Between my dementia Mom and my elderly dog, we have a lot of “accidents” in the bathroom! Here are my battle tested tips and ideas for how to keep those poop and pee smells out of your bathroom!
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As you may know from my post, 6 Must Have Products For Elderly Caregivers Dealing With Poop, I am not afraid to talk about the icky side of being a caregiver.
Today I want to talk about the stinky parts of having an incontinent family member and things we can do to make ours houses smell better!
I am going to start with my tried and true methods to get rid of urine smells and move on to what has and has not worked for me in my continuing battle with stink!
1. Small Spot Urine Cleaning
First off, if you are just dealing with a little urine or poop on the floors or toilet, I suggest having a handy spray bottle full of 1/2 White Vinegar, 1/2 Water and some essential oils (I use peppermint and lavender).
This is not a “deep cleaning, germ killing” clean, but if you have to continually clean up little messes, vinegar can help fix the urine smell better than anything I have used on porcelain, tile floor or grout.
It is also non-toxic and better than having to pull out the bleach and gloves every time there is a urine odor or you are just doing a little regular cleaning.
Why this works… vinegar kills the bacteria in the urine, which eliminates the smell.
2. Using A Diaper Pail
Okay, this did take a wee bit for Mom to get a hang of because there is a kind of “flap” to push down, but once she got it, it really did help a lot.
My Mother In Law still is a bit feisty and she for sure doesn't want me in there messing with her “stuff” all the time.
She also tries to hide when she has an accident and before we got this pail, she often “hid” her used Depends and ALL THE TOILET PAPER IN THE WORLD behind the toilet, in the cupboard, basically it was like a really horrible game of Easter eggs.
The thing that I like about this one is is it doesn't look like it is for babies, it is pretty small and the foot presser, pop up thing works great.
3. Make A Regular Trash Can Smell Better
If you don't want a fancy trash can (or if your Mom can't figure it out) try using baking soda or Arm & Hammer in the bottom of your trash bags.
Apply it liberally to the inside of the bag (not underneath in the trash can, that did almost nothing).
Why this works… according to McGill Office of Science and Society, “as everyone knows, acids can be neutralized by bases. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a base.”
Also change the bag out often. Sometimes if Mom thinks it is too full she will resort to using a bunch of toilet paper or paper towels and flushing them instead of throwing them away… sigh.
4. Clorox Urine & Wipes
Spray and wipes! This is my life…
Clorox Urine Remover
Alright, first off, this is not BLEACH Clorox! It is an odor remover rather than a disinfectant so if your loved one has C diff or other communicable germs, you need regular bleach instead.
That said, it has worked best on the grout and tiles in our bathroom to get rid of deep smells and urine soaks.
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
I have these on the counter to do a “swish and swipe” around the toilet seat, base and counter. Knowing Mom's habit of forgetting to wash paired with accidents, I like to make sure at least everything around her is germ-free.
If you are sensitive to chemicals like me, make sure to use Nitrile Latex gloves while cleaning. These will help you avoid germs AND keep you from touching lots of chemicals! (I am a big old tree hugger, but I still use the gloves… it is a safety issue for sure!)
5. Soft Surfaces
Okay, you may not be thinking of this, but we have LOTS of fabric in our bathrooms that are soaking up all those smells. Curtains, shower curtains, towels and bath mats can be stinky too!
We use two different kinds of spray deodorizers…
Rocco & Roxie
I bought this one when I was trying EVERYTHING that I could think of to get smells out! It happens to be the smell that I like best… sort of fresh and not perfume-y! Just do a fine mist on your curtains and shower curtains (toss the towels in the washer with 1 cup of vinegar… I swear, vinegar is magic on pee smells!)
This is the industry standard for getting rid of stinky smells in carpet. It works fine, I just don't like the smell as well as I do the Rocco and Roxie.
Additional Resource : How To Get Rid of Poop and Pee Smells In Your Laundry (can you tell I am super sick of my house stinking?)
6. Nice Smells
Last but not least, I use nice smells to mask the odor of poop and pee!
Bath & Body Works Wallflowers
I LOVE the smells of Bath and Body Works “stuff” and my daughter gets me them for Mothers Day and Christmas.
Essential Oils Diffusers
Using essential oils is a great way to spread good smells a fair distance, but it is GREAT for filling up a small space like a bathroom and drenching it in a nice smell! Just mind them a bit (especially in a small space like a bathroom) if you have cats!
Additional Resource : Warning Essential Oils Diffusers Are Harmful To Cats
Spray Fabreeze or Lysol
I can't stand the smell of Lysol, but Fabreeze is pretty neutral for me. My son loves the smell of Lysol and can't smell Fabreeze… like anything it is worth figuring out what works best for your and your nose!
No! Barbasol Shaving Cream for Urine Smells
Okay, this one was a big old “don't” for me! I heard that using Barbasol shaving cream would neutralize deep odors in things like the tile and painted wood baseboards.
I sprayed it on, rubbed it around the base of the toilet (using gloves, which did wash off in the sink okay) and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Then I spent about an hour using other cleaners trying to get all that shaving cream off the floor and walls. I tried paper towels, sponges and washcloths (the plain white ones that I get by the dozen!)
I don't even know if it smelled better, I was so grumpy by the time I was done I didn't care! FOR SURE use the vinegar spray bottle instead of this debacle!
Other Smell Free Ideas
There are a bunch of suggestions to have different kinds of natural odor absorbers around…
- Pour straight ammonia in a small container and put out of reach. Will absorb odors.
- Put out coffee in small containers around the room.
- Hang tea bags around to draw out smells.
Things I Might Try Next
I really only like to talk about things that I have actually used or tried myself. But here are a few other things that I have on my lists to try next!
This lamp was invented in France back in the 1800's to disinfect the air in hospitals. They have a bunch of different scents and it seems like something cool to try!
- Oxyclean Odor Blaster
- Nok Out
- Fabuloso (note from reader… I love the stuff but it is full of chemicals and it will take the finish off of wood. It has taken the finish off the front door, the cherry wood settee, the oak wood on the hearth and some of the paint on the trim in the bathrooms. Needless to say, I don’t use it anymore. And a little wood stain and some bees wax have worked to return the color to the various woods. )
- ConvaTec Aloe Vesta Cleansing Foam
- Medline CRR107080 Carrascent Fresh (what hospitals use)
How Do I Get Rid of Urine Smell In The Bathroom FAQ
I have gotten A LOT of feedback on this post! It seems that moms of boys have this trouble too! Here are some answers to things people have asked over the last year!
What Causes Urine Smell In The Bathroom?
Having done a little research, the smell comes from the urea in urine and the fact that it becomes concentrated when the liquid in the pee evaporates. Public restrooms are even worse than our homes because of the mix of urine and bacteria available.
How Do I Get Rid Of Urine Smell In The Bathroom?
If you have done ALL THE CLEANING around your toilet, the grout, the tank and the seat and STILL have a smell of urine, you might want to consider taking the lid off the tank in back and adding a 1/2 cup of vinegar there.
Let it sit for 15-20 minutes and then flush. You can clean the edges of the tank and the bottom of the lid while you are there!
How Do You Get Urine Smell Out of a Bathroom Rug?
I have a whole post full of ways to get urine smells out of your laundry, but here is a quick idea!
When using hot water try a cap full of bleach, 1 cup of vinegar and your normal laundry detergent. Set the load for an extended rinse and spin to get all the pee and poop out.
Dawn dish washing soap with hot water has helped some people too!
Additional Resource : How To Get Poop and Pee Smells Out of Your Laundry
Getting Rid of Poop and Pee Smells In the Bathroom Wrapup
Okay, if you are like me (and reading this post) you may be at your wits end with all the smells that you can't get rid of, but there is hope!!!
Of course, do a full “clean the bathroom” thing once or twice a week. Clean the toilet, scrub down the toilet tank to get rid of dry urine or feces. Pay attention to the floor in front of the toilet and the garbage can.
Cleaning up after a dementia parent is different than taking care of young children.
They may be hiding their Depends, wiping smells on the walls behind the toilet, or even getting germs on the counter because they don't wipe right anymore and forget to wash their hands.
Hopefully some of these great tips will help you get rid of some of your bathroom smells! Sometimes just knowing we are all in the same boat helps the frustration a little bit!