

Here are some monthly maintenance tips useful when performing a monthly inspection on your sump pump. Always unplug your sump pump from the power outlet or disconnect the circuit breaker before carrying out any of the maintenance procedures.

  • Adjust the sump pump right in the middle of the basin since vibrations during operation can cause it to shift.
  • Test the function of the pump by adding about 5 gallons of water to the basin.
  • Inspect the power cord for ant damaged wires, cracked or worn-out sheathing. Replace the power cord if you see any signs of damage.
  • If there is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI), trip and reset to make sure that it works properly.
  • Don’t forget to test your backup sump pump to keep it ready in case you need it during a power outage.
  • Maintain a clean sump pump pit to prevent any bad odors from forming inside.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to Clean a Sump Pump?

The cost of cleaning a sump pump depends on the complexity of the system. If you get it done by a professional, they will charge around $45 – $65 per hour. You can save this by following DIY methods to clean your sump pump. But the advantage of hiring a professional is that they can inspect the system and make any repairs if needed. The low-end average repair cost for a sump pump is around $118 and the high-end average is $1,300.

Can I Pour Vinegar in My Sump Pump?

Being a powerful acidic substance, vinegar is a good cleaning agent. The enzymes present in vinegar break down tough grime and grease. In addition to being an effective sump pump cleaner, vinegar can also be used to clean floors, tiles, and bathrooms.

Why Does My Sump Smell?

Groundwater contaminated by a broken sewage line could seep into the basement, causing the sump pump to smell like sewage. Sometimes, this can also be due to the sump pump being clogged with dirt and debris. Water standing in the sump pump basin for a long time might also cause bad odors. Proper maintenance and regular cleaning of the sump pump system will help prevent pungent odors.

What’s the Lifespan of a Sump Pump?

A sump pump generally has a useful lifespan of around 10 years. This may increase or decrease depending on the maintenance and working conditions of the sump pump. Like any other household equipment, maintaining a sump pump is important to prevent your basement from flooding. Inspect the sump pump closely and clean it occasionally to ensure that it works fine. Sump pump leaking and malfunctioning are among the common issues that you will come across as it gets older.

How Do I Know if My Sump Pump Needs to Be Replaced?

Here are some signs that indicate the need to replace your sump pump.

  • Strange noises coming from the pump indicating damaged or worn-out parts
  • Excessive vibration when running due to damaged bearings.
  • Sump pump running continuously without stopping regardless of the weather conditions.
  • The sump pump turns on and off frequently even in heavy rains.
  • Visible rust and corrosion on the sump pump.
  • Motor gets stuck at times or burns out often.
  • The sump pump is over ten years old.


Use necessary PPEs including gloves to keep yourself safe during the cleaning process. Keep note of the date you cleaned the sump pump and have it in an easily accessible place for reference. Through this, you can keep track of the next upcoming maintenance. Regular inspection helps to keep your sump pump safe and running throughout the year. 

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