Neutralize stinky boy bathroom smell with a homemade cleaner!

Are you embarrassed about the smell of your bathroom? Do you pray that guests won’t want to use the bathroom when they come over? Are you worried that your son’s bad aim (especially if you have a lot of boys like we do) has ruined your bathroom forever?

After 11 years of parenting boys, here are our best tips for neutralizing boy bathroom smell! (And preventing it in the first place!)

Conquering the Stinky Boy Bathroom - Ideas for dealing with the lingering pee smell!

Tip #1: If you can reserve a hall bathroom for guests that your boys don’t use – do it!

When we moved two and a half years ago, my plan was for the boys to exclusively use their own bathroom upstairs. Then we needed to potty train Owen, and it wasn’t reasonable to ask a 3 year old to run upstairs every time. If your house layout allows for a hall bath that your boys don’t touch, I think I’d go for it…

Tip #2: Involve your boys in cleaning the bathroom.

You are not a mean parent for asking your child to help scrub dried puddles of pee off the bathroom floor. Use your judgement of course, but if he has the ability to use the potty, he can pay attention and avoid messes. After one such scrubbing session at our house, the aim suddenly improved drastically. See the next tip for a safe cleaner to use.

Tip #3: Use this cleaner recipe.

Before we started using this homemade cleaner, our bathroom really stunk. Then I would clean it. Then it would smell like chemicals covering up a urine stench. One day we mopped the floor with this homemade cleaner, and the bathroom smelled… fresh!

You can use this cleaner to mop tile or linoleum floors. We used it on linoleum at our old house and it works even better on tile at our house now. I wouldn’t use it on wood. I have also had good success using this cleaner to get vomit out of a stroller and out of carpet. Test any fabrics or carpet first – the borax may take the color out!

This cleaner does not keep and should be mixed up fresh each time. It does not need to be rinsed off the floor, but you can rinse if you want.

  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup borax (optional)
  • Edited to add: a small squirt of dish washing soap (forgot this!). Use only a tiny amount if you have concentrated dish soap.

For especially bad stink, we do the following…

Mix baking soda and water to create a paste. Use a sponge to scrub this onto the floor and the base of the toilet. Scrub the caulk and tile grout. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then spray with a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture. Rinse with water.

Now, I know the science behind this – baking soda and vinegar react to form a salt and water. So the chemicals are both neutralized, which would make it seem like this wouldn’t work to clean anything. But I’m telling you… it really helps with the smell!

Tip #4: Remove the toilet seat and clean periodically.

Our downstairs bathroom has been smelling AWFUL lately. Since Janie was born, we have not cleaned the floors nearly as often as we should, although the bathroom does get cleaned once a week. This past weekend, we gave the bathroom a total overhaul!

We wondered if the toilet seat was harboring stink. When we took the toilet seat off, this is what we found…

Getting Rid of Stinky Boy Bathroom Smell


When I was growing up, removing the seat and cleaning under the joints was not a part of the Saturday cleaning routine. But with a bunch of boys, it apparently needs to be done periodically. This toilet seat looked clean! But all this ick was hiding…

A new toilet seat is not expensive – they start at about $10. We decided to go ahead and replace ours since it had a lot of wear, and we paid a little more for one with a non-slam lid. Most of the seat options at Home Depot can be removed easily for cleaning with hinges that twist.

Here’s another tip from Jackie at Happy Hooligans – for regular cleaning, flip up the hinges and scrub with an old toothbrush. Great tip!!

Tip #5: Maintain the caulk around the toilet.

Caulk doesn’t last forever, and cracks in the caulk are just going to let the mess fester.

Here’s our bathroom after the overhaul… I just couldn’t end this post with that disgusting photo! In addition to the toilet seat and replacing the caulk, we also painted over the chalky builder grade white paint with a really nice blue paint in a washable finish. You know, in case we ever have to wipe off the walls…

So much better!

Getting Rid of Boy Bathroom Stink

Conquering the Stinky Boy Bathroom - Ideas for getting rid of the lingering pee smell!


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  1. Lauren A. Dec 16, 2014

    I will be using this recipe tomorrow, thank you! Every time I walk past the hall bathroomI cringe at the smell. I have 2 boys and a girl potty training. Plus 6 extra boys once a week for small group childcare!

    1. Mrs Jackson Aug 18, 2015

      When I was a girl my mother always cleaned linoleum with Ammonia, Vinegar and Borax. Course back then we waxed the floors so I don't know how it works on the new linoleum tile but it works great on ceramic tile. All odors will be eliminated and if you use the lemon scented Ammonia you will have a light fresh scent left behind. It's all we had back in the 1960's and all I used up until I had wood floors and carpet. This mixture will also erase soap scum in the shower and tub. Leave out the Borax for windows and wipe down with newspaper for streak free clean.

      White clothes not getting clean? put a cup of Borax in with your whites and let soak all night for brighter whites and rinse with a cup of vinegar for softness. White vinegar, Ammonia and Borax are all fairly inexpensive and the best for cleaning.

  2. Syephanie W. Dec 17, 2014

    Earlier this year, I would walk past the guest bath and I would be overcome with the smell of urine. Even after cleaning the bathroom from top to bottom, the stench wouldn't go away. I finally realized one if my boys (or on of their friends) had pee'd on my shower curtain! Lol. I will be using these suggestions regularly. :-)

    1. Sarah Dec 17, 2014

      Ha ha ha!!!! Boys!! Glad you found the source of the stink!!

  3. jeannie Dec 17, 2014

    LOVE THIS SITE!! Thanks for this!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

  4. melanie Dec 17, 2014

    I'm glad I'm not the only one!

  5. Melissa Darden Dec 17, 2014

    Bless you! Boys can be careless and gross ... definitely gonna try this mix this weekend.

  6. Annette Dec 18, 2014

    My mom told me that when we were little she COULD NOT get the stink out of one of our bathrooms. She later found out that my four year old brother had been peeing in the heater vent.

    1. Sarah Dec 18, 2014

      OH NO!!! That's terrible!!!

  7. Carolyn M. Dec 18, 2014

    Great post! Very practical. :)
    A couple of times we have even gone so far as to replace the ring that seals the toilet to the floor. And yes, lots of caulking!

  8. Julie Dec 19, 2014

    Great tips, but...what do I do for my wood (laminate) floors?

    1. Sarah Dec 21, 2014

      I'm not sure - we have never had laminate floors!

    2. Diana Mar 4, 2015

      I clean houses for a living, and most wood laminate floors tolerate vinegar and water solutions very well. I use a spray bottle of 1 part vinegar and three parts HOT water for stubborn smells and stains. Spray it, leave it for ten minutes, spray it again, and wipe/scrub. Don't do this more than once a week, and don't SOAK the problem areas. I try to get a bottle with a fine mist or an adjustable mist setting for hardwood/laminate. I've used this method very often for a family with real wood floors and two little dogs who would sometimes revenge pee, and another family who had some real wood and some laminate and little dogs, and never had a problem with the floor being damaged. An occasional cleaning using a bucketful of very hot water and just a cap full-about a tablespoon-of pine cleaner is great for fighting pee smell too. The only problems I've ever run into have been with el cheapo laminate (what I have in my house). I just dial back on the vinegar and make sure to dry the floor as I go to cut down streaking and to keep from dulling the finish.

      1. Lindap Apr 9, 2016

        I also clean houses. Use Vim woods floors on the laminate. It comes out strek free everytime.

  9. shadia Dec 19, 2014

    teaching little boys to seat on toilets would solve the problem... and teach them to respect the girls living under the same roof. I have two boys ,17 and 7 years old and never had a dirty toilet, their sister have to use the toilet too!!

    1. Anna Dec 2, 2017

      Hear! hear - solo mum here - I thought it would impractical for me to teach my little boys to stand and pee (I'd leave that to their occassional visits to father) 12 years on Mr 13 and Mr 15 sit to pee (and anything else) and I have never, ever had a toilet accident. New partner moved in two years ago (after 10 years of no man in the house) and I have to do more cleaning up after him than ever I had to do after my children...... I wish his mum had taught him to sit! LOL!

      1. Sarah Jan 1, 2018

        My husband also sits, and he has taught our son to sit. I NEVER have the gross pee bathroom smell. I had neighbours with four boys when I was growing up and I hated using their bathroom. It smelled disgusting. lol
        So glad my husband decided to sit and pee. I never even asked him. He just did!

  10. Chris P Dec 26, 2014

    He have seven boys and we had a serious problem with stink. We thought it might be grout in the tile floor. One day I decided I was going to tackle this problem head on. In the end, I found that the problem was one simple thing. We had (past tense) the toilet seat pictured above in this post with the plastic attachments. What I found is that the plastic attachment screws were RANK! I mean seriously rank! Somehow the plastic had absorbed the smell. I replaced the toilet seat (using one with metal bolts) and the problem pretty much disappeared instantly! So, if you have one of those seats, get rid of it! You'll be much happier when you enter your bathroom.

    1. Sarah Dec 27, 2014

      That is a GREAT tip! Thank you!

      1. sarah Baczek Mar 1, 2020

        I have an issue with my bathroom also. And I scrub the floor, but i don't think it's the floor either. It's the actual toliet when I sit down I can smell it. Like inside the toliet almost. We took the seat off and those screws are stained yellow and thier plastic. I bet that's what's causing my toliet stink!!! Thanks for posting this comment!!!! I may try and soak the screws first then replace if that doesnt work!!

  11. Natalia Mar 4, 2015

    wondering what is the brand/name of the colour in the the blue ps thanks for the info

  12. Diana Mar 4, 2015

    My boys 'miss' a lot less after being put to work cleaning the toilet area, lol! We have three boys and just one bathroom, so it gets funky quickly!

    1. Patty Feb 16, 2018

      My step son (a 40 year old man) had to move in the house with us a little over a year ago. He is a very large man (440 lbs). He is the only one that uses the bathroom upstairs and it stinks so bad now. My house use to smell so good till he moved in. I don't think he aims when he pees cause most of the time when I go upstairs there are towels laid around the toilet on the floor. Now not only does my bathroom stink so do all my nice towels. I have spent so much money on oxyclean to get the odor out of the towels it is pitiful. And to top it all off, he is to fat to clean the floors and my husband can't smell due to years of smoking and he will go try to attempt to clean that bathroom but just does the toilet and shower. Never wipes down the walls that are covered in pee or mops the floors. I refuse to have visitors cause my house stinks now.

  13. Laurie Mar 4, 2015

    How do you fix the caulk? use a blade and remove the old stuff and then replace??

    1. christy visser Apr 10, 2016

      I was told by a plumber to never caulk around the base of your toilet. Iif your toilet was leaking you would never know because it would leak into your floor boards and not out at the base of your toilet.

      1. Bren Feb 7, 2022

        I was told you can caulk around the base of the toilet. Only leave a space in the back of the toilet without any caulk. That will let you know if you have a leak or not. I don't know if all plumbers would agree?

  14. Gil Mar 4, 2015

    Number one on this list should be: "Make a rule that everyone sits to pee, including boys of all ages." I have several boys, and in my house, we have always had this rule. It makes a huge difference. When they are at a public rest room, they can stand if they want. But at home, everyone sits. I follow the same rule myself. Any guy who has ever stood while peeing and wearing shorts knows that this causes small droplets to splatter out of the toilet. You can feel them hitting your legs. This also means that they are hitting the floor and walls around the toilet.

    1. Vickie Dec 18, 2015

      Same rule at our house. My Mother-in-law had the same rule. I have all son's and have never had a problem with the stink. There is nothing manly about leaving a gross mess for a woman to clean up. Thank you Gil for giving your comment. It makes a difference to hear it from a man.

  15. Robyn Mar 4, 2015

    I was advised to use a banister brush. (Brush from the dustpan and brush set.) I now have one exclusively for the purpose of cleaning the toilet, ledges and hard to reach places. And its own bucket for hot water solution. Starting from the top (cleaner) and working down to the stinky and dirtier areas ..... It is easier to clean and working-with no stink! I also go over the floor with my brush and solution. We have really old linoleum covering but this works well. So far!

  16. Grace Mar 4, 2015

    I know your pain. I had 5 boys plus my husband (even the pets were males). When you are toilet training, use a floating ring and have them aim for that. If you can teach them to sit, it makes for good manners when you are visiting someone's home that doesn't have kids or boys. Also, teach them to put the sit down when they are down, so mommy doesn't fall though in the middle of the night.

  17. Katie Mar 5, 2015

    My son is 5 and still sits to pee. He has a twin sister and another sister one year younger, so he doesn't think about standing up. Maybe I won't have him stand for awhile!

  18. Rhonda Mar 6, 2015

    My son always had friends over and I saw evidence of bad aim. I had a towel rack on the wall between the stool and the sink. I no longer use that towel rack. I kept thinking of what could have gotten splattered on the towel.

    1. Sarah Mar 8, 2015

      Ew!! We were planning to hang a towel a little lower for the boys to reach. I think I'll re-think which wall I put it on!

  19. Kari Jun 16, 2015

    The single greatest day in my life (besides wedding, birth of children, only needing one car seat I the car) was the day that I threw out the toddler toilet seat that was harboring all sorts of yuck and stink.

    I'll have to try the homemade cleaner. It's got to be better than the time that I nearly poisoned myself when I poured bleach around the toilet. I was sleep deprived with a newborn and desperate for a stink free bathroom, so I didn't think about how the bleach would interact with the ammonia in the pee that was the source of the smell. Don't try this at home, kids! Ammonia and bleach also get really hot, and the combination really burns skin!

  20. Jill Jun 27, 2015

    You poor Ladies!
    I only have one Adult male in my house and he misses, standing and I think sitting too!
    So my question is does this solution get the Caulking really clean? That's what drives me crazy!
    Thanks and I'm definitely sharing!

    1. Vickie Dec 18, 2015

      If he misses he should clean it up. I leave a container of lysol or clorox wipes next to the toilet and anyone who makes a mess has no excuse not to clean up after themselves. The men sit. is the rule at our house.

  21. Diane Jun 27, 2015

    Call me crazy but I'm making my son sit to pee as much as possible. I've told him he can stand when we are out somewhere, but at home he sits, especially at night when he doesn't even open his eyes to pee.

  22. Marg Jul 18, 2015

    I solved this problem when my son was young and ( my husband) if there was pee on the floor they had to clean the bathroom . They sat down and still do to this day 38 years later.

    1. Darcy Baker Nov 5, 2015

      Yes! I taught my boys to sit, too. End of problem. When they stand they splatter not only gets on the seat and floor, but the walls too. Gross. My hubby is an even bigger advocate for this than I am.

  23. Shirley Sep 25, 2015

    Hi, I take my removable toilet seat outside to the water hose, spray with Fabulosa, rinse off, dry with towel, and pop that dude back on...5 min....CLEAN...DONE !!!!!!!!!

  24. Jo hames Sep 30, 2015

    Wee Target - Keeping wee where it should be...

  25. Shaylee Dawson Nov 5, 2015

    Do you mix everything in a bottle or bucket (including the two gallons of hot water)?

  26. Jen Dec 15, 2015

    To avoid that gross buildup on the seat hinges, I switched all of our toilet seats to the kind that easily come off. The part where the nut is unlocks, and the seat pops right off to clean. Using that seat makes it so easy to clean the pee off the hinges of the seat without having to unscrew those bolts. I recommend them for anyone, even if you don't have boys of your uses the toilets too...

  27. dd Dec 22, 2015

    Train your boys, big (Dad) and little, to SIT on the toilet at home when they go pee. In public they can do whatever feels manly. Just sayin'.

  28. barbara Dec 23, 2015

    WELL i care for my 94 yr old father and his bathroom always stinks He is past the point of I just have to clean all the time

  29. Christina @There's Just One Mommy Mar 10, 2016

    Ewww! I clean around those hinges, but never thought of taking the seat off. Our bathroom definitely has that little boy bathroom smell lately. Going to do that this weekend for sure!

  30. Amanda Apr 26, 2017

    Now tell me how to get rid of feet smell. All of his shoes make me want to vomit

  31. Kate Aug 13, 2017

    My guest bathrooms stink. Also tile are looking gross. I have to try your methods this weekend. Any suggestion for cleaning tile and grout? I do not have little boys around, so once I cleaned, hopefully it will stay clean for few days :).
    I am guessing tips-3 cleaner recipe will be appropriate for me. I will keep you guys on the loop. Thanks!

  32. Jacqui Jan 28, 2018

    Regularly spraying rubbing alcohol on the affected areas after a general clean will do wonders as it kills the odour causing bacteria. I spritz rubbing alcohol on soft furnishings, wooden floors and even my Persian rugs to neutralize pet odours. Do rub into Persians though. I spritz it in smelly sport shoes and it even kills cat urine when neighbourhood tom cats spray outside my front door.

  33. Joe Carrow Aug 12, 2018

    Thank you!- I love to read this type of material Good and attractive information I take from it.. Thank you for posting such a good article.

  34. Cindie Winquist Sep 4, 2018

    The same problem happens at the other end of life. Urine ends up on the floor, dribbled down the side, under the seat, etc. I'm taking care of my sweet 84-year-old Momma whose Alzheimer's afflicted brain no longer controls her bladder. The minute she begins to sit, the urine starts to flow, and misses greatly outnumber hits. Believe me, the baking soda paste followed by 50/50 vinegar/water works great.

  35. Michele Diaz Oct 13, 2018

    I didn’t know that simply knowing which room the tile is it helps us identify the soil types. My dad slipped in our bathroom the other day because it’s a bit untidy. My mom suggested tile and grout cleaning and shared this article with him.

  36. Suhana Morgan Dec 3, 2018

    Hello, Here are you discuss wonderful tips and advice in the bathroom. Such information helps me more for secure my child bathroom accident.

  37. Madison Dec 20, 2018

    I have been struggling with the stinking bathroom for many years. I thank God I came across this blog, today my boy bathroom is always clean with a beautiful scent.

  38. airbnb clean Feb 19, 2019

    Easy tips to follow, thanks. Great job.

  39. Sandra Feb 22, 2019

    I have three girls. And I still get bathroom stink. I think there's more to this than sitting to pee.

  40. Vickie Mar 8, 2019

    I also clean houses.
    I have run into a situation that I'm at a loss.
    A single man has RUINED the bathroom.
    I've tried the suggestions here. I've contacted flooring specialists. NO ONE can give me a clue!!
    The urine has penetrated the unsealed grout!

  41. DILMAR Apr 3, 2019

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing

  42. Truemermaid Jun 9, 2020

    Three boys here and our pee smell was coming from the crack where the toilet tank meets the base. I am looking for a cheap and effective way to seal this abyss where foul smelling pee can hide .

  43. Momof2adultsons Aug 20, 2020

    So, so grateful for this discussion! I have an adult male son living at home who tends to miss the toilet at night. I was once told by a professional house cleaner that urine smells are retained in grout. Ever since I’ve been fixated on getting the grout clean, trying every cleaning product under the sun and scrubbing with a grout brush. After reading your comments, I removed the toilet seat; we have one of the newer snap-on types, and sure enough, there was quite a bit of wet and dried urine under the apparatus. After cleaning it all with Clorox CleanUp, I have a fresh smelling hall bathroom for the first time in years! Thanks again to all of you who have posted these extremely helpful comments!


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