Three Common Sources of Bad Smells & How to Treat Them

Every house has the occasional brush with a bad odor: it might be leftover meatloaf in the trashcan, diapers from the baby's room, or a stinky shoe. Sometimes, though; a smell outlasts your cleaning, and no matter how much you hunt for it, you have a hard time finding its source.

The first defense against bad smells is a clean house, so if you need some help catching up, call cleaning services to get you started. If you still have a smell that lingers when the house is clean, check and see if it's one of these common household smells:


If there's any household smell that just loves to hang around, it's smoke. It could be cigarette smoke or that ham that burnt in the oven, but either way, it's always there. Thankfully, there is a secret for removing a smoky smell that works well unless there's years and years worth of smoke in the walls. It might be a little bit of work, but the big breath you'll take at the end will be worth it!

  • First, clean everything. Every surface, every piece of furniture, light fixtures, walls—if you can wash it, wash it!
  • Dust from the top down. Dusting this way is better anytime you clean, but especially when you're trying to remove odors. This will result in the dirt and dust ending on the floor where you can vacuum it up and away.
  • Vinegar. In the '50s and '60s, many housewives would put vinegar in small bowls and leave them in different rooms in the house to absorb smoke odor, and according to those who have tried it for themselves, it actually works. Cleaning with vinegar has the same effect, so clean your walls with vinegar and water and spritz your carpet with vinegar and let it evaporate.


That unwashed-dog smell might be more than Rover's lack of hygiene—that smell can also be caused by pet urine in the house. If you've cleaned and haven't found any source but the smell hangs around, chances are the urine has been absorbed by the padding under your carpet.

There's really only one way to clean it, and that's with a steam cleaner. The steam reaches into the padding and pulls out dirt and odors, something a vacuum cleaner can't do.


That old attic smell is usually caused by mold, and it doesn't take much to cause the mustiness to set in. If you want to treat the musty smell (or prevent it!), a dehumidifier's a good first step. Mold requires moisture to thrive—reduce the moisture and you'll lessen the chance of mold growth.

There's one more thing you should do, especially if the odor remains even with the dehumidifier: find the mold and treat it. In some cases, you can do this pretty easily on your own with vinegar or mold killers, but if the mold has gotten under your carpet or in your walls, you're going to want a professional to take a look.

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