How to Deal With a Smelly Roommate (Helpful Tips)

This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking a link I may get a commission at no cost to you.

Dealing with a smelly roommate isn’t something anyone ever wants to experience but, unfortunately, it does happen. To make matters worse, it can be a sensitive subject to approach. You shouldn’t ignore an issue like this, as it will only get worse and likely isn’t going to go away on its own. When your roommate smells, that odor can rub off on shared furniture, and may eventually make your entire home smell bad.

How Do I Deal With a Smelly Roommate?

If your roommate smells bad to the point that it is bothering making them unbearable to live with, you essentially have 2 choices: Deal with the odor on your own or confront them about it.

When dealing with a smelly roommate, make sure to do so carefully. There are certain steps you can try out before outright talking to them about it. If you do end up confronting your roommate, try to be sensitive about the issue to avoid hurting their feelings or straining the relationship.

Dealing With The Smell

The idea of bringing up any issue with your roommate can be stressful, especially if it is over something as sensitive an issue as body odor. The last thing you want to do is make things awkward or uncomfortable with someone you share a living space with.

There are a couple of ways to address smelly roommates without having to bring up the problem with them. This is often better as it can keep from raising tensions or hurting anyone’s feelings unnecessarily.

You can try out these few tips first. While they won’t make your roommate smell any better, they can definitely get rid of bad odors in the home and make things a bit more tolerable without having an uncomfortable confrontation.

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda works to absorb all kinds of smells and odors, and can be effective against a stinky roommate. It’s as easy as opening a few boxes of baking soda and leaving them around your home or apartment.

You can put them in shared spaces like the living room or kitchen, and hopefully eliminate the odor. A potential downside to this is the fact that your roommate might ask about it. Another effective use of baking soda is to sprinkle it onto rugs and carpets and then vacuum it up.

2. Fabric Refresher

One of the most effective ways to combat any kind of smelly odor is with fabric refresher. You can use it on pillows, furniture, rugs, and more to eliminate bad smells. Since fabric refresher is so commonly used, your roommate won’t think twice about you spraying it every now and again.

3. Candles or Diffusers

Candles, incense, or essential oil diffusers can all be good methods for getting bad smells out of your home. Just like with similar approaches, your roommate won’t smell any better, but at least you might not notice it. Plug in air fresheners are also a good idea, and most of them last for at least a month.

One of my favorites are Yankee Candles. They’re a bit pricey for candles, but they burn for a long time and they sure do smell good!

4. Open Windows

If you’re able to have your windows open for a good amount of time then this can be another simple approach for getting rid of the bad smell. Open windows aren’t as effective as fabric refresher or candles, but the fresh air will work to naturally deodorize your home.

If you want to try and fix the problem without mentioning it to your roommate, you can try to keep a window open whenever they are around. It might not be as effective, but it is certainly better than nothing.

5. Telling Them About The Smell

Even if you utilize every DIY method you can find, sometimes it just isn’t enough. In some cases you may just have to confront your roommate about how badly they smell.

While it won’t be fun, it can be effective in fixing the problem. No one is going to like hearing that they smell, but if you approach them delicately it can at least soften the blow.

6. Start The Conversation

The best way to start this kind of conversation with your roommate is through a direct, yet delicate way. Being passive aggressive won’t work in this situation. The exact way you broach the subject will depend on the kind of relationship you have with your roommate and how close you are. Sit them down, and broach the subject as delicately as possible.

7. Be Kind

The most important thing to keep in mind when confronting your roommate about their bad odor is to be kind. They are likely going to be embarrassed and feel bad, but they will at least appreciate hearing it in a kind way.

It’s likely, or at least possible, that they will be offended no matter how kind you are. So be prepared for that. If they are a reasonable person though, they may appreciate the candor and hopefully try to fix the problem. Sometimes the solution is something as simple as changing to a more powerful deodorant.


It isn’t fun to deal with a smelly roommate, but it does happen, and there are certainly ways you can handle it. On top of DIY methods of baking soda and candles, you can talk to your roommate about the problem.

If you do so in a kind and considerate way then you can reach a solution you are both happy with. No one enjoys hearing that they smell bad, but sometimes it is a necessary conversation to have.