7 Common Causes of Household Odors Right Under Your Nose


There’s nothing worse than a persistent odor in your home that you can’t identify. Household odors are irritating, unpleasant, and embarrassing if you have visitors. If you can’t find the source, the scent could follow you like a stinky ghost around your home.

If you’re sick of sniffing around your house like a smelling sleuth, here are seven common causes of household odors to investigate on your next olfactory outing.

1Your trash can

Trash can odors come out of nowhere. You leave for the office in the morning, coffee cup in hand, closing the door to your pleasant-smelling home behind you. The next thing you know, you’ve arrived home from work to a swirling mass of unpleasant odors.

Nip trash can odors in the bud with these quick fixes.

Try a trash compactor

A trash compactor can help isolate trash can odors because all garbage is compressed and sealed in one area. Retailers like Goedeker’s have an excellent selection of trash compactors to choose from, all of which can help you contain and prevent that rotten takeout smell.

Use scented trash bags

Scented trash bags can help mask the smell of refuse, so it won’t be the end of the world if you forget to take out the trash for a day or two.

2Your sink drain

Sink drains are another common culprit of household odors. Even if all of the dishes are done, sometimes a lingering rotten or musty smell can persist.

If sniffing around your sink drain is a gag-inducing experience, try the tips below to eliminate and prevent sink drain stench.

Flush with baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice

Add a few spoonfuls of baking soda down your sink drain, then add a cup of vinegar mixed with the juice of one lemon. The mixture will bubble, which will help loosen stuck-on pieces of food, and the lemon scent will leave behind a pleasant aroma.

Avoid flushing food down the drain

Scrape your plates as thoroughly as possible before washing them to prevent pieces of food from clogging the drain and causing pesky odors.

3Your laundry basket

If there’s a musty, B.O.-like smell in your bedroom that you just can’t track down, you could be overlooking an obvious culprit: the laundry basket.

If yesterday’s gym clothes are coming back to haunt your nose, try these tips for preventing laundry basket odors.

Try an enclosed laundry basket

A laundry basket with a lid or a zip-up cover can contain laundry odors to the inside of the basket.

Keep dirty laundry in a separate space

Keep your hamper in a non-bedroom space, like the garage or the laundry room. While depositing your dirty clothes in this space could present an inconvenience, it’s a small price to pay for a fresh-smelling bedroom.

4Your dishwasher

While you would think that the appliance responsible for washing your dishes would be one of the cleanest, most pleasant-smelling items in your home, think again. Like sink drains, dishwashers are susceptible to food buildup and odors.

The appliance you rely on to clean your dishes should be spick, span, and scent-free. Solve your dishwasher odors issues with these tips.

Clean out your dishwasher drain

The dishwasher has a drain to clean out, and it can quickly become full of food particles, mold, and soap scum. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for dismantling and cleaning the drain to eradicate unpleasant smells.

Rinse dishes more thoroughly before loading

To prevent future odors, ensure that most food particles have been scraped off of your dishes and that your dishes are well-rinsed in the sink before loading them into the dishwasher.

5Your refrigerator

Having a stinky refrigerator is downright unpleasant. While fridge odors are unlikely to impact or spoil your food, reaching in for a snack and meeting a rush of rotting produce smell is a complete appetite-killer.

Like many of our tips above, fixing a stinky fridge simply requires a bit of elbow grease.

Clean out your fridge

Empty your fridge and throw out anything expired or rotten (including that half-empty jar of olives you’ve had for three years). Remove all of the shelves from your fridge, wipe them down, and wipe down the inside of the refrigerator. It should smell good as new after a fresh cleaning.

Make a DIY deodorizer

Combine baking soda with a few drops of a mild-smelling essential oil (like lavender, eucalyptus, or lemon) and add a few scoops to a small, shallow bowl that can fit in your fridge—a ramekin, for instance. It’ll absorb future odors and keep your fridge smelling like sunshine and rainbows.

6Your dog

We’ve all waited a little too long to bathe the dog from time to time. Some pups carry an impressive stench, but you can fix that quickly enough.

Be more consistent with bathtime

Set a calendar reminder on your phone to bathe your dog. Some breeds need bathing more frequently than others, so set a consistent schedule according to your dog’s breed and habits.

Deodorize furniture and pet beds

If your pup’s smell has infiltrated your furniture and carpet, sprinkle baking soda liberally over each item, and give it a few hours to absorb. Vacuum up the baking soda, and enjoy your newly puppy breath-free furniture.


Household leaks don’t only result in a waste of natural resources. Leaks can also cause unpleasant musty odors and mold growth. Don’t let your house fall twenty thousand leaks under the smelly sea.

Regularly reseal potentially leaky areas

Reseal your plumbing fittings, sink piping, and shover hardware with silicone sealant regularly to fix existing leaks and prevent future ones.

Find and repair leaks behind walls

Hire a qualified home inspector to search for leaks behind the walls of your home. These leaks won’t only cause musty odors, but they could result in structural damage to your home, so they need to be addressed by a licensed contractor ASAP.

Saying goodbye to household odors

Household odors are never pleasant, but try the tips above to find the culprits and keep your home smelling fresh. Luckily, most gag-worthy household smells are quickly resolved. These tips will keep your house smelling outstanding for the foreseeable future.


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