Un-Doo: How to Stop the Stink with Natural Bathroom Spray

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Make a natural bathroom spray like poo-pourri to cover bathroom odors
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Home » Un-Doo: How to Stop the Stink with Natural Bathroom Spray

Bathroom odors just might be the bane of any moms existence, especially to those of us with lots of littles and a bathroom that gets lots of action. It’s enough of an accomplishment to keep the bathroom clean, but in our home I find a natural bathroom spray is a must for my sanity!

Do You Have a Stinky Bathroom?

I’m not talking about general boy pee smell (that’s a whole other discussion). I’m talking about when you’re done doing your thing … uh … you know!

Just the other day, one of my kids was gasping for air and being overly dramatic upon entering the bathroom after a sibling had exited. We cracked a window and moved on … but it made me think about the popular poo-pourri spray and if there was a way to make a homemade version. The basic idea is that you can spray toilet water with this natural spray before using the restroom to cover up any odor. The Poo Pourri commercial that explains how it works is hilarious!

This is an innovative alternative to conventional bathroom sprays that just target the air itself. These bathroom sprays are commonly used to cover up odors, but are they safe? Recent research says they aren’t.

Harmful Ingredients in Conventional Bathroom Spray

Air fresheners are everywhere. You know them by their strong, synthetic floral or fruity scents, and you can’t miss them anytime you walk into a public bathroom.

But should we keep them around our homes? In a word, no. They’re harmful to our health and a major source of indoor air pollution. In fact, studies have shown that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air! Common ingredients you’ll find in air fresheners include at the very least two dangerous toxins.


Often found in synthetic fragrances, phthalates may be responsible for a number of health problems, including infertility. While many companies these days are formulating their products without phthalates due to education about the health problems they cause, it’s hard to know if a product actually contains them without laboratory testing.

If there is “fragrance” on an ingredient label, the product may contain phthalates.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Phthalates are used in many common consumer products—to soften plastics in children’s toys, as sealants and adhesives in nail polish, and in perfumes and air fresheners. When people use air fresheners, the phthalates are released into the air where they may be inhaled or may land on the skin and be absorbed. Once these chemicals enter the bloodstream, they can alter hormone levels and cause other health problems.

Phthalates are known to interfere with production of the male hormone, testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities. Numerous animal studies have linked prenatal exposure to certain phthalates with decreases in testosterone, malformations of the genitalia, and reduced sperm production. The State of California notes that five types of phthalates—including one that we found in air freshener products—are “known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.” Phthalate exposure in indoor environments has also been associated with allergic symptoms and asthma.


A known human carcinogen, formaldehyde is often found in plug-in fragrance warmers and air fresheners, as well as cleaning supplies and other household items. (Although you can help cleanse the air of formaldehyde with common household plants!)

According to this fact sheet from the CDC:

Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer. The cancer of greatest concern is cancer of the nose and throat. Scientific research has not yet shown that a certain level of formaldehyde exposure causes cancer. However, the higher the level and the longer the exposure, the greater the chance of getting cancer. Exposure to formaldehyde might increase the chance of getting cancer even at levels too low to cause symptoms.

With the above in mind, let’s look at some of the health conditions air fresheners may contribute to.

Effects of Artificial “Fresh Air”

Real fresh air found in nature is essential to health and the benefits of nature are well documented. Artificial chemically scented “fresh” air is an entirely different animal and may be linked to some big problems:


One of the most common health conditions associated with artificial fragrance use is asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems.

The problem is when we spray these toxic fragrances into the air, they release tiny chemical particles, which we breathe in. These particles can lead to inflammatory reactions in the lungs and other parts of the body.

Over time a build-up of inhaled toxins weakens and compromises the lungs. Not only does this increase susceptibility to asthma, but it opens the door to frequent respiratory infections and allergies.

Skin Conditions

Whenever toxic chemicals are sprayed into the air to cover up bathroom odors and other stinky stuff, those particles eventually land on our skin, on the floor, on the surfaces we touch.

Repeated contact with harmful chemicals can cause eczema or other skin irritations. In addition, when our body is exposed to harmful chemicals, our immune systems become overactive, creating perfect conditions for more skin irritations. It’s a vicious cycle.


As I mentioned, many synthetic fragrances contain formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.

Routine exposure to sprays used to cover up bathroom odors (think several times a day, every day, for the average family), may cause cell death and toxicity. This can eventually result in the formation of cancer cells. Will being around air-freshener one time cause cancer? No. But repeated exposure may be harmful over time.

Birth Defects & Infertility

The chemicals in conventional air fresheners can disrupt hormones, particularly testosterone. This can lead to infertility in both men and women.

In addition to infertility, toxins like phthalates can cause birth defects such as malformed genitalia and undescended testicles.


Many of us are more sensitive to toxic fragrances than we realize.

It’s interesting  that when people switch to using only natural fragrances like essential oils for a while, they frequently seem to become even more sensitive to strong artificial smells. I know for me just walking down the cleaning aisle or perfume counter in a store can make me feel queasy or even result in a headache.

In fact, it’s now being said that “fragrances are the new secondhand smoke” because it’s clear that so many of us are sensitive to them. If you get frequent headaches, you might want to examine how many sources of artificial fragrances you’re using in your home or otherwise exposed to on a daily basis.

DIY All-Natural Odor Spray Alternative

We can’t avoid bathroom odors (that wouldn’t be healthy!), but we can find better ways to resolve them. While synthetic fragrances just cover stinky stenches with overpowering chemical smells, we can use natural scents to gently remove smells.

Enter natural bathroom spray!

This spray works just like poo-pourri to seal the water in the toilet and keep out of the air. Poo pourri is actually natural as well and free of harmful chemicals, so it is a great option if you don’t want to make it. It doesn’t just target the air like many sprays, but makes a physical barrier to seal odor in the toilet where it belongs.

How to Make a Natural Bathroom Spray

If you prefer the DIY (like I do), here’s the recipe I use:

Bathroom Spray Ingredients

Note: You can use any essential oils of your choice (aim for around 24-36 drops). Citrus and pine are another nice combination for a fresh, clean scent.

Bathroom Spray Instructions

Combine the ingredients in a glass spray bottle like this one (essential oils don’t do well in plastic bottles) and spritz on the toilet water before you go. To stop bathroom odors before they start, shake spray before each use. Spritz directly into the toilet bowl to create a film over the water. This will help trap stinky smells below the water after you (I mean … your kids, of course!) do your their business.

One Small Change!

When you’re working to raise a healthy family, making one small change at a time makes all the difference.

Swap out harmful artificial fragrance sprays for a healthier, cheaper DIY solution like this Un-D00 bathroom spray and it’s one more step toward a healthier home.

Do you use a bathroom spray to cover up odors? Any favorite tricks or products? Please share in the comments!

Conventional air fresheners are loaded with toxins. Find out how to make an easy natural bathroom spray that works just as well and smells even better!
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


29 responses to “Un-Doo: How to Stop the Stink with Natural Bathroom Spray”

  1. Barb Avatar

    I found, by accident, that bananas put off a gas that overcomes even skunk odor….to a certain extent, when nothing else would. My little dog tangled with a skunk and after trying everything on him I finally settled with a slightly lingering fragrance that slowly dissipated over the months. However nothing worked on his cloth harness. I finally threw it in my empty covered composting bucket, forgot about it, threw in a couple banana peels and then noticed it when I was getting ready to throw more stuff in the bucket. Voila! Vastly improved fragrance. Now I throw banana peels in my composting potty bucket in my motorhome and makes a big big difference.

  2. Nicole S Avatar
    Nicole S

    Im interested in trying, but am concerned that the oil will leave a residue or a ring in my toilet. Does it? Thanks

  3. Erin G Avatar

    Just wondering if any other oil, other than vegetable glycerin could work for the protective barrier? I just made my own spray with a different recipe, and I definitely want that protective barrier component! lol I JUST went to the store yesterday and didn’t get the vegetable glycerin, DARN! Any other suggestions?

  4. Amanda Avatar

    I use my homemade buy spray as a room freshener haha, kinda the same thing. My husband always comments he likes the smell when I use the bug spray so it made sense to me! 🙂

  5. Maggie MacDonald Avatar
    Maggie MacDonald

    Katie, thank you. I have been following you for years and I make and use many of your products. I post the link to your site in many of the diy groups I belong to as well. I always marvel at your calmness, your ability not to respond to comments that take your wonderfully researched recipes and twist them and then say they don’t work. I’m a great-grandma and when I use your recipes, they work. Your cautions about EOs and pregnancy/breastfeeding and small children are accurate. You don’t need me to tell you these things but I am anyway. In gratitude, Maggie

  6. Karen Phipps Avatar
    Karen Phipps

    Oh my, I looked for a place I could make a comment…
    I am so greatful for the effort you make in doing these blogs, information …I’m 65 and loving that fact that I can still come across people who share great info.
    thanks for being here. I rarely make comments. Don’t like trying to remember how to spell, correctly the words I use. I have gotten a lot of use out of the recipes for leaky gut, because of food allergies, and a suggestion that maybe I had leaky gut. I’m looking forward to a day that I feel better for more that a couple of days. I first saw one of your blogs about things for kids. Looking for stuff for the grand kids.

  7. Cassidy Avatar

    where do you get the vegetable glycerine?

    Could you use coconut oil instead?


  8. Suzie Avatar

    We use a home made spray like this at home and personally I find citronella EO to be the most effective at clearing odours and refreshing the air in the bathroom almost instantly!
    And when you have meat eating men in the house… well, let’s just say, instant freshness is what you want ?

  9. Charlotte Wall Avatar
    Charlotte Wall

    Dear Katie,
    Thank you so very much for all the great information you share. I love your your site
    and always look forward to your Sunday emails.
    I just wanted to add that in addition to all of your great information about magnesium,
    I have found sunflower seed kernels to be a natural boost of that supplement, as well as a
    good source of vitamin E and phosphorous. Happy Memorial Day!
    Thanks again,
    Charlotte Wall

  10. Bel Avatar

    Following from Marie (#7), I’d also like to know if this is this safe for septics please.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I used this type of spray when we had a septic system and we never had trouble, but I would definitely check an owners manual or do some research on this before using it to be safe.

  11. Annie Allan Avatar
    Annie Allan

    Thank you, I will definitely give it a try. One of the tricks we use to eliminate nasty bathroom odor, is simply light a match.

  12. Cary Avatar

    So glad to see this recipe and learn about natural poo-pourri. Before seeing this, I had made up a similar version using what I had on hand. I mixed distilled water with alcohol and sage oil. It turned out pretty well! I’d like to add some citrus oils next time. Katie, love your blog and cookbook; thanks for all your efforts to give us healthy alternatives in so many areas:)

  13. Suzzy Avatar

    Thank you wellness mama. You’ve inspired me a lot over the years to make small changes to more natural options and my halt his grateful. I make my own bathroom sprays, room sprays body sprays, sleep aid sprays, cleaning/ disinfecting sprays, magnesium oil body sprays. I love citrus oils for my sprays and add clove for an added anti bacterial benefit. I smell great, my bathrooms eels great, my home smells great. and it’s all natural.

  14. Marie Avatar

    Is this safe for septic systems? Don’t want to throw off the balance of my system.

  15. Chris Avatar

    Matches after the fact work great! Just light one whenever necessary and, it will smell like a match has been lit for a little bit, but better that what it smelled like before! Thanks grandma for that little trick!

  16. Melissa O Avatar
    Melissa O

    We LOVE Poo-Pourri, Trap-a-Crap, Cari-Poo and Shoe-Pourri in this house! I’ve been wanting to make my own for ages (especially at $15 a bottle) when I have all the EOs already. They sell theirs in plastic bottles though. Is there something they do to their formulation to make them last/safe in plastic? I’m a little nervous about glass in the bathroom and in my purse…

  17. Jaclyn White Avatar
    Jaclyn White

    Would this also work to spray in the air AFTER my son stinks the place up? Or does it only work as a preventative?

  18. Karen Avatar

    I mix about 20 drops or lemon grass essential oil, with equal amount of Essential Oil Dispersant drops into about 400ml of water. We only using a plastic spray bottle for now but seems to work really well and is very economical. We spray a fine mist into the air after using the bathroom.

  19. Ria Avatar

    Great DYI recipe.. I love poo pourri but it is really expensive! This will be a much cheaper alternative.

  20. GAURAV GULATI Avatar

    Never use any of those nasty sprays/fragrances. Tried Poo Pourri and it works!! Have been thinking about a DIY cheaper home made version, and here you’re too the rescue.
    Two thumbs up on the DIY recipe, Katie.


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