No wonder the toilet has all of these bad connotations in human minds. There are the things you do with a toilet, the germs you associate with it, the images you have from public restrooms, the fact that you have to clean it-all of these details leave the toilet somewhat… tainted.
What’s the worst taint of all for the toilet? It’s the taint of smell; after years upon years of use to rid you of your own refuse, something is bound to give. Perhaps it’s the toilet bowl itself? Or is it the tiles, the walls, the sink, the drain or the bathtub? Pray that it isn’t the septic tank though, because that will really stink.
So your toilet and bathroom doesn’t exactly smell of flowers, or it does smell of flowers… the carrion flower variety, that is. What should you do?
Try to identify the toilet smell, of course. Does it smell damp? Musty? Does the odor smell like urine? Feces? Or sewage? Or does it smell like something died somewhere in your bathroom? You’ll need to try to locate the smell too. Do you smell it everywhere in the room or only in certain places like near the toilet or near the sink? Do you have a smelly clothes hamper in your bathroom that’s stinking the whole room up? Identify the origin of the smell, and then go from there.
Basic Toilet Odor Removal
* If you smell an unpleasant odor in your bathroom, and you need to cover it up fast, simply light a wooden match in the middle of that room. Lighting a match produces sulfur dioxide. This chemical is so strong that it hides most other odors from your noses for a short time.
* Obviously the easiest way to make your bathroom smell better is to just open the windows and let the fresh air in! Unless the temperature is below zero, that is, or it’s raining. If you can’t let fresh air in, there are many other methods available.
* You will probably need something stronger than soapy water to get rid of toilet smells. Specifically, white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide counteracts the natural oil in bathroom scum. Just get 1 liter (or quart) white vinegar or 3% hydrogen peroxide (peroxide may cause bleaching), ¼ c. baking soda, 1 tsp. dish detergent (also removes grease) and mix them together. This solution of vinegar/peroxide will dissolve and remove the odor-causing crud instead of just spreading them around.
* Lighting a candle… even an unscented one… in your bathroom can eliminate odors. Or, if you don’t want to create a possible fire hazard because you have kids or pets, set a candle that has a strong fragrance in your bathroom. It will just cover up odors instead of getting rid of them, but at least that room in your house will smell better for awhile.
* Ammonia is also a very useful cleaning agent in killing that salty toilet smell. Clean your toilet with ammonia once, especially on the outside. Do not let ammonia get near the bleach, though.
* Baking soda is a good odor absorbent. Put a generous amount of baking soda in an uncovered container (the size of the container depends on the size of the bathroom) and leave it for several days. Remove the baking soda and replace it with a new batch and leave it for a couple of days. Continue replacing the baking soda until it has cleared the toilet smell.
* Hydrochloric Acid is also advisable. Only for very stubborn stenches, this caustic chemical is very powerful and can tackle smelly stains as old as forty years. But be very careful in its usage and do not leave for it for any longer than the directions say, as it can eat away at the porcelain itself, thereby causing surface roughness that will make the toilet stain even quicker and smell even worse in future.
* Get a sack of charcoal to absorb the bad smell; charcoal is used not only to filter water and other things, but is also utilized to soak up odors, just like baking soda. If you see charcoal in an odor-removing product, it’s likely to succeed at removing odors.
* Disinfect the walls, ceiling, flooring and all fixtures; a lot of people forget to clean them, but these areas have probably collected quite a bit of toilet stink from all those years of use. Do yourself a favor and put the shower curtains and the carpet in the washer, scrub the tiles, and wipe down porcelain tub and sink with a good dose of ammonia, just to make sure that the toilet smell is gone.
Maybe the toilet smell is in the floor tiles grout. If that’s the case, then a strong chlorine bleach soak will work. Also some bleach in the bowl overnight may help. Turn the fan on to remove the bleach smell.
* Clean your toilet. Speaking of the toilet bowl, perhaps a more detailed method in cleaning it is in order. Use liberal amounts of cleaning agent or disinfectant and a bowl brush to really scrub at the porcelain. Afterwards, let the solution sit for a minute before the inevitable flush. Whatever chemicals you use, remember to respect the directions given and follow them exactly; in particular; never mix chemicals as this can be extremely hazardous. Make sure there is sufficient ventilation while you are working and ideally, wear eye and skin protection.
Advanced Toilet Odor Removal
Assuming that your bathroom is clean, i.e., the toilet is scrubbed and has been disinfected, there is no mold or mildew present, the shower curtain/door is free from soap scum, the shower/bathtub have been scrubbed, the tile floor has been swept and mopped, or the carpet is dry and free from spills, and you still smell something unpleasant in the air, then it’s time to investigate the problem.
* Septic Ulcer. Do you have a septic tank? The odor is a warning that there is a problem with the septic system. Sometimes, the sewer might be clogged and needs to be checked, which is the reason why the smell still remains. This bathroom odor can spell big trouble if it’s not remedied as soon as possible.
If your house is connected to a city sewer system, you’ll need to contact a plumber or the city to check out and identify the exact cause. If you live in a rural setting and your sewage is handled by a septic tank, then you’ll just need to call a plumber. Sewage odors in your bathroom drains can mean there’s a problem in the system. That is, the sewage may be backing up and not running out as it should.
Another thing to check is the exhaust pipe which may be clogged too. This is one big problem to solve. If you’re renting, let your landlord know before the septic starts to back up. Now there’s a smell!
* Wax on, wax off. This is another common problem that can make your bathroom smell as though it’s never been flushed even after flushing. If the wax ring that seals the base of the toilet to the sewer pipe has gone deficient, it can allow gases and odors to come into the room from the pipe.
It could also be that the toilet is not seated well when installed; as such, it may require a new wax gasket underneath. Call a plumber and see if they can find the problem. Or do it yourself by replacing the ring then resetting your toilet; the problem should stop by then.
* Check the Gasket. There is a gasket in the connection with the bowl and the pipe leading to the outside. In Wales, for example, there is also the gasket which sits between the floor and the bowl. Either could be damaged.
Check the level of water which is entering the water tank; maybe the water flush is set to light and the lack of water is emptying the trap at the S bend. Try filling the bowl half full with clean water and put some food dye in the water tank, then flush.
Check the level of the dye in the bowl; you should see the color plainly. If not, your toilet is emptying too much. If that’s the case, then get someone who can service your type of toilet. There should be water left in the bowl after a flush to act as a seal against sewer gas even with the low-flush type.
Toilet Odor Removing Products
* Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner (with Bleach) cleans and disinfects with the power of Clorox Bleach. The disinfecting formula dissolves dirt and grime, while killing 99.9% of bacteria and other germs including cold and flu viruses. The powerful clinging action removes stains while deodorizing with a fresh, clean scent. In particular, it removes tough stains to clean and brighten your toilet bowl and deodorizes your toilet by killing odor-causing bacteria.
* Lime-A-Way Toilet Bowl Cleaner has been specifically formulated with extremely strong lime fighting ingredients to remove those stubborn, unattractive calcium deposits that form in your bowl. These ingredients are biodegradable and organic, are safe for the environment and on your septic system. Lime-A-Way also contains highly potent hydrochloric acid, which is its main cleaning ingredient and is extremely tough on odor-causing germs, grimes and toilet residue.