4 Chemist-Approved Ways To Eliminate Bathroom Odors—If You’re Desperate for a Quick Fix

Let's do a little imagination exercise, shall we? Think of the most epic blockbuster movie explosion: A woman in a black leather outfit is walking away as a house erupts into a fiery cloud of flames and smoke. Now, tell me you don't feel like that when you walk away from your bathroom after, um, doing your business. No? Okay, sure, that's fine! I guess we can't all be perfect.

However, if you do relate and want to minimize the less than pleasant, ahem, poop smell often left in your wake, there are actually a few strategies rooted in the science of scents. To get some answers, we chatted with Mark Coster, BSc PhD, a chemist and founder of STEM Geek, to get tips for neutralizing odors that are less than ideal.

Experts In This Article

1. Don't shut the door

It makes sense that you'd want to shut the door, but unless you have an open window– that will make things worse. A big part of the after-the-deed odor is methane. Besides being a greenhouse gas, it has a bad smell on its own, and it's lighter than air, says Dr. Coster. "Having great ventilation in your bathroom is key to getting bad odors i.e. methane, out of your bathroom as quickly as possible. So, if you have a fan going and the door open, that will help the odor-causing agents to disperse faster."

The goal, according to Dr. Coster, is that you want to allow the odors (and poop smell) to disperse over a wider surface area (or outside), which will cut down on odors.

2. Save bathroom scents for the bathroom

This tip is less chemistry-related and more psychological: Making your chosen bathroom scent something you only use for the space can prevent any sort of carryover to the rest of your house. Absorption and ventilation strategies, plus odor masking, should be combined for maximum effort, according to Dr. Coster.

Sorry, but solely spritzing a heavy layer of vanilla lavender spray isn't going to neutralize odor, as much as it will just combine with it.

3. Baking soda is your friend

So, another way to cut down on the impact of odors, is to use substances that will absorb the smell. In this case, baking soda is a great choice because it can improve the instance of odors by taking it into itself. "Sodium in baking soda is what gives the compound its ability to absorb musty and other terrible odors," says Dr. Coster. Making a batch of 'toilet bombs' or purchasing a pack like this can do wonders for absorbing unpleasant odors.

Toilet bombs are small balls of packed baking soda and other agents that can add positive scents to a bathroom. They can be made at home via a recipe or purchased in bulk. Baking soda can be left out as a dish to absorb odors as well, and he even recommends you add some drops of your favorite essential oil.

4. Fight odor with fire

Even though it's commonly assumed that matches "absorb" the odor from a particularly unpleasant bathroom, the smoke actually produces a musky sulfur smell that masks other scents, Dr. Coster says.

To quickly quell any lingering bathroom odor, you can light a match and blow it out, but make sure that you wet the matches before throwing them in the trash—so that they are not a fire hazard.

Just like the children’s book of the same title implies, Everybody Poops. So there's nothing to feel deeply ashamed of when it comes to bathroom smells. Hopefully, these tricks up your sleeve can have you feeling less like you’re in an action movie hurtling away from an explosion, though.


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