Why Does My Room Smell? 13 Malodorous Reasons

It's always an adventure to discover the source of odor in any room. Here's how to find it fast.

Published January 16, 2023
Sunlight on messy bed in home

If you have kids or pets, funky smells happen all the time. It's one of those things where the faint smell hits your nose with a little…eww. You walk around aimlessly trying to find the culprit, but you can't quite track it down. Never fear, my friends. There are a few common smelly culprits you can blame for bedroom odors from your child's smelly socks to that cup you forgot about. Get the deets on what might be causing your room to smell and how you can fix it. Because if it stinks a little now, it'll stink a lot later.

13 Common Room Smells and Removal Methods

Even if you keep a pristine home, every once in a while, a room starts to stink. Odors in the home often have common sources, so finding the source is the first step in eliminating the smell.

Mold or Mildew

Mold and mildew can grow just about anywhere from the bottom of your dirty clothes hamper to damp walls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold is common around leaks. Check around windows or on ceiling tiles for mold. Once you find it, you'll want to remove mold using a few cleaning methods. Some mold infestations require professional mold removal.

House Plants

When you notice a new smell and you have houseplants in your room, check them. You might be over watering them, causing a musty odor. Or they might have fungal issues. Removing the houseplant and airing out the room can help.

Old Stains and Spills

From the soda that spilled on your floor to the ice cream you dropped in your bed, stains and spills are a part of life. We do our best to clean them up, but sometimes, odors still linger or crop back up after a while. Give your carpets, mattresses, and other bedroom furniture a good cleaning. You'll notice a fresher smell almost instantly.


It's fun to have a little furry snuggle buddy. However, dogs and cats don't smell the best. They can cause odors from their coats and skin. They might also have accidents on carpets or bedding. Once you find the source of the pet stain smell, you can use white vinegar or other DIY cleaners to remove it.


Dust is one of the main culprits of unidentifiable stink in the air of your room. Look around at your end tables and bed. Do you see a lot of dust? Dust is created from dirt, bacteria, skin cells, you name it. So, you'll first want to use a microfiber cloth to remove the dust. Then, open the windows and let in the fresh air or plug in an air purifier.

Dirty Clothing and Bedding

Sweat is a big culprit of unidentified bedroom odors, from the night sweats your sheets absorbed to your sweaty workout clothing. Take a look at your hamper and bedding. Wash your workout pants and sports bras immediately rather than putting them in the hamper. You might also want to think about putting your hamper in a bathroom or another area outside of your bedroom if it gets stinky frequently. It's also important to strip and wash your bedding weekly, including pillowcases. You'll also want to clean and flip your mattress about every six months.

Dirty Dishes

Busy days require you to eat when you can. So, dishes end up in your room. Even dishes that look clean that can start to smell because of bacteria. Check your room for any dirty dishes and get them out.

Trash Can or Trash

Food particles cause mold and smells. Remove any trash from your room and check your can. After giving your trash can a good clean, you'll want to change the trash bag regularly. Only put paper products in your bedroom trash to avoid moldy food odors.


Smoke doesn't just come from cigarettes. The smoke smell can also come from your clothes if you're a smoker, or it can come from a wood stove or pellet burner. Add an air purifier to your room to remove any lingering smoke smells from stoves. Wash clothing with smoke smells immediately or store them in another room.

New Furniture

Did you recently purchase new furniture for your bedroom? Furniture can come with a smell, typically linked to volatile organic compounds. Airing out the furniture is one of the best ways to remove the stink.

Plugged Furnace or Air Conditioner Filters

It's important to check your air conditioner and furnace filters regularly. Why? Because they capture all the dirt, allergens, and dust you don't want in your house. So, when they get blocked and clogged, they're going to give off a smell. If you have a smell, you can't trace to anywhere else. Try cleaning or replacing your furnace or AC filter.

Dirty Air Ducts

Woman cleaning return air vent with duster

Cleaning your HVAC system is important. Dirty vents can lead to many issues, including funky smells in your room. Give your vent a sniff and see if the odor is coming from there. If so, you can try cleaning out your air ducts or calling a professional HVAC service.

Body Odor

Tweens' and teens' bodies are in a constant state of change. Plus, they're trying to get a handle on hygiene practices. So, body odor can also play a culprit in a smelly room. Make sure you follow hygienic practices and use natural air fresheners as needed.

How to Identify the Cause of a Smelly Room

Sometimes the culprit of the smell jumps out and hits you in the sniffer. For example, it might be a dirty plate under your kid's bed. It could also be the trash can. Other smells aren't so easy to track down. Try out these tips to find the sources of smells and eliminate them.

  • Clean out the entire room, including dusting, stripping bed, taking out trash, and cleaning floors. Don't forget under the bed, ceiling fans, and pet bedding.
  • Move curtains, bedframes, and tables to check for spills or mold on floors and walls.
  • Check for mold on ceilings, ceiling fans, or around vents.
  • Clean the curtains, blinds, and windowsills. Smelly gunk can hang out in your window tracks.
  • Check potted plants for mold or mildew.
  • Remove and clean any rugs.
  • Steam clean carpets and mop hardwood floors.
  • Flip your mattress and check your bedframe for any smelly areas.
  • Open windows to air everything out.
  • Put baking soda or coffee in bowls around the room to remove any lingering smells from the air.
  • Spray a DIY air cleaner.

Tracking Down Room Smells

Room smells don't just happen overnight. Typically, they build up. You also become a little nose blind to smells after a while. So, if you come home from work and notice a weird smell in your room, you'll want to find the culprit and stamp it out.

Why Does My Room Smell? 13 Malodorous Reasons