Cleaning a smelly toilet

My kid’s toilet was smelling putrid recently, even after a general clean.  We all know how bad little boys are at aiming into the loo, goodness knows how it just gets everywhere.  The photo’s that I am going to share in this blog posts are disgusting, I actually wondered whether or not to share them, but I have spoken to a few people recently and they too have the same problem and didn’t realise what I am about to show you. Here are my top tips for how to clean your smelly toilet!


The smell comes from under the toilet seat.  Removing the toilet seat is very simple (well if you have a seat similar to mine, I am unsure if they all differ).  Reach under the seat behind the bowl and unscrew the lid.  I then put the lid in hot tap water to disinfectant and let soak while I scrubbed the rest.

Eew, I have no words. No wonder it stunk.  I take the seat off every couple of weeks, but this one time I had left it too long, the urine had dried up.

I used Bicarb soda and lemon juice to make a paste, the lemon juice acts as a disinfectant.  No real ratio, just so it’s not too runny.

Add the paste onto areas that need cleaning.  I put it on the area on top of the bowl and at the base of the loo, I had a bit extra which I smoothed into the grout of surrounding tiles.  While this was sitting I wiped down the walls with a cloth and pure vinegar spray.  Then sprayed vinegar over the paste and let sit for a further 5 minutes, during that time I used the vinegar and cloth and gave all the tiles along the wall a good clean.  Then with a little bit of toilet paper, I wiped the paste into the bowl and used some wipes to clean around the base of the toilet.

Aah, it is now fresh and clean!

I don’t think it’s necessary to remove the seat every time you clean the toilet but it should certainly be removed at least once a month.

This would have to be my least favourite cleaning job, what is yours?

You may also like these tips for deep cleaning the forgotten areas in your bathroom.

Deep Clean Bathroom Tips

The Organised Housewife to cleaning a smelly toilet

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Linda Ann Bourke-Templeton August 9, 2013 - 7:11 AM

love it now to get the offener to clean it 🙂

Shan August 9, 2013 - 7:30 AM

Great idea! Will be doing this on the weekend! My absolute least fav job is always mopping and vacuuming! Detest it! 😉

krystal August 9, 2013 - 8:10 AM

just wondering if you have any ideas on how to clean thick mineral deposit on the bottom of the toilet bowl, i have move into a rental property and i have tried many home made (vinegar, bi-carb, peroxide and cream of tartar) and commercial chemical (drain cleaner, CLS and general toilet cleaners) and the only thing that has done anything is a pumice stone but in 39 weeks prego and it so hard to scrub now. any ideas.

Carolyn Williams August 9, 2013 - 8:19 AM

Krystal you could maybe try Coke as in Coca Cola. Pour a can into the toilet and let sit overnight. I haven’t personally tried this but have read about it.
Good Luck.

krystal August 9, 2013 - 1:58 PM

thank you Carolyn i have heard of that and should try it.

Theresa August 9, 2013 - 4:37 PM

I would turn off the water to the cistern, and flush the water (as much as possible) away before pouring in the coke, to avoid it being too diluted.

Chilli November 9, 2015 - 12:07 PM

Doesn’t matter if there is water in the bowl. Pouring come in as is works fine. I left mine over night then washed as per normal the next day. Worked a treat.
Another method is coffee machine descaling tablets. Throw one of them in the toilet and leave over night. They work amazing too.

Michelle T August 10, 2013 - 12:47 AM

I have taken all the water out of the bowl and put straight CLR and left it for a couple of days. Then scrubbed. Did a good job.

1800 CLEANER February 27, 2015 - 4:38 PM

I am total agree with you. Cleaning toilet is very important. Especially the toilets used by kids. Here you have described the best ideas. Now i have no worry for my son. Thanks a lot.

Kraftykat August 22, 2013 - 5:04 AM

Denture cleaning tablets left overnight in the toilet bowl work a treat.

Catherine July 10, 2015 - 5:00 PM

Dump a whole container of citric acid in the bowl (baking isle)and let it sit a while. No need to empty water or anything.

Michelle July 10, 2015 - 6:48 PM

Someone told me that pouring coca cola into the toilet does the job. Haven’t tried it myself but she said it worked amazingly

Naomi July 11, 2015 - 2:52 PM

Citric Acid. We had the same problem. Sprinkle in about 2-4 tablespoons and leave sit for as long as possible, over night is good. Then it should scrub off easily. Might have to repeat if it’s particularly bad.

vicki August 1, 2015 - 1:35 PM

Had the exact same problem, clr worked great. I put half the bottle in, left it over night then scrubbed with the toilet brush. Alot came off but not all so i repeated the next night and i have a very clean toilet i am proud of.

Hope this is helpful and wishing you all the best and your new baby.

Sue Thompson September 6, 2015 - 7:21 PM

Put 1/4 cup citric acid into toilet. Leave for as long as possible. Scrub with toilet brush. Flush.

Naki Mum August 9, 2013 - 8:14 AM

Thank you, thank you and again, THANK YOU!! Not only for the how-to on cleaning, but also for the photos! Cleaning the toilet is high on the list of things I hate to do. I’d rathersit out on the deck and have a cuppa than clean the toilet

Janeane Thompson August 9, 2013 - 8:19 AM

I used to take our toilet seat off regularly to clean as I have 3 boys. But friend shared a tip with me a couple of years ago and it is not necessary for me to do it anymore. ….. After you have taken the seat off and have it all clean, you just need to boil the kettle and pour it all over the toilet. Over the top where the buttons are to keep that sterile, over the whole seat, front and back and this will run under the seat to flush out anything that is under there. I also pour the hot water over the s-bend and let it run down onto the floor tiles to clean up any floor spillages. I have the mop and wring bucket on hand to mop up the water as it pools on the floor. I do this process weekly and the toilet area is always clean and never any smells and still looks like a brand new toilet….. I hope this tip helps you

Kate August 13, 2013 - 11:16 AM

Thank you Janeane this was such a great tip! I did this on the weekend and all the gross hard-to-reach places like the s-bend got flushed out beautifully. I also rolled up a towel to guard anything washing out the door. Such an easy way to do a gross job.

Janeane Thompson August 14, 2013 - 6:32 AM

I am glad this tip has helped 🙂

The Napoli Alert October 2, 2018 - 6:19 PM

I do the boiling water trick too! Works a treat.

Tinz August 9, 2013 - 8:34 AM

Hi Kat – thanks for the post! Great to know. (Question: Just wondered, where did you purchase your toilet roll holder you have in the corner of your pic?) Cheers!

Jacinta L August 9, 2013 - 8:38 AM

Our toilet is just like this, I am pretty sure I have the worst aimers on earth I end up with entire puddles on the floor. However as we are a 2 female to 4 male ratio I refuse to dismantle the toilet and clean it. The males in the house are responsible for cleaning the toilet including taking the seat off to clean in and around and under every 2 weeks. I figure when they sort their aim out they won’t have to clean it anymore so is good motivation to take their time and be more careful.

Kat August 9, 2013 - 2:01 PM

Great point Jacinta!

natmardon August 11, 2013 - 4:46 PM

I also started making my 7 year old son clean the toilets when he started believing it was completely acceptable to wipe poo on the walls, toilet seat, toilet paper holder etc. He doesn’t do it anymore, but still has to clean them…. but on that note, he certainly doesn’t do a good enough job to clean them this good, so I still need to do it once a week too. I will do this, thanks!

my3boys August 9, 2013 - 9:18 AM

I have 3 boys and a husband & only 1 toilet!!….take the toilet seat off every time I clean the toilet and give it a wipe over. I also soak the plastic screws in the bucket of water I use to clean the toilet, while Im wiping over the toilet. Its absolutely worth the extra couple of minutes to clean under the seat……
The other thing Ive done is to soak the whole toilet seat in the bathtub with hot water and disinfectant/vinegar… a treat!

Liz August 9, 2013 - 11:29 AM

It’s so good to see cleaning ideas using eco-friendly cleaning products opposed to chemical laden ones that you inhale. Toilets and ironing are my least favourite jobs. Thanks for sharing Kat 🙂

Karine Plateau August 9, 2013 - 6:25 PM

I discovered and read your blog one week ago (all and every articles) and I thank you so much! I really don’t like cleaning and I hate chemical products. Thanks to you I bought all I need to do my eco-friendly cleaning products and you are a really good teacher to get me organized. I will start with the 20 days challenge and continue with a good weekly planner as well as your daily tasks. Than you again!
A hug from France.

Joanne August 9, 2013 - 9:05 PM

Cleaning my oven, it is desperate for a clean but dont know where to start.

Marie August 16, 2013 - 4:47 AM

Hey, one of the easiest ways to clean an oven is to remove the racks & loose dirt, wet everything down with vinegar- use a rag, and sprinkle baking soda over it all. Shut the door and wipe it down the next day. You might still need to put some dish-soapy water in the sink and wipe everything again. You may even need to use a chore boy or the green scrub pad on it but everything should come off with comparable ease. Have fun!

Carly Joyce August 9, 2013 - 10:41 PM

I was super inspired by this post and so I completed this task today. I soaked the seat in the bath in hot water and some Sard Oxy Plus soaker which worked beautifully. After cleaning all the muck (so gross) I put the seat back on and tried the boiling water. I’m so happy with the results, doing a wee is a real pleasure!!

stef_antz August 10, 2013 - 10:39 AM

Thankfully we don’t have toilet seats like this to worry about. However I have been caught out in the night when i’ve gone to the toilet only to be welcomed by stepping into a puddle on the floor….Yes, really! My most hateful job around the house has to be cleaning the oven. Thanks for sharing!

sempre August 10, 2013 - 9:37 PM

I have THREE sons and their bathroom is disgusting. I’ve tried everything I can think of to get them to take responsibility but it’s a losing battle. However, removing the seat like this is a big help in counteracting the smell. I have discovered an excellent toilet seat at our local hardware store which actually clicks on and off, making the job simple. Now if only I could work out a way of counteracting the puddles on the floor caused by ‘not me’ …

Libby July 10, 2015 - 8:20 AM

Ping pong ball in the toilet for them to aim at. They love it. Clean the toilet as normal with the ping pong ball on it.

sempre August 10, 2013 - 9:39 PM

Oh, and an excellent addition to your cleaning armoury is a steam cleaner – not the floor mop although that is good too, but the little handheld accessory with the nozzle. It’s just matter of point, blast, and then wipe off. Simples!

Susan August 11, 2013 - 3:07 PM

Deifinately the job as described is my least favourite.

Susan August 11, 2013 - 3:09 PM

One other thing, the menfolk in our family sit down to pee. This stops all kinds of mess and stops the urine aerosolling as it hits the water or the bowl. I can always tell when there have been other males in the house. This really works.

Chris August 11, 2013 - 11:47 PM

Cleaning the shower is the job I dread. Can never seem to get the water marks off my glass, plus reoccurring mould in the grout. Would appreciate some eco-friendly ideas, as all the natural products I’ve bought just aren’t doing the job well enough.

teresaq September 2, 2013 - 6:17 AM

Try brillo pads for the glass. Work like a charm, then maybe Rain-x.
Not sure how eco-friendly they are, but the brillo-pads are certainly
less chemicals. When using the chemicals for the waterspots, if not
careful they can damage the glass.

Tracey Hall August 16, 2013 - 8:32 PM

I would say the toilet is the worse as I not only have badly aiming males but also one who has a colostomy bag that sometimes drips onto the floor. He does not check properly so it is up to mum to clean it as I usually notice it when he has left to go home. I have no sense of smell so the smell does not get to me, it is the mess and how does other stuff beside urine gets under the seat.

Seanne September 11, 2013 - 8:21 PM

I would of liked to see an after picture to see how well this worked

Mini Clean April 21, 2014 - 5:33 PM

I believe that toilet must be the cleaniest part of the house. Maintaing its cleanliness is really a must. Thanks for sharing this.

Katrina April 22, 2014 - 8:32 AM

Absolutely Mini Clean, if it’s not clean it stinks and the stink drifts. My daughters bedroom is right next to the loo, so I find it important to ensure it’s smell free for her benefit so it doesn’t drift into her room.

Kelly Taylor June 18, 2014 - 1:44 AM

I made master 12 do this himself once because it was just so putrid!
Pleased to say his aim has dramatically improved since… still not perfect but he knows the threat of cleaning it again is just one mere cm away!

Kellie Sracek June 18, 2014 - 2:45 AM

I’ve always done this, but most of my friends had no idea the seat even came off!!! When they did it the first time the were totally grossed out!

Sonia Bentancour June 18, 2014 - 3:53 AM

JANEANE THOMPSON… what a fantastic idea!!! I am off to do now as I too HATE taking seat off etc to clean!!!

Alicia Colgan June 18, 2014 - 5:22 AM

Oh my lord I’ve been wondering where the stench could possibly be coming from… Now I know!!

Yvonne Bentley June 18, 2014 - 6:30 AM

Yes, everyone’s toilets are like this, so don’t feel bad. It is just a way of life, I have had mine all my toilets replaced, and on a regular basis clean underneath. We are on holidays at the moment and the toilet stinks, but I can’t bring myself to clean it as I know all these strangers have done this. lol. So for now I will open the window and put some disinfectant in for now.

Fiona Roxburgh June 19, 2014 - 4:41 AM

Thanks heaps another job for me to do grin and bearing it but truly thanks hadn’t thought if it myselff.

Kellie Clarke June 20, 2014 - 12:43 AM

Do you dilute the vinegar in the spray bottle or not?

Kellie Clarke June 20, 2014 - 12:57 AM

sorry i’ve re read it and it says pure vinegar thanks!

Andrew Bain October 15, 2014 - 10:29 AM

Sometimes our use lavender oil and put a few drops in my toilet brush bowel which makes it smell

michelle July 10, 2015 - 6:53 PM

Does anyone know how to clean outdoor tiles that are indoors? It seams logical with general floor cleaner but the are textured and a massive pain to clean. Ive tried soo many brands as well as a steam mop but after renovating our builder didn’t do a great job at cleaning up and the tiles look terrible

Katrina January 26, 2016 - 12:04 AM

My friend has textured bathroom floor tiles. She tried everything, to no avail. But has just discovered the Enjo mop works on it! Not cheap, but worth the investment.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 28, 2016 - 10:29 AM

I have hear enjo mops are great!

Emma-Jane September 6, 2015 - 3:47 PM

In our rental property toilet floors are carpeted. Do you have any suggestions for removing similar stains from the carpet around the edge of the toilet – resulting from two toilet training boys!

Kate - Kat's Assistant September 7, 2015 - 10:50 AM

Hi Emma, Oh no! I would suggest sprinkling the area with bi carb and spraying vinegar around the area and leaving it for a good few hours, then vacuum it up. Also maybe be worth purchasing a toilet mat from Spotlight so it can be placed in the wash to help keep the area clean and smelling nice for you.

DebP March 31, 2019 - 4:27 AM

Get them to sit on toilet to pass urine I don’t know who made the rule that males should stand to pee

Marion Warren November 4, 2015 - 11:06 PM

Amazing method. I remove our seat once every month. I have 6 years old son. We have the same troubles… 🙂 I am so happy I have found your article. I am going to try your natural cleaning method. I cleaned with bleach until now. But last week I promised myself that I am going to use only natural detergents from now on. Greetings!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 28, 2016 - 10:30 AM

I do like the natural products if you have the time to make them it’s great for your budget too!

Pamela Ann Berkeypile January 25, 2017 - 10:31 AM

Thank you for this! My 4 yr old’s bathroom reeks even with me super cleaning around the base & regular areas. I never realized/thought about under the seat. I’ll be tackling this gross job tomorrow.

MD HABIB April 26, 2017 - 8:14 PM

the tips is very good . it is best way of Cline bathroom.

MD HABIB April 26, 2017 - 8:15 PM

thank you for this! My 4 yr old’s bathroom reeks even with me super cleaning around the base & regular areas. I never realized/thought about under the seat. I’ll be tackling this gross job tomorrow

MD HABIB KHAN April 26, 2017 - 8:23 PM


Sharon Reams July 26, 2017 - 7:24 PM

Toilet Cleaning is the important part of my life as well. Thanks for sharing the excellent ideas over there. I loved the paste you made. I have a great allergy at smelly toilets and I can’t left it without vomiting. I have two kids who always the reason for smelly toilet. They are growing up and day by day improving their habits as well as me. I must try this cleaning at the next weekend. Great post!!

VANESSA ANN Merriman January 30, 2018 - 11:49 PM

smelly tolet

Joe Carrow June 30, 2018 - 4:39 AM

I appreciate this post! Excellent to know. Our own toilet will be this. Toilets and ironing are the least preferred jobs. Many thanks again KAT !!!!!!!!!!!

Pauline Van Bael June 30, 2018 - 3:01 PM

I don’t take the toilet seat off when i clean. After I have cleaned the toilet andflushed it, I use the toilet brush and scoop water out of the bowl and pour it over the seat, especially around the front of the seat where the screws are and behind the seat, this flushes the wee and whatever out from under the seat. I do this everytime I clean the toilet. I put down to cloths to catch the excess water when doing this.

Farah Dyer-Steel August 31, 2018 - 9:54 PM

Goddess I really REALLY need to get the seat and lid up off my 12yo boy’s toilet but I’m terrified that if I somehow manage to get it off, I won’t be able to get it back on again. I’ve heard some horror stories (somewhere, Facebook?) that they’re not alway easy to reattach. But the smell is making me gag despite wiping every surface in sight on a daily basis 🙁

John Stephen September 10, 2018 - 9:12 PM

A person told me that will pouring Cabeza cola into the toilet will the job. Have not tried that myself yet she mentioned it proved helpful amazingly !!

Low Blow September 19, 2018 - 9:24 AM

What happen! The shit got stuck! We have all been there. Sitting, Waiting and nothing is happening. The pain of the unknown. When will the shit happen. Wait no more! Give it some motivation. Pickup the phone. Call that number. [email protected] Help is on the way!

Ruth April 26, 2019 - 1:04 PM

Great idea! Any suggestion for what to put in your toilet before going on holiday? It’s always ‘stinky’ when we return.

Rebecca May 22, 2020 - 5:40 PM

Where do you get a good sized bucket to put it in to soak? in Australia) Definitely going to do this!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 25, 2020 - 3:56 PM

Hi Rebecca, you could use your laundry tub – just make sure you clean it well after you’ve soaked the lid – or a large plastic tub from Kmart or Bunnings. I hope this helps 🙂

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