Replacing Old People House Smell With Lovely Scents

Is there an awkward scent in your home that just doesn’t seem to go away? A lot of people talk about old people smell, but very few know what actually causes this odor in the first place. Even fewer know how to get rid of it. 

Thankfully, there’s good news.

There’s no bad smell that you can’t manage. All you need is some solid advice and a few simple tools to take care of any awkward funk that has built up in your home. Even old people smell can be quickly cleared out. 

That “old people house smell” is caused by our bodies releasing more of the chemical 2-nonenal as we age. It can also be mold and mildew commonly associated with older homes. You can get rid of ‘old people smell’ by ventilating your home, cleaning around the home, and managing any damp rooms or mold. 

Female thinking
Awkward smell that doesn’t seem to go away? Let’s fix it together.

Are you tired of having awkward smells around the house? Keep reading this article to find some interesting ways of getting rid of that old people house smell. 

What Causes “Old People Smell”

What most people don’t know is that there are actually two different types of old people house smell. One is a natural byproduct of how our bodies change as we age and the other is caused by smells we typically associate with older homes.

Here’s what separates these two kinds of smells. 

How Our Smell Changes as We Age

Our bodies change as we age—and so does our smell. 

We most commonly associate this with those awkward teenage years. However, our scent actually goes through other changes throughout our lives. As we reach our golden years, our bodies go through some big changes. 

One of them has to do with a chemical known as 2-nonenal. This chemical is naturally produced as the body sweats, but only when we get older. There is interesting research that shows that people actually aren’t that bothered by old people smell. Some people even associate this smell with beer or old books. 

Still, it can be a problem if it builds up in your home.

There is also another cause for this smell that can be a much bigger issue. 

Mildew and Other Smells

That “old people” house smell might not have anything to do with our elders. It is often actually the smell of mildew and mold. So, why do these smells get associated with our senior citizens? 

This has to do with furniture and older homes. Old furniture tends to carry moisture over the years and this can lead to a slow build up of mildew or mold. The same can be said about carpeting, drywall, and wallpaper. 

mold on the wall
Mold can grow everywhere! Make sure to check behind your furniture.

Our elders often own items that have seen the years go by which means they have a higher chance of having issues with mildew and mold. It’s also a problem that senior citizens can have changing physical abilities. This can limit how much cleaning and repair they can do around the house. 

What should you do if you are looking to get your home smelling like a fresh field of flowers again? 

What You’ll Need to Get Your House Smelling Better

There are some basic supplies you’ll need to tackle this smell. These will change based on the source of your odor, but we’ll get into that in just a minute. For now, let’s take a look at our anti-funk cleaning supplies:

  1. Mold and Mildew Cleaning Spray
  2. Washing Machine and Detergent 
  3. A Dehumidifier 
  4. Wall Cleaning Solution 
  5. New HVAC Filters
  6. Odor Neutralizers

How to Get Rid of Old People Smell

You can tackle any awkward smells in your home with just a few simple steps. This guide is going to take you through the most common issues all the way to the toughest bad odor battles. 

Let’s get started freshening up your home! 

1. Find the Source of the Scent

Here’s where it all starts. In order to get rid of our foul odor, we first need to find it. 

Pay attention to where you experience this smell the most often. Is it worse in one room or maybe you smell it most often when you’re sitting on the couch? 

Locating that old person house smell is the first step in getting rid of it. Once you know where it is, you can try any of these steps to correct it. 

2. Air Out Your Home

Damp and musty environments are breeding grounds for all types of bad smells. The first step to getting your home smelling better is to crack those windows up and let some sunlight in. 

This will help with more than just getting fresh air in. This step also helps your home to dry out. If your home has been trapping moisture, airing it out can help to kill mold and mildew. 

This also gives you a chance to wash your curtains. Curtains live near windows which experience a lot of your home’s moisture exchange. They can pick up all kinds of smells over the years. 

3. Turn on That Dehumidifier 

Humid environments are ideal for growing mold and mildew, but you’re probably not trying to do that in your home. 

A dehumidifier is one of the most powerful tools in your quest to get rid of bad smells. All you need to do is park your dehumidifier in a room that you’ve noticed too much moisture in. This is most commonly going to be your basement. 

A dehumidifier will help to prevent mold and mildew from creating that old people house smell in the first place. 

4. Get Cleaning

Now that you’ve made your home less attractive to the microscopic sources of bad smells, it’s time to clean up any current causes of bad odors in your home. 

You should start with giving any capturing a deep clean. Old carpets tend to act like sponges and can pick up all kinds of smells over the years. You can either rent a kit yourself or give your local carpet cleaners a call.

cleaning materials
Start deep cleaning!

Your walls are also an unlikely source for mold and mildew smells. Giving them a wash with a wall cleaner can knock out any bad smells that have been hanging onto their surface. 

Our last stop on this cleaning spree is going to be the hardest. Upholstered furniture is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to that “old people house smell.” You can try cleaning them on your own, but you might need to have a professional reupholster your furniture to really handle these smells. 

5. Check Your HVAC System

Your HVAC system pumps hair throughout your home. A build up of mildew anywhere in your heating or AC systems can spread a damp smell throughout your home. 

One of the most common sources of these problems are your filters. It’s tempting to let changing your filters slide, but they can quickly become sources of a musty mildew smell that gets pumped throughout your home. 

6. Good Smells Starts With Prevention 

Now that you’ve got your home cleaned, you need to keep it that way. 

Odor neutralizers like baking soda make for a great way to prevent these smells from sinking in. You can also use candles, incense, or essential oils to cover up any unwelcome smells. 

It’s a lot easier to prevent a bad smell from settling in than to get rid of one. Stay up to date on your cleaning and you’ll prevent that musty smell from ever taking hold of your home. 

7. Consider Hygiene Concerns 

That change of body odor that our elders experience is no different than what we go through is teens. The homes that our elders own can have a unique smell in the same way that a teenager’s bedroom can often have its own aroma. The best way to take care of this is to help promote good hygiene and a healthy lifestyle.

You should keep in mind that our elders are fully grown adults and that broaching these topics should be done with care. Don’t forget that you’re talking to someone with a lifetime worth of experience that deserves to be respected. If there’s a legitimate concern about health and hygiene, make sure that it’s addressed in a supportive way. 


That “old people smell” is caused by natural changes that happen as we age. It can also be caused by smells that we’ve come to associate with old buildings such as mold and mildew.

Getting rid of these smells is actually pretty easy and comes down to nothing more than some deep cleaning.

Give your home a good scrub and you’ll be able to turn back the hands of time—at least for our sense of smell. 

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more