The Complete Guide To Getting Rid Of Urine Smell In The Bathroom

Because, ew. So much nope. Ew, nope.

Thinking about (and also writing and reading about) the smell of urine is disgusting, period. We’ll talk about cleaning pet messes all day, but when it comes to human pee, even we’re a bit grossed out.

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But acknowledging that pungent, nostril-piercing odor is the first step to conquering it. Just because it’s an exceptionally unsavory topic to broach doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. Because, let’s face it. If you’re here and we’re here and we’re here together, getting rid of that gnarly urine smell in your bathroom has become a priority. As it should be. Your home bathroom should be a sort of sanctuary where you can comfortably brush your teeth topless, sing shamelessly in the shower and not have to catch offensive whiffs of pee smell. Blergh.

We’re here for you. We’ll cross this bridge together and come out on the other side with a sparkling clean bathroom and a toilet that smells like—well—nothing!

Where is that urine smell coming from?

First things first. Is your toilet clean? Like, really really clean? No shame here, there are a lot of opportunities for tinkle to sprinkle and areas you may have overlooked.

That urine scent could be coming from areas you may miss during your routine bathroom cleanup, such as:

  • Toilet seat hinge caps
  • That area above the seat and below the tank
  • Bidet attachment
  • Toilet seat lid

What about the things that live next to the toilet? (Because, hey, sometimes kids and men miss their mark.)

  • Rugs, bath mats and decorative towels
  • Stools
  • Garbage cans
  • Extra rolls of toilet paper
  • Caddies full o’ stuff
  • Shelving units
  • Plunger and/or toilet scrubber brush (You know those things need to be cleaned too, right?)

You’ve cleaned and cleaned, and the bathroom still smells, well, like pee. Where could it be coming from?!

Relax, take a breath (but not too deep of a breath because apparently it still stinks like pee in here, yuck!). Plumbing is often the culprit for enduring odors. Scents may become trapped in the wax toilet bowl gasket, which can wear out after a few years and need to be replaced. Sorry, but you may need to call a professional (or that really handy friend) in this case.

How to remove tough bathroom smells

Deep clean the toilet

The least romantic four-word phrase in the English language.

  • Scrub the toilet inside and out, top to bottom. You can use either a store-bought cleaning product or simply some dish soap and warm water. (We know this is so extra, but you can use a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies if you really need to.) Be sure to follow directions on the ready-made cleaning product’s label or wipe down the toilet with a clean, wet rag to remove soapy residue, if using dish soap.
  • Remove the toilet seat completely to really get the hinges clean.
  • Use a store-bought toilet cleaner on the inside of the toilet and scrub. Like, really scrub. Be sure to get all up under the lip around the edge of the bowl. We like to use something pretty powerful that contains bleach. Mind your eyes, and be sure to open bathroom windows and turn on a fan for maximum ventilation when cleaning with powerful cleaners.
  • Finish up by sanitizing your throne. Microban 24 Bathroom Cleaner keeps surfaces sanitized against bacteria for up to 24 hours, even after multiple touches,* plus it reduces odors. We like to do a final once-over on the exterior of the toilet with a product like this one as a sort of cherry on top.

Clean around the toilet

We’re not pointing any fingers here, we’re just saying that sprinkles happen. And they don’t discriminate between toilets and non-toilets when landing.

  • Clean all of those items that live within a close proximity to your toilet, like shelves, stools, garbage cans, etc.
  • Launder bath mats and bathroom rugs.
  • Wipe down walls surrounding the toilet.

Mop the floors

Yes, urine smells could be lingering on the floor around the toilet. More often than not, the floor is the culprit.

  • Clear the floors first, remove the trash can, rugs and any rogue socks or cotton swabs.
  • Sweep the floors or run a Swiffer Sweeper across them to trap and lock in loose dirt, hair and dust.
  • Mop the floors to get them really good and clean.
  • You might even want to get down on your hands and knees and take a wet, soapy rag to the caulk between your floor and the toilet. Be sure to wipe off soapy residue with a clean, wet rag at the end.

Deep clean drains

This is easier than it sounds, trust us. And if the source of the urine smell is your drain, that should be a simple fix.

  • Clear anything stuck in the drain catcher, even if it’s a big, wet, gross clump of hair.
  • Flush the drain with near-boiling water and Dawn Dish Soap.
  • You can also use a ready-made drain declogger product here. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.

Keep the bathroom smelling fresh

Now you don’t have to leave passive aggressive—or just straight-up aggressive—threats for your partner, roommates or children on the bathroom mirror in lipstick. You’ve got the tools and the know-how to de-funk your bathroom, deep clean your toilet and banish that putrid urine stench from your precious, sacred lavatory. You can go back to happily using your water flosser, applying your face masks and bleaching your teeth in peace, without that subtle stink of pee disrupting your quiet zone.

The best way to ensure the ghost of tinkles past won’t come back to haunt you is to establish a bathroom cleaning routine, from daily maintenance to weekly and monthly deep cleans. From the toilet bowl to beneath the seat and the tiles surrounding the base, pay attention to all those little nooks and crannies where stinks may hide out, and hit them with some soap and water, bleach and/or disinfectant. Now let’s forget we ever had to have this conversation.

*When used as directed, effective for 24 hours against Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacter aerogenes bacteria. Microban 24 does not provide 24-hour residual virus protection.

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