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Why Your Bathroom Smells like Poop – Causes & DIY Fixes

bathroom smells like poop
Written by Joe Richter
Last Update: August 10, 2023

Has your bathroom ever smelled like poop and you couldn’t figure out why? One day I had been the only person home for hours, and the urge hit me. So, I headed to the bathroom, and ran in. As soon as I had run in, I ran back out. Shewee! It smelled like poop.

I first thought that my grandson had taken a poop and forgot to flush it. To my surprise, the toilet was unused. Clean but not fresh! What on earth was going on?

So, we called a plumber and he informed that sometimes when your septic tank is full, it must be pumped out or it will reek of poop in your bathroom.

Apparently when your septic tank is low on enzymes or bacteria it may need to burp.

The plumber went out to the service truck and got a box of something called Rid –X. He put half of it in the septic tank and flushed the other half down the toilet.

The next day my bathroom was back to normal.

However, they are many reasons why your bathroom may smell like poop.

Why Your Bathroom Smells like Poop though it Looks Clean – Possible Causes

1. Drain obstruction


Something has blocked the drain and the poop can not go to the septic tank. If your toilet and the whole bathroom space is clean, that won’t help if this is the reason.


For a stopped-up drain, you can use several different things. Below is a list of them.

  • Liquid plumber
  • Red devil lye
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Other drain opener products
  • A snake – a tool used by the plumber that is kind of like an extra-long spring with a handle on one end. You twist and push the tool down through your toilet or the bathtub drain until you move the object blocking your drainpipe.

2. Your wax ring may have slid out of place or need replace


From time to time the wax ring will slide to one side or the other leaving room for it draw air in under the toilet or even partially blocking off the drain.


If your bathroom smells extra bad like poop, then your wax ring may have either slide out of place. The wax ring may just be old and dried out. Therefore, it will have to be replaced.

Steps for Changing the Wax Ring Under Your Toilet

  • Loose the two bolts one on each side of your toilet
  • If you have a flexible water supply line going to your toilet then just move the toilet to the side Next you scrape the old wax ring off the floor, and make sure that you clean out the whole in the center of where it goes
  • Once you have all the wax ring removed you then place a new one center of the hole
  • Last place the toilet back in place and tighten down the bolts until it is snuggly against the floor again

3. Sewer roof vent may be blocked


Animals sometimes try to build their homes inside of your roof vent by packing it full of sticks and then nuts and whatever else they can get their hands on and up into the roof vent.


The sewer roof vent may be blocked because that pesty pack rat has decided to make it his den or food storage unit. In this case, you would serve the rat an eviction notice that is effective today! Then clean all his things out of your sewer vent pipe, and now your problem is solved.

4. Filled septic tank


The septic tank is full and needs to be pumped out


If your septic tank is full, you will have to call in a plumber and have your tank pumped out.

The plumber will bring a long hose like a firetruck uses and attach it to a pump that pumps the septic tank out in minutes.

5. Dry-P-trap- because the vent is on the wrong side of the trap


Your shower or bathtub drain may be stopped up- blockage from hair in your shower or tub drain


Why is the p-trap dry? Usually this is when the sewer vent is on the wrong side of the trap that allows the p-trap to be sucked dry when you flush the toilet by letting air in the trap.

In this case you should probably call the plumber.

6. Not enough bacteria or enzymes in your septic tank


If you do not have the right kind of bacteria or enough bacteria this can make your bathroom smell like poop.

If you have the wrong enzymes or not enough enzymes in your septic tank this could also make your bathroom reek of poop.


To fix this you can buy Rid-X and add it to your septic tank by flushing it down the toilet.

7. Dead animal in the septic tank


An animal could have fallen into the septic tank and drown


If you find that an animal has fallen into your septic tank and drown, the only thing you can do is fish it out.

Start by removing the septic tank lid which will probably take a tractor to do.

Next you fish around with a net and try to get the animal out.

8. Blocked Tub or Shower Drain


There are calcium deposits, rust, dirt, hair, oils, hygiene particles, soap scum, and other types of debris that can get stuck in your drains. They gradually accumulate and form a blockage, preventing water flow and producing a foul odor.


You can use a simple drain cleaner to unclog the drain. If the smell persists, pour hot water to clean the remaining debris on the pipe wall.

9. Cracked or Broken Sewer Line


Sometimes the reason can be cracked or broken sewer lines. If you have this problem, there is no way to stop the smell from entering your bathroom.


The issue gets bigger and complicated when you have a cracked sewer line. You have to call a plumber to fix this issue immediately. The plumber will use their specialized tools to locate the crack and as a result, you’ll gave to spend a considerable amount of money.

10. Dried Out Water Trap


There is a water trap in drains where water creates a blockage and prevents the odor from coming to the bathroom. If the shower or tub remains unused for a long time the water of the trap gets dried out, and the smells can enter your bathroom.


This problem has one of the the easiest and quickest solutions. You’ll just need to pour some water into the drain. The water will go and fill the trap, preventing the smell from coming out again. You’ll see immediate results.

11. Bacteria and mold


No matter how often you clean your toilet, it is always possible that bacteria is growing in your water tank and pipes. Additionally, the rim of the toilet is a perfect place for mold to grow up because this place remains uncleaned most of the time.

And it’s really important that you get rid of the bacteria quickly as they can cause a variety of health issues in the long run.


Clean your toilet properly and regularly, specially the rim of the toilet, and other hard to reach places.

How to Remove the Poop-Like Odor From the Bathroom?

Today we have many ways to minimize bad bathroom smells.

My favorite is Disinfectant sprays that kill 99% of bacteria because they come in so many different fragrances.

I usually get clean linen fragrance because it leaves your bathroom smelling fresh and clean.

However, if you like flowers they have it in that fragrance as well.

You may also choose to use Plug it ins and timed air freshener devices.

Also, Arm & Hammer baking soda behind your toilet works great.

I take a container like a bowl or vase and cut up dryer sheets into little pieces or strips and set it on the back of the toilet.

You could get creative with them and even make flowers for the vase.

Things You Can Use to Reduce Bad Bathroom Odors

  1. Air fresheners
  2. Bamboo charcoal to absorb odors
  3. Scented candles
  4. A fan to increase airflow
  5. Bleach to kill mold and mildew that may cause a pungent or musky smell
  6. Air purifiers to keep the air in your bathroom clean

About the author

Joe Richter

Academically brilliant, technically flawless and professionally successful, Joe Richter is Toiletsguide’s head of the market research team. He studied Business Studies from the University of Houston and started his professional career as a Market Data Compliance Analyst in the stock market. He’s been following the updates on the bathroomware industries for a long time now and his elaborate studies have profoundly enriched his knowledge on the newer trends of toilets, showers, and related fittings. Apart from that, Joe goes around the street with his Leica Q2 taking pictures of people and buildings. He does most of the photography of the site.

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