We clean ourselves in our bathrooms, and no one wants to get clean in a dirty, stinky bathroom. So, you may wonder what you can do when no matter how well you clean your bathroom, you notice unpleasant smells. We begin by looking at the most common reasons for those nasty niffs and stinks. Then offer some real, workable solutions to help you get your bathroom sparkling and sweet-smelling. You also might wish to check out our other articles on how to make your bathroom smell like a spa and the best plants for bathroom smells.
Mold and Mildew
One of the most common causes of unpleasant smells in a bathroom is mold and mildew. Unsightly and smelly, mold can also cause sneezing, runny eyes, and breathing difficulties. Indeed, some molds are highly toxic. If you spot mold or mildew in your bathroom, you must act promptly to banish it. Mildew will likely form on dust and material items like shower curtains, curtains, and towels. Several varieties of mold may take hold and thrive in your bathroom, bringing with it horrid smells.
Let the Air Flow
Inadequate ventilation not only traps stale air but also retains any nasty smells from bathroom use. Crucially, poor airflow in the bathroom is also a significant contributor to mold and mildew formation. When your bathroom has no or limited airflow, sour smells get trapped, even with no mold.
Damp Towels & Dirty Laundry
When you store dirty clothes and wet towels in the bathroom, they will smell. Think about it, the sweaty gym gear or damp running joggers waiting to be laundered are festering in the laundry basket, and those damp towels left on the floor are growing bacteria creating nasty smells.
Another cause can be the drainage system. All of your drainage systems should have a U bend to trap a little water between the drained-away wastewater and the bathroom. The U bend acts as a barrier to sewer smells and gases. This trapped water prevents the sewer smell from reverberating in your bathroom. When the U bend becomes clogged with debris, the trapped debris releases smells as it breaks down. A clogged U bend will also breach the system allowing those sewer smells and gases through into the bathroom.
Some toilets will splash tiny droplets of water, urine, and feces when flushed. These minute droplets land on the surfaces and items around the bowl, leading to stale urine and feces and additional odor as bacteria grows.
Do You Have a P?
Many bathrooms also have a P system plumbed in, whereby all your waste pipes vent into a tube that goes up through the ceiling and outside. P systems are simple plumbing systems designed to release obnoxious stale air and allow fresh air into the bathroom. Sometimes the system fails as old pipes become abrasive and trap debris.
Leaks and Water in Hidden Places
Another possible cause of bathroom smells is a small water leak somewhere. This could be due to grout or silicone sealant on tiles, around basins, bathtubs, and showers being damaged and letting water through. Or, it may be due to loose sanitary plug fixings, condensation pooling in hidden areas, or even worn gaskets and washers on drains and taps that need replacing.
When a toilet is unsecured to the floor due to rusted screws, missing caulking, or wax, it can cause a sewer smell in the bathroom.
When You Have Wood in the Bathroom
Because bathrooms are humid environments, any wooden fixtures in the room can quickly deteriorate, as wood and, in particular, MDF and board rot down and put out obnoxious smells. Damaged wood or where paint or varnish doesn’t cover is prone to mold as it rots down.
Methods to Banish Nasty Smells
How to Prevent Mold and Mildew in the Bathroom
The best way to treat mold and mildew in the bathroom is prevention. Adequate ventilation is vital, as is cleanliness. That said, once they have had a chance to form in the bathroom, mold and mildew are difficult to eradicate completely.
Method One: Clean
Keeping everything wiped down with clean cloths, scrubbing brushes, and getting into all corners is the best preventative for mold, and the smells mold creates. Plain water won’t do either; you need bleach or distilled white vinegar-based cleaning products to tackle mold spores. Always remember to clean the cleaning tools and hang them up to dry.
Pay attention to cleaning drains and, in particular, your shower drain.
Method Two: Essential Oils
Many essential oils are also extremely powerful at preventing or treating mold and mildew in the home. As long as you clean all surfaces likely to attract dust where mold spores could settle, freshening the air with bergamot-based essential oil is a pleasant way to cleanse the air as it attacks any mold spores.
When mold or mildew has already formed in the bathroom, then you need to be even more thorough and proactive to keep it and the nasty smells at bay. Essential oils such as cinnamon, peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, and bergamot are all excellent products for killing it off. They are especially effective when distilled white vinegar is used as a carrier.
Use a combination or choose one that you particularly like. A vinegar, cinnamon oil, and peppermint oil preparation used twice a week where mold forms or has formed before treats the most stubborn outbreaks.
Method Three: Improve Bathroom Ventilation
Ventilate your bathroom by opening a window frequently, taking special care to do so when the bathroom is steamed up. When your bathroom does not have windows, fitting a bathroom extractor fan and using it will help remove the damp air and create a healthy airflow. Always run the fan for at least half an hour after a shower to remove some moisture from the air.
In both cases, a dehumidifier is a valuable gadget to speed up humidity removal in the bathroom. Electric dehumidifiers work by sucking in the damp air, collecting it in a bucket, and forcing dry air into the room.
Method Four: Hang Everything Up to Air
You must store dirty clothes and wet towels somewhere before washing them. Hanging up anything wet or damp while waiting to be washed slows bacteria development. As bathrooms are already damp environments, think if you have any alternatives to store dirty laundry and hang damp towels. Leaving damp or wet things lying around on the floor or in the shower means they take longer to dry and harbor bacteria that cause smells. Getting into the habit of hanging things up to air helps eradicate mold, bacteria, and the associated odors.
When you don’t have visible mold and your bathroom smells, try the following methods:
Method Five: Love Your U Bend
Incorporating a regular U bend cleaning routine prevents the build-up of debris in the chamber. You will freshen your bathroom when you take it apart and clean the U bend. Just be sure to place a bowl underneath to catch the water and place the debris into a bag you seal and throw in the garbage. Plan to clean the U bend a couple of times a year.
Method Six: Blitz the Drains
Your draining system from basins and baths needs maintenance cleaning to prevent the build-up of biofilm from your family’s hygiene products and debris that leads to mold growth.
A simple mixture of distilled white vinegar and baking soda
is a useful drain cleaner.
Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain and then half a cup of distilled white vinegar.
Put the drain plug over the drain and leave for thirty minutes.
After thirty minutes, remove the stopper and use a sink plunger to force the mixture past the U bend by creating a seal with the plunger and giving it several plunges by moving it up and down.
Then run hot water through the drain; this is best collected in a jug or bucket from another place to ensure that you start with hot water. Give it a good flush through with plenty of clean water.
Plan to do this every month.
Method Seven: Scrub the Toilet and Close the Lid
Regular toilet cleaning, including using a brush around the lip and paying particular attention to the areas you don’t see, helps keep the toilet clean and sweet smelling. Placing the seat down every time you flush will prevent spreading drops around the room. If your bathroom has carpet, consider changing to an easily washable floor surface and frequently launder any mats near the toilet.
Method Eight: Check for Leaks Everywhere
Check the sealant around the bathtub, sink, shower, and toilet for any signs of wear or damage. Think about when anyone last replaced the sealant. A minute amount of water getting into somewhere can create a perfect environment for mold and fungus to grow out of sight, giving out nasty smells. It may be time to replace the sealant.
Inspect the toilet for signs of rusted screws, and look at the caulking or wax that seals the toilet to the floor. If anything looks damaged or you can’t see any seal. Your toilet may require refitting by a plumber.
Method Nine: Examine the Wood in the Bathroom
Check all wooden items to see if any are deteriorating. Wooden skirting boards, floorboards, and furniture could all rot due to dampness and humidity. Remove any rotting wood and replace it with treated, painted, or varnished wood. Repaint any wood that looks worn.
Method Ten: Place Plants in the Bathroom
Having a few natural plants in the bathroom makes the space more pleasant, and they help to purify the air.
Method Eleven: How is the P System
If you don’t have any visible mold, have cleaned your U bends, shower drain, and all around the toilet bowl, and the problem persists, then it is time to call in a plumber to check the condition of the P system. They can also check all the nooks and crannies you can’t see for any leaks, fungi, or mold growth that may cause the smell.
If you notice gurgling when you flush the toilet, drain basins, or the bath, the P system may be blocked, and there may be a problem with venting. Call a professional plumber to check your P System when you have exhausted every other possibility. They may include a sewer scope inspection to give your system a full health check during the appointment.
By nature, bathrooms are hot, humid, damp places, the perfect breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and biofilms. When you notice any nasty smells in your bathroom, start by thinking about how clean it is. Begin with the easiest to manage possible causes and solutions and work through the possibilities and solutions. Why not make a checklist to check off each completed action? When you have covered all the home fix possibilities, it is time to call a professional plumber.
Experiencing nasty smells in the bathroom is unpleasant and may be the push you need to up your bathroom cleaning and maintenance regime. Or it could be a sign of something nasty lurking or getting in. Either way, a sweet-smelling, sparkling-clean bathroom is a beautiful place to spend time. Getting it there is worth the effort.