A popular hack to neutralize unpleasant odors emanating from the toilet: here's why the "bottle in the cistern" hack may not be a good idea

by Mark Bennett

May 13, 2024


It's not unusual for unpleasant odors to emanate from the toilet. But if these odors "hang around", then you need to figure out how to deal with this. And there is a very popular hack you might have come across and are thinking of using: this hack involves keeping a bottle in the toilet's cistern, filled with a deodorizing solution which is released every time you flush. Read on to find out more:

The "bottle in the cistern" hack to combat unpleasant odors

A plastic bottle about to be placed in a cistern


There are many products you can use to deodorize a toilet, but this popular hack purports to save you money and time whilst achieving this goal.

For this hack, a small, plastic bottle (a capacity of 500 ml or less) is used.

Now, the bottle is filled up to the 3/4 mark with a preferred deodorizer (more on this below). The lid is put back on the bottle, it's turned upside down and put some small holes are punched around the bottom and also two or three in the lid. Once this is done, the bottle is immersed (upside down) in the cistern. Now, the bottle will release a small quantity of its deodorizing contents every time the toilet is flushed.

The deodorizing liquid is often a DIY one based on vinegar or some proper commercial product. To make the perfuming/deodorizing effect more intense, fabric softener is also often added the mixture in the bottle.

So, that's how this popular hack its done. But with all that said and done, why do professionals advise against using this hack? Well, it's for the following reasons:

  • All the space occupied by the bottle displaces water from the cistern. This makes the toilet weaker and a less-effective "flusher";
  • Fabric softener is very damaging for the environment;
  • Then there's the other ingredients, including bleach, degreasers, vinegar used as additives: these products are corrosive and, with constant use, can damage the toilet's plumbing (and seals/gaskets, in particular).


How to combat unpleasant odors from the toilet


Infrequently, it's OK to put some deodorizing products in the cistern, provided they are manufactured for this specific purpose.

Clean the cistern from time to time: empty the cistern and use white vinegar to scrub down the internal surfaces. Once done, refill the cistern and flush the toilet a couple of times until any dirty residue has disappeared.

Combating unpleasant odors emanating from the toilet almost always involves cleaning the toilet itself: the bowl (especially under the lip), the external surfaces and the areas around the toilet seat hinges. But again, use cleaning products designed specifically for these tasks.