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10 Tips to Stop Bathroom Smells!

Updated on July 23, 2013

Does your bathroom smell?

I don't mean just after someone having gone in and used it, I mean, does your bathroom smell when you open the door after a while? Sometimes the smell can indicate a major problem but usually, the smell is something that can be dealt with easily. Here are ten quick and easy tips you can use to track down the source of the smell and get rid of it.

Track it down

There can be several sources of a smell in a bathroom. It can help if you know roughly where the smell is coming from. Does it appear to be coming from the toilet area? From the sink or wash hand basin? The shower? The bath? Use your nose and see if you can find the approximate location of the smell.

Smells from the toilet area

This is the most obvious source of smells in the bathroom, especially if daily cleaning is not always a priority.


The toilet itself can be the source of several smells. If it seems like the smell is coming from there, first get some toilet paper and fold it up into a pad. Now squirt some bathroom cleanser on it and wipe off the top and rim of the toilet basin. Put the toilet paper in the bowl and flush the toilet. Now, squirt some toilet cleanser in the bowl and ESPECIALLY up under the rim. Allow this to sit for a few minutes then use your toilet brush to scrub around the toilet bowl and ESPECIALLY up under the rim. Flush the toilet. If you don't (yet) have a toilet brush, let the toilet cleanser liquid sit a while longer before flushing the toilet. If you don't have any children or pets that use the bathroom, you could use bleach and let it sit overnight. But be very careful with using this dangerous substance.

Especially in the summer or hot weather, just using the toilet brush to give the toilet bowl a quick rub, maybe using your preferred toilet cleaner or even a quick squirt of a (cheap) shampoo or shower gel morning and evening can help keep any smells down. This only needs to take 20 seconds or even less.

It could even be your toilet brush that is causing a smell, if it isn't being used regularly! If your toilet brush is sitting in a container, check that there isn't any smelly water sitting in the bottom of the container. A few drops of disinfectant in the toilet brush holder will cure any problem there; but the best way to keep your toilet brush and container smelling healthy and sweet is to use the toilet brush regularly (so it gets rinsed off) and to empty the container each time you remove the brush from it.


Sometimes it can be the floor around the toilet that can be the source of the smell, especially if any users tend to "miss" the toilet bowl with their aim. Nothing beats good old soap and water here. Use your preferred bucket and cloth and washing solution. (Use plastic / rubber gloves to protect your hands if necessary.) If necessary, extend the washing process up around the outside of the toilet bowl. Dry the area with an old soft dry cloth.


3. Surprisingly, the shower and the bath can be the source of smells. It's hard to believe, when you think of them being constantly used and washed down, however, I learned this some years ago when using the sports showers in work. There were two shower stalls but one tended to get used more than the other because it had a better shower head. One summer, I could smell something not very pleasant from the lesser used shower. Because it wasn't being used, the water in the trap below the shower had probably evaporated, allowing smells from the waste water pipe to seep into the shower room. A quick blast of water from the shower into the drain cured that one.

Sometimes, it's handy to drip a few drops of disinfectant down the outlets from a shower or bath, especially where the outfall for the water is quite shallow. It helps to stop the build up of bacteria that can create smells.

Wash Hand Basin / SINK

4. The sink can also be the source of smells in the bathroom. In this case, it's often the overflow area that can get mould growing in it that causes a smell. Best cure for this is a few drops of disinfectant dripped down the overflow section.


other sources of smells that you might want to check out before getting your bathroom floor ripped up are:
5. Wastebin / garbage bin - has that been emptied recently? Try washing it and using a plastic bin liner to make it easy to dispose of bathroom waste / garbage.

6. Shower curtain / screen. Check to see if there is any mould on your shower curtain or bathroom screen. If so, wash or clean and try to keep fresh air moving in your bathroom to inhibit any regrowth. You may also want to check your towels and face cloths. Especially in summer, when the heating may not be on to dry these off, towels and face cloths may stay damp, especially in little-used bathrooms and then they may start to smell mouldy.

7. Floor. Wash the floor, especially round the toilet area, and dry. Check the floor underneath the soil outlet from the toilet, to make sure that there is no leak from the toilet pan.

8. Curtains. How long have your curtains been up? Could they be the source of the smell? Have them cleaned or washed.

9. Fan / ventilator. Have you a fan/ ventilator in your bathroom? Could something have got stuck in it and died? Try cleaning the area.

10. Behind the panels. If all else has failed, you may have to get a little more technical here and try checking behind the bath panels. Many panelled baths can have the panels lifted off without too much difficulty. Check underneath the bath to see if there have been any leaks that could be causing problems.

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  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    19 months ago from Northern Ireland

    Thanks forvisiting again Nell Rose. Good to see you.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    19 months ago from England

    Hi Meg, came back for another read. three years on my new bathroom is being a pain where the shower unit is concerned, so this is great info to stop the smell that's beginning to build up! lol! long story!

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    20 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    These are great and useful tips! I like the shower gel tip. Now you've motivated me to do some serious bathroom cleaning.

    Thanks and sharing.

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    23 months ago from Northern Ireland

    Hi Paul, Thanks for the share. :) I have never had a septic tank and I think your question actually deserves a full hub as an answer. If it were my septic tank, I would start with the simplest things first. For instance, I don't know whether in Thailand you are required to send rainwater to the tank as well as the waste from the toilet? If a lot of rainwater is entering the tank, it may be stirring up the sediment and trapped gases. Does the rainwater HAVE to enter the tank? Can it be easily diverted elsewhere? Rainwater is called "grey" water in the UK and some areas have now started saving this grey water in tanks buried in the garden and then pumped up for use for flushing toilets, etc.

    Toilets in the UK have a "U" bend which traps water between flushes. This stops gases from the sewage pipes coming up into the bathroom. The sewage system can produce a lot of gas, so the gas has to go somewhere. The sewage pipe from the toilets in the UK has an upper section which allows the gases to escape into the air, instead of entering the bathroom.

    Septic tanks work by digesting waste. The water that leaves them through the overflow pipe should be pretty clean if they are working correctly. This is why bleach and disinfectants should never be used in bathrooms that empty to a septic tank because they will kill the digesting bacteria. As you say, your septic tank may need emptied. If the bacteria that digest the waste are not working, the old method for restarting the process was to throw a dead, maggoty hen into the tank!

    I hope this helps and that you solve your problem, if so, you could write a hub. If not, let me know and I will see if I can research more information and get some good diagrams.

  • Paul Kuehn profile image

    Paul Richard Kuehn 

    23 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

    Meg, I couldn't help reading this useful hub because I have often experienced septic smells in the bathroom every morning at 6 after I get up. The smells are most pronounced after it rains during the night. After I flush the toilet a number of times and run water down the sink, the smell disappears. Our septic tank is very close to the house and just below the second floor window. I don't notice the smell during any other time of the day. I suspect that the smell is coming from the septic tank and that it needs to be pumped. What do you think? I am sharing this hub with HP followers.

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    2 years ago from Northern Ireland

    I know, it's necessary but not always welcome. LOL

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    2 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I will definitely be trying some of your suggestions. My goodness, on a list of chores, cleaning the bathroom ranks way down near the bottom. :)

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    3 years ago from USA

    You've made me want to go check all of these things just to be on the safe side that all is on the clean smelling (and clean) side. I don't want to wait for a bad smell. Good hub.

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    3 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Glad you managed to track it down. What a relief! Washcloths WILL smell if left hanging damp or somewhere they can't dry off.

  • Billrrrr profile image

    Bill Russo 

    3 years ago from Cape Cod

    Great article. I had a bad smell in my bathroom and my friend, when she came for a visit, said it was me! She said the medicine I take was making me smell. I take one or more showers a day and I knew she was wrong. I finally tracked the source to the washcloth. I don't know why but the washcloth in the shower stall had a horrible stench. I removed it and put it in the laundry basket and my friend checked the bath, found no smell, and was forced to apologize to me!!!!! All's well that ends well.

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Hi Nell Rose, thanks for visiting. Yes, something shiny and new just tempts you into keeping it clean and shiny doesn't it? Thanks for visiting.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    4 years ago from England

    We have recently had a new bathroom installed and I didn't realize just how bad the old one was until I get to go into a shiny new one! I am constantly scrubbing it now to keep it pristine and new looking! lol!

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Hi Crafty - that was certainly a nasty shock! Sorry to hear about that but glad it wasn't any worse. Thanks for visiting.

  • CraftytotheCore profile image


    4 years ago

    We had to rip out our bathroom and start over. We used to have vinyl flooring and a white cabinet from Target attached to the wall for towels. It stood on the floor next to the sink. We had house guests. They accidentally flooded the bathroom. The water got under the vinyl flooring and lifted up the glue. It rotted out the bottom of the cabinet completely. Good thing the cabinet was white because I could see the mold forming on the bottom of it. I don't have any more issues, but water, dampness, and everything else in a bathroom certainly has a way of causing problems. Thank you for great advice here!

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Hi CyberShelley, Thanks for visiting and for commenting

  • CyberShelley profile image

    Shelley Watson 

    4 years ago

    Hello Meg, Thanks for the tips - like you I like it clean and to do the housework as quickly as possible to get on with something interesting. Voted Up, interesting and useful.

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Thank you for reading. It's the daily work that helps to keep the bathroom clean and having someone to do these regular chores each day is very helpful in keeping the bathroom hygienic, especially in hotter climates.

  • Indian Chef profile image

    Indian Chef 

    5 years ago from New Delhi India

    I know it is not easy to have a bathroom without any smell. Though we have a maid ( like most Indian middle class families) who clean it but I do see that the exhaust fan in the bathroom do get dirty and need to be cleaned every month or so which I have to do it myself. You shared very nice tips here. Thanks.

  • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Northern Ireland

    Thank you so much for reading through and commenting. Those are some good additional tips you have given and you may well be more of an expert on removing mold than me!

  • Marie Flint profile image

    Marie Flint 

    5 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

    Hi Meg, I'm taking time today to give feedback to those whom I am following.

    I think you've picked a very good topic here. The kitchen and bathroom are the rooms requiring the highest maintenance in our homes. While you've given some good practical tips, may I suggest you try a hub focusing on mold? Many people are allergic to mold, and it can be very difficult to eliminate.

    Our bathmat was beginning to get horrible black spots on the edges and undersides. (We have no place to hang it after showering so it can drip dry.) The new housemate wanted to buy a new one.

    I said, "No, it wasn't necessary." I soaked it overnight in a medium-large, plastic tub in AWESOME cleaner and a little bleach. The combination worked wonders.

    After cleaning the shower door, I use a little lemon oil (furniture polish) on the back of it. (This is a tip I learned while working for Merry Maids in California.) I simply spread about a tablespoon of it onto a dry cleaning cloth (hand-size), and wipe down the back of the door. The oil smells nice and helps keep soap streaks from forming on the back of the glass. This method could also be used for shower curtains to help keep mold from forming along bottom edges.

    Our bathroom gets a thorough cleaning weekly. Touch-ups, of course, are done as necessary.

    Cleanliness is next to godliness! Thank you!


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