Please Help: Teenage Boy Room Smell

Dear the Internets,

I have a situation.

A dire situation.

And I need you.

PLEASE HELP ME.

The thing is, my teenage son’s room smells terrible.

TERRIBLE.

Or, in French, which is the language of high drama, his room smells TERRIBLE.

ÉPOUVANTABLE.

EFFROYABLE

Now, before I had a teenage boy child, I heard other parents talk about a teenager’s room smelling bad. It’s not like this is a surprise, you know? It’s just, I assumed they meant body odor.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to correct that misunderstanding. 

THIS IS NOT ABOUT BODY ODOR.

It is not – I repeat NOT – a B.O. smell I smell every time I’m in, oh, say, a 100 foot radius of this child’s room.

I WISH it was a B.O. smell because B.O. smells can be fixed with bathing and deodorant, but nooooooo. We are not that lucky, and washing does not fix this.

Instead, this smell is… I don’t know… the smell of hormones? 

The smell of hormones plus nervous energy plus angst? 

I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS IS. 

No idea. 

NONE.

But I need a solution anyway.

A solution that’s NOT extreme like washing all the sheets and blankets and pillows and pillowcases every week, because I WANT to be that mama, but HA! That is not happening, friends. 

So I need a non-extreme solution, please, like moving my son into a tent in the backyard. 

Or to Tahiti.

Or moving ME to Tahiti.

Or buying some of that anti-hormone spray they sell at the pet store, except for teenage boys at a teenage boy store. 

Or heavy chemical fumigation where they have to wrap the whole house in plastic and we go stay at a hotel with a pool.

Or nose surgery where they remove my sense of smell.

Or… I DON’T KNOW, but SOMETHING.

This is a cry for help, y’all.

Help a mama out.

What’ve you got??

Sincerely yours,

Signature

 

 

 

P.S. To be crystal clear, this is no reflection on my teenage son. He’s doing nothing wrong, other than growing into a man like all the other teenage boys around him. Turning Into a Man is, of course, problematic in its own right with its emotional / hormonal upheavals, but it’s no one’s fault, per se, other than God’s. I am working on that problem, particularly as it includes a disturbing amount of sparse facial hair and the occasional straggly pit hair I’m supposed to marvel over, but I’m tackling that whole issue separately by sending emails to God. Now, I realize God is Very Busy, but I have yet to get EVEN ONE response to my multiple missives and concrete suggestions for improvement. Should God respond in the future to my email string titled “Adolescence. REALLY, GOD??,” you will be the first to know. ‘Til then, we’re on our own.

P.P.S. HELP.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
76 comments
  1. Thanks fo your help, ladies! I too, am dealing with the super stinky teenage boy issue! My son smells like sweaty socks, tortilla chips and butt! It’s so gross! I’m going to try everything you all have suggested. Amazon will be getting my $$ today!

  2. All, please stop washing your son’s sheets (and anything) for him. Unless there is a disability or illness, he can do it himself.

  3. My 19 year old son’s room gets bad. I take dirty laundry out daily or he does. Change bedding and wash pillows bi weekly and once a month I sprinkle mattress with baking soda let sit a few hours and vacuumed and then I steam clean his mattress and air out room I will steam clean the fan and the filter to the AC I also will spray cloroxbleech spraying AC and let run airing g out room that works . I believe it’s a combo of body chances sweating the foods ppl eat now. Process food and grease and sugars . Healthy diet always makes things better. My son also when in his room weigher sleeping or hanging out will keep door closed so no air flow . He is super clean but it’s just life . My 11 year old son now has the worst BO smell I’ve ever smelled. His room is ok . But he needs dayly showers and lots of deodorant he is a sweater . My three girls no problem this far. Super sensitive girl parts and sometimes have an order but as long as I keep body wash n soaps for sensitive skin and they wash daily no problem. Some time just soaking in wanted is all they need. And I make my own laundry soap which is amazing. Onions absorb smells and bacteria and potatoes. Cut in halves and place in areas of roomsit will also help.

  4. This is not a smell caused by masturbating! Lol! These comments are so funny!

    I have a teen daughter – same thing – musty old gym socks smell mixed with a scent of, oh, what is it? Fritos corn chips? I have found it was caused by a few things – old laundry, keeping her shoes in her room, and not enough air flow in her closet (clothes are just CRAMMED in there). And also – we had to go wash each item in her closet because she’d just rehang worn items instead of washing them. My daughter is a hiker – so she’d com back from hikes and just hang up her slightly sweaty hoodie. Moisture plus a tiny bit of sweat – in a dark tightly packed closet? Not good!

    What you need is to make sure NO SHOES are kept in the room! Go through the closet and wash all items. Wash all sheets, pillows, comforters, mattress pads. Spray charcoal activated deodorizer on the actual mattresss. Then hang charcoal deodorizers in the closet and place all over the room! They sell them at Home Depot for water mildew smell removal.

    Then air out the room for as much as possible, weather permitting. If you have carpet, you may want to have it shampooed by a professional who you can ask to do heavy duty deodorizing (they have special stuff for pet odors, etc).

    And if that doesn’t help – well you’ll have to wait until he moves out!

    See how that works!

  5. I had a 17 year old female student rent a room in my place. I didn’t notice a smell when she and her parents came for the interview, but the day she moved in it smelled like she brought something vile and stinky with her. I wondered if it was some kind of pet odour on something she had brought from home from a very stinky dog (or barnyard animal). However, that wasn’t the case.
    I sprayed the room with Lysol and it dissipated the first day.
    However, that was temporary. Once she was in the room, the smell grew to a disgusting level. She kept her door closed all the time, so the room never aired out. When she opened her door the entire house was filled with a strong stench I cannot describe.
    She may have stopped showering and wasn’t doing her laundry, and was keeping food in the room. Now that she is gone, I have aired out the room and it still stinks. The smell isn’t as overwhelming as before….it doesn’t affect the entire house, but I can’t get her stink out of the room. I don’t think it’s the bed. I tried sniffing things. I had just bought a brand new and expensive mattress and box spring before she moved in. She was only there for a semester (4 months) and I don’t know how to make this room habitable again. I sprayed everything with Lysol, washed the floor, aired out the room, and it still stinks.

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  8. One product: Bad Air Sponge.

    You can get it on Amazon, it’s non-toxic, has no smell itself, and it *will* absorb a lot of those odors. I used it both on my teenage stepson’s room *and* on my incontinent great-aunt’s room, and once in my garage when we had a dead rat trapped in the walls and nothing could be done but wait out the stink. It worked like a charm in all those cases. (And no, I’m not shilling the product, so it’s not an advertisement.)

    That said, the root problem, I think, is twofold. One, my stepson just stunk for a couple of years. I don’t know what was with him, but he just did. I suspect it may have been a combination of body chemistry and just not showering as thoroughly as he should — but hey, there’s a limit to what you can do to check. I’d say put on a mattress pad as well as sheets and make him change them at least weekly. Teaching him to wash sheets and such is good life experience and it means you’re not having to get in there with privacy issues, since he *is* likely to be sensitive about um…what’s on the bed.

    About sixteen, though his BO started to wane, thank goodness. And then, he discovered bad cologne…heh.

    Good luck!

  9. There are different elements to body odor. This is body odor it’s just not the kind that you’re used to. Teenagers sweat every single day when they sleep. Their skin let’s out oils. They let out horomones. Even if they don’t pleasure themselves or have nocturnal emissions. How many days do you wear underclothes or shirts before you change them and wash them? Maybe three, max? Their bedding, their pillow case covers, their mattress cover, and all the stuff underneath that if they don’t have covers protecting them, all of absorb the sweat with these hormones and oils. The carpet absorbs it if they put their laundry on the floor. Teenage boy musk, if you prefer. But it’s still something that can and must be washed out. A week is already too long I’ve come to realize, as I house my 21-year-old nephew. I don’t know why he’s he only teenaged boy in our house that smells like this, but honest to goodness. Nobody noticed any smell until he moved in. And we haven’t gotten used to it.

  10. I suspect it’s mainly due to Wanking Off, and not cleaning Himself up properly afterwards. It’s ESSENTIAL that He showers or bathes properly afterwards!

  11. During my development, I noticed an unwelcome sent in my room. Boys self-sooth before sleep, much of the sent comes from the bed. So I put allergen case around my bed, I changed my sheets every other week. I have plenty of sheets! Use bed sheets to wrap the bed, so I sleep using two-bed sheets and blanket.

    I also made a point to bath before bed, and self-sooth before entering bed.

    My room does not have that sent unless I go without washing sheets and self-sooth in bed.

  12. My son is 27 and is very clean, however when I go in his room it smells like pizza or something. My family room couches also have this smell I too use sprays and his sheets are washed weekly. When I tell him, he does not notice the smell. I will try some of these remedies and hopefully something will work!

  13. One more thing…

    My daughter’s hair was stinky when she was a teenager. My hairdresser told me to have her use baking soda with her shampoo and rub it between her hands. IT WORKS!

  14. Try using a solution of 50/50 water and alcohol. Spray the bed, pillows, carpet, etc. It neutralizes the odor and you should end up with NO smell at all.

    I read online that you can use a 50/50 solution of vodka & water, but I thought, “Why waste perfectly good vodka?”. Turns out, it’s the alcohol in the vodka that does the work, so I just used cheap alcohol from Walmart.

    Hope this helps.

    Former step-mother of a VERY stinky 16 year-old

    P.S. Pay attention to anonymous up there ^. He’s not wrong!

  15. ToppCock seems to be working for my son.

  16. As i am a 16yr old boy. I’m pretty sure the smell is just hormones, but also it could be the fact that he is masterbating and he is not cleaning his penis properly. Expecially if he is uncircumcised the head of the penis is left in the musk of death! Try foods that will make his secretion smell more pleasant. I have tried many things, but pineapples seem to make the secretion have a sweet smell also make sure he clean his penis properly. You can get shampoo from Bath and Body that will not iratate the penis. You can also get a candle or some other in scent to make the room to smell better. Washing any fabrics is a must because the smell seems to stick to them well. Hope this helps! 🙂

    1. OH. MY. GOSH.

      I’m gonna hurl.

  17. I hope there is a cure. My stepson moved in with use 10 weeks ago. He is 23 and it’s the same thing. I can’t even be in my craft room (next too his bedroom) or the family room. It is absolutely making me ill. I make him wash all of his bedding once a week too, and there are air fresheners everywhere. Now, even the garage office smells that way (he is in there on his computer). It is vile and disgusting. He too showers and wears clean clothes daily.

    1. Wendy, when I read your post it was like I was reading exactly what I would have posted. UUUUGGGHHHHH!!!!

  18. I have been trying to figure this smell thing out and have come to accept that it’s just teenage boy hormones. My son showers twice almost every day. He uses powder on his junk to keep that dry and cool (jeez, I’m a single mom and have to address that lol). I wash his sheets every week. He has a memory foam pad and cover that get hosed down with Febreze every time we change the sheets. The cover gets washed every week. I also spray Febreze on the sheets/pillow during the week. One of our dogs sleeps in his room and it’s not her. I deodorize the carpet every week. I went so far as to get him black out curtains and a fan, in addition to the ceiling fan, to keep his room cool because he sweats so bad. The AC is turned down low so that I freeze but keep him cool. I feel bad that I got on him so much, thinking he wasn’t actually using any soap in the shower. The hormones are just so bad that they permeate through any good smell. This poor child. I just don’t want him to smell bad to others. Also have to add, he runs cross country, so that’s an added bonus to the smell, however amazingly…his feet do NOT stink. Thankfully!! I’m sure it gets better and I wouldn’t want to go back to puberty for anything in the world…poor kids.

    1. does the super cool room help? We, too, wash and spray weekly. Still to no avail. : (

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