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How to Get Rid of Sewage Odors in the Bathroom


A sewage smell in your bathroom usually happens because solids have clogged your pipes, and the water is unable to move freely, causing it to be stagnant. You can sometimes resolve the sewage smell in your bathroom by using vinegar and baking soda, as well as a heavy duty drain cleaner. However, if that does not work, you should consult a plumber to help you unclog your drains.

Understanding How Bathroom Plumbing Works

Bathroom Plumbing

If you look under your sink, there is a U-shaped pipe. This pipe goes from your sink drain to a wastewater pipe in the wall called the P-trap. One end of this pipe goes to the sewer or septic system, while the other goes all the way to the roof to let the fresh air in and allow the smelly sewer gases outside. The P-Trap is U-shaped intentionally so that it can collect a small amount of water after each use of the sink, which allows it to be a barrier against sewage odors. If your plumbing system works as it should, the water stays in the P-trap after you turn off the sink, or empty the tub of flush your toilet.

That little amount of water will help block gases from the sewage system. Usually, these gases will flow past the bathroom and out to the vent pipe in your roof. If these gases are not vented properly, they can be dangerous for your health as they contain methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. If you’ve been exposed to these gases, you may experience headaches, nausea, and drowsiness. Therefore, if you have a sewage smell in your bathroom, make sure to have it corrected quickly to avoid further issues or possible harm to your health.

Odor Coming from Clogged Drains

If there are odors in your bathroom, it may likely be because the drain is clogged. This happens because whatever is causing the clog may cause bacteria growth and odors. A few common types of clogs that are seen in the bathroom include:

  • Toilet paper buildup, feminine products, baby wipes, and other items not meant to go in the toilet can prevent proper flushing
  • Tree roots causing underground pipe leaks
  • Buildup of hair causing the drain to be blocked
  • Buildup of mineral sediment over time

If these clogs are not resolved quickly, you may notice a bad odor coming from your drain.

Clogged Drains

Sulfur Odor in Your Drain

Sulfur odors coming from your drain are common. When this happens, it is best to check other faucets in the house to see if they have a similar smell, as the issue may be coming from your water supply. If not, you may have contaminated pipes or venting issues.

Quick & Easy Fixes for Sewage Smell in the Bathroom

If your bathroom has not been used recently, the water in the P-Trap will evaporate which removes the barrier between the bathroom and the gases in the sewer system. All you would need to do is run some water to allow the P-Trap to get filled again. If this does not work, you can use some pink RV water-safe antifreeze. If this does not work, then make sure to check for leaks around the P-Trap.

Another reason for the bad odor from your sink may be a clog in the drain as the clog itself may have an odor. Usually, you can resolve this with a plunger, however, if that doesn’t work, you may have to hire a plumber who will use a drain snake or a hydro-jetter to remove the clog.

Some other easy solutions you can try to resolve the bad odor coming from your drain include:

  • Pour boiling water down your drain to quickly clean it and remove odors
  • Use baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water to break any buildup in your drain’s pipes
  • Add baking soda periodically to your drain to keep it fresh
  • Change filters to eliminate bad smells from a contaminated water softener
  • Plunge your toilet to prevent venting issues coming from the waste line
  • Inspect the vent stack to get rid of any debris or heat up icy vents in the winter
  • Use lemon juice and baking soda to help eliminate drain odor

Call the Professionals

Sewage Cleanup Professionals

If your P-Trap has water, there are no leaks, and the drain and pipes are free of clogs, you should call a plumber as you may be dealing with a toilet issue. If you notice that your toilet bowl is not filling up properly, you may have a broken seal. If there is no caulk around the base of the toilet, water and urine can seep under and water will get stuck in crevices where it can cause bacteria with a bad odor to form. The easy solution is to add a bead of caulk around the bottom. It may be helpful to caulk the bolt holes as well to trap the odor. If you notice that your toilet bowl is loose, there may be damage to the wax ring of the toilet. This can cause water leaks and sewage smell. If this is the case and your toilet is loose or wobbly, it will need to reset with a new toilet ring.

Even when the bad sewage odors are in the bathroom, they may be coming from somewhere else. This may be due to a blocked roof vent that is not allowing fresh air to come into your bathroom. A few signs of a blocked vent include slow draining and bubbling or gurgling noises when trying to drain. You may have an issue with an improperly installed, cut, or cracked pipe, which can also cause gases to be released into your home. A cracked pipe may be more difficult to find as it may be hiding somewhere in your walls. However, a plumber can easily find it using a smoke machine and figure out the cause of your leak.

You may be able to do some plumbing fixes yourself such as cleaning your drains or replacing the toilet wax ring. However, if you are not handy and don’t have the proper skill level, you should hire a professional to ensure it is done properly.

Have you experienced a bad sewage smell from your drains? HydroForce Cleaning and Restoration can help you remove the bad odors and get your drains working properly again. We remove odors quickly and efficiently with our hi-tech equipment and proper methods to make sure your home smells fresh. Make sure to call us for all your sewage cleanup and odor removal needs. We know experiencing a sewage backup can be stressful, that is why we are here to help. We will remove all the sewage and clean, disinfect, and restore your property back to its original state. For more information, call us at 630-835-0862.