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Home "smell"???

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
In your experience, do many other homes have a distinct smell all the time to you?
I've always thought my home had a neutral smell, and I've never been told otherwise, but now I'm worried.
Over the past few months I've been to certain homes over and over and I notice smells that the owners do not. My friend with dogs, will say things like "I was so worried it might smell like dog but I had the carpet cleaned and bathed the dogs, now it doesn't smell". But I can distinctively smell it and I don't have a "sensitive nose". The same is true for other homes - cat smells, chemical smells, rotten fruit smells (despite no fruit anywhere in the house).
I hope this all makes sense. D's house always smells like rotting cantaloupe (another friend agrees). And it has for months despite any kind of cleaning or trash cans being empty or full. K's house always smells like potato chips. L's always smells like Pine-Sol (even my dh agrees) but she never uses Pine-Sol, nor does she have tree scented things around. These people don't recognize any smells. I'm wondering if maybe all homes have a "smell" of some kind, pleasant or otherwise, that maybe the home owners are immune to it?

I've never noticed this in businesses or in cars, and I really am not sensitive to odors. Curious if other people have noticed this and I'm really curious if my own house smells to other people (I really hope it doesn't). I have pets and I've asked family before if they smell any pet smell. They always say no, but maybe they are just being polite???
post #2 of 55
I can remember some smells distinctly from homes I went into as a child that weren't my own -- mostly cooking and pet smells. But my parents smoked and I don't remember the smoke smell that must have permeated our house (though I do remember it in the car :P)

I have relatives who own 6 cats and seriously, you *cannot* smell cat in their house. I'm allergic to cats and I can't tell they are there if I don't see them. They keep it just that clean. Maybe you do too, OP?

I came home a couple of days ago and my house smelled yucky - took a while to figure out the cause. A family member had popped a bag of microwave popcorn hours earlier -- we don't usually have it in the house -- and it made the whole house smell odd. Popcorn made in our air popper wouldn't have bothered me with the smell.

I think I'd say that ime there is a source for most "house" smells I've ever noticed, even a mouldy carpet or something that the owners may not be really aware of? But for sure, people who live in a house might not register a familiar smell any longer.
post #3 of 55
Yep each house has a smell that I tend to notice.
post #4 of 55
I notice smells that other people don't and it's a curse!

I can't smell my own house though, unless I go away for a couple of days and when I do, it's an old musty smell (our house is 100 years old)
post #5 of 55
Yep, I've always noticed homes and people all have their own distinct smells.
post #6 of 55
I only seem to notice when the smell is completely obvious, or if it smells like laundry detergent, air freshener, etc. I sent over some soup to a friend who recently had a baby. She washed the pot and sent it back with the lid on it, and when I opened the lid it smelled like her house, like scented laundry soap. I also buy a lot of clothing second-hand from giant consignment sales or garage sales, so the laundry soap thing always jumps out at me. FTR, I use unscented laundry soap (and everything else).

We moved into our house in May, and after a few days of there being a "weird" smell, we found the rotting corpse of a cat in the crawlspace. The room with the crawlspace access stunk for several months, but now neither DH nor I can smell it. I hope the smell is really gone and not just undetectable to us!
post #7 of 55
yes I think peoples homes do have a "scent" to them. Not always a bad thing, one relatives house smells sweet like cookies all the time! I only notice our house smell if we have been gone a few days from it its not offensive just a scent. I dont necessarily find others homes offensive but there is a scent to them. I think it happens because of having a small enclosed air space where all the same scents from soaps/fragrances/bodies/fabrics mingle. I do occassionally air out my house a bit every day and freshen with EO sprays.
post #8 of 55
Yeah, I think we get used to our own home's smell so we don't really notice it - except that I do after being gone for a while... We are driving home right now after being out of town for a week and I was just thinking earlier how I was looking forward to smelling my home . Last time we were on vacation I distinctly recall how good (familiar) it smelled when first walked inside. It's a newer home, and has a lot of solid oak - which I think is part of the good smell. Now watch, I left food out, or a dirty diaper and the place will reek

No, but my mom's house smells like cats to me (ick), some people's smell like febreeze and other nasty artificial fragrances. DH has one friend whom I literally refuse to go inside his place b/c of the horrid stench. It's a combo of a ton of people living there, never cleaning, and having a lot of pets. Oh, and chain smoking. Yuck. Hang out outside and drink beers, sure, but once I have to pee I'm buggin to leave. I have a sensitive nose, though. I dislike when others try to cover up funky smells - if your house stinks, find the source and clean it up. Air it out and if you want something good smelling, boil some vinegar and cinnamon. Speaking of, some people's distinct house smell, like my sister's, is more related to things they cook. She makes a lot of fancy things and uses a ton of spices.
post #9 of 55
Originally Posted by E.V. Lowi View Post
I notice smells that other people don't and it's a curse!
Ya, me too. When I'm pg it's really intense. Can you smell when lightbulbs are getting ready to burn out, by any chance?

Every house has a unique scent to me but it's never any definable smell; just a mixture of the stuff, people, animals, cooking, etc in the house. The only times I've thought a house reeked of pets is when the related housekeeping was really bad. As in a friend who waited until the cats started using the bathtub because the litter box was too filthy...and then waited some more.
post #10 of 55
Yes each house has a smell that I notice.
post #11 of 55
I've always noticed that homes have a distinct smell to them. I can remember how my childhood friends homes smelled different from my own. Actually, I can't smell my home most of the time. But I'm sure it does have a scent and I'm just used to it. I think this is pretty common. I also think that its something most people just don't pay much attention to.

Another similar example- I had a roommate in college who insisted that our tap water was disgusting. I've lived in this city my whole life and drank city water. I had no idea what she was talking about. I spent a summer in another state drinking fresh mountain spring water. when I came home, oh gosh, our city water IS disgusting! I can usually taste differences in water as well, for instance at our local store the stuff labeled "drinking" tastes MUCH better than the stuff labeled "Spring". And when I was working in the next town over, I always made a point to fill my water bottle before I left for the day, because their water was really tasty. When i mention this to most people though, they look at me like I'm crazy. According to them, water tastes like water.

Or, as a kid I loved a certain brand of beans. One day, the taste changed. I hated them. My parents swore that there was no difference, they tasted the same to them. In the end, we found an old can and compared them. Sure enough, the ingredients had changed!

I think some people are just more sensitive to smells and tastes and such than others. And, of course, sometimes genetics plays a roll in it- we know that certain gene mutations can change the ability to taste certain chemicals, and can cause people to experience the same substances as tasty quite differently- so that for some the substance is pleasant, for others its terrible, and still others cant precept it at all. I wouldn't be surprised if there are similar genes affecting smell.
post #12 of 55
As a midwife, I'm in a lot of houses. Some are neutral to my nose, but most have a smell.
Mine smells like Cedar Paneling + Something spicey and vaguely curry-like + occasionally cat litter (ammonia), right before garbage day.

The weirdest one to me is the houses that smell like new paint or new carpet forever. How can that smell last forever?
post #13 of 55
I notice that homes can have their own smell, but I don't always notice this. It seems more obvious when I get clothing from other people, like if a friend of my daughter leaves clothing here and I was it, it still kind of has their smell. And if I get back clothes that my kids have left behind or someone has borrowed, it can smell like the other person's house.

I only notice my own house smell if I'm gone for awhile, but it was more noticeable when we first moved in.
post #14 of 55
Originally Posted by stormborn View Post
Ya, me too. When I'm pg it's really intense. Can you smell when lightbulbs are getting ready to burn out, by any chance?

No, I'm not that good- you are awesome, poor girl!

I can smell when the light bulbs are dusty, though.
post #15 of 55
Originally Posted by stormborn View Post
Ya, me too. When I'm pg it's really intense. Can you smell when lightbulbs are getting ready to burn out, by any chance?
OMG Yes!!!!! I quit talking about it because people thought I was insane.

Every house smells very different to me. Mine smells neutral to me until I leave for a day or so. Ours is also very old with water running through the basement so it smells very musty when left for a few days. It might smell that way all of the time but other than covering it up, there is really nothing I can do.

When I was pg, smell tortured me. There were entire buildings I could not go in. My own house reeked like cabbage to me and I spent every weekend waiting it out to go to work.....which just smelled like coffee.....until someone popped a bag of popcorn and I had to leave. Augh! Dh also smelled like cabbage and so did his car.

Most houses definitely smell different but not necessarily bad or identifiable.

Water is HUGE for me. I absolutely cannot drink water that does not taste neutral to me. My own water does not unless it sits for a few hours so i always keep water out for that reason. When on vacation, if the sitting trick does not work, I have to buy bottled water. I drink a ton of water and HATE the waste. Luckily, most groceries have a Culligan refill station and I just throw our big jug in the car just in case. I KNOW the water is not cleaner or safer or anything. I just cannot CANNOT drink funny tasting water. Never have been able to. Not even at summer camp as a kid. My parents eventually snuck kool-aid packets into my luggage so they would not get the "dehydrated kid" call. My IL's water is so bad that I cannot even WATCH someone else drink it. Ick.
post #16 of 55
I certainly do notice it.

I was also accutely aware of it when we were house hunting. A bad smelling house (almost always due to dogs or cats) was off our list immediately. Some were so strong that when you opened the door it was just overpowering. I'm guessing the owners had cleaned, more or less, but the smell was *awful*.
post #17 of 55
My grandmother's house smelled like cigarettes and perfume. It was a sweet smell to me. I spent a ton of time there and lived there at one point. To me, it was the most comforting smell. When I was home, it didn't seem that strong. If I had been gone for a while, it was very noticeable when I walked in the door. I'd give anything to smell that again.

I went to a friend's house over the holidays. The house was filthy (really, they NEVER clean) and it smelled like dirt. My parents house smells like Mr. Clean and a mix of other stuff. It is very gross. (I need to get them a house cleaner. ) I know my house has a scent sometimes, but people generally say it smells like nothing. I am so paranoid about it smelling like cat or something else, that I have asked my good friends because they would tell me if it were gross!
post #18 of 55
Originally Posted by annekevdbroek View Post
I certainly do notice it.

I was also accutely aware of it when we were house hunting. A bad smelling house (almost always due to dogs or cats) was off our list immediately. Some were so strong that when you opened the door it was just overpowering. I'm guessing the owners had cleaned, more or less, but the smell was *awful*.
We've moved many times over the past 8 years, and house smells were always something I noticed when house hunting. I think that having a keen nose is often more of a handicap than a help.
post #19 of 55
I go into a lot of peoples houses due to the work I do. I don't notice many scents although there have been two homes that smelled like curry all the time. One was an Indian family and so I assume it was just from their cooking but the other was just some single mom and I really don't think she ate curry on a regular basis. It wasn't a bad smell- just not what you would expect to smell.

When DH comes home from work (he is gone all weekend- works at an adult group home) he always smells really yucky- like whatever they had for meals is stuck on all his clothes. I think the kitchen exhaust may go through the staff bedroom or something.
post #20 of 55
I notice it at my MIL's house. Her house has a distinct smell like fabric softener. Its not bad, just distinct.

My Mom's house also has a distinct smell but I can't figure out what it is ... there is a sour undertone but not necessarily in a bad way. It is a really old house (over 100 years) and it was smoked in for years before she quit. I am sure some of the cigarette smell settled into the walls and contributes. When she is gone it will be a smell I will wish to bottle up forever.
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