5 Hidden Reasons Why Your Business’s Toilets Smell

Date posted: 12.10.2023

Washrooms are tough to maintain. It can feel as though you are doing everything right, but despite a tidy-looking washroom, it still produces an unpleasant experience for staff and visitors alike. These unpleasant odours from the washroom can quickly undermine your cleanliness and professionalism.

In fact, a study by the Bradley Corporation found that over 50% of people believe an unclean or unpleasant washroom shows poor management and causes them to lower their opinion of the overall establishment. Taking this one step further, according to research by Cannon Hygiene, 97% of Brits would not return to an establishment that has unclean and odorous washroom facilities; 85% of this study would then warn family and friends, and 76% of them heed these warnings.

Ultimately, unclean and odorous washroom facilities damage your reputation and diminish repeat business. So, why do toilets smell? What seems like an obvious question is actually more of a complex discussion that meets the eye (or nose). A properly functioning, regularly cleaned washroom shouldn’t ever be odorous. So, here are 5 reasons why this isn’t always the case.


1. Unmanaged Urinals

Urine is a major culprit behind unpleasant smells in washrooms. It contains urea, which breaks down into ammonia and releases strong odours over time. Fortunately, urine odour is entirely avoidable.

Unmanaged urinals are highly susceptible to ammonia-producing uric scale build-up and leave drainage systems wide open. Our Ureco System provides a two-fold solution to these problems, by breaking down the uric scale with eco-friendly bio-enzymes and trapping any smells associated with open drainage with its Odour Lock system, which you can read more about here.

2. Toilets

Urinals are not the only source of that ammonia smell. Toilets are also responsible for urine odours and odour-causing bacteria accumulation, particularly if they aren’t cleaned regularly and flushed after each use. A study from Harpic showed that 55% of people in the UK do not close the toilet lid when flushing, so encouraging staff to practice good hygiene, such as flushing after each use and keeping the toilet lid closed will massively reduce urine odours.

One way of encouraging this is with our Ureflush, which encourages flushing through signage. Furthermore, Ureflush will significantly reduce the literage per flush, often saving 11 litres when used, creating a win-win situation.

3. Inadequate Ventilation

When urinals and toilets are flushed, germs are ejected into the air. A study from the University of Colorado found that it took just 8 seconds after a lid-up flush for bacteria to be present at 4.9 feet above the toilet, which then linger in the air for minutes afterwards.

This combined with other regular washroom occurrences such as unemptied bins and spills means that insufficient ventilation in washrooms can lead to lingering odours. This stale air allows unpleasant smells to accumulate and cling to surfaces.

Installing and maintaining effective ventilation systems like extractor fans, combined with air treatment products such as Air Steril purifier and our Microburst air freshener ensures the removal of stale air and introduces fresh, scented air to ensure a pleasant washroom environment.

4. Cleaning and Maintenance

The notion that ‘toilet facilities just smell’ has led to the belief that improper cleaning is acceptable, so as long as the washroom looks clean and tidy. However, often disguised by a tidy exterior, hidden smells can develop and won’t disappear without a deep clean.

Grout, paint, toilets, bins, and urinals are all hotspots for smells that we consistently find are not cleaned regularly enough. To ensure odours become a thing of the past at your establishment, we offer on-site training and information with every Ureco install to your cleaning team.

5. Neglected Plumbing Issues

Neglected plumbing issues cause difficult-to-eliminate odours. Leaks, cracks, or damaged seals allow sewer gases to escape, creating pungent malodours in the washroom. Even Ureco’s Odour Lock system cannot fend these odours off, as it relies on the condition of the pipework below to form an airtight seal.

When we visit your site to install Ureco, we will give a comprehensive overhaul to your pipework, even replacing pipes where required.


To conclude, maintaining a fresh and odour-free environment in commercial washrooms is vital for employee and visitor comfort. By addressing common causes of toilet odours like urine and urinal pipework blockages, you can create a pleasant washroom experience.

Implement proper cleaning protocols, invest in air treatment systems, and encourage good hygiene to improve cleanliness and hygiene in your commercial washrooms. Furthermore, products like our Ureco System and Ureflush can facilitate a clean washroom with a rapid return on investment, thanks to reduced water usage massively reducing your bills.

Remember, a fresh-smelling and well-maintained washroom reflects professionalism and care, leaving a positive lasting impression on your business. Get in touch with HSG, the sustainable washroom experts, today for solutions to your unpleasant washrooms.

Like it? Share it!

Related items

Ashton Gate Stadium Teams Up with HSG to Save Millions of Litres of Water and Reduce CO2 Emissions

The collaboration is set to save almost 18 million litres of water in year 1.

Read more

Stop Throwing Your Money Down the Drain

Find out how Ureco could save you over £1,000 a year per urinal and cistern.

Read more

The Three Fold Benefits of Saving Water in Business

Saving water needn’t be seen as an expensive or mammoth task.

Read more

Keep updated with the latest HSG news, offers & innovations

Awards