How to Remove Bathroom Odors

The bathroom, at times, may be the least pleasant-smelling place in your home for various reasons.
Aside from regular toilet use, problems with the plumbing may leave residual odors that exist even if the bathroom hasn't been used all day. Several quick fixes and long-term solutions help keep that bathroom smelling its best, so using the space feels more relaxing and less like a visit to an outdoor portable restroom on a hot day.

Step 1

Eliminate odors emanating from a partially clogged sink or tub drain by clearing the clog. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Allow the mixture to bubble and foam as it loosens and clears materials stuck to the sides of the drain. Run hot water for a minute or so after the foaming subsides. Wait a few minutes longer, and run the cold tap for another minute. Vinegar and baking soda both have odor-removing properties; together they remove minor clogs and blockages as well. Pour a little more vinegar down the drain to remove any remaining odor.

Step 2

Stop odors emanating from the drain of a septic system by sending water down the drains in the room. This type of odor is often caused by dry drains, such as in a seldom-used guest bathroom. Flush any toilet that has not been used for a week or longer; if water dries up in a toilet trap, odor may emanate from the trap.

Step 3

Clean a toilet bowl to remove potential odor sources that have not flushed completely away. Pour in 1 part baking soda on the dry parts of the toilet bowl, followed by 4 parts vinegar. Let the mixture bubble for several minutes, and then scrub with a toilet brush. Flush the toilet.

Step 4

Open windows and run a fan or exhaust fan to remove toilet odors. A bowl of vinegar placed in the room near the toilet also helps reduce odors quickly. Soak a paper towel or cloth in vinegar and wave it around the room to speed up the process.

Things You Will Need

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Toilet brush
  • Paper towel or small cloth


  • Chemical-based air-freshening sprays often mask, rather than remove, odors. They may contain chemicals that aggravate allergies or asthma. Natural alternatives work, without harmful chemicals.
  • Clean the toilet on a regular basis to ensure it stays fresh and odor-free. Clean the outside of the toilet bowl and the floor around the toilet as well.
  • In some cases, a continual odor may indicate a more serious problem. A foul odor near the base of the toilet may indicate a broken wax seal, in which case the seal needs to be replaced.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.