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Old Apartment Smells...Old

Matt_SMatt_S Registered User regular
edited August 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I just moved into an apartment about a month ago, and it's in a very old building. The apartment itself has very old fixtures (gas heating, cast iron bathtub, a toilet with more GPF than I thought allowable by law) and I actually really dig all of the old stuff, I think it's kind of cool.

Besides the smell. The apartment had been unused for quite a while since the landlord is next door and didn't want anyone loud to move in (fortunately, I'm not loud, so there's no problems there). And expectantly, an old apartment that hasn't been used for a while has a certain odor to it. It's enough to make me wrinkle my nose when I come in contact with it, and my main concern is that a girl might do the same if she were coming back with me one night :winky:

I've been keeping the windows open, which have helped, but now that it's getting colder I've been closing them and probably do so more often now that Fall is approaching soon. My parents have suggested deep cleaning the carpet and washing the walls. A friend of mine suggested getting an air ionizer.

Frankly, I'm not sure what the best way to proceed is. Does anyone have experience with this, and have any ideas or solutions that may help?

TL;DR: My apartment hasn't been used in a while and has a bad smell. What is the best way to get rid of this bad smell?

Matt_S on


  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Stale air shouldn't take long to get rid of, but if it's mildew or something, there may be more to the problem. Make sure there's not mold or anything going on.

    Dr. Frenchenstein on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    All of the above. Fabrics and walls hold an incomprehensible amount of smell.

    Improvolone on
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  • CorcoranCadetCorcoranCadet Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I actually just dealt with the same problem. I got a social security check addressed to the prior resident, so as you might expect, the apartment smelled like old person when I first moved in. Of course, the smell might have just been the apartments age. I should note that I have hardwood floors, so these aren't trapping odor like a carpet does.

    I got some air freshener plug ins from Bath and Body works. They are odor eliminating and I got the least invasive scent I could find (Cotton). In addition to that I bought a a hepa air filtration device that also has an ionizer. It cost me about 30-40 bucks at Target and has worked like a charm. (I wouldn't buy one of the super expensive ones that are around $200) My apartment isn't too big but I rotate the room that the air filter is in. These two things plus running the air conditioner a bit have gotten rid of the smell completely. Either that or I have adjusted to it.

    I know that isn't a complicated answer, but I would suggest trying it first and seeing if the smell will calm down. If no one has been living in the apartment or circulating the air it will naturally start to smell stale.

    CorcoranCadet on
  • SpacemilkSpacemilk Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Is the whole apartment carpeted? If so, yeah, it's probably the carpet. Depending on the type, it should be replaced every X years as part of normal maintenance, so check that your landlord has done so recently.

    Is it a "wet" smell? If you think there may be things growing in your walls or carpet, contributing to the smell, get that checked out by mold people ASAP. The LAST thing you want is to get sick from mold. Your landlord should cover this if the apartment has ever had water damage - in fact, he should have had it done if the place ever flooded, so just make sure.

    Otherwise, temporary fixes would be an air ionizer, glade plug-ins and other "leave it" type air fresheners, scented candles, etc.

    Is it a really powerful smell?

    Note: When you say "old" I imagine the faintly musty smell that an old library has. I don't think a girl would be turned off by that, necessarily. So I'm a little confused. Would you say it's old as in "old cat lady who lives down the street" - as in it smells like an older person?

    Also where do you live? (for law purposes) And what is the climate typically like?

    Spacemilk on
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    The DampRid jars can help if it's just pent-up odor, but if it's mold/mildew, your landlord will need to be involved.

    MichaelLC on
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