My Roommate's Junk Smells
April 8, 2008 2:27 PM   Subscribe

My roommate smells, and it's not just typical BO. Help!

I live in a typical (read: small) college dorm room with one other person.

In the past few weeks, I've noticed that my roommate has developed an odor. It's not bad breath, or typical BO. It smells distinctly... cheesy. In a really nasty "this isn't a good smell" kind of way. Specifically, I've noticed the smell when he removes his jeans as he is going to bed. My desk is very close to his bed, and after repeated instances of this, I can say with some assuredness that the smell is eminating from his pelvic area. It's very noticeable, and it can be pretty hard at times not to comment on the sudden foul odor that has started assaulting my nostrils immediately following the removal of his jeans.

What finally drove me to make the AskMe question I've been putting off about this is that I came back to the room after going to lunch, opened the door, and hit a wall of the odor. I discovered my roommate taking a nap in his bed, the air absolutely saturated with the repugnant smell in question. I opened my window and door to get air moving, went out into the hall, and found the smell was strong enough to seep into the hall and smell just as bad. I borrowed air freshener from the people in the next room, and even THEY noticed the smell coming from the hallway! That just isn't right!

He used to be pretty sexually active, with many a partner, due mostly to the lowered inhibitions/standards caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (I'm not juding, really, he's admitted this to be the case multiple times). But I've noticed he has been completely abstinent lately (to my knowledge), and it coincides rather neatly with the debut of his new fragrance.

I have two main questions. First, what is up with my roommate's junk? Why does it smell the way it does? Answers from personal experience, educated guesses/conjecture from "I am not a doctor," "I'm a doctor but not YOUR (ROOMMATE'S) doctor," and the like are all welcome.

Second, what can I do about this situation? Should I put up with it since the end of the year is quickly approaching? Maybe a buy a ton of febreeze? Should I bring it up? If so, how?

I can be reached at if you have any questions. If I have followups or new information I'll try and get in touch with one of the mods to have them post it in the thread.

Thanks for any and all help you can offer.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"Dude. What the hell is that smell?"

Offer gifts of soap as well.
posted by chiababe at 2:37 PM on April 8, 2008

Could be a yeast infection.

Jeez, just tell the guy, or leave him a note if it's too awkward--wouldn't you want to know if you were stinking up the place?
posted by Scram at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2008

Sudden changes in social life + sudden changes in grooming habits may = depression or other changes in mental space. I've seen it (and been it) many a time. Does he exhibit any other symptoms that might shed light on his mental state?
posted by lekvar at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2008

Hmm, actually there are odd body odors sometimes associated with the onset of schizophrenia. Is he acting strangely?
posted by Scram at 2:52 PM on April 8, 2008

I think the old saw about hoofbeats and zebras applies here. It's far more likely that he is having a hygiene or infection issue in the ol' junkal region and is too embarrased to seek medical attention than a weird smell means he has schizophrenia.

College student has wild drunk sex with multiple partners ---> college students junk gets funky doesn't usually need Columbo to figure out.

He really should see a doctor.
posted by Justinian at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2008 [4 favorites]

It doesn't sound so complicated, either he doesn't shower, or he doesnt change his undies.
posted by mphuie at 3:16 PM on April 8, 2008

You are both guys, yes? Amongst the young men with whom I have been acquainted, the protocol would be for one dude to say to the other dude, "Dude, what is that rank smell of yours?" Followed by "Uh, I think you need like a serious shower and maybe to go the the clinic."

I agree that the drop in his sex life is likely because he knows he's got some kind of crotch rot.

Said crotch rot is perhaps a yeast infection or bacterial infection (showering with soap could make him itch more, leading to him not washing his junk, leading him to smell even worse.)
posted by desuetude at 3:27 PM on April 8, 2008

Yeah, you need to say, "Dude, this smell is out of hand. Do you need a ride to the health clinic?"

It's college, who hasn't gotten an embarrasing yeast infection? (no, it's not just a girl thing).
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2008

If you're not comfortable talking to him about it, is there an RA or other older-student-of-authority in the dorm? If so, I'd go to them and outline the situation. When your roomie has crotch-rot so bad that the neighbors can smell his stanky johnson, it's pretty obvious that he's not taking responsibility for himself. It's time to help him help himself, help you help yourself, and help everyone not smell whatever the hell is happening in your roomie's pants.
posted by mumkin at 3:35 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's college, who hasn't gotten an embarrasing yeast infection?

I haven't, but thank you for asking.

(Nthing the "Dude... gross. Go see a doctor." suggestions.)
posted by toomuchpete at 3:42 PM on April 8, 2008

You know, once when I told an upperclassman that I was nervous about making a phone call, he shrugged philosophically and told me, "It sucks, but these are the kinds of valuable life skills you're here to learn in college."

I don't think he was thinking of this situation, but same principle applies. Talk to your roommate.
posted by bettafish at 4:12 PM on April 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

next time he takes off his pants, without looking up from whatever you're doing, say, "you need to see a doctor about that. tomorrow." you don't even have to mention the smell. he is surely aware of it. not making eye contact will make it easier on both of you to continue to interact afterwards.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:20 PM on April 8, 2008 [6 favorites]

nthing "dude, what is that smell?" he might play ignorant, but at least now you've pointed out you smell it.

also, if he lets whatever crotch rot he has rot for too long, it could cause serious issues down the line. he really needs to be a grown up and go to the health clinic.

while i would be supremely embarassed if a roommate mentioned my crotch rot smell (were i to have one, which i don't), that embarassment would goad me on to get to the clinic.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:47 PM on April 8, 2008

If you don't want to say something to him, tell your RA (or don or whatever you call him at your university) to talk to him. That's what they're there for. I want to throw up just reading this question, so lots of sympathy to you.
posted by meerkatty at 4:48 PM on April 8, 2008

You could try taking him swimming, maybe the chlorine would burn some of it away.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:04 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I vote some sort of yeast action on top of making gravy.
posted by kimdog at 5:10 PM on April 8, 2008

You are both guys, yes? Amongst the young men with whom I have been acquainted, the protocol would be for one dude to say to the other dude, "Dude, what is that rank smell of yours?" Followed by "Uh, I think you need like a serious shower and maybe to go the the clinic."

Agreed on the first point. You're men. Just say it. Tell him he stinks. If he's hurt, he's gotta man up a bit.

On the second point, I agree with the correlation but perhaps causation is reversed. Maybe he's being lazy about hygiene because there's no girls to impress. Unwashed nether regions can stink pretty badly even without the drama of infection.
posted by randomstriker at 5:16 PM on April 8, 2008

Fuck why did I click on that "making gravy" link?
posted by anildash at 5:29 PM on April 8, 2008 [8 favorites]

Unwashed nether regions can stink pretty badly even without the drama of infection.

No, the way the situation is described, this isn't just the ordinary odor of smegma. The way the poster describes the smell, there is some pathology at work.

Usually we are joking when we tell someone "your dick could fall off" but he sounds like he's actually in danger of that.
posted by jayder at 6:47 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bite the bullet and tell him that he needs to go to the clinic, stat. It sounds like he has some kind of infection. Untreated "crotch rot" can sometimes lead to a urinary tract infection, which is serious business.

And if he's too embarrassed to go - well, medical professionals have seen just about everything under the sun. It's part of their job to discreetly and professionally deal with embarrassing things like crotch rot. Dude needs to get himself and his fragrant nether regions to the doc to avoid some serious problems.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:12 PM on April 8, 2008

ex-homeless guy, Nacho Cheese is smell of funk, time for a good washing and laundry day. No need for medical stuff yet, first sign of nasty is Dorito smell. Shower, laundry, then worry.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:27 PM on April 8, 2008

You could try taking him swimming, maybe the chlorine would burn some of it away.

Ugh, no, please do NOT use the swimming pool as a bath.
posted by tomble at 9:39 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Buy some Febreeze, and then spray him with it while speaking in no uncertain or gentle terms about his GODDAMN CHEESY ODOR DAMN MAN ARE YOU WASHING DOWN THERE? If he gets mad, that's expected, if he STAYS mad, ask for a room transfer.
posted by Electrius at 10:28 PM on April 8, 2008

You MUST talk to him. Don't avoid it, this won't get better. It isn't worth putting up with this til the end of the year. Just reading about this stank smell is gross enough, I can't imagine steeping in it, breathing it in, absorbing it into my skin and clothes....ugh. Do it for yourself, if not for him.
posted by Locative at 12:07 AM on April 9, 2008

If you are too uncomfortable dealing with your roommate, just type up an anonymous note saying "Someone in this room needs to take a shower or get some medical help for the funky smell seeping into the hallway." Post the note to the outside of your door and act surprised when you/your roommate finds it.
posted by wabashbdw at 8:03 AM on April 9, 2008

follow-up from the OP
As far as his own awareness of the problem, it'd be pretty hard to not notice. As I said the smell was carried into the hallway and even the girls next door noticed it. Aside from that I've recently made a point to make several obvious sniffs in the air when I detect the odor, and wonder aloud "what the heck is that smell..." After today's incident, in which I nearly gagged, ran to the window, threw it open, opened the door, left for several minutes, and doused the room in febreeze, I think he'd have to be in a coma to not be aware of his stink.

My roommate takes showers, usually one a day or at least one every other day.
He does his laundry regularly. I'm fairly sure it isn't a problem with just his boxers.

Regarding depression, my roommate does have a history of it, but said last month he was seeing a therapist on campus. No clue as to whether or not he has seen the therapist since telling me.

As of today, I've left him a note saying: I didn't know how to broach the topic, but you've got an odor. One that's distinctly... "cheesy." You really should get it checked out, man.

He replied via his own note that it is probably the easy mac containers in the trash and that I never take the trash out. The problem started before either of us bought any easy mac ever, and it sure as hell doesn't smell like easy mac.
So I told him that. And right now I think we're at a bit of an impasse. I dunno. I'll take out the trash and immediately dispose of any easy mac made to a separate trash receptacle, perhaps in the bathroom. That will eliminate any chance of him being able to say it's that. I hope.

Thanks for your help.
posted by jessamyn at 9:13 AM on April 10, 2008

Dude, quit being a wuss - SAY SOMETHING, OUT LOUD to him. Who cares if he gets offended or whatever? This is completely beyond the pale of disgusting, and you don't need to live with it. What are you so afraid of?
posted by tristeza at 10:59 AM on April 10, 2008

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