Have you noticed that your bathroom smells like sewage? Or more specifically, that your toilet smells like sewer? When the smell coming from your toilet is not the one expected with normal everyday use, it can be a bit concerning. You might be wondering: Why does my toilet smell? And how to get rid of such toilet smells? Well, let the plumbing experts tell you.

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Why does my toilet smell like sewage?

You’ve started cleaning your toilet more often. You’ve tried different types of toilet bowl cleaners. Harsh ones. Natural ones. Good old-fashioned bleach. You’ve even dismantled your toilet seat for a more thorough cleaning and gotten up close and personal with those harder-to-reach areas, equipped with rubber gloves and a heavy-duty scrubbing brush.

Yet, despite your valiant efforts, the problem remains. The toilet smells like sewer. In the direst cases, this sewage smell spreads to the entire house. So, what’s the deal?

Unfortunately, there are several things that could be causing the sewage smell in the bathroom. Some are as simple to fix as flushing the toilet, while others will require the work of a professional plumber.

Keep reading to learn from the best plumbing company in Tampa Bay why your toilet smells like sewer.

Read also: Sewage water coming up the shower drain

5 Common Causes of Sewer Smell in Bathrooms

Why does my bathroom smell like sewage? If your toilet-cleaning efforts are proving fruitless and you’re stuck with a toilet that smells like sewer, here are a few possible reasons.

1. Water in the P-Trap Evaporated

Plumbing P trap blocking sewage smell in bathroom toilets and sinks

This is by far the simplest problem to fix.

If the smell is coming from a toilet that doesn’t get much use, such as one in the guest room or pool house, or you begin experiencing the sewage smell in the bathroom after a long vacation, simple science may be to blame.

So what is the P-trap? Well, if you look at the pipe behind your toilet, you’ll notice a part that dips down and comes back up. This is the P-trap and one of its purposes is to block sewage gasses from getting into your home by remaining filled with water.

If your toilet goes unused for a long period of time, the water may evaporate, clearing the way for sewage gas to come through.


Flush your toilet a few times to restore the water supply and the undesired toilet smell problem should disappear.

2. Toilet Drain Is Clogged

Common toilet clogs causes illustration showing clogs in internal trap, clog in closet bend clog in junction of sanitary tee, and clog in waste stack causing sewer smell in bathroom

Even if your toilet is flushing properly, there may be a small clog in the pipe. Naturally, this clog will make your toilet smell like sewer if not taken care of.


You may need to snake the drain to remove the clog.

3. Bacteria From Sewer Seeping Into Toilet Bowl

dirty toilet bowl

If microorganisms from the sewer make their way into your toilet, one way or another, they may cling to the rim of your toilet bowl and begin to multiply. This issue is especially common during the summer when hot, humid conditions allow bacteria to thrive.

Fortunately, you can give these unwelcomed visitors the boot by pouring a few cups of bleach into the overflow pipe or flush valve, which is inside the toilet tank.


Flushing the toilet will release the bleach, wiping out the bacteria and the sewer smell in the bathroom.

4. Vent Pipe Connected to Plumbing System Is Clogged

Vent Pipe Connected to Plumbing System Is Clogged-min

There is a pipe connected to your plumbing system that extends through the roof to remove or ventilate sewer gasses and allow air to enter the system so wastewater can flow freely.

If this vent becomes clogged, the sewer gas won’t be able to escape and could cause a sewage smell in the bathroom.


Check the vent to see if anything is blocking it (this could be anything from a pile of leaves to a bird’s nest). If there appears to be a blockage, we suggest you call a plumber to safely clear it away.

5. Wax Sealing Ring On the Toilet is Damaged

damaged toilet wax sealing ring

It’s fairly common for the wax sealing ring under your toilet to become loose over time. When this happens, sewage gas may seep through the cracks and cause this sewer smell in the bathroom.

You’ll know if your wax sealing ring is loose and needs to be replaced if your toilet wobbles or rocks.


This problem should be handled by a plumbing professional as it will require the removal of the toilet entirely and adjustments to the plumbing fixtures.

When Nothing Works

If you’re unsure which of these cases apply to you or would simply prefer to refrain from messing around with dirty business in the bathroom, you can trust your local plumbers.

Performance Air Conditioning, Electrical & Plumbing can help you unclog toilets, provide drainage services, and any plumbing services in between so you can finally get rid of that awful smell coming from the toilet.

Learn more about our drainage services