I've posted in a few places about this but there is a smell in just one of the rooms of an apartment I moved into that has not aired out in several months. I believe it's a kind of chalky, almost like there is powder in the air. I've had the fan blowing everyday and when I get home and I open the window when I get back from work as well to blow fresh air in. The smell dissipates but when I close the door for 30-60 minutes, the smell is back as strong as ever. I've also tried mopping (with fabuloso) every nook and cranny including the ceiling, closet, walls, everywhere but 2 days afterwards when the fabuloso scent is gone, the chalky smell is still there.

Here are pictures of the room http://imgur.com/a/5FQ8J

I've asked on reddit.

The super thought the smell might be shellac.

The super and landlord aren't sure what it could be. I'm not sure what to do now or where to go from here.

  • Maybe it's coming from the hole in the wall. – pjs1987 Jul 29 '17 at 22:33
  • Chalky smell to me describes mold. There are many different kinds of mold, dry rot white mold , black mold , carpet ,drywall most any surface in a damp home can hold mold spores. One cleaner I found to be effective after working in a hospital is a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide stronger than you buy in the grocery store but can be found in most major cities in concentrations up to 30%. If you use this method and purchase a gallon of 30% remember when you dilute with tap water always add the hydrogen peroxide to water not the other way. 30% will bleach the color out of almost everything. – Ed Beal Dec 9 '17 at 1:09
  • I was going to say “chalky” makes me think of calcium and water. What’s a humidistat read in that room? By the way every room needs fresh air, even the ones that don’t smell chalky when the door is closed for a while. Get some air flow happening in that room. – Luke Smith Jul 13 '18 at 2:09
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because identifying/locating smells are specifically off-topic for the site per Help section. – fixer1234 Jul 13 '18 at 2:29

Just before my cat passed on, she sprayed every wall, carpet, door...in my house. I removed all the carpet and "painted" my floors with shellac, especially the edges of each room by the floor base. It smelled terrible until I used the shellac.

  • We had same problem and similar solution (we painted the floor in the veranda) when we bought our house. OPs situation might be different as I don't think I'd use "chalky" to describe the smell of cat spray. – Myles Oct 6 '17 at 15:47

I would try a divide and conquer approach. Or really, divide and appraise.

Obtain generous quantities of painter plastic and masking tape. After airing out the room thoroughly, install the plastic floor to ceiling so as to divide the room into several small "rooms". Maybe four or six initially tightly sealing each compartment to prevent the odor from traveling from one to another.

Let it sit for long enough (an hour?) and then stick your nose into each to see if it is present in one or two, or maybe in all of them.

In the case of the odor being in only one or two, maybe you can narrow it down more by closely smelling all the surfaces like a dog would. Or applying some plastic over particular surfaces: those baseboard heaters seem a likely suspect. So does the baseboard trim. And the floor—which appears to have open joints.

If most of the compartments have the odor, maybe try covering each of the surfaces to see if you can get the odor to stop. If so, then remove a bit of the sheeting until you find the one which exposes the odor.

Shellac may well be the solution, but with plastic sheeting you can non-destructively preview whether it would have any effect.

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