questionswhat's a good way to get rid of "old house smell?"


(Saving the tags for posterity: my-house-smells-funny airwick-won't-cut-it opening-the-window-does-nothing)
The semi-inexpensive way: Walmart has knock-off wax scent diffusers that use a 25w bulb to heat a small bowl/plate that melts scented wax cubes. The diffusers run around $15-$20. The wax cubes are around $2 for a set of six. LOTS of different scents: floral, cookies/baked treats, etc. Think Yankee Candle aromas. Depending on the size of your home, you might need two or three diffusers.

Might want to begin checking for old water leaks and mildew, too.


@cengland0 isn't joking. What you're smelling is most likely mold. Chlorine gas, more exactly chlorine dioxide is what you want to use to get rid of the smell. The mold is likely deep within the wood and plaster/drywall. Go to your local hardware/home improvement store and ask around for a good odor remover with chlorine dioxide and they'll have something for you. You need to kill the source of the odor, not cover it up.


move. Sorry couldn't resist. What they said up there.. ^^^^^


@eraten: Also, when using the gas, make sure you're not at home and that you let the house vent properly before reentry.


I suggest a good carpet steam cleaning, too, if you haven't gone that far yet. We did that with the pretty gross carpet in the place we're moving into, and it seemed to help a lot with "old house" smell.


Have your heating and cooling ducts professionally cleaned. You might have gunk in there as old as the house and every time the heat or AC comes on and blows the stink blows with it.


Wash the walls with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia-1/2 cup vinegar-1/4 cup baking soda-1 gallon water. Make sure you get every bit of the wall and the trim. If there are curtains up, wash them. If you have carpets/rugs down get more baking soda (it's an odor neutralizer) sprinkle the carpets/rugs with it liberally-think snow-let set for a couple of hours and vacuum.


I'm loving all these answers. I have a similar problem, except I'm staying in an extended stay hotel while I house hunt. Musty cheap hotel is hard to get out of your clothes, and I'm betting there is mold because I have the same damp must odor in my room.


Lots of bleach. It does the job :)


Rent a bunch of old Allman Brothers and Greatful Dead concert videos, then advertise on craigslist that you're hosting jam-band weekend. And stock up on cheeto's.


Brew some coffee and fry some bacon. It'll be smelling like home in no time.


"Now my house smells like patchouli and oregano"

2 things
1. Can of Gasoline
2. a match

j5 j5

In case it isn't obvious, if you do the chlorine gas or other major chemical fix, make sure the pets are also out of there. You may want to send the pets to visit a friend for a couple of days as they are going to be more sensitive to chemicals than you are.

Once you get the worst of it out, clean the floors well and then mop in a generous amount of lemon oil. It's what makes Murphy's Oil Soap smell good, but if you use the real thing the shine and the smell last longer. But it does take a day or two to fully sink in. I do lemon oil on my floors a couple of times a year and use Murphy's in the intervening months.

A safety note: My friend who has a nut allergy has been getting rashes on his legs when he pet sits at my house. We suspect it's the Murphy's Oil Soap. If you have a nut allergy, check this out before using.


Try getting a bunch of Renuzits and putting them throughout the house. I mean like three or four per room.

My roommate's room used to smell like dog urine. It was a result of the previous owner, smell had seeped into the insulation and the floor and even replacing both didn't completely get rid of it.

He tried a few Renuzits, took out 80, 90% of the smell in a day. The room still doesn't smell anymore, so those things work. Granted, he had them all fully open and they had lost like 40% of their mass within the first couple days, but they work pretty well.

His room was small though, so it may take more than three or four per room, but I would venture that it would work.


@hessem: I was really confused. You made me think I already responded here until I realized that you're not me. I guess it's better that way since I really don't have anything to contribute that hasn't already been said.



Making ozone is a definitive way to rid places of odors. If the chlorine gas approach is not for you, check out ozone generators. Here's an example:

A good long-term investment, IMHO. You can use them in cars, in houses, in your garage, anywhere. Just try not to be there when it's running and never run them for too long and use good ventilation! It smells like a fresh thunderstorm has swept through, but can cause headaches if you're breathing that in near the machine operating.

I just purchased one of these things for a little more than $100 and it DEFINITELY works, and I've read that it works wonders for stinky houses (ie, prior residents were smokers, etc).


@dmaz: Actually, if bleach is used to remove mold on wood, it causes the pores of the wood to open up which then leads to an increased mold problem. If you're removing mold, the best solution is soapy water. It is more difficult, but the results last longer. NEVER try to remove mold before soaking it with a solution because it will release spores into the air if it's disturbed while it's still dry.

The best long term solution is to address the issue that's causing the mold to start with. You want to make sure that your crawl space (or basement) is as dry as possible. Rain gutters and porches need to be leading the water as far away from the foundation of the house as possible. Also, aquariums and houseplants can increase the humidity in a home as well, so be sure that if you must have them, to use a dehumidifier to decrease the moisture in the air.

I know it's not your place, but if you contact the land lord about it, they might help you out.


@badbassrandy: I second the motion for Ozone. It can get irritating if you breate lots of it, but NOTHING works as well. It is what the pros's use for this sort of thing and it is, to borrow a phrase, "mostly harmless".

Lots of (atmospheric) Ozone producing items on the market. Just pay attention to the length of thwarrantyty for the O3 producing element - often a bulb like device. OR you could rent an "industrial" unit for a couple of days...


Thanks for the advice guys. :) I'll swing around a few hardware stores over the weekend to see what's available to me locally. I haven't moved in fully yet, so I figure I have plenty of time to let any weird chemical fumes air out before we all take up residence. I did do a good, solid cleaning in several of the rooms yesterday with bleach and regular household cleaner. It helped, but the smell is still there. I'll buy Murphy's Oil and just clean the floors with that regularly, as well as check out these chlorine/ozone bomb things.


You have 2 options.
1. Burn it down and build a new house.
2. Park a new car inside. The new car smell should leach out into the house.
These are your only 2 options. You must choose one.


Opening the windows and airing it out also help quite a bit.


Considering this is a rental - perhaps you should raise the issue with the landlord? In writing...


@ki4rxm: nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure!


I'm moving into a 60+ yr old house in the spring and it has that old smell. Great suggestion for the chlorine gas thing. There's even old wallpaper on the walls! If it weren't flowery I'd leave it. I hope she lets me change it......


@eraten: I just moved, and the previous tenant had cats and also smoked the; odors were throughout the house. The landlord compensated me for repainting all the interior walls, I added the Air-ReNu paint additive that a friend recommended and thankfully, the house stays smelling clean and fresh. One application works continuously and will last for 10-12 years.