Toilet Smelling Like Urine Despite Cleaning? Why & Fixes

Pee odor from the toilet is not only unpleasant but also a sign of other underlying issues within your bathroom. It is important to pinpoint and immediately fix this problem.

 Your toilet can smell like urine even after cleaning because of poor cleaning habits that lead to urine buildup, leaking pipes, damaged seals, and improper venting among other reasons.

To get rid of the urine smell from your toilet, deep clean your bowl and the floor around your toilet, use an odor neutralizer, and fix the wax seal ring and any leaking pipes. To prevent urine odors from coming back clean your toilet regularly and ensure there is sufficient flow of fresh air. Read on for details.

Why Does My Toilet Smell Like Urine?

The urine smell from your toilet is due to the following causes:

Urine Build Up

Urine spills and buildup in various parts of the toilet, around the floor, and on objects near the toilet is the most common cause of pee smell.

Urine on the toilet seat

Urine can be found on the toilet seat under the toilet cover. This is because users (especially men and kids) may not always find their target when peeing and some small amounts of urine will find themselves in the grooves of the toilet seat cover. This urine will cake up and emit the urine smell in the bathroom even after cleaning the toilet several times.

Urine in the bowl

When you do not flush your toilet or if the flush is not strong enough, urine can remains can accumulate under the rim and other parts of the bowl resulting in, a persistent urine odor.

Urine on the floor around the toilet

Urine can easily find its way to the floor of the toilet when someone misses the target again. This is especially true when you have small boys experimenting with peeing. Or when someone comes home a little too drunk to find the target. This type of urine smell is quite easy to deal with.

Broken seals can also cause urine and water from the toilet bowl to find their way onto the floor.

Toilet Bowl with Urine

Urine on other items in the bathroom

This is the most common cause of urine smell especially even after cleaning your toilet. Items and sections around the toilet, including the toilet brushes, walls, shower curtain, and laundry baskets might have been caught with the pee spills. These spills retain the smell.

Poor cleaning habits

Ignoring to clean your toilet on a regular basis results in urine and bacteria buildup which in turn creates a persistent odor.

Poor ventilation

Given that we use the toilet every now and again, the smell of poop and urine can linger in the air if there is no ventilation to clean the air.

This can occur especially when the venting system is clogged or damaged, the exhaust fan is down or the window to the toilet is rarely opened up.

Damaged or Broken seals.

Broken seals especially beneath the bowl can allow sewer gases and urine odors to escape into your bathroom. The seals include the one the section that connects the bowl and the drain and the one that connects the bowl to the flooring (wax ring)

Leaking pipes

If there’s a leak in the plumbing system, it can cause urine and other odors to seep into your bathroom.

Other causes of pee odor include;

Aged toilet: Old toilets can keep urine deposits in hard-to-reach areas making it difficult to eliminate the smell.

Dehydration: Having an insufficient amount of water in your body because of not drinking enough fluids can make the concentration of your pee high resulting in a strong odor. This can make the toilet bowl smell like urine.

Health conditions: Though not common, a persistent urine odor in the toilet bowl could be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney disease.

Medications or supplements: Certain medications and supplements can cause your urine to smell stronger than usual, contributing to the urine odor from your toilet bowl.

How to Get Rid of Urine Smell in & Around Toilet

The urine smell from your toilet can be embarrassing especially if you have visitors. The following are ways to clean the smell.

1.     Clean under the toilet seat cover

To clean the urine and other debris that resides in the groove of the toilet seat cover, you should first remove the cover of the toilet seat. Most come with screws of different kinds which can be easily undone with the hand to release the cover. These screws are found under the toilet cover at the back of the toilet bowl. You will find a pair of them there.

Simply twist the knobs to release the cover then clean the toilet and cover in copious amounts of water, a brush and detergent or cleaner. You should do this at least twice a year. When you have children in the house, however, you should do it more often.

2. Clean the toilet bowl thoroughly

Use a toilet bowl cleaner and brush to scrub the inside of the bowl. Be sure to get under the rim and around the edges. Rinse the bowl thoroughly with water.

3. Get Urine Out of Grout and floor around the toilet

The floor around the toilet can be cleaned with a detergent and floor brush to get rid of the smell of urine in the toilet.

Do remember to clean everything in the vicinity of the toilet. Wipe each part with your preferred cleaning agent, rinse, and ensure the items are dry.

This should actually be part of the cleaning procedure for your toilet. Each time you clean the toilet, clean the area and items around it to clean any dirt and bacteria.

Cleaning urine out of grout around the toilet

Cleaning urine out of grout and around the base of the toilet in general can be quite complex given that common cleaners won’t do the trick. However, there is a home remedy that can do the trick quite well.

For this procedure, you will need the following items:

  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • ½ cup of borax
  • 2 gallons of water
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • Dish washing soap

The steps are as follows:

  1. Start by mixing water and baking soda to create a paste.
  2. Add the paste to the sponge then use it to scrub the base of the toilet and floor. The other areas to focus on are the tile grout and the caulk.
  3. Let the areas stay that way for 15 minutes.
  4. Spray the areas with a mixture of water and vinegar in equal parts.
  5. Rinse with lots of water.

Don’t worry about the use of vinegar and baking soda as they neutralize each other to form water and salt.

4.  Replace the wax ring and any other broken seal

Replacing the wax ring can be quite daunting given the number of steps involved and the extent of the exercise itself. Luckily, you can perform the task with the following procedure:

  • Start by turning off the water at the shutoff valve.
  • Flush the toilet several times to eliminate all the water from the toilet tank to avoid making a mess on the floor when you start the next steps.
  • Use a wrench to undo the bolts holding the toilet seat to the floor. This should be easy since there are about 4 or 5 such bolts.
  • Holding the toilet seat in two places, rock it back and forth while pulling it gently upwards. It’ll come off leaving the bolts still in the ground.
  • Use a putty knife or other suitable object to remove the wax ring and clean any other parts of the toilet which seem dirty such as the T bolts.
  • Replace the wax ring with the new one making sure the plastic cone of the ring faces the drain pipe opening (downwards).
  • Before refitting the toilet seat, you should take the opportunity to clean the hard-to-reach areas.
  • Lift the toilet and place it on top of the drainpipe opening making sure the T bolts align correctly with the holes on the base of the toilet seat.
  • Tighten the nuts around the T bolts then caulk the area around the toilet seat.

Check the other seals for signs of damage or wear, and replace them if necessary

5. Use an enzyme cleaner

Enzyme cleaners are designed to break down and eliminate organic matter like urine. Look for an enzyme cleaner specifically designed for use in toilets, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Use an odor neutralizer

There are products specifically designed to eliminate urine odors. Look for an odor neutralizer that’s safe for use in toilets, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Fix Leaky Pipes in your Plumbing System.

This may require the services of a professional plumber especially if the pipes are not visible.

8. Replace the toilet

If none of the above steps work, it may be time to consider replacing the toilet. Old or damaged toilets can be difficult to clean and may retain urine and bacteria even after cleaning.

If none of the fixes above work, it is recommended you call a plumber to inspect your toilet and plumbing system. He/she can identify any underlying issues and suggest the best course of action to eliminate the urine smell from your toilet.

How to Prevent Urine Odor in Toilet

Following are some tips to stop the urine smell in the toilet from coming back after cleaning.

Keep the toilet clean: Regular cleaning is the best way to prevent urine odors from returning. Clean the toilet bowl and surrounding areas regularly to keep them fresh and clean.

Provide good ventilation: If your bathroom doesn’t have the right amount of ventilation, you may need to install an exhaust fan or extra window to keep the air circulating. This also helps in preventing the growth of bacteria and mold which prefer warm and damp conditions.

Flush Properly or Fix your Flush System: Ensure you flush properly after using your toilet. If your flush system is weak or compromised, it may be time to replace it.

Further Reading: Toilet & Bathroom Odor

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