Odors are not unusual in the bathroom. People, after all, eliminate their wastes and clean themselves in the bathroom. There is nothing to be ashamed of the smells that are left behind once you are finished doing your business. Just open the windows to let the fresh air in or light a candle to remove the unpleasant scents.

However, there are instances when smells are signs of a bigger problem.

Ever-Present Smell of the Sewage

Sometimes, however, smells do not go away. No matter how much you scrub and disinfect the bathroom, there is still an odor that lingers hours after someone has used the toilet.

It can be embarrassing to have a bathroom that smells. Moreover, it might also be a health risk.

The smell of the sewage emanating from your bathroom is not normal and it should be investigated. You will need to call a plumber to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs or replacements.

Here are some reasons why your bathroom smells.

Sewer Germs Creeping Up

The sewage contains an ecosystem of germs, some of which carry diseases that can infect human beings. There are several bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that are known to hang around the sewage.

Sometimes, those microorganisms travel and end up in the bathroom. There are a few ways this could happen: flooding, septic tank damage, blocked plumbing, and sewerage system backflow.

Do not, under any circumstances, touch the toilet bowl when there is an overflow. The germs in the sewage can cause all kinds of illnesses, including gastroenteritis. You first need to banish all the microorganisms that have clung to the rim of the toilet bowl before anyone is allowed to use it.

Luckily, it is a pretty easy task. All you need are a pair of rubber gloves, goggles, and boots to protect yourself from being exposed to sewage germs. You can scrub the exterior of the toilet bowl with bleach. Pour bleach into the toilet tank so that, when you flush, the liquid will kill any microorganisms that are in the toilet bowl.

Clogged Toilet Drain

The smell could also be coming from a clog in the pipes. Sometimes, the flush seems to be working, but the water and the waste are not draining as they should. When water and waste stay stagnant, it will start to smell.

You will only get rid of the smell when you remove the clog. Again, a professional can help you remove the clog in your pipes.

Toilet Unused for a Long Time

The toilet will smell if you do not use it after a long period.

For example, if you went on a vacation and have not been home for months, or you went back to your childhood home during the pandemic, the bathroom in your apartment might start to smell. There is no one to blame, and you cannot do anything to prevent it, either.

At the back of your toilet bowl, there is a pipe that dips down and then comes back up. It is called a P-trap. It is always filled with water to block sewage gasses from traveling up and out your toilet bowl and into your bathroom. But, water evaporates. When the toilet is not used, the water disappears, letting the sewage gas enter the bathroom.

Luckily, it is easy to fix. Unless something broke, flushing the toilet a couple of times will refill the P-trap with water and eliminate the smell.

Do not forget to open the windows for ventilation. Exposure to sewer gas is dangerous and can lead to poisoning in high amounts.

Damaged Wax Sealing Ring

Over time, the wax sealing under the toilet comes loose or sustains damage. When that occurs, sewage gas may escape and spread around the bathroom.

You do not have to remove the toilet to diagnose that the wax sealing ring needs a replacement. Try to shake the toilet. If it wobbles, then the wax sealing ring should be looked at and then replaced by a professional. Unless you have a background in plumbing, hire someone else to do it to guarantee that the funky smell will be eliminated.


The bathroom is one of the places in the house that is used multiple times a day. While unpleasant smells are normal, they should disappear over time. By increasing ventilation or by using artificial air fresheners, you can eliminate the embarrassing smells of your bathroom. However, if the odor persists despite cleaning, there probably is a problem that needs to be looked at, preferably by someone who knows their way around plumbing.

Meta title: Why Your Bathroom Smells After Cleaning
meta desc: Bathrooms sometimes smell, but it normally disappears after a while. However, when the stink persists even after cleaning, it might be a symptom of a problem in your bathroom.

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