A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Does your bathroom smell like a truck stop men’s room?

Today for Just the Tip Tuesday I’d like to step outside of my comfort zone and talk about something I normally don’t discuss: pee. You know, urine, number one, tee-tee, tinkle, piss, mellow yellow, the golden stream of relief, that which is produced when the main vein is drained.

It’s obviously outside of my comfort zone because I clearly prefer to talk about poop. But I had a pee-related problem, I needed a solution, and I found one worth sharing. I’m a giver, what can I say.

I have three kids. One of them is a five year old son whom I affectionately refer to as Bucket Head. He is pretty popular around here.

But what you might not know about this curly headed cherub of a boy is that Bucket Head has terrible aim when he pees. I don’t know if he gets distracted or he just doesn’t give a hoot, but that child sure makes a mess every time he takes a whiz.


I would tell him to just go outside all the time, but I once caught him pinching a loaf in the front yard (with his back to the street, no less!) Also, he’s about to start Kindergarten and I just can’t afford the ramifications of him not fully understanding when it is and is not acceptable to go outside.

So inside he stays and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remove the toilet seat and scrape the dried boy pee off the back of my toilets. It really bums me out.

And let’s not even discuss the fact that I foolishly chose to install white semi-gloss wainscoting in my powder room, the only room in my home that we’ve completely remodeled.

Well the other day, while using said powder room, I noticed a horrible smell. I kid you not, it smelled like a truck-stop men’s room (just guessing). It was absolutely disgusting. I figured that Bucket Head had gone in there and done a fire-hose impersonation and that all I needed to do was clean the toilet (and possibly wipe down the walls).


Nothing I did worked. I scrubbed and scrubbed, and still…the smell of old urine haunted that room as if it were being visited nightly by a hobo convention.

I was pissed! (See what I did there?)

So I did what I usually do, and I Googled.

And I found a potential solution! It was from Anna Moseley of Ask Anna. She’s a lovely lady. I have used her cleaning tips a number of times and I actually met her at the Haven conference last month. (At a Waffle House, where I was getting my hash browns on…smothered, covered, and capped, yo.)

Anna wrote a post all about getting rid of “boy bathroom smell.” I followed her directions to the letter and it worked!

In a nutshell, Anna said to:

1.) Make a paste with baking soda and freshly squeezed lemon juice (a natural disinfectant.) I used one lemon, it was plenty.

2.) Apply the paste liberally to all the places around the toilet that get a lot of over-spray, especially the base of the toilet.

3.) Let it sit for 15 minutes.

4.) Then spray it with white vinegar and wipe it down with a damp rag.

She also suggested spraying white vinegar on the other surfaces surrounding the toilet and then wiping that with a damp rag too.

I had to take that one step further because of the wainscoting and I used an old toothbrush with the vinegar to get all the caked-on pee out of the grooves. It really didn’t take that long. I was in the zone; rather zen-like actually. I might do this more often.

And I’m proud to tell you that my bathroom no longer reeks of old urine. So I have that going for me.

Here is the original post by Anna if you need any clarification on the steps. Please tell her I said hello!

Sincerely, and now with less stank,



  1. Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla

    If you had not found the solution I was going to suggest the white vinegar since it takes out cat pee and if it takes out cat pee it would surely take out kid pee….

    • The Bearded Iris

      Vinegar works for cat pee? SCORE! I have a very pissy cat. Thanks Pricilla!

  2. Daryce

    I have three boys…and a husband, so make that four boys without aim. I will be trying this concoction soon. I was once called by the school because my youngest decided to drop trou at recess in kindegarten…that was a good learning moment for all of us!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Bucket Head did that once last year too…it wasn’t to pee though, just to showcase his package. Good times. That was a fun conversation with the preschool director and teacher.

      • Ella

        LOL. I just had to tell you that you made me literally laugh out loud:D Thanks for the very long chuckle!

  3. Jester Queen

    Oh God. My Sam is five. He thinks the walls are his canvas. He hasn’t figured out how to write his name yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. And then HE goes in and complains about the smell.

    • The Bearded Iris

      The irony! They hate the smell, yet they can’t seem to make the connection that THEY are the source of it. Next time I decorate, no bead-board, yellow high gloss walls, and a wall sized urinal.

  4. Kate

    Thank you! I needed this tip… My 10 year old gets distracted, I’m guessing, and his aim is where he’s looking.

    • The Bearded Iris

      My 12 year old is pretty good now, so maybe there is light at the end of the yellow tunnel. (Let’s hope!)

  5. Arnebya

    Z is only two and still refusing to even hold his own damn member so pee is pretty much all down the side of the toilet, sometimes the front of his shorts, and occasionally the tips of his shoes, from the windowwwwwwww to the waaaaaaaaalls, till the sweat drops down his..never mind. But this is good to know; I shall arm thyself for fivedom.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Brace yourself, honey. The smells just get worse the older they get.

  6. Ann

    This is why I refuse to even go into the boy’s bathroom at my house, it scares me. We have a housekeeper who I adore and always try to make sure there’s nothing gross for them to clean but I just can’t bring myself to go in there.

    Great tip, believe it or not cleaning tips really make my day as long as I don’t have to try them out upstairs in the boy’s room…

    • The Bearded Iris

      I truly do love a good cleaning tip! Even better if I never have to use it myself, but alas, our housekeeper’s name is Leslie and she really sucks.

      • Ann

        I clean all the time anyway but they come every two weeks and do the big stuff to keep things caught up. I don’t think my poor husband could live with me if we didn’t have someone help me clean, I’m a bit OCD when it comes to cleanliness.

        • The Bearded Iris

          And with that, you’ve just ruined your chances of ever being invited to my house for a pound-cake-off. Because you would die if you saw how I live. DIE. And I really like you, and don’t want you to die.

          • Ann

            No worries, I’d just clean up. I do it everywhere without even thinking so I’m a great party guest. 😛

  7. Kim P

    I have 4 girls instead of boys so no boy bathroom smells to deal with.
    I do have a tip for training that a friend of mine had to resort to. She drained her toilet and painted a bullseye in the bottom so her son would have something to aim at and keep him more focused on the job at hand (so to speak).

    • The Bearded Iris

      Wow! Really? She painted a bullseye INSIDE her toilet? Like around the hole where the Chattahoochee brown trouts hibernate? Fascinating!

      • Kim P

        She said it worked great except whenever they had company in the house, her husband would go to the bathroom then yell that he hit the bullseye.

      • Ella

        O. M. G. you are killing me!!

  8. Astra

    A few other tips:
    I love KimP’s idea! I considered a separate “boys” bathroom and renovating it once they hit adolescence, but I don’t think their aim EVER improves. I trained my boys to pee sitting down (I don’t think they were at all scarred) but that only lasted until preschool…

    • The Bearded Iris

      I truly considered it teaching/requesting the sit-down style. But I know a guy whose wife makes him pee sitting down and he’s a sad sad man. It just seems rather emasculating. There must be a happy medium!

  9. Anna

    Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

  10. Mary Trunk

    I have a daughter but once I took care of my friend’s five year old boy for three days and the poor kid had to be woken up at night to pee so he wouldn’t wet the bed. I thought it would be super easy – at least that’s how my friend described it. She said, “Oh he hardly even wakes up. Just pull down his shorts and put him in front of the toilet.” Well, she didn’t tell me that I should turn him to his side because he pees directly to the right and managed to pee all over my wall in the middle of the night. That was FUN! I made my husband do the following two nights. And now I know what to clean that area with! THANK YOU. I think I’ll pass it on to my friend, too.

  11. Bernie Bickers

    Iris, you are a whiz…

    I think this should become your first branded product, the logo could simply be lifted from a no parking sign (Big letter “P” in a red circle with a line through it).

  12. Emma

    And at our house Little Buddy (12) won’t use the kids’ (girls’) bathroom because it smells like “girls”. HA!

  13. Carrie

    Whoa, whoa, whoa…didn’t you have poop on the walls at one time?!?

    I would say I’d like to be a fly on the wall at your place but well, now that I think about it…I’ll pass.

    Your family is a hoot! Love, love, love!

  14. Lisa Hewitt

    While you write your book you need to include a dictionary and put all “your” words and phrases (Chattahooche brown trout) in it. Totally not off subject – It seems all the good ideas are the old ones. Vinegar, baking soda (You know I love mixing that volcano up), peroxide, lemon juice, etc. I was researching some other things yesterday and came across the “clean your face with oil” thing. Shockingly, I had never heard of it and had to immediately try it and it is working! Also of note – the make your own air freshner – did it – it works great and that is all I use now.

  15. Jack@TheJackB

    We always aim for something because that is just fun, the question is whether that “something” is the appropriate receptacle.

  16. One Funny Motha

    To answer your question, YES. What’s with this people? Love the picture of your kid peeing. You should frame that. Oh, and we have the same bathroom tile. Home Depot?

  17. Heather Novak

    Darling. We usually clean with vinegar b/c I make our cleaners. Yup I am pious and Mother of The Year like that. Try that and 1) save moolah 2) loose chemicals and 3) I’m sure some other benefit awaits. Wanna improve his aim? *evil giggle* Invite him to be responsible for it. From potty training boot camp PK cleans up her own messes, from pee to spilled milk. (And when I say cleans up , please translate for a 3yo, but the gesture MATTERS) If Bucket Head has to wipe up overspray, I bet his aim will improve. Just my 45 cents.

  18. Steph

    I love that picture of him peeing! On a mostly unrelated note: our family was once on a road trip from Tennessee to Ohio. Our daughter was not quite five and required several bathroom breaks. The most urgent was at a truck stop. As my daughter and I were walking into the restroom, a woman was walking out. She was manly enough that I checked the sign to be sure we were in the correct place. My daughter yelled to this poor woman’s back, “Dis is da WADIES’ woom!”. So embarrassing!

  19. Michaela Mitchell

    Oh God, I am soooo glad I’m not the only one with a boy child who decided to do #2 in the front yard (ass to street)!

    That being said, I am so going to try this trick! Mostly because I have TWO boys, the youngest of which is potty training right now…the funk will be multiplying soon…

  20. Crista

    I’m assuming that my stepsons both pee on the carpet at their mother’s house because they don’t seem to understand that they need to aim INTO the big porcelain throne when they’re at our house. I’ll be using your tip this weekend.

  21. Rachel

    My guy pees sitting down. I never knew he did until recently. I guess he hates pee all over the place too. =)

    • The Bearded Iris

      LUCKY! I wish I could convince all my guys to do that. 🙂

  22. hpotter

    I would recommend caulking the base of your toilet to the floor. Otherwise the pee collects under the toilet where you can’t clean and smell forever. It can seep into your subfloor or grout line and ruins your floor. Trust me, I have experienced this as a landlord, it’s gross. If you ever need to remove the toilet or replace the wax ring the caulk line can be cut/removed or you can even use removable caulk.

    I put ‘Cherrios’ in an old coffee mate container next to the toilet. My little man sprinkles one – three cherrios in the toilet before he starts to pee as a target. It helps give the fire hose a goal.

    Love your blog

    • The Bearded Iris

      Well I love getting to use caulk because it is as much fun to use as it is to say! So thanks for the great tip! 🙂

  23. Frank

    Are members of the same sex simply oblivious to their own aromas? To read the comments here and elsewhere on the Internet, one would think that boy pee is the most offensive scent ever leashed upon the delicate lady nose. I’m a man so I’ve used quite a few mens’ rooms and, except in extreme circumstances, they don’t compare to the toxic fumes wafting out of women’s restrooms. There is nothing, NOTHING, worse than the foul mix of girly bits, taint sweat, poo, and pee. It is a downright other worldly funk that singes the hairs of ones’ nostrils and makes the alveoli in the lungs turn black, shrivel, and die. In all fairness, I understand the concerns. A lot of guys do have trouble staying on target, and that can add up to quite a mess. But, make no mistake, if we had to pick only one putrid fragrance that we could weaponize and send into space to destroy an incoming asteroid, ladies’ room odor would win. (Also, stop using the deodorant spray. It only makes it worse.)

  24. MenSmell

    Um…Frank-I think you’re a little confused, but we’ll let that go you being a male and all.Everyone knows that women are clean-and men are complete slobs. You filthy pigs piss all over the place and shit all over the seat…and who do you expect to clean it up?? Not you!! Men are oblivious to their own foul stench. There is nothing fouler than a mic of crusty, stale male piss, and ball sweat mixed with nasty scrotum cheeze adding up to that oh so telltale toxic waste that only a man can produce. The stench is worse than cat piss and corrodes the delecate female nasal passages. Youre right about one thing-men cant piss in a toilet to save their lives…or clean one. But make no mistake…there is NO fowler stench than that of a stinking man.

  25. heidi

    I tried that but the smell was back the next day so what I do that really works for us and keeps it fresh for about a week is just get a bucket of hot sudsy dish soap water. Dump it all over the toilet the floor and the surrounding wall and scrub everything down then dry with towel. Strong strong pee smell gone! 🙂

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