What’s the Cause of That Sour Smell in the Bathroom?

Sometimes residential bathrooms develop a sour smell. Even your best cleaning efforts do not make the smell go away. If this is the case in your home, the likely cause is bacteria that are growing in the drain of your shower or sink, mold growing in caulking, bacteria growing in the toilet bowl or the tank, or a leak somewhere in the plumbing. Some of these are places that are hard to reach and they come from a hidden place that starts in an out-of-the-way place that regular cleaning efforts cannot reach. If you have a sour smell coming from your bathroom, here are all the potential causes and what you can do to fix them and make your bathroom smell clean and fresh once again.

Smelly shower drains

According to Hunker, one of the most common causes of foul odors in the bathroom is the result of bacteria growing in the shower or sink drains. If you notice that the smell is coming from either of these areas, you can eliminate the odor and prevent it from happening again. Hair, soap, dead skin, and other debris gets caught up in drains. Bacteria thrive in a moist environment and the result is a sour odor.

How to clean shower and sink drains

To eliminate the sour smell, you must get rid of the debris and bacteria in the shower or sink drain. The first step is to remove any hair, soap residue, and other debris that has been collected in the shower drain. Most people use a wire hanger that has been straightened to pull out clogs and other debris. Once you’ve cleaned everything out of the drain, make a cleaning solution of 2 cups water and 1/4 cup baking soda. Pour this cleaner into the drain. Allow it to stand for 20 to 30 minutes. After this time has elapsed, rinse the drain with hot water. This should remove all bacteria and odor. If you still notice a faint sour smell, pour two cups of white vinegar into the drain, then flush with hot water. This should take care of the problem. The best prevention is to keep your drain cleared of hair and other debris that collects. Also pouring boiling water down the drain monthly can help to prevent smelly bacteria from thriving.

Other causes of a sour smell in the bathroom

Len The Plumber points out that there are other causes of a sour smell in bathrooms. Sometimes improper maintenance aside from shower and sink drain maintenance can be the cause of offensive odors. Odors can collect if there is not ample ventilation in the bathroom. Excessive amounts of moisture that are produced by hot running water and the steam from showers and baths can cause orders to develop from mold and mildew. If a tiny spot in the bathroom is not properly cleaned and maintained, mildew from moisture can form in the spot. Nooks and crannies are notorious for growing odor-producing bacteria, mold, and mildew. j

Tips for freshening your bathroom to remove sour odors

  • Install/maintenance ventilation system – If you don’t currently have a ventilation system in the bathroom, it’s wise to install one. A small exhaust fan can help to ventilate the room and keep the air moving to cut down on the amount of moisture and help prevent bacterial, mold, and mildew growth. If you have a ventilation system make sure that the filter (if any) is cleaned and that it is working properly to vent out moist air.
  • Use a desiccant in your bathroom – desiccants are dry materials made of silica gels. They help to absorb moisture in showering areas. If you have children or pets, be aware that desiccants can be fatal if ingested. You might want to consider using natural desiccants, which are plants. Lilies and ferns help to dry out the air and remove bad smells from bathrooms.
  • Air Freshener – You may want to begin using air fresheners after using the bathroom. The combination of a ventilation fan and air freshener spray can help to prevent odors from lingering in a bathroom.
  • Deep cleaning regimen – Other sources of sour smells in bathrooms can come from your toilet bowl or the tank. Water can become stale and bacteria quickly grow in this environment. Clean the toilet bowl regularly with a recommended toilet cleaning product that contains ingredients that kill bacteria. Give it a good scrubbing until the bowl is white like new. Be sure to get under the rim and in the lower parts where bacteria thrive in the water environment. Clean the back toilet tank regularly to remove sour smells. To do this, just pour white vinegar in and srub every part of the tank. When you’re done, flush the toilet, and repeat the process twice.
  • Clean around the toilet – Use a sanitizing cleanser with a deodorant to clean around the foot of the toilet, and all parts of the exterior. Toilets are a constant source of foul odor production. They should be thoroughly cleaned regularly. Clean all fixtures with a baking soda and lemon juice paste. Apply to any surface you want to be cleaned and let sit for 10 minutes. Spray baking soda with white vinegar and let it bubble a few minutes, then wipe clean.
  • Wash bathroom rugs – All bath mats and toilet covers must be washed regularly to prevent the development of bacterial or mold odors. These rugs absorb moisture and germs from foot traffic. Their constant exposure to moisture makes them odor factories. The same goes for used towels and washcloths.
  • Watch for mold – Inspect your bathroom for any signs of black specks, which is how mold begins. Also, a red, pink, or brown film is a sure sign of mildew. Any surface that shows these signs should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to kill the germs that are causing the issue and its resulting odor. Clean all caulking around tiles, bathtub, toilet, and shower. If you cannot clean the caulking or if it is damaged, you may need to recaulk.
  • Final thoughts – There are several possible causes of a sour smell in the bathroom. This is an issue that you should not allow to continue for your comfort and safety. We hope the tips provided here help you to find the problem and fix it quickly. Everyone deserves to have a clean and odor-free bathroom.

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