How to Remove Bathroom Odors

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Bathrooms odors are a common source of embarrassment. You may want to cover up smells made by toilet use. You may also notice a musty, foul smell in your bathroom due to poor cleaning techniques. In either case, there are many options to keep your bathroom smelling fresh. You can look into different methods to eliminate toilet odors, change your cleaning regimen, and make small changes to your bathroom routine.


EditEliminating Odors

  1. Ventilate your bathroom. If you want to cover up embarrassing odors, proper ventilation is key. Simple air flow can help reduce smells. If you have an overhead fan, turn it on after bathroom use. If you don’t, open the bathroom window to let air enter.[1]
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    • Don’t just ventilate after using the toilet. Turn on the fan or open a window after a shower as well. The moist air from a hot shower can cause mildew to buildup, resulting in a musty smelling bathroom.[2]
  2. Use odor eliminators over air fresheners. Many people keep a spray bottle on the back of the toilet to freshen the bathroom after use. If you go this route, invest in products labeled “odor eliminator” over simple air fresheners.
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    • Air fresheners cover the smell. They do not actually eliminate the odor and the smell will remain once the product wears off. If the smell is strong, it may even be detectable over the scent of the air freshener.[3]
    • Odor eliminators seek to neutralize odors. They cover smells quicker and more effectively. When at your local supermarket, look for products identified as odor eliminators. There are a wide variety of odor eliminators on the market, so you may have to do some trial and error before you find a product that works for you. You can read product reviews online to get a sense of which products work most effectively at eliminating odors.[4]
  3. Look into air purifiers. If your bathroom has very poor air circulation, an odor eliminator alone may not cut it. Look into an air purifier, a plug-in device that helps increase air circulation and remove odor-causing bacteria from your bathroom’s air. You can buy an air purifier at a department store or order one online. Air purifiers range in price. Top-rate purifiers can cost as much as $ 250, but may be unnecessary if their intended use is for a small bathroom. You can buy a smaller, cheaper purifier for $ 25 to $ 50.[5]
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  4. Try desiccants. Your problem may not just be due to toilet use. You may have an issue with mildew. In this case, invest in desiccants. Desiccants are dry materials designed to absorb water. Common desiccants include silica gels, which often comes in packages.
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    • You can use a synthetic desiccant, like silica gel, as long as you apply the powder in an area out of reach of children and animals. Desiccants can be toxic if swallowed. You can also keep desiccants in a small plastic container with holes poked in the lids.[6]
    • Plants are natural desiccants. Ferns or lily plants can help remove unwanted odors from your bathroom and leave it smelling fresh.[7]
  5. Make a homemade air freshener. Homemade air fresheners may be more effective than store bought products. If an odor eliminator isn’t cutting it, try making your own air freshener.
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    • For one air freshener, mix three parts water, one part vodka, and 10 to 20 drops of essential oils, such as lavender oil or eucalyptus oil. You can purchase essential oils at a local health or vitamin shop. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and leave on the back of the toilet. Spray when needed.[8]
    • If the above mixture leaves an alcohol-like odor, try mixing two cups of water with a tablespoon of white vinegar, a teaspoon of baking soda, and 10 drops of essential oils. Put in a spray bottle and leave on the back of your toilet. Spray when needed.[9]

EditCleaning Your Bathroom

  1. Use baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. Sometimes, the area around your toilet needs a good cleaning. This can help remove set-in odors that are causing a bad smell. A mixture of baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar may work well. These products are often effective at reducing odor.
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    • Make a paste of equal parts lemon juice and baking soda. Fresh lemon juice is best. Mix the substances together until your paste has the consistency of pancake batter.[10]
    • Spread this paste along the bottom of the toilet and the toilet seat using a damp rag. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.[11]
    • Place some vinegar in a spray bottle. After 10 or 15 minutes, spray the vinegar along the paste. Let it fizzle for a moment and then wipe off using your rag.[12]
  2. Use essential oils when cleaning. Essential oils provide a powerful and pleasant odor. If your bathroom smell is an issue, consider adding a few drops of essential oils to a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol. Use this to clean areas like your sink and toilet bowl. Some essential oils, like cedar oil, have anti-fungal properties that can help neutralize and remove unwanted scents.[13]
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  3. Clean the toilet tank. Toilet tanks, if not cleaned regularly, can retain a urine smell. Many people neglect the toilet tank when engaging in routine bathroom cleaning. You can easily clean the toilet tank with white vinegar.
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    • Open the toilet tank. Pour a half cup of vinegar in the tank. Then, put on some rubber gloves.[14]
    • Use a scrub brush to wash the sides of the tank. Then, flush the toilet. Add more vinegar and repeat the process a few times.[15]
  4. Clean the bathroom regularly. Simply cleaning your bathroom on a regular basis can help with odors. You should do a routine cleaning once a week. Clean the toilet bowl, lid, and the sides of the toilet. Mop the floor. Clean the bathtub and shower, as well as the sink. You can use over-the-counter cleaning products or your own mixture of baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. Regular cleaning prevents odors from building up and causing problems.
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    • Use high-quality commercial products when cleaning. Look for products that are specifically designed to target odor. It can help to know what kind of materials things like your sink, tub, and tiles are made out of, as certain cleaners may work best on certain surfaces.
  5. Clean out drains. Clogs in drains are frequently the cause of bathroom odor. Make sure to clean out drains if you notice water backing up frequently. You should also take measures to prevent drains each month.
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    • Remove the drain stopper and clean off any hair, dirt, or debris on the stopper. You can use white vinegar and water to clean a drain stopper.[16]
    • You can use a straightened coat hanger to reach down the drain. You can either push the clog through or pull it out using the hanger. You can also use a plunger, plunging the drain 5 to 6 times, if a coat hanger fails to address a clogged drain.[17]
    • Flush the drain. Use hot water, leaving the tap running for several minutes. This will help flush out any dirt and debris that may be causing bathroom odor.[18]
    • Once a month, mix half a cup of vinegar with a half a cup of baking soda. Pour this down your drain. This will clean out the drain, help remove clogs, and neutralize any odor caused by your bathroom’s drain.[19]
  6. Watch for mold. Mold is a common cause of odor in a bathroom. It can also be a health concern. Make a point of periodically checking your bathroom for signs of mold.
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    • While you may think spotting mold is easy, mold can often be subtle. It may be overlooked or mistaken for soot or dirt. You may notice speckles of black along your bathroom ceiling, for example. If these marks resurface after cleaning, and seem to expand, you may have a mold problem.
    • Look under the sink. Mold commonly begins to grow around the pipes under the sink, especially if water sometimes leaks out.
    • Recognize the symptoms of mold exposure. If you don’t see any mold, but have any of the following symptoms, consider having a professional mold inspection done in your bathroom. Symptoms include wheezing, rashes, watering eyes, red eyes, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.[20]

EditMaking Changes

  1. Re-caulk your tiles. Caulk is found between bathroom tiles and may also run along the walls of a bathroom. It can contribute to bathroom odor. Over time, caulk becomes porous and absorbs odors. If your bathroom smell does not respond to routine cleaning, remove old caulk with an X-acto knife. Replace it with fresh caulk. You can buy bathroom caulk at a local hardware store.[21]
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  2. Close the lid after flushing. Sometimes, small changes can make a big impact on bathroom smells. Remember to close the lid after using the bathroom. This can prevent unpleasant odors from leaking into the air.[22]
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  3. Take out the trash regularly. If you have a wastebasket in your bathroom, take it out at least once a week. Any trash that’s left sitting out can build up odors over time, resulting in a foul smell. Regular trash removal can be very effective in combating bathroom odors.[23]
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  4. Launder bathroom fabrics. As bathrooms are frequently damp environments, towels can get musty fast. If you keep hand towels in your bathroom, launder them at least once a week. This can prevent a buildup of odors that leads to an unpleasant smell.[24]
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    • To help remove odors, try adding a half cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle when doing laundry.[25]
    • Make sure you dry towels completely before putting them back in the bathroom.[26]
  5. Consider switching to odor or moisture resistant surfaces. If you clean your bathroom carefully, but still have problems with mold or odor, it may be time for a major renovation. Consider switching to odor or moisture resistant surfaces for your tub, bathroom tiles, sinks, and so on. This may be costly, but if it’s within your budget and odor is a real problem, it may be worth the money.
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  • Keep the bathroom well ventilated when cleaning.
  • If the smell is mold, you may need a major overhaul. For example, sometimes the mold is living in the drywall. If you try the above options and the smell remains, have your home checked for mold. Mold can be toxic and you may need professional cleaners to address the problem.

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EditSources and Citations

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