6 Reasons Why Your House Could Smell

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Have you noticed a strange smell in your home? The good news is the smell has probably not been there long, otherwise, your nose would have gotten used to it. There are several possible reasons for a bad smell in your home. Some are easy to find and fix, but others may be more challenging. Indoor air pollutants can even make you sick by causing headaches, sneezing, couching, and more.  Here are some tips to find, eliminate, and prevent strange smells in your home.


Just like the air filters in your car, the air filters in your home need to replaced every so often to keep them working properly and provide fresh, clean air. The frequency and method for replacing home air filters vary with the type of filter and amount of use. The surest way to tell is to open your vent and take a look.

The first clue a faulty filter is smelling up your home is its appearance. If the filter is visibly dark, dirty, or covered with hair, the filter needs replacing. If you are not sure, try holding the filter up to a light. Replace it if you cannot see through it. Also touch the filter to see if it is damp, and replace it if it is.

If you check your filter and notice the unpleasant smell getting stronger, it probably is the culprit. Even if the filter is not the source of the smell but you notice that it is dirty or damp, you should replace it anyway.


There are several spots in your home besides air filters where moisture and mold can build up and start to smell. The bathroom is an obvious one. Check all surfaces in your bath/shower as well as your shower curtain. Always leave the curtain closed to let it dry when not in use. Check the sink, faucet, and underneath the sink where a pipe may be leaking. If you do find a leaky pipe, you can try fixing it yourself or call a plumber to be safe.

To clean mold and anything else you find, spray the area with all-purpose bathroom cleaner, let it soak for a few minutes, and then scrub with an abrasive pad or sponge. Finish by rinsing with water.

Other places in the home where moisture and mold can accumulate include washing machines, dishwashers, and unfinished attics and basements. If you find mold in any of these areas, clean them just like you would clean mold in the bathroom, but use a cleaning agent like vinegar or diluted bleach instead of bathroom cleaner. To be safe, wear a mask when dealing with mold and harsh cleaning chemicals.


Bad food is one of the most common causes of household odors. If that is the case, the problem may be just one item that you can easily throw away, or it may be something leaked in the fridge and coated the area in a sticky, smelly mess. If you can simply throw away the spoiled food and fix the problem, great! If not, you may have to deep clean your refrigerator. It is best to do this the day before having your garbage collected to minimize the time you have spoiled food in or around your house polluting the air.

Start by taking everything out of your fridge. Throw away anything that is clearly bad, and check the expiration dates of everything else. Throw away what is expired and what you know you will not use before its expiration date. With the fridge empty, wipe down the interior using your cleaner of choice. Make sure you scrub extra hard anywhere that has stains or stickiness.

Once your fridge is clean, put everything back into it and take this opportunity to implement an organizational scheme to make sure you know what is in there, where it is, and when you need to use it or throw it away.

To fight nasty smells in the fridge, you can also leave an open container of baking soda inside. Baking soda is a great cleaning agent for air as well as surfaces!


It is no surprise that a garbage disposal might make your house smell bad. It is a wet, dark space where food goes to die. Your garbage disposal should be cleaned every couple weeks to prevent odors and bacteria before they become noticeable. There are a few steps to this.

Begin by using a flashlight to check the disposal for any foreign objects, whether food scraps or miscellaneous items like bottle caps. If you find anything that needs to be removed, turn off power to the disposal by unplugging it or flipping the switch in the breaker box. Once you are sure the power is off, use pliers or tweezers to reach into the disposal and remove what is down there. Do not put your hand in the garbage disposal!

Next, pour a cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal and let it sit for 15 minutes. Use a long brush (a toothbrush will do) to scrub the disposal inside and out, including the rubber flaps.

Finish by plugging the drain and filling the sink with water and some dish soap. Restore power to the disposal, unplug the drain, and run the disposal while the soapy water runs through it.


It is easy to tell your floors need to be vacuumed if you feel food crumbs or grains of dirt on your feet as you walk around the house. For cat owners, specks of litter are another reminder to vacuum. Even without these crumbs sticking to your feet, there is no telling what kind of dust, hair, or other junk might be hiding in your carpets and corners and smelling up your house.

Address these problems with a thorough vacuuming, and not just in the spots where it is convenient. Move your furniture around to vacuum underneath and behind. For added effect, sprinkle baking soda on the carpet before you vacuum and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.


Dirty feet and socks smell bad. It makes sense that shoes do, too, especially if they have gotten wet. As well as being unpleasant, smelly shoes can pose a health risk. The bacteria that cause the odor can also lead to infection.

There are many DIY methods to deal with this problem. Many standard cleaning products, like white vinegar, baking soda, and rubbing alcohol can be used to clean, dry, and deodorize your shoes. Be careful using drying products (like baking soda) on leather shoes, as they can work too well and dry the leather out.

If using baking soda, sprinkle about a tablespoon into your shoes and let them sit overnight. Vacuum out the baking soda and give your shoes a sniff test! For liquid remedies like white vinegar and rubbing alcohol, simply wet a cloth or paper towel and wipe down the shoes.

If these methods do not work, you can try purchasing a product made specifically to clean and deodorize shoes, or you can soak them in equal parts bleach and water. Again, be aware that some materials (leather) and light colors may not react well to this treatment.

As a preventative, some people keep their shoes stuffed with a drying agent when not in use, e.g., crumpled newspaper or pantyhose filled with baking soda.


This is not a complete list of reasons your home might smell, but it covers the basics. Follow your nose, and remember that baking soda is your best friend!

If your home needs a thorough cleaning, contact us to learn about our services and get a free quote!

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