There are times you must’ve noticed a sour odor in your room and wondered where it came from. If you’re observant, you must’ve also figured the smell is similar to that of vinegar, even when you have not used vinegar in your home.
You walk into your bedroom or kid’s room and the smell greets you, leaving a bad feeling in your gut. Truth is, there are so many reasons why this may be the case, and you can best figure it out by being systematic in your approach.
If you go about checking stuff and cleaning items in the room randomly, it may just be counterproductive. The best approach would be to first determine the nature of the smell as well as the properties of components that could lead to that smell.
We’ll walk you through this strategic approach in this post to help you discover why your room smells like vinegar and what you can do to get rid of it.
Guide To Find Exactly What Caused the Vinegar Smell in House
The sour smell you notice in your room may be caused by many things such as mold spores, sweat, dirty clothes, paint, pet urine, moisture or even mildew on furniture.
If your room lacks sufficient ventilation or there’s dirty trash can yet to be taken out, you may also observe a vinegar-like odor in your room. Here’s a step-guide to uncover the mystery behind that vinegar smell in your room;
1. Is it just a room or the entire house?
You need to find out if the smell affects the entire house or just a room. You can do this by shutting the door of your room for 3-6 hours. Then ventilate the room and the entire house.
Ensure you leave the house for a while- about 30 minutes to one hour- to prevent olfactory fatigue.
If you return home and you do not perceive the odor until you enter that particular room, then you know the source of the smell is in the room. But if the entire house smells as much as the room, the root cause maybe somewhere else in the house.
2. Identify the specific area with the strongest smell
Once you’ve realized it is only a room that’s affected by the smell, it is time to locate the specific area that it’s coming from.
You must show your sensory Prowess here and use your nose to comb the four corners of the room to find the most smelly part.
Do this for a while, then go outside for about 10 minutes to take in some fresh air, so you don’t get used to the odor (remember olfactory fatigue?). Continue until you find the most smelly part of the room.
3. Does the smell go away temporarily or is it always there?
The nature of the smell is another very important detail. Is it there continuously or does it go away at some point?
If it only happens temporarily, then it’s possibly a recurring cause, like sweaty or dirty clothes in the room. It may also be a wind-controlled smell or something induced by an action. Finding out its consistency will reveal this information.
4. How long have you noticed the smell?
This is a great way to rule out some possible causes. No one expects you to leave a dirty trash can or dirty clothes unwashed for more than 5 days or a week.
So, if it’s an odor that’s been around for more than two weeks (and you’re sure you take out the trash regularly and do not leave dirty clothes hanging around for that long), it’s likely to be something more permanent.
5. Does it go away when you ventilate?
It is also possible that the source of the smell is outside the room; maybe somewhere in the yard or behind your window.
You’ll find out if ventilation completely solves the problem. If it doesn’t, then you’re certainly dealing with something inside the room.
6. Is there a change in the intensity of the smell in the day or at night?
Intensity is also very important here. If there’s a variation in the intensity of the smell between different periods of the day or night, then the source is most likely habitual.
It may also be something that’s affected by temperature. Some odors are more intense in high temperatures but will subside when the temperature falls.
A good example is pet urine. A different situation is where the odor fades over time. This is an indication of a one-off odor, perhaps the smell of spilled kerosene or yogurt which fades over time.
What Causes a Vinegar Smell in A House?
Generally, there are many things that could be responsible for your room smelling like vinegar. The first reason we must mention is the vinegar smell that lingers on after you’ve just cleaned your home with it. Others include;
1. Pet Urine
Unless truly well trained, pets are fond of peeing on the corners of the house and on the carpet. This certainly causes a sour smell in the room and can be pretty unpleasant.
If you have a puppy that’s still just getting to understand its way around your house, peeing is one thing you should be ready to deal with.
Apart from pee, some pets can also vomit and this can sometimes go unnoticed, leading to bad smell. Pets are generally a source of odors in your home in many ways, especially where there’s bad pet hygiene.
2. Trash Can
The sour vinegar-like smell in your room may also be caused by certain kinds of dirt in your trash, especially some foods that you’ve disposed of for days.
Some rotten foods will smell really awful, but not sour but your undisposed trash can is a potpourri of all kinds of odors.
3. Dirty Laundry
Dirty Laundry is one of the most common reasons for the sour smell in a room.
The reason is simple- sweat. Sweating become even more profuse in the summer, so leaving your dirty clothes littering around your room instead of using a laundry basket can be the perfect recipe for a sour smell.
Some carpets, especially new ones, tend to give off a certain sour smell. This is usually from the carpet pad and it often goes unnoticed by homeowners who aren’t very observant.
Even older carpets without any odor can begin to give off a foul smell if stuff builds up in the carpet’s fabric.
Spills can also lead to sour odors. Sometimes, cleaning it regularly is not just enough.
5. Furniture and Other Household Items
It is common to find high levels of formaldehyde in new wood products.
When crafted into furniture, cabinets and other items and brought into your home, they’re likely to give off a strong chemical odor.
Recent exposure to high temperatures or water can also cause furniture to give off a vinegar-like smell.
Other factors like mold buildup inside the furniture itself or on your clothes and other items in the wardrobe should also be checked.
6. Sewer system
Odor coming from a malfunctioning Sewer system is another possible source of vinegar smell in your room.
This smell can find its way into your home, either through the drain or through the window.
Bacterial overgrowth, unused sinks and leaky pipes are some of the things that can happen to your sewer and, in many cases, you’d need to call a professional to take care of it.
7. Smoking or leaving food in your room
Tobacco fumes can be another smell that lingers in the room for a long time, especially if smoking is constantly done in the room.
Besides smoking, a room where people gather to eat frequently is bound to have a mixture of smells, and they don’t exactly leave the room immediately after eating.
Foods that are pickled, acidic, fermented or vinegar-based are more likely to give that sour smell.
8. Moisture and mold
Mold tends to appear wherever there’s persistent moisture. This may be due to a leaky pipe or condensation in certain spots as a result of high humidity.
You should watch out for places like behind the wall carpet or behind your furniture for mold.
Moisture on walls resulting from the leaky pipe may also result in your room smelling like vinegar.
9. Crawl spaces
Crawlspaces tend to also attract a lot of humidity.
Most times, you’ll realize you can’t find any reason for the sour smell in your room and the smell seems to be heavier in the area close to your basement or crawlspace.
That is a simple indication that the smell is coming from the crawlspace. And when this is the case, it’s most likely seeping into the entire house.
Things like stagnant water, mold, decaying materials, or dead rodents or critters may just be the reason for the smell.
10. Body Odors
Like it or not, the smell may just be a terrible body odor from you or someone in the room.
The thing about body odors is, the smell remains as long as the person is in the room and may leave a few hours after the person is gone.
However, if the person stays for a really long time- maybe months or years, it may take more than a few hours for the odor to leave. The reality is that some people’s sweat glands tend to produce sweat that smells sour, leading to excessive body odor.
11. Ventilation issues
This can either be a lack of sufficient exchange of indoor and outdoor air as a result of insulation common with most modern homes, or a problem with your air appliances.
Your air conditioner, for instance, can be producing a bad, sour smell if an animal has died in the duct, it has a gas leak, issues with its engine or drainage, and so on.
What Are Potential Issues Caused by Vinegar-Like Smell in A House?
The first thing to understand is that vinegar smells sour and that can be pretty bad to leave lingering in your home. It can be pretty uncomfortable for you and other members of your household to stay indoors with such a foul smell in the air.
And when it’s caused by things like dead animals, such as odor can make things really bad for you and even cause an upset in your stomach.
Some people react really badly to sour smells by having terrible nausea leading to vomiting and constant spitting.
Beyond you and members of your home, it can be pretty embarrassing to have guests visit your home smelling that bad.
Even if it’s a simple reason like a pipe leak on the wall- which is no fault of yours- people tend to just conclude that you’ve got a trash can in your home and need to learn personal hygiene.
How To Get the Vinegar Smell Out of The House?
If the vinegar smell in your home is simply the type left behind by cleaning, you may want to dilute the solution the next time you clean with things like a lemon peel to mask the smell, essential oils, fresh spices and herbs, and baking soda.
Just be sure your furniture or surfaces do not react negatively when they come in contact with these items. Additionally, you can do the following;
- Air your home after cleaning by leaving the windows and doors open.
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
- Reduce amount of vinegar you use in your cleaning solution.
- Try apple cider vinegar for its sweeter smell.
- Try boiling some lemons for a while.
How To Get Vinegar Smell (Not Produced by Vinegar) Out of The House?
You’ll have to go back to those causes of vinegar smell and deal with the issue from its source.
- If it’s caused by dirty clothes, take them out and wash them. The smell should leave your room eventually, but you may also use an essential oil diffuser, boiled lemon, or air freshener to produce a fresher, sweet-smelling air.
- Vinegar-like smell caused by mold may be removed using an air purifier or scrubber. If it is caused by excess humidity, you may want to use a dehumidifier to bring it to recommended levels.
- Vinegar-like smell caused by ventilation issues can be resolved by opening up the windows and doors and allowing fresher, outdoor air into the house. You should do this occasionally to keep your indoor air fresh all the time. Where you discover the smell is coming from your AC unit, you’ll need to remove the grill to see if you can reach it. Otherwise, call your HVAC professional to help.
- Carry out remediation using a powerful dehumidifier if it’s a moisture problem in a crawlspace.
- A bad sewer system will need immediate repair. Once fixed, follow up by boiling lemon for some minutes and allow the aroma to seep into every part of the house. You can also use essential oil diffusers in your rooms for good results.
- If your dirty trash can is the problem, empty it and air out your home. Use of air freshener may come handy in this situation.
- Smells emanating from your carpet caused by spilled substances like yoghurt, pet urine or litter, etc can be removed by cleaning. Try a baking soda + white vinegar + dishwashing liquid soap formula using a piece of cloth to scrub carefully. You can also use a vacuum cleaner.
How Do You Prevent Vinegar Smell in The House?
It may be impossible to totally prevent the smell, especially when it is out of your control in the case of leaking pipes, bad sewer system, etc.
However, improved personal hygiene and regular home cleaning is one way to keep it in check. You must also be very observant with funny smells and identify the problem before it escalates. Other measures you can take include;
- Keep indoor humidity at recommended levels at all times, preferably between 35% and 50%.
- Carry out occasional ventilation exercises if you live in an airtight home. You can do this by leaving your doors and windows open for a few hours every three days. Otherwise, get an air exchanger.
- Use an air purifier.
- Use a laundry basket rather than leave your dirty clothes all about in the room. Ensure they are cleaned promptly too.
- If you live in a high humid region, you may want to deploy a dehumidifier in your rooms and crawlspaces to avoid condensation or mold growth.
Nobody wants to get back home after a tough day at work and be greeted by an unpleasant smell. This can be truly depressing, but it can be taken care of as well.
You must, however, be strategic as we have described in this post and identify the cause of the vinegar smell so you can tackle it appropriately. While you may not be able to completely avoid such sour smells, using the tips provided here will surely give you an advantage.
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