It can be very frustrating—and embarrassing for anyone who has houseguests—to clean your toilet thoroughly and realize that it still smells like urine or sewage. A clean toilet that smells bad is actually very common. There are many reasons why your clean toilet may smell bad, and many of the root causes of this problem are very easy to fix on your own.

Here are 5 reasons why your clean toilet smells bad, tips on how to fix the simplest issues yourself, and guidance on when it’s time to call in a professional plumber to handle the problem.

Evaporated Water in the P-Trap

One cause of foul, sewage-like smells emerging from your toilet is too little water in the P-trap of your toilet. Your toilet’s P-trap is part of the pipe behind your toilet. It is usually filled with water, but the water inside of it can evaporate if the toilet is not used frequently.

If you notice a clean toilet in your home that is infrequently used smells bad, try flushing it several times. That should fill the toilet’s P-trap back up with water, and any foul smell from evaporated water in the P-trap should dissipate quickly.

Dirty Toilet Tank

Even if you clean your toilet bowl thoroughly, that doesn’t mean the toilet tank is clean. Sometimes, your toilet’s tank can absorb the odor of urine and sewage and emit those odors even when the toilet bowl is clean.

Fortunately, cleaning a dirty toilet tank is just as easy as cleaning a dirty toilet bowl. All you have to do is pour a liberal amount of white vinegar inside the tank and use a toilet brush to scrub the walls of the tank with the vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for a few minutes, then flush your toilet several times to clear it out of the toilet tank. The bad smell should go away immediately.

Clogged Toilet Drain

Your toilet drain might have a minor clog even if it is flushing normally. Even the most minor clog can cause your toilet to emit a nasty odor.

If you suspect that a clogged toilet drain may be the cause of your foul-smelling toilet, use a drain snake to snake the drain of your toilet to clear out any minor clogs—and nasty odors—that are hiding inside it.

Leaking Wax Seal

There is a wax sealing ring underneath your toilet. This seal keeps your toilet in place and prevents foul-smelling sewage gas from emerging out from underneath your toilet. However, the wax seal underneath your toilet can get loose over time and begin to leak nasty-smelling sewage gas out into the air.

If the wax seal underneath your toilet is leaking, don’t try to fix it yourself. Instead, call in a professional plumber as soon as possible. A plumbing expert should be able to replace the wax sealing ring underneath your toilet and thereby get rid of any nasty odors emerging from it without much trouble.

Sewer Bacteria

Sometimes, live bacteria from the sewer can travel through water from the sewer all the way into your toilet. In order to survive in your toilet, these tiny microorganisms tend to hold on to the rim of your toilet bowl for dear life. As bacteria begin to reproduce and multiply inside your toilet bowl, they can cause a foul smell that remains even after you clean your toilet.



Fortunately, getting rid of tiny microorganisms from the sewer is fairly simple. Pour several cups of bleach into the flush valve of your toilet. The flush valve is located inside your toilet tank. Then, flush your toilet. The bleach you poured into your toilet’s flush valve will come out around the rim of your toilet and run down the sides of your toilet bowl—effectively flushing away any nasty-smelling microorganisms that have set up camp inside of your toilet bowl.

In some cases, a clean toilet that still smells bad is a sign of a larger plumbing issue. If you try the DIY methods listed above and none of them work, it’s time to call in a professional plumbing expert to handle the problem.

If you are located in Riverside County or its surrounding areas throughout Southern California, give Accurate Leak Locators and Plumbing a call. Accurate Leak Locators and Plumbing is a professional plumbing company that specializes in diagnosing and permanently fixing plumbing issues that are tough to solve—including mysterious foul-smelling clean toilets.