6 Bathroom Smell Hacks to Get Rid of Odors

Say goodbye to weird, musty smells

Clean bathroom with white towel hanging over tub and plant on sink surface

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Regardless of how fancy and spa-like a bathroom design is, it's still the room where odors can accumulate. Although it's not that big of a deal when it's just you and your family, bathroom smells can be a bit embarrassing if you're hosting guests. Fortunately, there are several ways to make the bathroom more pleasant-smelling.


If your bathroom smells like rotten eggs or sewage, or it still smells even after you clean it, you may have an issue that can't be fixed with fragrance. That sewer smell may be sewer gas that needs a simple or a more extensive repair. Though you are rarely in danger from the odor, fix it fast to get rid of that bad smell.

  • 01 of 06

    Place an Air Freshener Nearby

    Air freshener with diffuser sticks on bathroom vanity surface

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

    Air fresheners are practical in a pinch, especially if the odor is strong. However, they aren't the healthiest way to take care of bathroom odors, though there are some natural air freshener options. Leave a spray bottle out in your bathroom in case someone feels they need it, but don't solely rely on it to diminish bathroom odors. Remember that only a short spray is necessary. There's no need to coat the walls and floor with air freshener. As an alternative to air fresheners, try a gel odor eliminator that won't spill or cause aerosol spray issues for sensitive noses.

  • 02 of 06

    Maintain Good Ventilation

    Bathroom vent

    Michal Szota / Getty Images

    All bathrooms require good ventilation, and getting fresh air moving around the space can make a big difference in how it smells.

    Maintaining good ventilation involves two main factors: having a working vent fan and keeping the door (and window, if possible) open when the bathroom is not in use. A functioning vent fan draws moisture and odors out of the bathroom and into the outside air. Both factors improve air quality by removing bad odors, along with humidity from bathing that otherwise could create a musty smell.

  • 03 of 06

    Keep Towels Clean and Dry

    Folded fresh towels hanging over bath tub

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

    One often overlooked cause of bad bathroom odors is a dirty or damp towel. When towels don't dry fast enough, they can begin to smell musty all of a sudden because of bad-smelling and fast-growing bacteria and fungi. And if towels haven't been washed in a while, this can speed up the growth process.

    Hang your towels to dry—spread out with good airflow—after every use, and wash them at least once a week. (This includes hand towels and washcloths.) Use bleach or the hottest water you can to kill any germs that find their way into the fabric.

  • 04 of 06

    Light a Candle

    Two lighted candles on bathroom vanity surface reducing bathroom odors

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

    The heat and smoke from a candle can help neutralize odors in the bathroom. And contrary to popular belief, unscented candles may work just as well as scented ones.

    Candles, especially votive candles, are easy to place as small decor pieces somewhere in the bathroom. Have a lighter or matches handy, so you can light the candle whenever you feel it's necessary. But never leave a candle unattended. Snuff it out before you leave the room.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Clean Regularly

    Shower glass doors wiped down with rag to reduce bathroom odors

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

    Sometimes bad smells just mean your bathroom is begging for a cleaning. Gunk that accumulates in the bath or shower, stains in the toilet bowl, a dirty sink, and crusty countertop can cause odors if not cleaned regularly.

    Clean your bathroom at least once a week, with a more thorough clean once every month or two. Not only is that good general maintenance, but it also should help to reduce odors on a daily basis.

    If you're wondering what the dirtiest, smelliest parts of your bathroom might be, you may guess wrong. It's not always your toilet or toilet seat! Floors and bath mats can be the worst offenders because they quickly accumulate microscopic particles and fluids that escape from toilets as they flush, especially if the lid stays up. Don't forget to reach around to clean the floor at the back of your toilet, too.


    Click Play to Learn About the Dirtiest Places in Your Bathroom to Clean


    If your bathroom smells musty, look for hidden sources of mold and mildew, such as on the bottom edge or in the folds of a shower curtain and liner. Don't forget to clean the inside of an enclosed toothbrush holder, too. Look for clogged drains because they can cause odors thanks to accumulating mold and mildew.

  • 06 of 06

    Take out the Trash

    Bathroom trash can being lifted to removed bathroom odors

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

    Although the trash can doesn't contain food scraps like in the kitchen, bathroom garbage—menstrual products, wet wipes, etc.—can smell, too.

    Empty your bathroom trash can regularly, not only when it's full. If you want to save trash bags, dump the trash into your larger kitchen can when you take it out.

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  1. Steinemann A. Ten Questions Concerning Air Fresheners And Indoor Built Environments. Build Environ., vol. 111, pp. 279-284, 2017. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2016.11.009