Different types of home odors and potential causes

We all want a house that always smells fresh and clean. Sadly, the aforementioned is hardly the case if at all your home is constantly occupied.

Sometimes you might find the source of certain home odors noticeable due to familiarity, but other times you will have to do a little digging.

Keeping in mind that not all smells are easy to locate, below is a list of some of the most common home odors and how to eliminate them with as little effort as possible.

Pet odors

Pets must be washed often, like humans, lest they emanate a funky smell that spreads onto everything they touch, lay on, etc.

If you do not have time to wash your pet every day, try chemical-free dry pet shampoo to help push the days until you finally get time.

Pet odors

Additionally, ensure you clean up your pet’s pee and poop as soon as you become aware.

Failure to which, the smell becomes embedded on the mess’s surface, making it harder to clean out.

Also, try changing the pet litter often and brush out their fur as often as recommended, especially if they shed or go for frequent walks.

Mold and mildew

If your house always has a musty smell despite your efforts to clean everything, you are dealing with a mold and mildew problem.

Mold not only smells terrible, but it can also cause catastrophic effects on your health. So the first step will be finding the mold or mildew source.


Often, mold and mildew grow in damp and dark areas such as the basement, under your sink, and in the vents. After finding the source, you should investigate how severe the problem is.

Several chemicals eliminate molds and mildew if it is a tiny patch. One such solution is Lysol.

However, if the problem is extensive, try to avoid the area as much as possible until you can call a professional to deal with it.

Sewer system

Sewer systems are fitted with a vacuum that soaks in all the dirty water and smelly gas after you have used the bathroom, toilet, and sink.

Every sewer has a P-trap in the drainpipe filled with water to prevent the annoying residual gas from coming back up.

Its primary purpose is to prevent the bad smell (hydrogen peroxide) from perpetrating your house.

Simplified Sewer System
Image by: Flickr/frapoberlin

If you fail to seal that particular sewer for a while, the water will eventually dry up, and all the smelly gas will return to the rest of the house.

In such a situation, you can mix some vinegar with water and flush it down the drain, then let it sit for a while before pouring in hot water.

If the problem persists, you might need to call a plumber.

Trash cans

Trash cans are bound to emanate a bad smell, and therefore it is advised to empty them as often as possible.

However, small pieces of trash will get stuck on the can, and the build-up will cause a permanent stench.

Trash can
Image by: Flickr/MasonIsNotCool

To remedy the situation, scrub the trash can with bleach or any of your preferred cleaning solutions.

Afterward, please leave it to air dry to remove any other lingering odor. When it dries, sprinkle baking soda on the inside of the trash can before putting any trash in it.


If you have a mudroom in the house, then the chances are that it is full of wet clothes, used gym and sports equipment, and dirty shoes.

It is normal to stash those items in the mudroom for a couple of days as you wait to find time to get them cleaned.

Often, they will start smelling, and the smell will spread to other rooms in the house.

Mud house
Image by: Flickr/ Julia LaVecchia

To prevent the smell from spreading, sprinkle the mudroom with baking soda, put dryer sheets inside the worn shoes, and aerate the room constantly.

Gas leaks

Most modern homes use gas for heating,  barbecuing, cooking, and weeding. But unfortunately, the gas is odorless in its natural state, making it impossible to detect.

Therefore, manufacturers mix it with a stinking rotten egg-like odor to make it easy to see if there is a leak.

If your house has a constant rotten egg-like smell, then embark on finding the source of the gas leak. Call a professional if you cannot find it, as the problem can be catastrophic.

Lingering smoke

If a household member constantly smokes or you just burnt some food, the smell of smoke will embed itself on the fabrics and carpets.

On most occasions, the smell goes away with proper aeration; this is not always the case, especially if the house smells musty.

In such a scenario, clean the entire house, including the ceilings.

If you can still smell smoke, remove all the fabrics from the curtains to your sofa covers and dry clean them.

Assuming you are still unsatisfied with the results, consider repainting the rooms with paint that doesn’t absorb home odors.

Dirty beddings

I bet you have heard the phenomenon that every home has its unique smell even though the homeowners cannot smell it.

As much as the smell is attributed to typical body odor, sometimes it gets overwhelming that everyone in the household feels stuffed.

Dirty beddings
Image by: iStock

It is usual for humans to sweat a considerable amount at night. Open your bedroom window and wash the bedding with a reliable detergent.

However, if the smell persists, clean your mattress professionally or sprinkle it with water and vinegar, then dust it with baking soda.

This way, you will get rid of any lingering smell.


Considering we constantly use our refrigerators for one thing or the other, many of us forget to clean them and perform other maintenance activities continually lest they smell.

If you notice your refrigerator is emanating a weird smell, take everything out of it and trash any foods that might be going bad.

After that, wipe down every surface with a mixture of water and white vinegar.

As you let it dry, plop several pieces of sliced lemon to remain with a citrusy smell before returning the rest of the food.

Remember that the refrigerator is the most common source of home odors. Therefore, it should be kept clean at all times.

New furniture

Harmful toxins inside the house are 5-10x more than the toxins you are bound to contact outside.

So, when you buy new furniture and your home has that new furniture smell, you need to do something about it. This is because your furniture releases volatile organic compounds(VOCs) that can cause catastrophic health problems.

To deal with VOCs, Start by aerating your house for a couple of weeks after buying furniture. Then, if the smell persists, try an air purifier with a carbon filter.

You should also do the same if you bought a new mattress that has a strong odor.


Odors in the home are nothing to worry about as they are pretty standard. But if left unattended, the problem may become severe, making your home uncomfortable to live in.

Hopefully, the steps above will help you find the source of your odor and deal with them.

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