My parents keep on complaining about the smell, but I don't smell anything at all.

I've put in two odor-maskers, but they're not helping at all.

I also try to ventilate, but it's almost always way too cold to open the windows here (yes, even in the middle of summer right now - Seattle has been unusually cool this summer)

The other thing is that it smells even after I leave the room for months on end (for college). So it's not me.

They've tried to aggressively identify the source, but to no avail.

  • What kind of smell are we talking about here? Musty? Rotten food? BO? Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 13:16
  • Give some clarity to the question itself (source of smell, etc.) and the question may get voted up a bit.
    – Kris K.
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 14:51

5 Answers 5


Smells don't just appear out of nowhere. Something in your room is the source of the smell (dirty laundry, rotten food, etc). Find the source and remove it. If you can't identify it (too used to it?), then ask your parents to look for it.

If the smell seems to be everywhere in the room, consider deep-cleaning the carpets. (Buy/Rent a cleaner, or have a cleaning service come in.)

If you can't remove the source, all you can do is mitigate.

Leave the door to your room open to avoid stagnant air. Even if something is only mildly stinky, if you leave it in a sealed off room, the smell will permeate the room.

Consider getting an Air Purifier, which will churn the air in your room and filter it a bit. Make sure you stay on top of cleaning/replacing the filter in the unit.

If the smell is a musty/humid smell, consider a Dehumidifier. You will need to empty the drain pan periodically, or attach a drain line to your plumbing. You can also use Damp Rid.

Also, consider that the source of the smell may be you. Your parents may be trying to politely tell you something. Do you bathe every day? Do you wash your hair regularly (at least once every 2-3 days)? Do you put on a fresh change of clothes every day? Do you wear antiperspirant/deodorant? If you answer "no" to any of the above, it may be time to re-visit your hygiene.


What your problem was is no longer your issue. That smell is now in everything. What you will probably need to do is take all of your clothes, linens, curtains, and fabric out of your room and clean them well.

Remove all of your furniture as well. Move it to someplace like the garage where it can be aired out. Then clean it with Lysol well and allow it to air out.

Spray your mattress with Febreze and let your mattress air out for at least 24 hours. Then put it in a mattress bag with cedar balls for 24-48 hours.

Shampoo your carpet. You may need to paint as well, though washing the walls and ceiling may be enough depending on the paint/coverings. If its wallpaper and the smell is bad enough(ask your mom do not judge yourself if you think no) you may need to take it down as well. Paper absorbs well so it tends to hold smells.

To avoid this problem in the future, wash your sheets every week. Get a hamper for your dirty clothes and wash them at least weekly. Spray Lysol in your room regularly to help combat odors to help avoid the need for another deep-cleaning.


See: Building Odor Guide: How to Find, Test, & Remove Odors, Odor Detection and Methods to Remove Smells, & Gases in Buildings, here:


Could be something rare such as Synesthesia:


Could be that your parents are conditioned to some particular scent/odor that exists in other parts of the house, and are noticing the lack of it in your room and unconsciously equating the lack to 'smelling bad'. Such a scent/odor could be a byproduct of cleaning, especially if your room is maintained by one person and the rest of the house is maintained by another person using different products.

Have a third/fourth party confirm the odor, or a professional inspect it.

Take some steps:

  1. remove everything to a storage area (bed, furniture, clothes,...)
  2. mask off any heating/cooling vents and duct work
  3. clean all the walls and ceiling
  4. clean light fixtures
  5. shampoo the carpet
  6. after the carpet dries, close the doors and windows then leave the room sit empty for a few days.

If the smell ...

  1. ... persists, it may be:

    • a dislodged vent stack in the plumbing system.
    • dead animal(s) in the crawl space, attic or wall cavities.
    • crawlspace used as a den by animals
    • mold or bacteria in the carpet padding
  2. ... disappears:

    1. unmask the vents then leave the room sit for a few more days with the doors/windows closed

After unmasking the vents, if the smell ...

  1. ... returns:

    1. then the duct work needs to be inspected. Could be:

      • foul substance in the duct work
      • foul air being sucked into the duct work due to venturi effect at unsealed/open/loose joints
  2. ... does not return:

    1. thoroughly clean all furniture
    2. return furniture to room except for mattress
    3. let room sit for a few more days with doors/windows closed

If the smell ...

  1. ... returns

    1. remove all the furniture
    2. air out the room until the smell is gone
    3. replace half the furniture
    4. repeat this procedure to narrow down it down to, presumably but not necessarily, the one piece of furniture. The smell could be the piece's finish, especially if antique or oiled
  2. ... does not return:

    1. then the source is the mattress and/or box spring
    2. buy a new set

Clean the floors, put fresh bedding on, turn on a fan or open a window, get rid of or clean anything with traces of foods or liquids (plus don't eat in your room), take showers daily just in case it might be YOU making your room smell bad.


Try placing a bowl of white distilled vinegar in a corner of your room and let it sit for 24 hours


fill a cup half way full of baking soda, Then take a dryer sheet and place it over the cup. Secure it with a rubber band.

Both of these solutions worked for me.

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