18 chemical-free ways to banish nasty bathroom smells
Bathrooms. One small room, yet the source of so many unpleasant pongs. From mildewy, whiffy towels, to drain stenches, to the relentless ‘I have boys’ wee smell, to … well, do I have to spell it out for you? While our instinct is to go crazy in there with an air freshener, those with synthetic ingredients could be doing you more harm than good. Rather than purifying the air, they work by releasing a chemical such as methoxychlor, which coats your nasal passages with a film of oil or by deadening your olfactory nerves so you can’t smell anything. Instead, try these natural solutions for a fug-free environment.
1. Put some air in there
Ensure your bathroom is well ventilated at all times. If you can, open your bathroom windows daily to let fresh air in. And while it may seen counter intuitive, keep the bathroom door open when it’s not in use to allow the air to flow in and out. Install extractor fans and use them whenever showering and for about half an hour afterwards.
2. How’s it hangin’?
Be sure to hang up your towels and bathmat daily. Nothing guarantees a mouldy stench than balled up soggy towels in the corner of the room and a bathmat left damp all day. Your bath towels, face washers and hand towels should also be washed regularly (after every three to five uses), while your bathmat should be washed weekly. Wash your shower curtain when you notice a build-up of soap scum or mildew (and replace it altogether if it’s too far gone, shower curtains have a limited shelf life). Encourage your family to keep the shower curtain closed after use so water doesn’t collect in the folds. In a perfect world, the shower walls should be wiped down with a squeegee after each use. (I know, we’re dreamin’. But leave one handy and nag from time to time.)
3. Hamper their style
If your family is prone to flinging off their clothes in the bathroom and leaving them in a pool of water, banish this habit by keeping a laundry hamper in the bathroom so they can throw dirty clothes straight in. Empty this regularly along with the rubbish bin in the bathroom, which is a haven for bacteria-laden goodies such as tissues, band-aids, nail polish remover pads, etc.
4. Treat the toys
The kids’ bath toys can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, mould and nasty odours. To wash bath toys, mix 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1 litre water and let the toys soak for an hour, before scrubbing with a sponge and squeezing the water out of the toys. Ideally, you should squeeze water out of bath toys daily, but if that sounds like too much hard work, consider gluing the hole shut or indeed, buying bath toys without holes!
5. Let the sunshine in
The sun is a wonderful (and free!) natural deodoriser. If possible, hang your towels, bathmats, hand towels and even shower curtain out in the sun regularly, rather than just rehanging in the bathroom. They will stay fresher longer and won’t get that musty smell.
6. Polish your pipes
Every month or two give your drains and pipes a good preventative clean to keep them clear of grease, oil, and hair. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup white vinegar, which will fizz up. Let stand for a few minutes to dissolve fatty acids and then pour boiling water down the drain to wash out any clogs.
7. Scrub your tub
Bath got a ring on it? For a non-toxic bath cleaner, add one teaspoon of liquid soap and several drops of an antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) to one cup of baking soda. Add just enough water to form a paste, and use it with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surfaces.
8. Free the wee
Boys. Wee smells. You don’t need us to tell you it’s a solid partnership. To banish the smell of stale wee from around your loo, make a paste with baking soda and freshly squeezed lemon juice (a natural disinfectant). Apply the paste liberally to all the places around the toilet that get a lot of over-spray, especially the base of the toilet. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then spray it with white vinegar and wipe it down with a damp rag. Afterwards, spray the area daily with white wine vinegar to keep the pongs at bay between washes. (And put a ping-pong ball or similar into your bowl for the fellas to aim at.)
9. Number two damage control
We all do it. Even the Queen. But that doesn’t mean we want to smell it. Or anyone else’s (even the Queen’s). So let’s discuss minimising poo pongs, shall we? If the family get in the habit of closing the lid before flushing, it will help to stop the smelly nasties spraying out into the air. As for the age-old idea of lighting a match? The sulphur dioxide created will confuse your olfactory senses and help to eliminate the odour - but we don't recommend it!
10. Try prevention rather than cure
Spray the toilet bowl water with a mix of essential oils before you do your business. The oils leave a protective barrier on the top surface of the water, trapping the pong and preventing it from getting out.
11. Bowl brilliance
Clean your toilet bowl by sprinkling some baking soda around the inside of the toilet to coat, then dumping a cup of undiluted white vinegar into the water. As it fizzes, use your toilet brush to scrub away.
12. Try some Coke
Speaking of fizz, another surprisingly effective way of cleaning your toilet bowl is to pour some cola down the loo. Leave for 15 minutes before scrubbing, then flush. Pristine porcelain!
13. Natural air freshener
Try this recipe for a chemical-free air freshener. Combine 2 cups water, 1 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tsp baking soda and 10 drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus, citrus or lavender. Mix and put into a spray bottle to leave in the bathroom.
14. Turn to alcohol
Another all-natural air freshener, this one uses vodka to soak up the smells. Mix three parts water with one part cheap vodka and 10-20 drops of essential oil and place in a spray bottle.
15. Lemon fresh
For the most easy and natural way to create a fresh-smelling bathroom, simply slice up some lemons and place in a dish.
16. Diffuse and conquer
Heat up a few drops of essential oils in a diffuser or vaporiser and it will scent and refresh the air naturally.
17. Use some flower power
Make a feature of fresh plants and flowers, such as jasmine, lilies, roses or lavender to keep your bathroom naturally scented.
18. DIY potpourri
Make your own potpourri using leaves from dried herbs or flower petals mixed with cinnamon. Put the mixture in a bowl and gently stir from time to time to release the fragrance. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil to revive its scent.
This article was written by Zoe Meunier for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz