How to Keep Your Bathroom Smelling Fresh in 8 Steps

You know what stinks? Cleaning your bathroom. What’s even worse? The first time you use it after cleaning, it might immediately take on some of the less than pleasant odors that can’t help but happen there! 

From a cleaning perspective, the bathroom is one of the most challenging rooms in a house. It’s full of nooks and crannies you have to clean, it can get dirty in the blink of an eye, and, worst of all, it can be sparkling and yet smell funky and musty. Even if you have a fan or window cracked, somehow the smells – never good ones – just stick around.

The good news is that we’ve got a few aces up our sleeve to help you learn how to keep your bathroom smelling fresh. Below you’ll find eight tips to keep the potentially stinkiest room in your home smelling as clean as it looks after you finish cleaning it.

Clean Often

This may sound like a no-brainer, but cleaning your bathroom regularly is the best way to keep your bathroom smelling fresh. Prevention is better than cure, right? 

This doesn’t mean having to thoroughly clean it everyday. Just a quick wipe down session here and there throughout the week will do the trick to prevent unpleasant odors. If you need help, we’ve got a handy bathroom cleaning checklist that will help you build good habits for keeping this room clean on a regular basis.

Let the Air Flow

Keeping your bathroom ventilated is crucial to avoid smells sticking around longer than necessary. 

If you’re lucky to have a window in your bathroom, keep it open for as long as you can. You don’t have to keep it open the whole day, but make it a routine to open the window after you take a shower to remove the moisture and steam. Should you not have a window, run your fan or simply leave the door open wide whenever the room is not occupied.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are a great antidote against funky smells. And, some essential oils have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help kill harmful bacteria and fungus. There are a few ways in which you can use essential oils. You can make homemade sprays, dip a Q-Tip and hide it in a drawer, or use a diffuser. 

Remove Damp Towels 

Removing (or quickly drying) damp towels is a basic step you can take to keep your bathroom smelling fresh. Fabrics are like magnets for bad smells. Add to that that the bathroom is a moist environment, and you’ve got yourself a smelly mess. 

First off, you should hang towels in a well-ventillated place after each use; that means getting in the habit of hanging your towel on a rack or peg, and reminding everyone else who uses your bathroom to do the same.

You should also change towels regularly so that the natural oils and odors that build up aren’t sticking around on the material. (A dirty towel makes you dirty when you use it, so this is good for personal hygiene as well!)

There’s no one rule that fits all when it comes to how often you must change towels. But one a week is a good starting point. Also, don’t fold them or hang clean towels if they’re damp! Take them outside or use your dryer to ensure they’re totally dry first

Add an Odor and Moisture Absorber

They may not be the prettiest sight, but odor and moisture absorbers are king when it comes to eliminating pungent odors. The name says it all, these products pick up musty odors and trap moisture, ensuring the air stays fresh and clean. Find them in any supermarket or convenience store, or order them online.

Use Detergent or Fabric Softener in Your Toilet Tank

Toilet tanks are one of the smelliest places in your bathroom. This is far from being a surprise, considering the purpose they’re intended to fulfill. Don’t throw in the towel just yet (figuratively speaking!)… There are a few ways to get around this situation. 

You can add some freshness to your toilet tank by pouring half a cup of detergent or fabric softener. Whenever the toilet is flushed, the scented water will be released into the bowl and provide a touch of fragrance. There are also specific toilet bowl disks and cleaners you can add if you want an alternative.

Use Herbs or Potpourri  

There’s a reason so many bathrooms of yesteryear had a bowl of potpourri sitting on the back of the toilet… 

For yet another non-chemical alternative, herbs are great smell neutralizers. And some of them can be found in your kitchen. Rosemary, anise, cinnamon sticks have powerful smells that will scent your entire bathroom. 

You can also make your own potpourri. Lemon peels, mint leaves, lavender flowers, and dried rosemary are popular potpourri ingredients. If you’re not much of a DIY person, you can get potpourri on Etsy or Amazon.

Deodorize Drains

If you’ve tried all the tips mentioned above and nothing seems to work, there’s still one more part of the bathroom you might want to try cleaning – a sneaky enemy you may not have tackled yet: drains! 

Lots of hair, dirt, skin cells, and grime goes down your drain; if any of these get stuck, they create a lot of smell. If your drain is clogged you’ll have to clean it first. However, pick up the habit of deodorizing them. It’s as simple as pouring several tablespoons of baking soda and vinegar down the drain followed by hot water to rinse it. 

There you have it: eight different ways to keep your bathroom smelling fresh that won’t take up a ton of time or add more chores to your already endless list of house cleaning to-dos. If you want extra help, give your local Cleveland house cleaners a call and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.


  • Jacob W. Bailey

    Jacob is the Cleveland-based founder and CEO of Summit Maids, a local cleaning company with a mission to make a mark on its community by providing good jobs to more than 1,000 people.