9 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 that can help with odor control in the bathroom. To get some answers, we chatted with Mark Coster, BSc, PhD, a chemist and founder of STEM Geek, who shared tips for eliminating bathroom smells that are less than ideal.

Experts In This Article

First things first: Why does poop smell linger in the air?

Before getting into quick fixes for bathroom odors, let’s be real for a second: No one has ever left the bathroom after pooping thinking, wow, that smelled great. Being that poop is what your body expels as waste material after absorbing all the nutrients it needs from the food you consume, its not-so-pleasant stench isn’t too surprising.

With that being said, if you’re wondering why some bathroom breaks smell way worse than others, there are some simple explanations for that. While even healthy poop stinks, experts say especially foul-smelling bowel movements may be due to having issues absorbing the nutrition from food or eating a diet that’s made up of low-quality, processed foods. If your poop smells like sulfur, you've likely been eating sulfur-rich veggies and fruit that are responsible for the next-level bad stench. Think: cruciferous veggies, animal protein, dairy, and alliums. (And if you're dealing with anus smells, that could be a whole different issue.)

No matter what or how well you’re eating—and even if you limit the sulfury foods—the reality is that the restroom is never going to smell like roses. Luckily, there are some bathroom odor removal tips that provide instant odor relief, freshening the restroom right before your eyes—or, uhh, nose.

9 ways to make your poop smell...well, less stinky

What neutralizes poop smell, you ask? There are plenty of chemist-recommended solutions for odor control in the bathroom. Whether you've found yourself in a bind and are looking for instant odor relief (or you want some bathroom air freshening suggestions that make going number two more pleasant), look to these options—whether you're dealing with foul, sulfur, or sweet-smelling poop:

1. Don't shut the door

It makes sense that you'd want to shut the door while you’re doing your business, but just know that unless you have an open window, doing so is only going to 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, Coster says. "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 Coster, is that you want to allow the odors (and poop smell) to disperse over a wider surface area (or outside), which will help with eliminating bathroom smells.

2. Save bathroom scents for the bathroom

When it comes to this chemist’s odor remedies, this tip is less chemistry-related and more psychological: Making your chosen bathroom scent something you only use for that 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 when it comes to rapid odor elimination, according to Coster. Sorry, but solely spritzing a heavy layer of vanilla lavender spray isn't going to help with neutralizing restroom odors, as much as it will just combine with it.

3. Baking soda is your friend

Another chemist-recommended solution 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," Coster says. Making a batch of "toilet bombs" (or purchasing a pack like this) can do wonders at absorbing and eliminating bathroom smells.

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 you can even expand on this chemist odor remedy by adding 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, providing a quick bathroom deodorizing solution, the smoke actually produces a musky sulfur smell that masks other scents, Coster says. If there are any lingering smells, a helpful chemist-recommended solution for instant odor relief is lighting a match and blowing it out. But make sure that you wet the matches before throwing them in the trash—that way, they’re not a fire hazard.

5. Do a courtesy flush

Oftentimes, people mention doing a “courtesy flush” as a joke. But in reality, it’s a great bathroom odor removal method—especially if you’re not in the comfort of your own home. Essentially, a courtesy flush is flushing the toilet mid-poop as an immediate bathroom scent solution. Instead of panicking and trying to go about freshening the restroom after you’ve already done your business, you’re able to prevent any unpleasant smells from lingering in the first place.

6. Make a DIY spray

If you’re looking for quick fixes for bathroom odors, keeping a trusty spray on hand can help.

While there are plenty of store-bought bathroom spray options you can purchase, you can also make a DIY poop spray. For a rapid bathroom freshening option, simply mix a handful of simple ingredients: essential oils, distilled water, rubbing alcohol, and vegetable glycerin. This combo not only helps nix the stink, but also kills germs in the toilet.

7. Spritz perfume or cologne

If you’re not at home and are looking for an immediate bathroom scent solution, check your bag for some perfume or cologne. If you have some on hand, all you need to do is spritz the space (and inside the toilet for good measure) to help with odor control in the bathroom. While it’s not a perfect solution, as there’s a chance that the scent of your perfume will fuse with the poop smell, it sure is better than walking out of that room without attempting any bathroom air freshening.

8. Create a soapy solution in the sink

If you’re at someone else’s house and are in desperate need of some rapid odor elimination, a Reddit user has a solution: Fill the sink with hot water and put a small amount of whatever bathroom essentials are available—think shampoo, toothpaste, and mouthwash—in the water. After splashing it around, it should permeate the air and get the bathroom back to smelling like it normally does. (Just be sure to drain the sink afterward to get rid of any evidence.)

9. Spray some hairspray

Like perfume and cologne, a spritz of hairspray can come in handy for rapid bathroom freshening when you’re in a bind. After you’re done doing your business, simply spray a couple puffs around the room (and in the toilet) to help mask the odor.

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.


What is the best scent to cover poop smell?

There are plenty of scents that can help cover poop smell when you’re freshening the restroom. Popular sprays for rapid odor elimination contain scents like peppermint, citrus, lavender, and sandalwood—really, it comes down to whatever your preference is.

Here's a secret on neutralizing restroom odors, though: If you want Coster's chemist odor remedy, he recommends choosing a scent that will only be used in your bathroom. That way, there isn't any carryover to the rest of your house.

How do you poop in public without it smelling?

Panicking in a public restroom after unleashing a stinky number two isn’t a fun experience. The next time you’re in need of some quick fixes for bathroom odors, we’ve got you covered. First, always do a courtesy flush mid-poop, which helps with rapid bathroom freshening.

You can also utilize some things you might have on hand for quick bathroom deodorizing: For example, spritzing perfume, cologne, or hairspray in the air and toilet can aid in bathroom odor removal when you’re in a bind.

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