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6 No Fail Ways To Get Rid of Pee Smells In Bathroom

Between my dementia Mom, little boys 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 urine unpleasant odors out of your bathroom!

6 No Fail Ways To Get Rid of Pee Smells In Bathroom

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 young children or an incontinent family member and things we can do to make ours houses smell better!

How To Clean A Stinky Bathroom - Get Rid of Urine Smells

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.

I also use Grove Collaborative sprays … I have a bottle in EVERY bathroom! I love the smell of this cleaning product and it is a pre-made cleaner that is easy to use… find out why I love Grove!

You can also start with a quick clean of the bowl using a toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner… I KNOW this seems really simplistic, but taking the time to do a deep scrub with a scrub brush under the lip and the bowl to start can give you a quick win!

Have a spray bottle in each bathroom

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 when she had urinary tract infections.

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 on the bathroom floor, 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 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 our goddess Martha Stewart, “Baking soda is an effective way to minimize odors around your home. This is primarily due to the chemicals in baking soda, which counteract the acids that cause bad smells.”

Make A Regular Trash Can Smell Better

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.

Bonus Tip: Keep a stash of garbage bags in the bottom of your trash cans. I HAVE to make things easy for me… and having a stash of bags in the bottom of the trash can makes it easy!

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. I use a grout brush to get it into the crevices, let it sit for a while and then wipe it up with a rag.

When your toilet smells of urine despite cleaning it may be that the urine has soaked into the rubber flap parts that hold the lid on… make sure you use these wipes (or your bleach mix) on there liberally, even removing the toilet seat if necessary!

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

Picture of bathroom with shower curtain and towels

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 that are not the ordinary kinds of bathroom cleaner…

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!)

Natures Miracle

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. Because it is an enzymatic cleaner it also helps to get rid of urine stains!

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 foul smells! When your bathroom has unpleasant urine smells all the time it can invade the whole house!

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

Picture of an essential oils diffuser in a bathroom

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.

No! Barbasol Shaving Cream for Urine Smells

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.
  • Some of the new types of air freshener are really handy to get a quick pee smell win!

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! (some are things I have seen and some are reader submissions!)

Lampe Berger

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 To Get Rid of Urine Odours 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 best tips and 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 (uric acid) and the fact that it becomes concentrated when the liquid in the pee evaporates. Public restroom odors are even worse than our homes because of the mix of urine and bacteria available.

How Do I Get Rid Of A Strong Urine Odor 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 Bad 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

How To Get Rid of Urine Smells Around The Toilet… Pull It Up

Since I wrote this post I have gotten a few messages from people who had to resort to desperate measures… they had to pull the toilet up off the wax seal… ick!

This is because the urine ran down the toilet base and into the crevice underneath the the bottom of the toilet and nothing done up top would have ever made a difference. No matter what you do up above the crevice the toilet smells of urine despite cleaning.

I feel like if I did all this, I would for sure get a new toilet to put down… if my husband can buy a new car every time he needs an oil change, I can for sure get a new toilet! (kidding mostly about the car thing… but he HAS bought about 13 new cars in our 20 year marriage… hahaha)

How To Get Rid of Urine Smells Around The Toilet... Pull It Up

Getting Rid of Poop and Pee Smell In the Bathroom Wrapup

Okay, if you are like me (and reading this post) you may be at your wits end with all the foul odors that you can't get rid of, but there is good news!!!

Of course it's a good idea to 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 bathroom 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 find the best way to get rid of some of your bathroom smells and foul odor! Sometimes just knowing we are all in the same boat helps the frustration a little bit!


Friday 14th of July 2023

I most definitely could use this information. Thank you very much for the share. Very informative! Love it!


Friday 18th of February 2022

Lamp Berger works better than any candle for sure! It’s a strong aroma fast!

We also use all natural “Force of Nature” hypochlorous acid (electrolyzed vinegar salt & water) in the walls, floor, fabric, porcelain, etc. it disinfects and is safe for kids and pets. You can even use it on pacifiers and drs and vets use it in wound care. Each bottle you make lasts 2 week and no single use plastic bottles. Win win.

Susan Asbury

Monday 15th of November 2021

I love ready your ideas, it helps me out

Tara Jacobsen

Monday 15th of November 2021

So glad it helped Susan!


Tuesday 31st of August 2021

I use a diaper pail for toilet paper because it is not good for the septic tank. I found that the old fashion hard deodorizers that hang over the toilet is the best thing to put in the bottom of the lined pail. You do not smell the deodorizer until you open the pail to add dirty paper to pail. Also you never smell dirty paper or diaper all you smell is the deodorizer. The cost is about .50 cent it will last a month or two.

Tara Jacobsen

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Great idea Pat! Thanks for sharing...:)