A toilet smells bad because of a variety of solvable reasons. The causes include the following:
lack of cleaning
evaporated water in the P-trap or S-trap
broken or loose wax seal
clogged vent pipe
While there seem to be many, there are remedies to make your toilet smell better. Some methods can also address more than one problem, which is more convenient for us.
6 Ways to Eliminate Bathroom Odor
1. Regularly Clean the Toilet
What to prepare:
toilet sponge (without a handle)
toilet cleaning solution
all-purpose cleaner (preferably in a spray)
One of the most basic bathroom odor solutions that we tend to forget is to clean our porcelain thrones regularly.
Flush the toilet first.
While wearing your gloves, put a sufficient amount of toilet cleaner in the bowl, starting from the rim. Let it soak for about 15 minutes.
While soaking, spray the exterior of the toilet (seat, tank, and body) with an all-purpose cleaner. Scrub or wipe the same places with a sponge.
After the cleaner is soaked, use a toilet brush to thoroughly scrub the bowl.
Use a sponge to clean under the rim; a dirty rim will emit odor from the toilet bowl.
Rinse the bowl after cleaning.
In fact, flushing the commode every time we use it’s not enough to keep it looking and smelling pristine.
2. Flush the Toilet Routinely
Stinky toilets after a long vacation are caused by the water evaporating into nothingness.
The water in the toilet keeps the sewer stench from entering the drain pipe and escaping out of the bowl (and into the bathroom). If it evaporates, we are left with no barrier.
In this case, we just have to flush the toilet to have water at the bowl’s bottom and to hydrate the S or P-trap as well.
3. White Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Dishwash Soap for the Toilet Tank
What to prepare:
1 cup of white vinegar
½ cup of baking soda
2 tablespoons of dish soap
If the toilet smells even after cleaning—especially if there is a musty smell from the toilet—then the cause is most likely the tank.
Connected with not using your toilet often is the mold building up in the tank’s stagnant water. There can also be iron bacteria, especially if your water supply comes from a well or pipes made of galvanized steel or iron.
Turn off the water shut-off valve and flush the toilet to drain the tank.
Once the tank is drained, put ½ cup of baking soda in the toilet tank, 2 tablespoons of your dish wash soap, and a cup of white vinegar.
While wearing your gloves, use the toilet brush to spread and scrub the tank—ensure to get the sides and bottom.
Leave the solution for an hour.
Scrub once again and turn on the water shut-off valve to rinse the tank.
If your plumbing system is made of iron or galvanized steel pipes, have a professional plumber check it since it may be corroded already. This may discolor the bathroom water and add iron to it.
Lastly, installing a water filtration system also helps to filter out the iron to get rid of the toilet smell.
4. Replace the Old Wax Seal Ring
What to prepare:
new wax seal ring
new flange bolts
If the toilet smells of urine despite cleaning, you might want to check the seal if it’s loose or broken. This might be causing liquid waste from the sewer to seep through the openings.
We strongly suggest calling a plumber to perform this job, as doing it yourself may add more complications than just the broken or loose wax ring. But if you want to push through to make your toilet smell good, here are the steps:
Turn off the water shut-off valve, flush the toilet, and drain the bowl.
Keep the bucket and towels close as you disconnect the water supply line from the toilet and the valve using a wrench.
At the toilet’s bottom, remove the caps that cover the flange bolts, then use a wrench to unscrew the nuts.
Remove the plastic disc and washer from the bolts’ base, then proceed to lift the toilet off of the two flange bolts.
With the putty knife, scrape the old wax ring off of the flange. Once done, remove the old flange bolts.
Check the flange if it’s still intact. If not, then you need to replace it or have a plumber do it.
Install the new flange bolts, then proceed to place the new wax ring on top of the flange or at the toilet drain’s bottom (refer to manufacturer’s instructions).
After this, lift the toilet again and install it the way you removed it; insert it into the flange bolts and wrench the nuts. Check the toilet if it wobbles.
Re-install the water supply line then try flushing.
5. Repair or Replace Cracked Toilet Bowl
What to prepare:
epoxy or plumber’s putty
One way to get rid of the sewer smell from the toilet is to check if it has cracks and then assess the severity. Crevices cause leaks, and not enough water in the bowl will allow the sewer smell to seep through.
Cracks below the waterline are usually the ones that cause leaks. If they are large, the only smelly toilet remedy we have is to replace the commode (if it’s a two-piece, just replace the bowl).
On the other hand, if they are hairline cracks, we can still seal them using epoxy or a plumber’s putty.
Turn off the shut-off valve, flush the toilet, then drain the bowl. After draining, dry the bowl using towels.
Using epoxy or the plumber’s putty, fill in the cracks and smoothen with the putty knife.
See in the instructions the time allotted for the sealant to dry. Usually, it will be 24 hours.
After waiting, check the areas with sealant. If there are still cracks, seal them again.
Once the epoxy or putty dries, test the toilet by flushing it. If there are still leaks, call a plumber to rule out if the toilet can still be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.
6. Clean the Plumbing Vent
The plumbing vent or the vent pipe is a crucial element to keep a bathroom from smelling terrible.
Air pressure plays a role in the drainage system as it helps the latter carry out the waste to the sewer. So if the vent pipe is clogged, the water flow won’t go smoothly. There will be:
standing water in the toilet
slow draining or flushing
gurgling sounds in the toilet drain
Worse, the bathroom will reek of sewer smell. Aside from there being no air pressure to help the drainage system, the sewer gases won’t be able to escape because of the clog.
For this problem, we need to have a licensed plumber check the plumbing vent and unclog it. If there are other issues with the vent, they can also be addressed by the professional.
Other Tips to Remove Odor from Bathroom
There are other remedies to keep the toilet bowl smelling fresh. For this, we can add one of the following in our bathrooms.
Air purifier with essential oils to naturally give the bathroom an aromatic odor
Fresheners or deodorizers to stop the toilet from smelling after pooping
Providing the room with good ventilation is also important to avoid bad odors from staying inside.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is It Dangerous to Put Fabric Softener in Your Toilet Tank?
Fabric softener should never go anywhere near your toilet since its slimy nature will stick to the plumbing pipes.
It’s also harmful to the environment because fabric softeners contain benzyl acetate and ethanol. These are chemicals that we will be flushing into the municipal drain which will affect the ecosystem.
Is Mold in a Toilet Tank Dangerous for Health?
Mold can cause health risks, from allergic reactions to infections. It has different kinds which are
black or green – not dangerous but can cause an allergic reaction
pink or brown – can cause infection in open wounds, urinary tract infections (UTI), respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal issues
red – poses health risks for those with weak immune systems
white – can trigger health problems
Although some types of mold don’t cause as much danger—especially if you have a strong immune system—we shouldn’t let them grow in our toilets to maintain proper hygiene.
There are a variety of solutions on how to get rid of toilet odor. The first best step is to clean the commode regularly, including hidden positions such as under the rim. It’s also important to keep water inside the bowl.
For a moldy tank, a vinegar and baking soda mixture will help. However, some need professional services such as cleaning the plumbing vent and replacing the wax ring; plumbers know how to inspect and do the work better.
Toilet replacement is also necessary if the cracks that cause leaks can no longer be repaired.
I’m Paulk Webb, and I work as a writer for Saveourwaterrebates. I’m happy to put in the time and effort to conduct market research to identify the most pressing issues faced by households concerning their plumbing. Feel free to check out our guides to get the most informed recommendations for how to solve your problems.
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