What do you do when your house has a stale (or worse) smell that never seems to go away? This could either be a home that you just moved into and you are dealing with the smell left behind by the previous inhabitants or it could be caused by many other factors beyond your control (dead pests in the walls, etc.). Depending on the actual source of the smell your final course of action to wipe it out is definitely different. However, here are 10 tips to at least mask the stinky house smells to provide you with immediate relief:
- Get extremely temporary relief. Okay, first while we figure this whole mess out… A simple solution is to light some scented candles to provide some very temporary relief. You can also by bottles or cans of spray air fresheners to cover up the smells as best you can. Unfortunately this is really just masking the smells for a short time and in some cases can actually make the problem seem worse.
- Likely suspect… mold or pet stains in the carpet. If you suspect you have moldy carpets and/or a pet stained carpet you have several options. You can hire a professional carpet cleaning service to come out and give you an estimate on what it would take do a deep clean and/or pet odor removal service. Another great choice if you can afford it is to replace the carpet cleaning the floors below the carpet very thoroughly as well (it’s expensive but is the best way to knock out the problem).
- Likely suspect… dead animals in the walls. If this problem just suddenly came about and you suspect that you may have a mouse or rat problem then it’s very possible that a rodent has died somewhere behind a wall. Don’t panic and start tearing off your drywall just yet. Eventually the carcass will dry and the smell will go away the amount of time that takes depends on the size of the animal. Revert to the first recommendation for temporary relief (candles, etc.) while you wait out the little rascal.
- Likely suspect… previous inhabitants. So some people cook foods that are nasty or have other habits that cause odors that you might find unacceptable. If you just have never liked the smell of your home it’s possible that you could have this problem. Covering up a problem like this is difficult and may require more extreme measures (pulling carpet, painting walls, etc.). You might try picking a room that seems worse and painting it with an odor eliminating paint. If you can knock out the problem by tackling one room at a time (kitchen, bathroom) you can reduce the cost of correcting the problem.
- Likely suspect… stale air. The air in a house can get stale over the course of several years. This is sort of hard to explain but when you have the problem you will know it. One of the best cures for this type of problem is to have someone come in and clean out your vents and duct work. This is often referred to as air duct cleaning. It’s very effective and is something that you might consider scheduling on an annual basis (especially if anyone in your home has severe allergies).
- Likely suspect… smelly wallpaper. If your home has a lot of wallpaper and it is getting older you might find that it is trapping odors (including cigarette smoke) or that mold has built up on the surface or behind the wallpaper. You have the option of pulling the wallpaper or performing a deep cleaning of the wallpaper by using a ½ water ½ vinegar mixture and apply that periodically to the surface of the wallpaper. I have to be honest with you though, usually the wallpaper has to go (don’t just cover it up PLEASE).
- Likely suspect… water or moisture problems. Depending on where you live water may creep into your basement and/or home from heavy rains, snows, or other causes. You have to stay on top of this and make sure that you have a wet/dry vacuum as well as a dehumidifier to try and dry this out properly. You can notice a smell early and obviously can see the water so you must take care of this before you find yourself with a mold problem.
- Likely suspect… house fire or smoke damage. Okay we are obviously not talking about the smell during the fire, but after the fire is out and you are left with smoke and other damage. The portions of your home that have been severely damaged of course just get remodeled but usually you will have smoke damage that needs to be addressed. Once again cleaning out the ducts is a great starting point along with washing the walls with a vinegar based cleanser and deep cleaning the carpets. This is extremely hard to get rid of but using all of the above tips you may avoid more expensive replacement costs. Repainting with the proper odor reducing paint can also help a lot with this particular smell.
- Likely suspect… old shingles or roofing. Yes, if your roof has not been replaced in 15, 20, 25+ years you may very likely have a mold problem. Unfortunately the only good way to get rid of this problem is to pull up the old shingles clean beneath them and apply new shingles. It’s surprising that more people don’t think of this as a possible problem obviously they are one of the most exposed portions of the house to the elements. This is one reason why having good gutters and downspouts is so important to get the water down and away from your home.
- Most likely suspect… mold throughout the home. It has been mentioned already multiple times but it is 100% true that mold inside and outside the home is really the likely cause of the problem. If you find yourself with a stinky home one of the best things you can do is call a service provider that comes out and tests your home for mold. You will probably be shocked as to what they find and they are best suited to give you safe removal options.
If you are like me and really sensitive to different smells with allergies or borderline allergy symptoms, you know that you cannot stay in a place that causes those to flare up. A stinky and smelly home is most likely not a healthy home either so do take care and call professionals if you can’t find a way above to knock out the smells yourself. Don’t get discouraged, there is a cure for your stinky home.