There are many reasons that could cause your bathroom to smell less fresh than a daisy. Dirt and grime gets washed down any number of drains, settling into the shower floor crevices or is splashed behind the sink or onto the walls, making it a haven for odor-creating bacteria. That’s not even mentioning the piles of damp towels and dirty laundry you haven’t gotten around to.

Finding out what causes the unpleasant odours often needs nothing more than a little common sense. For instance, it could simply be those damp towels that are taking ages to dry; a problem quickly solved with a heated towel rack. Or, it can require expert detective work from your friendly plumber into the inner workings of your bathroom plumbing.

Quick fixes

If your bathroom smells funky, and you have adequate ventilation, first look for the most obvious causes. One of the main culprits, as we’ve mentioned, could be damp or wet towels.

We all use towels every day and tend to leave them where we found them, or hang them over the door in the hope they’ll dry quicker. It’s a proven fact that wet and damp towels are magnets for fast-growing bacteria and mold.

The best and most economical solution for this is a heated towel rack that is designed to dry your towels in just a couple of hours, killing off anything that can cause a smell in your beloved sanctuary.

Medium-sized problems that you could solve

A clogged shower drain is usually caused by a buildup of hair, dead skin cells and shower gels, and can create a stink even when the drain seems to be working well. It’s the bacteria growing in the biofilm (created by organic waste, hair and soap) that’s emitting the foul stench. Yuk!

You can buy a proprietary drain-cleaning solution from the hardware or, if you like to be kind to nature, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar. Stand back as you behold the fizzy reaction that is actively removing those nasty hair clogs and other unmentionables.

Pro tip: always brush your hair thoroughly before showering and your drains won’t clog up as fast.

If the smell is distinctly that of urine, check the toilet for leaks but if that’s all good, it could be invisible urine splashes. You can actually buy a blacklight specifically made to detect urine! Suspect places are the walls behind the toilet, or even the rug or toilet seat cover – if you use those. A deep clean and some stern words with the men in the house should solve the problem.

Serious problems only plumbers can fix

If your bathroom has a whiff of sewage, it’s likely you have a plumbing issue. The kind of issue only a plumber can solve. The cause is usually a leaking or burst pipe somewhere in the plumbing system causing gurgling sounds and a foul smell.

For example, the water in the sewer line – the line between your home’s drains and the main sewer drain outside under the lawn somewhere – has dried up or leaked out, or the line is blocked (by anything from tree roots to rats), causing smelly sewage backups.

Another cause could be down to a dried-up P-trap – the u-shaped bend underneath the sink, tub or toilet – that usually stays filled with water to prevent sewer gases from entering the room. Running water to fill the trap could be the solution, but if the odour doesn’t go away, a plumber with a video scope is your new best friend.