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Recognizing When An Odor Could Mean Pests & Taking Action



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We’ve all experienced it—you’re having a perfectly normal day at home, minding your own business, maybe relaxing with a new book. Suddenly you pause, your eyebrows dart down in disapproval and your nostrils flare up. “Is that,” you may think to yourself as you move around the room taking tentative sniffs, “no, what is that?” If you’re lucky, you’re with someone else when you smell it and can ask them if they smell something odd to make sure you’re not going crazy.

It’s easy to second-guess your nose when it comes to odors you can’t define, and if you don’t know what it is, chances are you won’t know how to take care of it. From first sniff until you define the cause, your brain spirals until you’re convinced something has crawled into the wall and died there. The worst part? You might not be far off.

It’s winter, and is this winter a cold one! If you don’t even want to be outside in your expensive fleece parka and running thermals, imagine how much less little unprotected animals want to be outside. But many animals can be harmful to your home and health when they seek refuge in or around your home. Here’s how to tell if that funny smell is due to a pest who came in from the cold.

Termites: Of Musk and Must

While many will argue about whether or not termites have their own, distinct smell, what is unmistakable is that the burrowers may be to blame for that musty smell you keep noticing. When termites burrow in from the outside to feed on the wood that makes up your home, they let in moisture to the wood. It’s not their fault, they just want to eat, but that won’t fix your wood or get rid of the musty, mildew-laden smell.

Unfortunately, termites mean that you do need to call an exterminator; the colony needs to be totally eliminated or the problem will crop back up, as new termites will invade the old areas (maybe even in areas where you’ve spent money to replace the wood).

Unfortunately, the smell will not follow the insects in demise; once you’ve had the termite colony eliminated, the moisture they’ve allowed in should be dried out and ventilated. To help accelerate this process, place MOISTURESORB® Reusable Moisture & Odor Absorbent Pouches in problem areas—after that, the musty odor should disappear. You can continue to use this product to keep the air fresh as well.

Rodents: The Accidental Offenders

If any areas of your home start to smell uncharacteristically stale or musty—particularly in outside parts of your home, unused campers, your garage, or anywhere that’s dark or out of the way in your home, congratulations! You may now be living in a Tom & Jerry episode (but hopefully with less slapstick, for your sake as well as your cat’s).

It’s not that mice and rats exist to burrow into the small spaces of your home. They have no idea that they (and even more so, their feces) carry dangerous germs you don’t want around your family. They’re just looking for food and a warm place to survive the winter.

Unfortunately, being kind to these verminous creatures puts you and your family too much at risk. Salmonella, leprospirosis, hantavirus—nobody wants these dangerous organisms in their home or near their family.

Since they’re often difficult to catch and move, the exterminator you hired may have to kill the little critters in order for your home to remain safe. However, the infestation has to be diagnosed on a case-by-case basis, and when that happens you can talk to your exterminator about what you feel comfortable with and how much that will cost.

To remove any remaining nasty odor after the rodents have been eradicated and the droppings cleaned away, strap on a mask and scrub the area with bleach followed by ODOREZE® Natural Brick, Stucco, Siding, Concrete, & Yard Cleaner& Deodorizer Solution; this will kill any remaining microorganisms and will eradicate the odor so you can breathe easy.

Birds: The World is their Lavatory

Everyone likes to hear the cheerful sounds of birdsong, but other than that, it’s hard to think of any noticeable signs of birds you’d want to see on your property.

It’s like they think their name is on the house title rather than yours. Whether or not they try to make a home inside yours (and many of them will peck holes in stucco large enough for their nests, driving up your energy costs and letting less benign critters in), all birds defecate. And not just that—they defecate everywhere.

You need to clean up bird droppings as soon as you find them—there are acidic compounds in bird poop that are extremely corrosive to paint. For the best results, scrub the bird stool off whatever surfaces the birds have chosen this time using ODOREZE® Plant Based Multi-Purpose Deodorizing Cleaner Spray. In addition, sprinkle SMELLEZE® Eco Animal Waste Deodorizer Granules on aviary fecal matter in yard, driveway, shrubs, concrete, ect. Repeat applying SMELLEZE at regular intervals if necessary. The odor coming from the bird droppings will fade and dissipate with this treatment.

Raccoons: Stinky, Smelly Bandits

Sorry Disney Pocahontas fans: mischievous Meeko is perhaps the only truly cute raccoon ever. These critters, apart from going through your garbage, crawl into your chimneys, and leave piles of their feces all scattered about—and if you thought rodent poop was hazardous, think again!

Bottom line on detecting raccoons—if you think you smell a strong, foul, fecal smell, then you have cause for alarm—call an exterminator. You can’t just do this one yourself—even if it is legal to kill or remove raccoons without a permit in your area, removal of raccoon fecal matter and fixing the damage they’ve done while squatting in your attic or walls requires a respirator (raccoon feces carry the eggs of a parasite fatal to humans, Baylisascaris procyonis). And the damage they’ve caused could mean fixing insulation or even replacing entire pieces of plywood or lumber.

Once the unwelcome raccoons have been evicted and their former den converted back to what it was meant to be (your solid attic), it’s time to get rid of the remaining stench they have left behind. To do this simply place SMELLEZE® Reusable Pest Smell Removal Pouches in the attic and anywhere else that also has the raccoon odor problem. This deodorizer will make the odor will go away.


Once you get rid of the nasty pests that plague your home and treat the area with the appropriate SMELLEZE and ODOREZE odor removing products, their stench should follow them out of your home in no time!

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  • Bryan Kort