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There is a funny joke among homeowners that no garages ever smell the same. Garages can have all kinds of different smells, good or foul. Why does the garage smell?
A garage may smell from many sources. These include vehicle fluids, paint, chemicals, or garbage. There are also cleaning products, litter boxes, mold, and sewer. A smelly garage could also signal failed electronics or gas leaks.
This article explores the sources of different odors and what you can do to eliminate that smell. Once you have removed the smell, we also look at how you can avoid these smells from entering your garage again.
Why Do Garages Smell Good?
New garages usually smell good. The materials are fresh and haven’t had time to absorb bad smells. Garages are made of fresh concrete, lumber, and drywall. And they can smell nice many months after construction.
It may be subjective to figure out what a good smell is. However, good smells are commonly associated with a new garage for many garages.
This is because a newly finished garage may still have fresh materials. The concrete floor just dried, and the wood joints are still fresh. The flooring is also just laid in.
These fresh materials haven’t had time to absorb any foul or bad smells from around them. As a result, they simply smell fresh and new.
Another reason your garage may still be fresh is the paint. Fresh paint usually gives that “”ew” “smell. In fact, many paints in the market focus on removing the bad smell of paint.
But, do know that even if they smell good, paints still release VOCs. VOCs are known as volatile organic compounds, and they can be harmful to health. The good thing is they dissipate fast after the paint is dried.
Why Do Garages Smell Bad?
Garages can smell bad for many, many reasons. The bad smell could come from things stored inside, such as fluids, chemicals, or pet supplies. Bad garage smell could also show mold and mildew problems or issues with sewerage nearby.
Garages can smell bad for many reasons, and it can be hard to tell which one they are. The smell source could be within the garage itself or outside.
The smell source could also be temporary. There are also permanent bad smells that require more aggressive treatment to remove.
As a start, people use the garage for storage. This means all sorts of things are stored here. There may be many fluids for cars, motorcycles, or home appliances. Aside from there, there are also chemicals, garbage, cardboard, and paper.
People also store cleaning products and pet supplies. Litter crystals, dog food, or other accessories can also leave a smell.
Your garage could also have issues with mold and mildew. This is especially if you live in more humid locations. Moisture may have leaked into your insulation. The trapped moisture inside causes your insulation to turn moldy.
If your garage smells of cigarettes, perhaps someone has puffed for a bit inside. Burnt tobacco can have a strong smell and may linger in the garage for some time. However, they do go away.
If your garage smells like sewer, this may show issues with sewerage in and around your garage. Spend some time and check out if the drains or pipes are clogged.
The good thing about these bad smells is that you can remove them. Some may be easier, but some may require more extensive effort. The key is to identify where they come from and then work hard to remove the source of the smell.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Fish?
The strange, fishy smell may be a sign of failing electrical components. Electrical shielding, wires, and components emit a fishy smell when overheating. Check your outlets and other electrical components for burns or melting signs. Do not touch the wires.
If your garage smells like fish, you may have some raw fish lying around. If that’s the case, remove the fish, clean up the garage, and the smell should disappear.
However, a fishy smell could also mean something more serious. In this case, failing wiring or electric appliances. When the electrical wires melt, they emit a fishy smell in some situations. Some may also smell like rotten eggs.
In this case, switch off the power supply to your garage. Spend time visually checking for any outlets or electrical components. Look for any burnt or melting signs. Do not touch the wire. Failing electrics form a severe fire hazard.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Rotten Eggs?
The cause of the rotten eggs smell could be from bad draining or a bad water heater. On a more serious side, a rotten egg smell can also be caused by a gas leak. If you suspect a gas leak, vacate your garage immediately and call your gas company.
On the lighter side, the smell of rotten eggs could be from bad drainage. In this case, check the sewerage system in and around your garage. Clear the drain with some drain cleaner.
A rotten egg smell could also come from your water heater. To test for this, run some hot water on your tap. If the smell intensifies, give your water heater a check.
However, on a more serious side, rotten eggs could also signal a gas leak. This could be possible if your garage stores gas cylinders. Your garage may also have gas pipes flowing in or around it.
If you suspect this, vacate everyone from the house, and call your gas company. If in emergency situations, get emergency services to come in instead.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Garbage?
Your garage may smell like garbage because of dirty garbage cans. This is more likely if you keep your garbage cans inside your garage. In some serious cases, the smell may come from dead animals inside your walls or roof.
Do you have garbage or recycling bins in your garage? Many people keep garbage cans inside the garage to prevent critters and animals from getting to them.
If this is the case, the garbage smell may have come from them. The smell can worsen if your garage bins have not been cleaned for some time. The excess fluid inside can smell really bad.
As a start, open up your garage door to get fresh air. This should remove the smell. Move the garbage cans outside. Power up your water blaster, and hose your garbage bin down.
When hosting, focus on the bottom of the bin, inside and outside. There may be a lot of dried, caked-up rubbish residue. These are often the source of the bad smell.
Next, mix up some dishwashing fluid and hot water. Scrub the inside of the cans with the mixed liquid and rinse them with a garden hose. Let them dry completely; they are almost as good as new and odor-free.
Consider using plastic garbage bags inside the cans. You can also use newspaper sheets and some baking soda at the bottom of the cans; replace them weekly.
A rotten smell can also mean a dead animal inside your garage walls, ducts, or plumbing. Call a professional to check the wall to confirm this.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Wet Dog?
A garage that smells like a wet dog may indicate mold or mildew problems. These could be from the ventilation system’s walls, ducts, and filters. If your garage has an air conditioner, it could also have mold issues, producing air that smells like a wet dog.
It could be your pooch if your garage smells like a wet dog. This is more likely if your dogsled is in the garage. If it is as simple as that, give your dog a bath. On top of that, clean up the dog house, and hose up your garage floor to remove the smell.
However, a more serious issue behind the wet dog smell could be mold and mildew. These molds and mildew could be in your garage. These include walls, piping, or air ventilation system.
Spend some time inspecting these areas for possible mold and mildew issues. You also need to check the ducts too.
Another possible point is the air conditioning system (AC). If your AC has mold and mildew issues, it blows out air with the smell. This makes your garage smell like a wet dog.
Test for this issue by turning on the AC. If the smell intensifies, then the issue is from the AC. Inspect your AC, such as the drainage pans, evaporator coil, and air filter, for mold and mildew. Replace what is needed, and the problem should go away.
Another source of wet dog smell could be animals. If your garage has visitors or new animal residents, they may leave a wet dog smell. These include squirrels, raccoons, and rodents. If this is the case, call pest control for some professional help.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Gas/Gasoline?
If your garage smells like gas or gasoline, it may indicate gas leakages in your car. If you store gasoline in your garage, check if your containers are not open.
If you notice a gasoline smell inside your garage, it should be from gasoline. The issue is where.
Suppose you park your car inside your garage. In this case, the gasoline smell may be from your car. In this case, check underneath your car to see any puddles or drips on the floor.
If yes, pick up the fluid slightly and smell it. If it is gasoline, you found the source. The location of the puddle may also indicate where the link is from.
If you cannot find drips, check the gasoline cap first to see if it is loose, missing, cracked, or leaking. A faulty gas cap can allow gasoline to evaporate, leaving a gasoline smell in your garage.
You may have some gasoline stored inside your garage. Perhaps you want to fuel up your lawnmowers, etc. In this case, the smell may also come from here. Take out your gasoline storage container, and check if the container is not leaking.
Gasoline smell may also fill your garage if the container you are using is not the proper type. The best containers for gasoline are jerrycans, so use those. You should also not store gasoline in your garage but in an open detached garage, tool shed, or storage barn.
You should also keep them away from any ignition sources. Gasoline usually lasts three to six months when properly stored. If your gasoline goes old, dispose of it properly at approved waste sites.
Why Does My Garage Smell Musty?
The musty smell in the garage could be from moisture or mold. Check your garage for possible mold and mildew growth. Remove anything that has been damaged by moisture. These include wet and rotting wood or cardboard. Bleach should help to remove the smell.
If your garage smells musty, the likely source is mold and mildew. The key now is to find where they come from.
Aside from the walls and ventilation, cardboard and paper soak up moisture. Once wet, they can start to grow mold fast. Throw the old cardboard boxes and papers out. Replace them with plastic or metal containers instead.
Once done, clean the garage with bleach. Combine bleach and water in a 10:1 ratio in a bucket. Then mop and sweep all the areas that can be washed and handle a little moisture.
Keep the garage door open when using bleach to ventilate properly. Rinse one more time areas with just water. Allow the garage to air dry for about 24-48 hours. If bleach is not available, vinegar works too.
If your garage is insulated, water may have leaked into your insulation. In this case, they can also cause a musty smell.
If you suspect this is the issue, call an expert, and ask for help. The expert should take moisture readings from the walls and ceiling.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Sewage?
If your garage smells like sewage, it could be a drainage issue. Your drainage either needs cleaning or a P-trap installed. The P-trap keeps the drain smell from coming into your garage. Dead animals could also cause a sewage-like smell.
If your garage smells like sewage, the problem is like sewage. Start by checking out if the drain in your garage has a P-trap. The P-trap helps to keep the sewer smell out. If you do not have one, call an expert to help you install one.
If you have a drain with a P-trap. It’s common for them to dry out after months of non-usage. As a result, the sewer smell gets into the air.
Regularly running water in the drains keeps the p-traps from drying out. You can also pour cheap food oil into the drain with a P-trap. The oil makes the water evaporate much slower.
However, if your garages grain is rarely used, you may not need a P-trap. Just cover it with some tape.
If you can’t find the source of the sewer smell leak in the plumbing. The problem might be your vent pipe, which releases sewer gasses through your home’s roof. Call an expert to check it out for you.
The smell of sewage can also signal a dead animal inside your plumbing or duct system. The smell should be strong, especially if the dead animal is large.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Urine?
If your garage smells like urine, it could be from your pet. A clean-up using bleach should help get rid of the smell. Urine smell can also indicate the presence of toxic black mold in your garage.
The urine smell in your garage means one thing, you have a urine problem. This is more likely if you keep pets. Cat or dog pee smells a lot. If you have dog kennel or cat litter boxes, you must clean them more often.
Start by changing the litter and hose down the kennels and laundry pet bedding. Next, use a black light to scan the floors and lower walls to see the most often-used pet urine spots. Focus on the wall as well, since animals do pee on walls.
To eliminate urine smell, buy enzyme-based products that break down the urine bacteria. This should neutralize the odor. You can purchase these products from online or pet stores.
If you prefer to save money, regular bleach should work too. Dilute them down with water to about 10:1 in ratio. DDon’tuse ammonia to clean urine. Ammonia already has a urine odor, which will make the problem worse.
On a more serious note, The smell of cat urine can also indicate a mold problem. Certain mold smells are similar to cat urine, such as toxic black mold.
If you suspect issues with toxic black mold, scan around your garage. Focus on areas with moisture. If you found one, scrape the mold away, and wipe down the place with bleach mixed with water, as a 1:3 ratio.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Paint?
Your garage may smell like paint because you may have recently painted inside. There may be leaks on your paint cans or paint spills. A paint smell could also signal mold and mildew issues.
Paint comes in many types and containers. If your garage smells like paint, it could indicate something about the paint in your garage.
Suppose you recently painted your garage walls or something else inside your garage. In this case, it is natural for your garage to smell like paint. If this is uncomfortable, open the garage door for some fresh air. The smell should go away after some time too.
If you have not done any painting, check the paints you store inside your garage. The paint smell could mean you have leaky paint containers. You may also have old spray bottles that leak or other chemicals that stink up the garage.
In this case, sort out what has expired and throw old ones out. You have to take them to a hazardous waste disposal center. Or call someone to come and get them.
In some cases, some automotive fluids can smell like paint too. These include oils or grease. You may have spilled some on the floor and not noticed these.
The good thing is if your garage has epoxy or tile flooring, they are easy to clean off. However, if you have a non-sealed concrete floor of plastic mats, you must try soaking it out. Use something that absorbs oil, like kitty litter or sawdust.
Cover the spots with sawdust or kitty litter and wait a few days. Sweep the area and rinse and repeat till the oil is gone.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Smoke?
If your garage smells like smoke, it could indicate something burning. Smoke smells could also mean there are electrical issues inside your garage. These include melting wires or power points.
Suppose your garage smells like something is burning. In this case, look around your garage and check for any signs of fire or smoke. If there is none, then the issue may come from electrical problems.
Failing electrics may, at times, create a smoke-like smell. If you suspect you have electrical issues, disconnect the electric supply to your garage.
Then, please look at your outlets and electrical equipment without touching them. Observe for any melting or burning marks on wires, power points, and appliances. If there is one, remove it.
In the future, consider installing smoke detectors all around your house, including the garage. This should let you know that there’s actual smoke in your garage.
Why Does My Garage Smell Like Cigarette Smoke?
Cigarette smoke in your garage usually comes from a burning cigarette. Perhaps someone has smoked inside your garage recently. You may also have brought something exposed to cigarette smoke into your garage.
Cigarette smoke has a very strong and easily recognizable smell. As a result, if someone has smoked inside your garage, you will notice it.
On top of that, the nasty things inside cigarette smoke can also stick to the walls and ceiling. As a result, they continue to emit that cigarette smell inside your garage.
Suppose nobody has smoked inside your garage. In this case, you may have brought something into your garage with the smell. This could be something that a smoker used to own, such as a couch, carpet, or clothing. When left inside your garage, the smell ends up in your garage too.
It can be hard to get rid of the cigarette smell. It usually means washing every surface imaginable. You must also use an ozone generator and repaint the walls and roofs.
How Do You Prevent The Garage From Smelling Bad?
To prevent your garage from smelling bad in the future, you can:
- Keep some charcoal pouches
- Keep some kitty litter.
- Clean the floor with a bleach solution and baking soda.
- Leave the trash cans outside.
- Ventilate garage regularly
- Use ozone to clean the air.
Suppose you have worked hard to eliminate the bad smells in your garage. In this case, you want to prevent your garage from smelling bad again. What can you do to ensure this?
Charcoal is an excellent thing to have around the house. Aside from being a great fuel for your grill, they are also excellent odor absorbents. They work well in fridges, cars, and your garage too.
Pick up some charcoal pouches,(paid link) preferably those made from charcoal. Hang them around your garage; they should help keep any bad odors at bay. Replace them once every few months for the best results.
If the air inside your garage is humid, it may smell musty too. You can prevent humid smells by having some kitty litter(paid link) in your garage.
Kitty litters are designed to absorb a lot of moisture. This means they can remove moisture from the air and keep them dry. This means the air inside your garage should also not smell.
Bleach And Baking Soda
Your garage could also smell from the floor, especially from spills or other fluids. In this case, you must use more than just regular water to clean your garage floor.
Clean your garage floor using a diluted bleach and water solution if possible. Use a 10:1 ratio, with 10 parts water and 1 part bleach. For tougher stains, scrub using baking soda as the abrasive agent.
Combined, they should help clean the floor and remove many sources of smell in your garage.
Leave Trash Cans Outside
The trash cans are one of the biggest sources of bad smell in the garage. Some of us keep our trash cans inside to prevent thieves from stealing the cans away. We also do not want animals to enter the bin and create a mess.
However, keeping the cans inside stinks up your garage. It would help if you had a better way to manage these cans.
Consider building an outdoor shed to keep your trash cans. This way, you can secure your trash cans and avoid stinking up your garage. You can hose down the trash cans easily too.
Use Ozone Gas
You can also leverage the power of ozone to help clean up the air and surfaces in your garage. Ozone is a very powerful cleaning and sanitizing agent. It binds with any bad smell and neutralizes them.
You can purchase an ozone generator(paid link) or rent one from your local store. Close your garage, turn on the machine, and let it run for 8-48 hours. Come back, open the garage door, and let the ozone dissipate. Your garage should be odorless now.
Ventilate Garage Regularly
What is the simplest way to prevent your garage from smelling? Get some fresh air in. You can do this easily by opening up your garage door regularly.
The key is to have a garage door that can open easily. Consider installing a garage door opener in this case. Get those with remote control. When it is easy to open, you will likely open the door more and get more fresh air into your garage.
How Do You Keep Garage Smells Out of the House?
You can prevent the garage smells from entering your house by:
- Installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector
- Seal the Gaps
- Keep the Garage Air Clean
- Upgrade Your Garage
- Store Chemicals Safely
We do not want our garage to smell. We also want to prevent the garage smells from entering our house.
This may be important. A health study found some carbon monoxide and benzene(from gasoline) inside houses. Aside from that, we also want our house to smell great, unlike a garage.
Here are some ways you can prevent the garage smells from entering your house:
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide doesn’t smell like anything and can be deadly. Sources of CO in a home can include fireplaces, space heaters, gas, and wood stoves. Untuned combustion engines can also emit CO.
Seal the Gaps
Check your garage thoroughly and assess where the smells could enter your home. Buy supplies like weather stripping, caulk, and spray foam and use them.
Check the door leading into the garage from the house. Ensure that it closes tightly and that weather stripping seals all the gaps. Replace the weather stripping if necessary.
Seal all the ducts and wiring gaps that pass to the house or garage ceiling with caulk and spray foam.
Keep the Garage Air Clean
Always open the garage door before starting any motorized vehicles or equipment. Once started, move them fast out of the garage. Shut the engines quickly when you move them inside the garage.
If you run these machines inside your garage, keep the garage door open for a few minutes after using them. This helps the air inside the garage to change.
Upgrade Your Garage
Finished walls are usually less likely to pick up the smell. They also should not leak smell into your house since they are sealed properly. Plus, a finished garage adds value to your home, and you’ll have an ideal space for your projects or workshop.
Store Chemicals Safely
Check your chemicals and liquids containers. Ensure they are properly sealed and that they haven’t expired. Throw out any spoiled or leaking containers. You have to take them to a hazardous waste disposal center. Or call someone to come and get them.
Suppose you can smell any chemicals. It’s a sign of a leaky container. You can double-seal containers with plastic bins with sealable lids.(paid link) You can also buy a lockable chemical storage cabinet (paid link)to ensure your kids or pets don’t access them.