CHOICE membership

Toilet Fresheners

Choice has tested all sorts of cleaning products including toilet cleaners but seems to have stepped around a genre of product usually called toilet fresheners. Based on the shelf space they have at the grocers they must be profitable lines as well as good moving products.

Many of us use them. In my experience some fall apart more quickly than others, and the claims about cleaning, foaming, scenting, and so on are all over the place. It would be interesting to read an objective Choice commentary, as well as a test not a paper comparison, against their claims.

For clarity, the products include the ones that go in the cistern to slowly dissolve (apparently frowned on by the plumbing community) as well as those that hang in the toilet. And is a periodic swish with bleach or a cleaner as good or better a solution to ‘the problem’? Are these essentially vanity products that suck dollars from consumers or do they work as advertised?


My view is these are another product looking for a purpose.

A toilet bowl necessarily has a high microbial count, having one (or more) in the house is not a death sentence. If one observes the personal washing routines drummed into all children in Oz the fact that it would be unwise to eat your soup out of the bowl is neither here nor there. Some particular parts of the sales campaign are particularly silly.

  • Colouring; why does making your toilet water blue provide some benefit? We simple souls need a visual reminder it seems - but of what?

  • Cleaning round the bend; how far down the pipe can you or ought you disinfect? Is it a moral failing to have filthy sewer pipes on your property? If so you should treat all tubs, showers and basins the same way. Do customers lie awake at night fearing microbes will crawl up, swim through the trap and escape and ambush them if they go for a twinkle in the dark? I fear the only way to save yourself from such a fate is to get a toilet seat with a light and an automatic IR sensor actuated switch.

  • Any product that actually is effectively antimicrobial would ruin any septic or AWTS.

  • If the product is just a detergent why do we need a special one? What would be wrong with a squirt of cheap generic liquid detergent and a brush? Note: do not use your toothbrush.


This request a test was ‘inspired’ by noticing this among the returns for another search on Choice.

The article says it all and ‘fresheners’ seem arm-in-arm with it, and a bit of objectivity never hurts.


When the water turns green it indicates the boys have been widdling, but not flushing. Very green means they should be drinking more water. :grin:

My mother started using Blue from the early days when it was an effort to remove the cistern lid, tie the bag in place and adjust so it didn’t dissolve all at once. I regarded it as useless.


Some toilet bowls can get permanent stains due to water quality issues or deterioration of the surface glaze. The blue is to hide what may lurk under the water.

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Unlikely a country household on septic and tank water?
The blue colouring interferes with environmental responsibility. “If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow”. Composting toilets excepted.


That’s our philosophy now, on the farm and saving water. When I was a kid we lived in town for a while and the boys were not allowed to piddle outside and there were visitors to impress with our socially acceptable blue water. :sweat_smile:


open window is the best freshener or you can infuse vinegar with citrus for 3 weeks, strain it. Dilute with water 1:1 and spray the air, it will smell like citrus

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We bought some V.I.Poos when they were half price. They are perfect for travelling (when we were able to). They are stored with our suitcases. We used them as an air freshener in our hotel rooms. They were very effective, small and light to carry and strong. Never used them in the intended way though.

In the USA I learnt that most home bathrooms (toilets) have a box of matches near the cistern.
Lighting a match and waving it around after flame is out is very effective at destroying any pong.
Cheap, efficient, effective and avoids chemicals in the loo.
Try it!

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I’ll not comment on its efficacy but noting I have American roots and spent many years there, in multiple states, with extended family from multiple family tree branches there having a wide range of economic means, that is a new one on me.

edit: checking in with American FB friends the response is ‘some people do’. I suspect some Americans may enjoy the smell of recently ignited gunpowder, and for others it is the lesser ‘problem’? One never stops learning.


What, by covering the smell with burning match combustion gases? Matches produce sulphur dioxide which is more irritating than the natural products. If you have asthma a good whiff of SO2 will probably give you an attack.

Then there are the risks of pyroflatulence…

The smells from farts are sulphur compounds like hydrogen sulphide and possibly alkyl hydrogen sulphides (mercaptans) which are combustible. However, farts burn mainly due to methane and some hydrogen which are highly inflammable but, contrary to popular belief, have no smell at all. The smells from faeces are from larger molecules that are not combustible.

So unless you see flame you are not destroying the smell but covering it with something more harmful.


Not just my friends then :blush:

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Funny, I’ve never had or heard of someone combusting after lighting a match in the loo, or suffering an asthma attack. I guess I’m not as sensitive as you syncretic :smiley:

That would be because most people don’t light matches in the toilet. Lighting farts is entertainment for the young - usually males containing beer.

But those details do not bear directly on the point that without combustion you are not removing gas or anything else that smells but covering it up.

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OK if you’re saying that only combustion will remove gaseous smells - what do you suggest for bathroom pong?

Good ventilation.

Kevin McCleod of Grand Designs fame has suggested the ideal home is fast approaching the goal of having more toilets than any other type of room in the house. One for each bedroom and at least one extra for each level or living area.

In which instance to each their own.

We use an aerosol one squirt deodoriser as needed, sometimes. Whether it masks the odours or reacts with the molecules is not known.


Yes, either the open window kind or exhaust fan depending on your circumstances.

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@gordon’s composting toilet has a fan in the pan to draw odours away, brilliant design and there should be more composting toilets in houses/buildings to save the ever precious water supplies we flush away so casually in septic and sewers systems.

An added bonus of the composting type is you can compost household scraps as well. For larger complexes and multiple small yard area homes perhaps a need to reintroduce a person/persons similar to the night soil collector who empties the compost and it can be reused in gardening and agriculture.


Good ventilation from a window or an exhaust fan is the simplest and best toilet deodoriser.

Anything ‘Blue’ could stop us from identifying some health problems: like dehydration (dark yellow) or blood (could be a life saving clue of bowel problems).

I find that a drop of Eucalyptus solution
when cleaning the bowl can freshen the air as well.