How to Tackle Musty Smells in the Bathroom

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If you are smelling a sewage smell or a damp musty odour coming from your bathroom then it can be a number of reasons, most of which thankfully can be checked by you and can be a simple fix if dealt with quickly. Here are the most common factors that are likely causing that unpleasant smell that a quick spray of air freshener won’t fix.


Even a slow, steady drip from a shower head, leaky tap or toilet cistern can cause a fair bit of damage if left untreated – not to mention the extra expense on your water bill!

Also, any water leaking from pipes underneath your floor can stagnate and start to smell musty over time and furthermore lead to mould. Just tightening or replacing a seal, tap or shower head can fix the problem – none of which are that expensive or difficult to do but better than just leaving it so that more pricey and extensive damage isn’t done over time.

Poor ventilation

Every bathroom should have ventilation as it draws out the moisture in the air that comes after showering or bathing. If they don’t work properly then obviously more moisture will hang around and can lead to mould growth – hence the musty smell. Have a look at your vent to see if there are any obvious signs of wear and tear, or for any dust build up which means the moisture cant escape as quickly. The vent may need replacing or it may just be the case that it just needs a quick clean to make it run as good as new.

Bathroom Vent Installation

Siphonic trap

Unscrewing the circular metal plate in the floor of your bathroom allows you to check the siphonic trap. This can be a common area for blockages due to narrow pipe work often connecting between plumbing areas. After checking and if needed, unblocking it, make sure the metal plate is secured by tightening the expanding lid clockwise and then fitting the metal screw on top. This ensures an airtight seal.

Clogged pipes

A sure sign of a blockage in your pipes is if water is taking a long time to go down the plughole of your sink, bath or shower. It can do the opposite and start to come up through the plughole – bringing some unpleasant smelly and dirty water with it! You might also hear a gurgling sound when you’re draining water which is another indicator that water isn’t flowing properly. Hair, soap particles or bath products can obstruct pipes, as well as things being put down the toilet that shouldn’t be! Basically anything that is unable to break down, like sanitary products or wet wipes, should not be flushed.

rubber plunger isolated on white

Using a plunger or a drain snake may be enough to dislodge anything that’s stuck, before you need to get a bit more drastic and start pulling up flooring to look at your pipes. It’s also worth buying a filter, they aren’t costly and can go over the plug hole to stop things going down it.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you are still experiencing damp and musty smells, then it’s time to get the professionals in as they’ll know exactly what to look for and can safely investigate the problem.