Cleaning Conundrum: What To Do When Your Loo Makes You Say "Eww!"

Cleaning the bathroom is never a pleasant task, but when your efforts go unrewarded, it seems like even more of a chore. Sometimes, no matter how much you wipe, brush and flush, unpleasant odors linger. What should you do when your bathroom is perpetually stinky? Get it smelling fresh and clean again with these tips and tricks.

When the Bathroom Smells Like Pee

Most urine smells are easy to fix—if you can identify where they're coming from. First, go over the toilet bowl and the outside of the toilet carefully with a disinfectant to see if that solves the problem. If not, the most likely culprits are the bath mats and rugs that are placed near the toilet. Occasionally, rugs may be splattered with urine when someone misses the mark, especially if you have young children in the home. Washing the rugs more regularly can cut down on odors, and you should use an enzyme cleaner for particularly bad or hard-to-remove smells.

If the urine smell persists, the problem may run deeper. Cracks in tile, tears in linoleum and loosened bolts can allow urine to penetrate to the subfloor. Should you determine the flooring is the problem, you'll have to replace it. DIY enthusiasts can easily replace a subfloor in a day or two, but installing tile takes some time. If you're not comfortable working around the plumbing to take out bathroom fixtures while doing the repairs, it's best to hire a contractor.

When the Bathroom Smells Like Mold

A musty smell may not make you pinch your nose, but the damp stink is still unpleasant. The smell of mildew indicates a problem with moisture somewhere. Wash all your bath mats, shower curtains and other linens first to rule those out. And if you have a front-loading washer, check it for mold, as they're notorious for mold problems. If the fabrics are fine, start looking in other areas.

A leak around the toilet may cause water to get into tile grout or stagnate and grow mold. Have the seal around your toilet evaluated by a plumber. If the seal has deteriorated, a simple replacement of the wax ring should fix the problem.

Water may also get into the walls or floors if there's a leak near the shower or bath. You should have a professional remove a section of the wall or floor to see if mold or mildew is growing in those areas. If no mold is found, it will be an easy patch job; if it is found, you'll have to replace the wall or subfloor.

When the Bathroom Smells Like Poo

When a bathroom smells like poo after a good cleaning, the underlying issue is usually sewer gas. Sewer gas is made up of hydrogen sulfide, methane, sulfur dioxide and other gases that form from the decay of household waste. Although vent pipes are installed to prevent sewer gas from coming into the home, occasional problems do arise.

For instance, if the water level in the bowl drops too low—either from a leak or from your dog drinking the bowl dry—sewer gas can travel up through the toilet. Keep your furry friend out of the bathroom, or identify the leak if you have one. Toilets that are not used frequently may experience water loss due to evaporation, too, so remember to flush your toilets a couple of times a week when not in use.

Bacteria under the rim of the bowl can produce sewer gases, too, especially when the toilet is flushed. To get rid of the problem, pour a cup or two of bleach into the toilet tank, flushing it a few times. The bleach will kill the organisms and get rid of the odor.

Clearly, bathroom odors arise from many different sources, but you don't have to live with nasty smells just because they're hard to find. With a bit of effort and the willingness to look beyond the surfaces in the bathroom, you can get rid of offensive odors once and for all. If you find that all of your efforts aren't enough to get rid of the smell, click here for info on how to contact a plumber to do an inspection.