How to remove horrible odours from your home

Have you ever been surprised by a random bad smell in your home? Here is a guide to identifying and removing bad odours.

There are some odours which are quiet and unassuming. They lay dormant, subtly wafting, occasionally making themselves known to the sensors in your nostrils. “Did you smell that? Sniff, sniff*”…then it’s gone…. Then there are some which are like a brass brand alarm clock. Loud, proud and in your face. There’s no walking away from these ones.

Whatever the smell, when you’re presented with one in your home, it can be frustrating. Sometimes horrifying. Especially when the cause isn’t an obvious one. We look at the most common odour causing culprits and how to deal with them.

Old home smell

It’s the musty smell we associate with older houses. It smells like your grandpa’s old tweed jacket that’s been in the trunk for too long. This can mean mould or damp issues, caused by several things. Whatever it is, you should most definitely find it as some types of moulds can be toxic.

  • First find where the mould is living. If it’s not identifiable immediately it could be in your walls. If this is the case you’ll need to hire a professional to carry out a mould inspection. On top of the smell, cracked or peeling paint, bulging walls or discolouration are all signs there could be moisture in your walls.
  • If the signs are more obvious and superficial, there are certain steps you can take yourself to clean. Remove wet or damaged goods. If it’s in the carpet then it’s best to just rip it up and start again. Then clean with a strong cleaner, making sure to wear a mask and gloves. Next deodorize and ventilate the area to dry it. Opening the windows on a nice bright, breezy day should suffice. When finished, make sure the source of the dampness is fixed i.e. a leaky pipe or bathtub.

Foul stench in your kitchen/bathroom

woman doing the dishes in her kitchen

You could have mildew in your sink pipes. Attracted to dank, dark places, the sink hole is the ideal habitat for the spores to spread. If left undetected it can cause a very unpleasant odour.

  • The good news is this is relevantly easy and quick to fix. You can buy drain cleaners from the supermarket or hardware store. Or, if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly solution, use a funnel, ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar.
  • Use the funnel to pour the baking soda down the drain, next add the vinegar and when the materials combine they’ll cause a frothy, mildly abrasive compound. Leave for 15 minutes, run hot water for 1 minute, leave for another 5 minutes and then run cold water. Voila, the smell should be eliminated.

Dirty dishwasher

It’s easy to forget that something in charge of washing, actually needs to be washed. There are a couple of things you can do regularly to ensure your dishwasher remains fresh and clean:

  • Run the dishwasher empty with some vinegar regularly, to keep it clean and fresh.
  • Clean the drain filter – it’s the round, detachable filter at the bottom of the machine. This is where all the food particles collect. Remove the bottom rack, take out the filter and wash with hot soapy water.
  • Wash the inside of the door, walls and seals – Remove all the racks, then use a cloth or brush with some hot soapy water to scrub out the interior and inside the seals.
  • Wash the racks – although the least likely cause of the odour, it’s good to wash these now and again.

Something smells like a sewer

If you smell something that aligns with rotten eggs, chances are there’s sewage gas emitting from your pipes. Caused by a mix of methane and bacteria, this is not only unpleasant, it can be a danger to your health. There are many reasons why the smell is lingering such as a clogged drain, rotted or cracked pipes, loose-fitting pipe connections, a stopped-up or too-short vent pipe, a dry tap, or the toilet’s wax ring is old. Because of the health implications, as soon as you start to smell something it’s best to call in the professionals.

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