Adventures in Imperfection


You’ve seen these homes. The houses with windows boarded up, grass growing in sidewalk cracks and condemned written in graffiti across the stripped siding. Mamas roll the strollers faster when they reach it on the sidewalk and dogs get antsy if you linger too long.

That’s going to be my house real soon if we don’t figure out what smell is permeating the pores in my kitchen. It’s making the hubs grumpy, the dogs nervous and wrecking my housewife self-esteem.

Even though this problem is not life-changing, we’ve found ourselves going through Kubler-Ross-ish stages with varying degrees of intensity. Stay tuned for the million dollar reward at the end if you have ANY idea what this could be.

Six Stages of Odor Identification

1) Awareness:  It was a faint whiff here and a suspicious sniff there that started about a week ago. As the foul odor wafted through the air, it was ethereal, varied and just vague enough to be ignored. Soft accusations were thrown at the dog as well as the fourteen-year-old football player who lives in this house. Attacks on my housekeeping skills didn’t surface until later.

2) Denial: As the smell became worse, feigning ignorance became the M.O. for the household.  Just when I was convinced that the body of Dillinger was buried under the kitchen island, Scott would wander over to Area 51 and say, “I don’t really smell it today. ” Then, as soon as I was convinced that it might be gone, Dane would catch a drift and choke out a “OMG…what is that SMELL?”

3) Obsessive Problem-Solving: This is the stage that involved dangerous and toxic chemicals, secret calls to the CDC and my mother in-law. The bleach came out, cupboards were scrubbed, trash bins sanitized and Pinterest concoctions resembling 8th grade science projects were poured down the drains. I even made hubs undo the pipes and traps so I could scrub the twisty turns in the PVC. At one point, BD and I were flat on the floor with our noses up to the half-inch opening under the sink. “I don’t smell anything, do you?”

AHA! Maybe is the feet in the upper right!

4) Anger: You knew it was coming, right? Blatant accusations, personal attacks and banishment. And that’s only what was directed at Macy.

She is very, very sorry

5) Stage a coverup: At this point, we pulled out candles, air freshener and Axe spray from my son’s gym bag. What resulted was a mixed smell of wet dog hair, adolescent hormones and pumpkin spice latte. In fact, it still smells like a singles’ bar when I open up the trash bin.

6) Acceptance: Finally, last night, after an eight-day escapade of angst, bleach and drawer-pulling, we decided that we had to let it go. Whatever it is that has crawled up and died somewhere in our kitchen will eventually lose it’s gamey smell as it moves to the great garbage disposal in the sky.

This morning, the smell seems a little lighter and the urge to vomit didn’t emerge with morning breakfast. Macy appears less guilty and the smelly football player has already left for school.

Maybe if I stay out of the kitchen today, I’ll be able to tell myself that it’s all gonna be all right.

Ah yes. Denial is my favorite stage.



Tell me, friends. WHAT do you think that smell could be and HOW can I get rid of it? Taking all ideas and suggestions. Your check is in the mail.

56 thoughts on “Smell-ma-geddon

    1. I’m denying it 😉
      That said, I’ve looked for signs of something dead or evidence of varmints. Nothing!
      Hubs read my post before he came our to the kitchen and asked, “is the smell really gone or was that just for your story?”
      I’ve missed you, A. I have your posts tagged to read 😉


  1. I had a rat die inside my wall once. It resulted in a 7 week frustration while it decomposed to a gentle pong instead of a 24 hr downwind of the local dump.
    It’s funny, when I got the matches out to remove the smell, you’d swear I was going to burn the house down (I was, but I’m not admitting that).
    Then I accused the cat of not doing it’s job. The outcome of that little caper was no one would talk to me. You’d think I was the one that caused the problem in the first place.
    So I resorted to the only other thing I could think of (besides burning the house down), and that was to go and live with the mother in law for a while. No, not a good decision, and I eventually went back to the pong.
    So I then burnt every piece of incense, good or bad, till my sinus’s couldn’t smell anything anyway. It worked.
    Which brings me to the next problem…the house has this permanent incense smell to it…nice…but a little too sweet. I knew I should have used that Lavender. Oh well, next time I’ll try burning my old socks or something. What am I saying…next time! I’ll burn the house down for sure if it ever happens again 🙂


    1. Lol!!! I can empathize, Mark! And just know that I’m laughing with you and not at you.
      It’s only fitting that my Namaste friend would have a house that smells like incense…I haven’t tried that yet. I’ll hide the matches from you if you hide them from me!


      1. If it’s warm enough, there’s always the tent in the back yard…turn it into a camping holiday. Just hold your breath when you duck inside for anything 🙂 (matches hidden, but trust me, after a while the thought gets stronger and stronger 🙂 ). Good luck Michelle, may it be a fast decomposing rodent 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Our evil neighbor shot a skunk once and left it in the trees just upwind of our house. So next time you feel unhappy with your life, just remind yourself, “It could be worse – it could be a rotting skunk located where there is not a single damn thing we can do about it.” I guarantee you will feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes! That’s a stinky problem Mama. How much would you like an open floor plan? Ha! You could always take out all the walls. Have you tried to have your ducts cleaned? it is possible the creature has passed away in there. It’s not very expensive and should be done ocassionally anyway. It’s not likely to be useful but at least it wouldn’t be wasteful to try. Some duct cleaners have cameras that they can use to look around in the ducts. One of those would be best.

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck Mama.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cleaning out the ducts certainly trumps tearing out the walls, no?
      I was wishing for a little camera last night as I think the little sucker is decomposing right underneath the sink.
      Always great to hear from you, Paul!


  4. You could always move.
    To Texas.

    Or a hotel for a week.

    Ever simmer cinnamon sticks on the stovetop? That helps. But time and open windows is probably your best bet. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aren’t smells bigger in Texas?!?!?
      Yep…I agree that time and open windows will be the only thing that will work until the little sucker is completely flat and devoid of carbon matter. (I just changed my scentsy to cinnamon!!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another vote for dead mouse, though once spoiled soup cans at work caused a similar smell. We’ve had dead mice in the basement and the stink barely outweighs how damn hard they are to locate. My parents found one behind their fridge and were beyond relieved to pinpoint the source. I don’t know why we have cats sometimes. They don’t even bother looking guilty like your sweet dog. Good luck and hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Kristen!
      I am rolling with laughter at your comment. In fact, these comments have given me all sorts of wicked enjoyment. To actually FIND the culprit is just an awesome feeling, right?
      And then the cats, just priceless! Even if they were guilty–they’d certainly pin it on the dog and not bat an eyelash 😉
      I need to tally up the votes, but dead rodent is certainly leading the pack.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The good thing about a dead critter is they eventually dry up (if that’s what it is). When we bought our house, we didn’t know that squirrels were using the attic crawl space as a toilet. One day we finally discovered it and a ton of droppings, but the urine is in the wood framing and will forever stink. We smell it when we open the under stairs closet. It’s been 14 years so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my! That would drive me CRAZY!!! Durned squirrels!
      I just had my poor guilty looking pooch just chase one away from the bird feeder.
      I agree though…it’s bound to dry up soon. In the meantime, I’ll just wear a respiratory mask and bask in denial 🙂


  7. I wish I had an intelligent answer for you, but just reading your story has given me heart palpitations that are causing an inability to think clearly. I am a smell person, and it drives me bat shit crazy when things smell bad. Hey, now that I think about it, there’s my contribution: maybe it’s bat shit!

    Seriously, Michele, I am feeling your pain, and I am praying that you find resolution to this stinky problem 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness, Josie!
      I read your comment out loud to my husband and couldn’t get through without laughing my butt off.
      Bat shit crazy is totally the truth!
      I’m a smell person, too and .just.can’

      Death to the bats’ shit!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. NN is right Mama. They put a smelly chemical into propane for just that reason. When I was trucking we used to use trailers in the winter that had propane heaters in them. The rule was, crack the door and stick your nose in – if it stinks, run away fast and get help. Not kidding.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Just once. But the solution is not hard with a trailer – you open the doors in the rear and the vents in the front, turn off the propane and wait for the trailer to air out – that takes a few hours, then all is OK. The propane unit is at the back and portable, so you just tag it and replace it and carry on. One word that may save your life if you ever run into this: propane is heavier than air, so if it smells at nose level, itis already explosive around your feet – so just back away slowly to make sure you don’t create a spark, until you can’t smell it down low any more. With the tralier, the floor is at chest level when you open it, so you can smell it much quicker.


    2. You are so kind, Victoria. I appreciate you thinking of us and even waiting up for me.
      We went to a Royals game last night and came home to a cleaner smelling house. Whatever it is seems to be getting better.
      Honestly, it smells like wet dog hair. Lovely.
      (thank you again! You’re a gem!)


      1. Whew, that’s good to know. Last night I was looking for a industrial strength odor neutralizer for you when I came upon the propane gas info. I had Google’d “how to get rid of dead mouse odor”. If it comes back, there’s a product that’s gotten great reviews called Odorcide.

        Wet dog hair is the worst. I’m so glad the odor is clearing up. No wonder your pooch was suspected. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  8. First thing: LOL. Not to laugh at your misfortune — I am laughing *with* you. I go through the same exact process but hadn’t connected it with Kubler-Ross. The bargaining phase is definitely a big part for me. Second: probably something dead, which can become quite toxic and cause headaches (been there). Third: possibly sewer gas? We have a problem in our house that if we don’t pour water down the drain near the washing machine, it will eventually dry up and sewer gas emits. We have a basement and the drain is in the floor. That’s all I’ve got. You must update us! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Meggie!
      You were a busy reader last night!!
      It always humbles and thrills me when I see your gravatar come across my space. I hope to get over and catch up with you, too. (I see you have a new one for the Speakeasy!)
      And, OMG…all the smells you mentioned. Yep! Have had them all!
      I have the scentsy going full blast this morning…it seems to get better every day.
      Then again, I just admitted to denial being my favorite stage 🙂


  9. Can I play….

    Like I good sleuth, ere I make a fool of myself, may I get a little more info?

    -Is there wallpaper nearby? (if so, how old?)*
    -what kind of floors, and what is under the floors?*
    -was there ever a bat problem?
    -squirrels or mice prob?
    -was there ever water damage?*
    -is the house in a valley with little sun?*
    -is there insulation in the walls? what kind?
    -was the house painted inside or outside?*
    -if wooden floors, were they ever sealed?*

    I have a few more ques, but this may keep u busy……….lol
    There are reasons and similarities with *

    Love to help u, but, some mysteries go unsolved, but most have answers, so be hopeful


    1. Good morning!
      All of your helpful questions and banter made me laugh out loud (and wake up!)
      Good news: The smell is completely gone after invading the house for about a week.
      Bad news: we will probably never know what it was.

      I must say, you have me quite curious and impressed with your problem-solving skills. Don’t be surprised if I show up over at your place in a bit. I promise not to bring over any wayward smells.

      Thanks for stopping by!!


  10. Hey Michelle-

    Good news and bad huh? The famous odor is gone, but u don’t know why?

    Years ago we had a similar issue, and it was in fact a wallpaper issue; the previous owner had installed three count them three layers of paper, and there was a noxious odor, (ok probably too strong a word) that lo and behold was a mildew problem under the first layer. Ouch-

    Sooooo satisfying learning what the root was, but yep, literally a thousand reasons why smells find a home. Cool post.

    Nice to meet you also-


  11. Okay, so I am Way too late to this party.

    Did you ever find out what the *stink was??

    If so, do tell!!!
    If not…

    *a vomit-inducing stench = no joke


    1. Lol!!!
      We thought it was gone…until today!
      Now, it just blows through the air randomly. Hubs and I will smell it at the same time and then it’s gone seconds later. It’s making me a little looney. Makes me wonder if a have a smelly ghost in the house wearing a wet mohair suit 🙂


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