8 Things People with Nice-Smelling Bathrooms Always Do

published May 1, 2023
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Of all the rooms in your home, a few are harder to keep smelling fresh all the time. One of those, as you can imagine, is your bathroom. If your bathroom has a bath or shower, it’s easy to accumulate potentially smelly moisture. And it goes without saying that the main attraction of your bathroom — the toilet — can cause stinky problems of its own. 

Luckily, a few simple routines and fixes can keep this space smelling good (or at the very least, neutral) as much as possible. Below, eight easy-but-effective tips from people who pride themselves on their nice-smelling bathrooms.

Regularly deodorize drains. 

Sometimes, the worst smells are in spaces you can’t see. That’s why Barry Brown, owner of Counter Culture DIY, deodorizes his sink and tub drains with a natural cleaner of baking soda and vinegar every month. “Baking soda neutralizes odors, and vinegar’s presence creates a bubbling action that helps any unpleasant muck come loose so the rinse water can wash it away,” he says. 

Simply add a cup or so of baking soda down the drain, and allow it to sit for a few hours. Then, pour down a cup of white vinegar, wait five minutes, and rinse with hot water. (Note: it’s important to do these actions separately, as mixing baking soda and vinegar together doesn’t allow for an effective clean. In this case, it’s more about the reaction of the vinegar that helps loosen up muck, which happens after the baking soda has done its job.) 

Mind their towels. 

A nice-smelling bathroom isn’t just about the tub, sink, and toilet. It’s also important to pay attention to your towels, which can start to smell funky if not allowed to fully dry (or not washed frequently enough). Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, replaces his bathroom towels every one to two years — or earlier if they’re used every day. “If your towels are no longer soft or have a permanent smell even after being washed, it’s definitely time to replace them,” he says. 

Clean the whole thing regularly. 

Like your kitchen, staying on top of messes in your bathroom can go a long way in preventing unwanted smells. Vered DeLeeuw, founder of the Healthy Recipes Blog, gives her bathroom a quick clean every day. If you don’t have time for everything, focus on wiping down your sink counter, brushing out and cleaning your toilet, and making sure your shower or bath is dry so it doesn’t start to smell mildewy. 

Add pleasant smells. 

On top of eliminating unwanted smells, you can add good ones to the mix. Home blogger Jill Bauer likes to keep reed diffusers in her bathrooms for a consistent fragrance. “I also spritz a room spray on a cotton ball and tuck it into the toilet paper roll and the bottom of the trash can,” she says. Some linen spray on your hand towels and bath mats can also help keep things smelling fresh!

Keep the air moving. 

Without air circulation, any room can start to smell stale. In your bathroom, which can easily accumulate moisture and other less-than-pleasant smells, fresh air is even more important. Blogger Amy Smith keeps her bathroom well-ventilated by installing an exhaust fan and opening windows whenever possible to circulate air. 

Add a plant or two. 

A potted plant can add a pop of color to a dull bathroom. Interior designer and blogger Sarah Bowen uses air-purifying greenery to keep her bathroom from smelling bad. “For one, they filter toxins and impurities out of the air, which can eliminate any nasty bathroom odors,” she says. “They also put oxygen back into the air, keeping your bathroom smelling cleaner and fresher rather than stale and smelly.” She recommends a snake plant, English ivy, or Boston fern for best results.

Use bathroom-specific cleaning products. 

While your all-purpose spray might be OK on your counters, some bathroom spaces — ahem, your toilet — need specialty cleaners meant to stave off smells and kill germs. Rich Mullins, founder of H2O Plumbing, always uses specific bathroom cleaners intended to eradicate scents. “There are various solutions available on the market to clean and deodorize your bathroom,” he says. 

Use a dehumidifier. 

If you live in a humid area, or your bathroom doesn’t have enough ventilation, you could be vulnerable to smelly (and potentially risky) bacterial and mold growth. Steve Evans, owner of Memphis Maids, always runs a dehumidifier in his bathroom to keep things dry and smelling fresh, especially when the weather is extra humid.