Toilet Smells even after Cleaning-Causes & Fixes

When you clean your toilet, you expect it to remain clean and smell good till it gets dirty from use again. At times, however, the toilet will still smell bad even after thorough cleaning. This is often embarrassing especially when you have visitors around who’ll probably assume you don’t know how to keep it clean.

Some of the reasons your toilet smells bad even after cleaning it include a faulty or clogged vent pipe, a damaged or loose toilet bowl at the base, a broken flange, a missing or damaged toilet seal.

These are simple issues you can identify on your own especially if the toilet and plumbing system were properly installed. Simply, unclog the vent pipe, fix or replace the toilet bowl, tightening the T bolts on the toilet at the base, and replace the seal. While some of these fixes can be carried out at home, some complex ones may require the services of a qualified plumber for the best results.

Causes of the Toilet Smell After Cleaning

When cleaning the toilet doesn’t eliminate the bad smell in it, the causes are as follows:

Faulty or Clogged Vent Pipe

The vent pipe for your toilet plays the important roles of allowing sewer gases to escape to the environment and keeping a balance of pressure between the pipes and the air outdoors. If there is a clog, tearing or improper installation of the venting pipes, you might have many issues on your plumbing system. Some of these include a bubbling toilet, slow flushing and a sewer smell whether you’re flushing it or not.

Symptoms of a clogged vent pipe and how to unclog
Vent Pipe

To establish this issue, check the roof vent pipe for any clogs or blockages. If it’s clear, check for tears or damage on the body of the vent pipe as it goes down into the house. If you still can’t find a problem with it, you might need to check with your plumber on where the clog is. It might be inside the wall or other location.

Further Reading: Signs of a clogged vent Pipe

Faulty Toilet Seal

Between the seat of your toilet and the drain pipe is a wax ring that keeps the water and sewer gases from seeping into the floor. When urine, stool and other wastes find their way under the toilet seat due to a faulty or worn out wax ring, it’s easy to experience a bad odor in the home. Besides allowing gases to enter the house, a worn out wax ring also encourages the growth of bacteria which will emit more bad odors.

Loose Toilet at the Base

The toilet seat is held on to the ground by a set of connection bolts.  When these bolts get loose due to being worn out or not having been tightened properly, there will be some space left between the toilet seat and the floor. Gases will escape through this space making the house smell badly even when you clean the toilet thoroughly.

If the base of the toilet seat rocks, it can also point to a damaged wax ring since its damage leaves space between the toilet seat and the floor.

Damaged Toilet Bowl

A crack on the toilet bowl can easily let the foul smell from the sewer into the room. Often, such cracks result from the toilet seat either being dropped onto a hard surface or being hit by a hard object. Such cracks can be hard to identify although a thorough check will do the trick.

Toilet Bowl cracks around the base

Faulty P-trap

Your toilet’s P-trap acts as a seal against the sewer gases in the toilet. This works by keeping a small amount of water in the curve of the trap such that the weight of the flush is the only one which should allow substances from one end of the toilet to the other. Sewer gases, however much, can’t go past this trap.

When the water in the P-trap isn’t enough either due to evaporation or a poor design of the toilet, sewer gases will find their way into the toilet no matter how much you clean it.

Dirty Toilet Tank

The toilet tank houses the water ready for flushing. Most people who haven’t had to deal with toilet issues never worry about the toilet tank since it only holds water and nothing more. However, the toilet tank can develop a mold or algae growth which will emit a pungent and musty smell. This issue won’t be easy to notice until you open the toilet tank by removing the lid and checking the inside of it.

The tank, if left open, can also have objects thrown in them by children. These can rot making for an awful smell in the toilet.

How to get rid of odor

The solutions to the toilet above issues include the following:

Unclog or reinstall the vent pipe

If the clog in the vent pipe is located in an area you can easily access, you can use a long pole, a hose pipe or an auger to break down the clog in the vent pipe. This is often the case when the clog is in the top part of the vent pipe going to the roof. The more complex ones such as those found in bends can be dealt with by a plumber.

Replace the wax ring

The wax ring of your toilet can be replaced in the following steps:

  1. Turn off the mains supply to your toilet at the shutoff valve. This is done by turning it in a clockwise direction until the very end.
  2. Eliminate all the water in the toilet tank by flushing the toilet several times over. If there’s still some water in the tank, remove the lid to the tank then use a sponge to soak it up to make sure you have no matter in the tank.
  3. You then follow this up by undoing the T bolts holding the toilet seat to the floor. You need a wrench with an open end for this task.
  4. Hold the toilet seat with both hands then gently rock it back and forth while pulling it upwards to remove it from the base. Pull it up until it comes off the T bolts. Put the toilet seat on a soft base to avoid damaging it.
  5. With the help of a putty knife or other flat and blunt piece of metal, scrap the old wax ring out. If any other dirt or debris is in the opening of the drain pipe, scrap it away as well.
  6. Place in the new wax ring such that the plastic cone of the ring is facing down the drain.
  7. Clean the toilet seat thoroughly then dry it up. Lift it with both hands then slowly place it on top of the opening of the drain pipe. Make sure the holes on the base of the toilet seat align with the T bolts.
  8. You then tighten the bolts on the T bolts. Caulk the area where the toilet seat meets the floor then clean the floor.

This should properly seal the toilet and eliminate any openings that gases and liquids might be escaping through.

Tighten the T bolts

Also called the connection bolts, the T bolts ought to be as tight as possible to keep the connection between toilet seat and the drain pipe airtight and watertight. The remedy to this issue is simply tightening the bolts with an open wrench.

In some cases, the bolts could just be worn out through rusting especially when they’re often wet. For this case, you will just need to buy a new set and use them as replacements for the old ones.

Replace the Damaged Toilet Bowl

When the toilet seat is damaged and is cracked, you’ll need to replace it since most materials from which the bowl is made aren’t easy to seal. Replacing the toilet bowl is similar to how you replace a wax ring. You undo the connection bolts then remove the toilet seat and replace it with the new one.

When the issue is that the P-trap doesn’t hold enough water due to a leak on the side or a poor toilet design, the only solution is replacing the toilet bowl. This procedure has been explained in the section on how to replace the wax ring above.

Clean the toilet tank

When the toilet tank is dirty and overrun with mold or other dirt, simply close the inlet to the tank at the shutoff valve then flush the toilet. Clean the toilet tank by scrubbing the sides then rinse it with clean water.

The detailed procedure is as follows:

  1. Get your cleaning supplies such as scrubber, toilet cleaner and towel.
  2. Remove the toilet tank’s lid and place it aside.
  3. Flush the toilet to remove the water from the tank. You don’t need to remove all the water as some of it will be used when cleaning.
  4. Add the cleaning agent of your choice to the toilet tank. This can be half a cup of baking soda, half a cup of white vinegar or a small amount of liquid soap. Mix it up with the little water that remained in the toilet tank to get a uniform mix.
  5. Scrub the inside of the tank with the brush then wait for about 3 hours before scrubbing again.
  6. Allow the water to flow into the tank the man flush several times to rinse it off.

You can then return the cover on the toilet tank.

Ideas to keep your Toilet Smell Fresh Naturally

In keeping your toilet smelling fresh at all times, you should put the following tips into practice:

  • Keep a steady cleaning routine. This means that you should clean the toilet as frequently as possible.
  • Always clean the area under the toilet seat and the ground around it too.
  • When cleaning the toilet, clean the walls as well.
  • Use strong cleaning agents when cleaning the toilet.
  • Check for loose parts and leaks on the toilet then fix it as soon as you identify them.
  • If there are rugs in the toilet, wash them as well.
  • Teach kids the proper use of the toilet.

Essentially, you’re establishing a routine and way of using the toilet that is effective against keeping the dirt away.

Further Reading: Toilet & Bathroom Odor

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