Why Does My Bathroom Smell Musty?

A musty odor in the bathroom is often due to too much moisture. There are a number of other causes for this odor. Why does my bathroom smell musty, and how to tackle it? Read more below!

why does my bathroom smell musty

Toilets can give off a foul odor and sometimes it is very difficult to find out why. The toilet is regularly cleaned and freshened up, and yet there is that unpleasant smell that just won't go away.

However, there is always a reason why a toilet has an unpleasant smell! We'll discuss some of the most logical causes and provide some advice on how to get that odor away forever so that the toilet smells good every day.

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Why Does My Bathroom Smell Musty?

There are three reasons why a bathroom can smell musty. All three are common causes, but a foul odor can also be the result of things that are overlooked while cleaning.

  1. Mold and deposits under the toilet seat attachments, caused by urine
  2. Algae in the toilet cistern
  3. Foul smell from the sewer

Urine odor and how to get rid of it

The smell of urine often lingers for a long time, but we don't really notice it. It's not usually a pungent scent. Yet it is always annoying and dirty when a toilet smells like this.

Urine odor is very persistent because it comes from places we don't clean regularly. Even if the toilet bowl is super clean and the cistern shines, a urine smell can linger. This is because the urine often remains in less visible places: under the toilet seat or under the rim of the toilet bowl.

cleaning toilet

Removing the toilet seat and cleaning it thoroughly also removes the odor. Removing the toilet seat is not difficult. Usually, you just need to loosen the two butterfly nuts on the back of the toilet seat. If the toilet is in good shape, you probably don't need any tools for it.

Once the toilet seat is removed, you can give it a thorough cleaning. And you can clean the porcelain toilet bowl well where otherwise the toilet seat hinges are, as well as clean the seat fixings. Those are two areas that will never get clean if the toilet seat is not removed and are likely to give off the urine smell.

Use a stiff toothbrush to get into every nook and cranny and tackle any source of the foul odor. Another great tip: run very hot water over the toilet seat and its attachments and if possible leave the removable parts in the hot water for a while.

Algae in the toilet cistern and how to remove it

toilet cistern

Many cisterns have some algae growth and that is usually not a problem. However, if the toilet has not been flushed for a long time, or if the cistern has not been cleaned or disinfected for a long time, the cistern may give off a musty odor. If you suspect the cistern is experiencing excessive algae growth, you can fix it by thoroughly cleaning it:

  1. Empty the cistern by turning off the water supply and then flushing it through.
  1. Once the cistern is empty, spray a standard toilet cleaner into it and scrub it clean with a long-handled brush (not the same brush you use to clean the toilet bowl - it is best to tackle those two parts of the toilet completely separately).
  1. When the cistern has been scrubbed clean, it is recommended to use a cistern tablet. Such a tablet not only stops algae growth but also cleans and freshens the rest of the toilet.


There is another common cause of a musty bathroom odor that is often overlooked and has nothing to do with the toilet itself. If you place toothbrushes in a sealed cup or jar, the bottom of that container will often get damp and will start to smell foul over time. It is often thought that the smell comes from the toilet, which is not the case.

Foul smell from the sewer

If the toilet smells like sewer, it's really bad. Modern toilets are equipped with a water seal (odor trap) that ensures that no sewage air rises from the toilet and a vent pipe that ensures that harmful gases are removed in a safe way. If these don't work, there are three possible causes:

  1. If the toilet has not been used for a long time, the water at the bottom may have evaporated, creating a space for air to rise from the sewer. In that case, the solution to the problem is simple: flush the toilet!
  1. If the vent pipe is cracked or clogged, the smell from the sewer can get in. If it is clogged, you may be able to get to the top of the pipe and fix the problem yourself. Otherwise, you should seek the help of a professional plumber.
  1. A sewer odor can also result from cracks in the drain pipes behind the toilet or from broken seals between these pipes and the toilet. Unless you are a good do-it-yourselfer, the best thing you can do is let a professional plumber fix the problem.

Making the Toilet Smell Nice and Fresh

When the toilet smells wonderfully fresh and clean, you need to take some measures to keep it that way! Throw a 2000 Flushes Blue Plus Bleach tablet in the cistern to continuously clean your bowl for 4 months. Flushing not only cleans the water tank and toilet bowl but also keeps the entire mechanism free from algae and limescale deposits.

2000 FLUSHES-20801 Blue Plus Bleach Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 3.5 OZ ( Pack Of 1 )

If your toilet does not have an easily accessible cistern, you can also use a toilet bowl cleaning stamp to address many of the issues described in this article, as well as more mundane odors. Simply apply a Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Gel Stamp inside the toilet bowl for continuous freshness. Flushing not only cleans the toilet bowl but also prevents limescale deposits.

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