My Toilet Tank Smells

Updated February 21, 2017

A smelly toilet tank can make going to the bathroom an unpleasant experience and can potentially cause harm to those living in the home. A properly functioning and regularly cleaned toilet should produce a neutral or non-offensive smell from both the tank and bowl. A stinky tank may mean something is wrong with your system or that you need to clean your toilet more regularly. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to combat this problem, so you can have a more pleasant experience in the bathroom.


Toilet tanks that are not working properly, or are poorly maintained or cleaned, can become foul odour-producing nightmares. Bacteria such as mould or mildew can build up in the toilet tank, producing a noxious musty smell that can actually be dangerous to people living in the house. The toilet tank can also accumulate waste matter, which causes an even more unpleasant aroma. One common cause of toilet tank odours is a worn wax ring, according to This piece seals the area between the toilet and the drain and often becomes corroded over time. This is likely the case if the odour is particularly pungent and like that of a sewer.

Temporary Solutions

A temporary solution to your smelly toilet-tank problem is to thoroughly clean and sterilise the tank using bleach or other cleaning products. Scrub the toilet and tank inside and out to remove any built-up grime and bacteria. Install air fresheners and spray pleasant-smelling fragrances to help combat the odour.

Permanent Solutions

Permanent solutions have more to do with the functionality and structure of the toilet than with cleanliness. All the air freshener and cleaning products in the world won't do much good in the long run if your toilet's not working correctly. recommends replacing the wax ring at the base of the toilet if this piece is worn down. If it is, you'll likely notice small to moderate leaks coming out of the base of the toilet when flushed.

Whom to Call

Unless you're a particularly skilled handyman, you'll need to call a plumber to fix a toilet tank that smells. Most plumbers are familiar with a wide range of standard toilet types and should be able to figure out exactly what the problem is, making repairs as needed.

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About the Author

Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.