Smelly House
February 10, 2005 2:57 PM   Subscribe

HomeDeodorantFilter: My friend recently moved into a new place where the prior tenants had left a rather strong scent. She's tried airing the place out, air fresheners, a few candles here and there, but nothing really gets the smell out for good. Any tips?
posted by drpynchon to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ionic Breeze. Mine will get rid of pretty much any odor.
posted by mrbill at 3:00 PM on February 10, 2005

I've heard painting the walls can help, if that's an option.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:09 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Painting the walls, scrubbing floors and bathroom/kitchen tiles, also if there is carpet it should be cleaned professionally (landlord should pay for that).

What kind of smell? Where is it localized?
posted by mai at 3:14 PM on February 10, 2005

cheaper choice-super odor killer by glade.
it works in my boys' bathroom.
posted by davenportmom at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2005

Painting the walls can help, but if it's a real strong smell that's originating from the walls, you might want to primer them first. There are a number of products on the market that are specifically targeted towards people who need to paint over the results of heavy smokers living in a building beforehand and one those may help with this -- it prevents whatever's under the primer from seeping through, as well as masking scents. You can then paint over the primer (after giving it a coat or two and letting it dry) like any other wall.

If it's coming from someplace you can spray something onto, you might try either Nature's Miracle or, even more simple, a solution of vinegar and water. Vinegar reeks when you first spray it on something, but it will fairly quickly dissipate and, often, take the underlying smell with it.

Another thing to note is that if something has died in the walls (like mice, bats, etc.), you'll often be stuck with the smell until it's either found and removed, or it finishes decaying. We had a similar problem in one of our coat closets in a really old house. It's unpleasant, but it does eventually go away. :-/
posted by ibidem at 3:25 PM on February 10, 2005

You can burn sage. It was used to ward off bad spirits and it does the trick with bad smells too.
posted by lorrer at 3:31 PM on February 10, 2005

Plants. Lots and lots of plants.
posted by stet at 3:58 PM on February 10, 2005

majick post in 10...
posted by abcde at 4:00 PM on February 10, 2005

i never tried this, but someone once told me that putting charcoal briquettes in strategic spots will absorb odors. Easier than painting, and if it doesn't work, you're only out a few bucks...
posted by hellbient at 4:04 PM on February 10, 2005

Baking soda. Dust everything with baking soda (well, whereever it can be easily cleaned up). My friends moved into a house that the previous residents left in a really disgusting and smelly state. Along with elbow grease and lots of scrubbing with bleach, we threw baking soda all over the worst smelling rooms--dusted the closets with it and closed them with an open box, dusted the walls with it, everything. Works like a charm. You can get boxes of baking soda that have tear-off vents on the side designed for the de-smelling purpose.
posted by schroedinger at 4:07 PM on February 10, 2005

Go to a Starbucks and get some of those free bags of "coffee grounds for your garden." Open them up around the house. They suck in odors and should make things better.

On another note, I read once in a Douglas Coupland book that supposedly the smell of cinnamon will cover any other smell. Not sure if it's true but thought I'd add it.
posted by pwb503 at 4:10 PM on February 10, 2005

She may want to check if there is any kind of mold growing in damp spots behind or in the walls; that not only smells bad but can affect her health. Also, carpets are odour traps. Even professional cleaning might not solve the problem, though replacing them certainly will.
posted by jokeefe at 4:26 PM on February 10, 2005

I had a smoke problem in an apartment I had moved into and I just sprayed Febreze on all the walls liberally (the carpet had already been replaced). A week later the annoying Febreze fragrance was gone, and so was the tobacco smell.
posted by grouse at 4:39 PM on February 10, 2005

I second the painting idea. I know that at least some Home Depots will add an anti-fungal compound to your primer for free.
posted by estelahe at 5:01 PM on February 10, 2005

Go nuts with a whole bottle of Febreeze. That stuff works wonders. I turned around a sickening couch that was used by a chain-smoker (took out the cushions, Febreezed 'em both sides, twice). Just spray and let dry. I recommended this to a friend who just bought a bed from some serious smokers, and he had great results getting the smokey smell out of the mattress.

I would spray the hell out of the carpet, and I think it can be used on surfaces as well.

Should only set you back $4, tops. And it certainly won't hurt anything to try.
posted by beth at 5:23 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've heard that some carpet repair / installation people leave out large bowls of vinnegar to capture harsh odors. Haven't tried it myself, though.
posted by lpqboy at 5:33 PM on February 10, 2005

This thread might be somewhat useful.
posted by sled at 5:59 PM on February 10, 2005

Zero Odor

Febreeze only covers scents, doesn't neutralize them. And it is just as heinous a smell as feces.
posted by scazza at 6:51 PM on February 10, 2005

Also this lightbulb ionizes odor/air pollutants and makes them fall to the ground. Both this and Zero Odor works.
posted by scazza at 6:58 PM on February 10, 2005


EXSTINK! Dammit! Quit fooling around with all the half-ass solutions and just buy a bucket of ExStink! If it's good enough for the L.A. Coroner's Office, it's good enough for you!

(Sorry, I missed the Stinksignal while I was out at dinner.)
posted by majick at 7:38 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

"Oust" does a great job of getting rid of some tough to get rid of odors. We use their battery-power fan in our bathroom because it often reeks of cigarette smoke from our neighbors' apartment that seeps in through the exhaust. Febreeze can't hurt either.
posted by tastybrains at 7:40 PM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Borrow an ozone machine, put the pets out, turn it on high, close windows, leave the house for the day; turn it off and air the house (wait outside). (If you have asthma, let someone else turn it off).

If the smell returns, find the source. Check the A/C with just the fan blowing, not cooling. Water your house plants, then smell the dirt. Run the dryer, check for damp smells. Set some mousetraps in the garage.

Check tub for cracks. Check toilet & sink gaskets. Check windowsills and blinds for mold or moldy pollen. Look up inside microwave oven for gunk. Remove gaskets from drink bottles & thermoses, look for goop. Disassemble Thermos lids. Look up inside food processor blades for stuck food. Wash, then rinse or wipe with peroxide.

Look for standing water. Check gutters. Paint below-ground walls with waterproofing paint. Check roof flashing & shingles. Check chimney cover for cracks (an uncovered/unscreened chimney can fill up with wet dead leaves, bird nests, etc.)

Check humidity in each room - if over 65%, you may need a dehumidifier.

Get an air filter with several pounds of charcoal and zeolite

If all else fails, hire a mold inspector - with a dog.
posted by Charles the Friend at 3:03 AM on February 11, 2005

Also, if there's a bad smell, its' probably because somewhere in that apartment there is something smelly. Covering it up with candles and febreze and stuff won't make it go away. Get in a professional cleaning company and get them to clean that apartment within an inch of its life.
Also, yeah, the dead mice inside walls thing. Often the cause of unrelenting smelliness. I had an apartment with that problem - get in an exterminator who will know how to get rid of it without bashing holes in the walls.
posted by Kololo at 4:01 AM on February 11, 2005

So Majick is to smell troubles as Biscotti is to pet troubles?

I use cedar oil to dissuade moths from living here. It also overpowers other smells in a way that I don't dislike the way I dislike air freshener smells. Cedar shavings in dog beds helps repel fleas as well as dealing with dog aromas.
posted by theora55 at 6:47 AM on February 11, 2005

A Lampe Berger, or other catalytic lamp.

These are a good value, and the seller provides great CS.
posted by gai at 11:15 AM on February 11, 2005

« Older Where did the punchline drum roll come from?   |   films that affected you Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.