? Help! – My Bathroom Smells Like Poop – But I Just Cleaned It!

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smelly bathroom

Everybody likes a clean bathroom. We scrub, disinfect, deodorize, and do as much as we can to keep our toilets fresh and clean, fit for a queen. After all, no one likes a dirty, stinky loo.

But if your bathroom still reeks of number two even after you’ve cleaned it, something is wrong. Either you didn’t clean the commode thoroughly, or something else might be the problem.

Possible Causes Of Poopy Smell

Do a bit of sleuthing. Find out exactly what the smell is and where it’s coming from. Is it really doo-doo you’re smelling? Not sewer gas? Or even a dead mouse?

Track down that funky smell and see what may be causing it. Here are some possible reasons:

Drain obstruction

Toilet drain
Toilet drain (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

There might be an obstruction in the toilet drain that’s letting water flow but keeping solid stuff from getting through. Call your plumber so they can check it for you.

Filled septic tank

Septic tank
Septic tank (Image: forestfolks)

Perhaps the tank is draining slowly because it’s filled with solids. Again, a professional might be able to help determine if the tank needs pumping.

Broken wax ring

The wax ring at the base of the commode could be worn out. Wax rings deteriorate over time, and if yours has, sewer gas may be seeping out under the toilet. You can replace it yourself if you have basic tools and are strong enough to lift the toilet. Or you can have a handyman help you.

Blocked sewer roof vent

Check your roof vent for possible blockage. Things could get into a vent — frost, fallen leaves, birds’ or hornets’ nests, a deflated balloon. You can tell if there’s an obstruction because it also causes the drain to run slow, and you’ll hear gurgling noises. Climb up the roof and run a snake through the vent down to your bathroom.

Dead animal

women holding nose smelly bathroom

Sometimes people may confuse the smell of poop for rotting carcass. There could be a lizard squished in a cabinet door or a decaying mouse hidden in the walls. Shine a flashlight down every corner, nook, and cranny and see if you won’t stumble on a lifeless critter.

Dry P-trap

Snappy Trap Universal Drain Kit for Bathroom Sinks
Snappy Trap Universal Drain Kit for Bathroom Sinks (Amazon)

This is a common problem in rarely used guest bathrooms, where the “P-trap” of a shower or tub drain has gone dry because of infrequent use. Water acts as a vapor seal in a p-trap, and when it evaporates, sewer gas can waft into the room. But the smell is more like that of a sewer or a rotten egg, than poop. 

Fix it by running water for a bit to refill the drain. If a bathroom will be not be used for a long time, consider using mineral oil to keep it moist for a few months.

Clogged shower or tub drain

Trapped hair, dirt, rust, calcium deposits, and all kinds of debris can build up in the shower or tub drain, eventually clogging it and causing odors. Though it may not necessarily smell like poop, it does give a foul smell. Remove and clean the drain stopper, pulling out any hair or debris you see in the drain opening. If the drain is clogged, use a straightened wire hanger or ZipIt drain cleaning tool, unclog it. Then pour hot water to flush out any remaining sediments and debris. 

Keeping it fresh — all the time

Now that you’ve fixed the problem, here are other things you and your family can do to keep your bathroom smelling fresh or fragrant round the clock.

Up your cleaning regimen

Give your toilet a regular deep cleaning. Once a week should be fine, but more often may be necessary if there are many users — especially children. Pay attention to hard-to-reach areas where muck and residue from black water can collect. Check under the toilet rim, in crevices under the toilet seat, and the nooks and crannies around the seat’s hinges. Consider removing the toilet seat altogether to give it a good scrub.


types of bathroom exhaust fans

This is the first and probably most important thing users can do whenever they’re in the toilet for #2 — open the window or flip on the vent fan for good airflow. They should do this before nature calls, not after.

Additionally, check if the fan is working properly. Make sure it isn’t blocked or covered in dust. Give it some regular cleaning every 6 months.

Use odor eliminators

There are “before-you-go” products that folks can use to prevent any poop smells from escaping the bowl and wafting into the air.

Sprays like Poo-pourri, Airwick V.I.P., Air Scense and Oopsie Poopsie are infused with essential oils that leave a film on the water surface, creating a barrier. 

Others like One Drop and  Just a Drop do the same thing, but these use a blend of plant extracts, disinfectant, and fragrance.

Just ask them to drop or spritz into the bowl before they sit and they’ll end up with a toilet smelling better than they found it. 

Do a courtesy flush

Folks can also flush immediately after they’ve dropped a bomb. It isn’t very environmentally friendly but flushing once or twice before they’re finished will keep the stench to a minimum. The less time the turds float around the bowl, the less chance they’ll stink up the room when users stand up to flush.

Strike a match or light candle

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Scented Soy Candle, Large Glass, Lavender, 7.2 oz, 2 ct
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Scented Soy Candle (Amazon)

The sulfur dioxide that a burning match produces will help reduce anyone’s stink bomb. It won’t eliminate the smell, it will just mask it with a more potent one which, thankfully, is of a more agreeable sort. Just let it burn and make sure it’s completely out before tossing into the trash. Other options are lighting a scented candle that we – like these from Mrs. Meyers or filling a bowl with scented bath bombs. 

Use essential oils

There are so many ways to incorporate essential oils into your maintenance routine so that your bathroom bursts with fragrance — 24/7. You can drop your favorite essential oil in a diffuser or humidifier. You can mix it with distilled water and vodka to make air fresheners in a spray bottle. You can also drop a few drops into a mason jar filled with baking soda to make an effective odor neutralizer. Mixing a few drops into your home-made multi-purpose cleaner will also leave the toilet, tub, floor, and counter smelling fragrant.

Lastly, drop a few drops inside the roll of your toilet paper so the scent is released each time paper is pulled.