So you’re dealing with a smelly roommate like Reddit poster Aflaming_Squirtle? Then you already know how sensitive the issue is. You don’t want to offend your smelly roommate. But you also don’t want to have to hold your breath because of their bad body odor. And once those bad smells weave their way into your sofa and other furniture, you’ll feel like there’s no escape.

And just ignoring the bad body odor (which is quite tough anyway) won’t make it go away either. It might also become a reason for you to not like your roommate. So, we’re going to help you approach your smelly roommate like an adult. Mature adults who shower, do laundry regularly and appreciate the beauty of deodorant.

Ways to combat the bad body odor of your smelly roommate (apart from telling them)

Before approaching the issue with your smelly roommate, here are some clever de-stink tricks that might just work! Try the following approaches and see if you can stop texting your friends ‘my roommate smells!’

Use fabric freshener to drive away bad smells of your smelly roommate

To deal with bad smells in the house, use Febreze and other sprays regularly on your sofa, bed, rugs, cushions, blankets. And just about every fabric that can catch bad body odor easily.

The ingredients in Febreze deactivate bad smells or replace them with a pleasant fragrance. It could help drive out the bad smells in your apartment, even if your roommate smells.

Leave out open cartons of baking soda to absorb the bad smells

Baking soda is cheap and absorbs all kinds of bad smells. Leave open cartons around your apartment. Or sprinkle some into the carpet and vacuum it up when it’s done its job.


Use candles, reed diffusers and plug-in air fresheners to replace bad body odor

Scented candles and other similar products only mask bad smells. But they can instantly transform a room by making it feel homely and, most importantly, smelling pleasant. However, if you’re not keen on using those sorts of chemicals, burning essential oils can have the same effect.

Keep the windows open when your smelly roommate is around

When you’re at home (and New York’s famous winter hasn’t hit too hard), flood your home with fresh air. This will help purge bad smells and act as a natural deodorizer. 

Just tell your smelly roommate about their bad body odor

Sometimes, things get so bad that no amount of baking soda can eliminate the nasty smells in your apartment. When this happens, you’ve got an awkward (but necessary) conversation ahead.

The key is to approach the issue delicately with your smelly roommate. So if you’re thinking of calling a friend to say ‘my roommate smells’ out loud in the hopes that they’ll overhear it, don’t do it! Because that will make them feel bad, and might even turn them passive aggressive towards you.

So how do you talk about bad body odor with your smelly roommate?

There are a couple of conversation-starters we recommend; the one you choose should depend on your relationship with your roomi.

Conversation for a smelly roommate you’re close with

If you see your smelly roommate as your smelly buddy, you could use humor to initiate the talk. Try something like:

“Hey Joe, you do know we have a shower in the apartment, right? We also have a laundry room in the building; I can show you where it is, if you like? Do you think you could clean up a little bit? Our place is beginning to smell and I’m worried the cops are going to receive reports of a dead body in here.”

Conversation for a smelly roommate you’re not close with

And for new roomis or those that you’re not so tight with, you’re going to have to take a direct approach with your smelly roommate. Remember that they may not be aware that the bad smell exists. People get used to their own body odor – so telling them could surprise them. This might work in your favor, as they’ll want to take steps to resolve the issue. Open with something along the lines of:

“Hey Amanda, I don’t want to offend you but I’ve noticed some bad smells in the apartment. I’m not sure what it is, but would you mind cleaning your sheets and clothes? I will do the same. Maybe we’ll be able to get to the source of the odor that way.”

Indirect approach to talk about the bad smells

Alternatively, you could offer them your new body wash or deodorant to try. Or drop subtle hints like “I feel like this apartment smells really bad lately,” or “how was your workout?” If they haven’t just worked out, they might realize that they need to shower.

Good luck on your quest for a nice-smelling apartment! While you’re here, make sure you’re doing your best to be a good roommate too. A pleasant co-living situation works both ways!

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers deal with a smelly roommate? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match!