Holy Hashem, child, you smell terrible!

How do I tell my roommate that she smells bad without saying to her, “Hey, you smell bad”? Usually I’d just tell people which I’m okay with b/c I don’t have to live with them. I’m stuck with this girl until June so I don’t want to make things uncomfortable. I was almost tempted to just not say anything, but Christ, the malador must cease! I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it smells like. The odor is akin to garbage, I would say.It sort of smells like old food and milk… or something. I can’t explain it, but it’s foul! The stench is recent so I figured she’s doing something new that’s causing her to reek so terribly. I have some ideas about how to approach her.[ul]
[li]“Hey, uhh… have you been using a new shampoo or body wash?”[/li]
[li]“Do you smell anything funny?” and ask her every time she enters the room.[/li]
[li]“Holy Moly, it smells terrible in here!” while spraying air freshener… in her direction.[/ul] [/li]The second two were options provided by a friend of mine, but I really don’t see them going over too well. Anybody have any better ideas?

Well, firstly you can mask the smell to play for time, rub essential oil under your nose, and try and oil burner etc.

During this time, try to work out if she is actually washing properly.

If she is, and she is washing her clothes, I would go for option (A) as a way to broach the subject of her odour. It may be that she suffers from that “chronic fish syndrome” when people’s bodies can’t break down certain proteins, and they end up reeking. Such people are supposed to avoid various foods like fish and olives, IIRC.

But if she is not washing, then that’s the first thing to broach. You needn’t feel bad then, because not washing when you live in close contact with others is foul, unhygienic and anti-social.

If it were “chronic fish syndrome” she would smell like…well, fish…or, more specifically, like a woman who hasn’t used any water on her private parts in a while.

Speaking of private parts, she may have a bacterial vaginal infection. They tend to be very odorous.

Maybe she’s started taking some kind of diet supplement, like garlic pills. They can really make you stink! I have literally chased people away from me when they’ve started taking that crap and tell them straight out that I cannot tolerate the smell.

Sneakers? Some folks have horrible foot odor and as soon as they kick off the kicks, you’ll be blasted with it.

There are just too many possibilities, but the best thing you can do is to break it to her gently. She may not realize she carries an odor.

It’s a hard row to hoe, but it’s a serious situation that must be rectified unless you enjoy gagging your way through life. My suggestion?

“We gotta have a talk.”
“There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to say it and ask you not to be offended.”
“Lately, I’ve noticed a very unpleasant odor emanating from you.”
“I don’t think it’s your perfume.”
“Do you have any idea what it could be?”

Send her a bar of soap via campus mail.

Maybe she honestly can’t smell it.

You know when you have a piece of spinach between your teeth, or something, and someone tells you, hours after you’ve eaten? You’re happy they told you but annoyed with all the people who saw the spinach in your teeth and failed to tell you.

I think if my roommate told me I smelled, I’d be pissed off (mostly out of embarassment) but also happy they told me.

“Here’s this great new soap I found. I bought you some because I thought you’d like it too. Also, here’s a brand new loofah!”

I can’t imagine living with someone like that. I think it would make me sick.

Is the smell preceeded by a little noise?

Ha!! :smiley: No, it isn’t. She’s not passing gas, she doesn’t smell like bad feet, she bathes so it isn’t that, and she doesn’t smell like a vaginal infection. Seriously, I think the odor can best be descibed as old food and milk. The first time I was ever offended by the smell was right after she got out of the shower. The girl doesn’t practice bad hygiene, she just stinks. I’m going to carry out an investigation in order to sniff out (pun intended) whatever the hell it is she’s using. I’m going to smell her stuff, and if I find what’s making her smell so damn awful, I’m going to accidentally misplace it (i.e. throw it in the dumpster behind the building). If I don’t find anything, I’ll just have to spray Glade in her direction nonstop. That or I could just sit her down and tell her as politely as I can. But I really want to find a way of telling her without telling her if such a thing is possible.

Some folks that take garlic pills get rather gamey on an occasion. I drove a vanpool a few years back. One morning a long time rider smelled pretty bad. Some of the other riders started giving him a bad time and the only thing he could think of was the garlic pills he started taking a few days earlier. He quit taking them and the odor stopped.

The best way might be to approach her from a health perspective and tell her you are worried because unusual smells are often indicators or precursors of infections or disease (including cancer). Suggest a doctor visit. That way you’ll be “concerned” and not snarky.
FWIW bad personal smells are often caused by tooth or gum infections/decay/disease.

Could she be allergic to her soap or deoderant? I used to stink until I switched to a roll-on herbal deoderant, because there was something in the spray anti-perspirants which just didn’t agree with my body and made me smell worse.

And yes, someone actually came up and told me (privately, thank God) that something was wrong. Yes, I was embarrassed but thankful too.

Please let us know when you find out what’s causing that smell and how to get rid of it, MOL. My son, who’s a sophomore in high school has a friend that sounds as if he smells just like your roommate. Evidently, he’s smelled this way for the past few years. My son swears that the poor guy bathes and washes his clothes regularly. I noticed it for the first time a month or so ago when I drove the guy home from school. After his friend got out, I accused my son of leaving his backpack out in the rain (It smelled like something was rotting). When my son told me that it was his friend’s body that was emitting that foul odor I didn’t believe him, until I smelled the seat in the car where he’d been sitting. (I know that sounds gross, but I had to find out where the smell was coming from.) This is not a mild smell, it’s ungodly, and it’s not like the other kids at school haven’t brought it to the boy’s attention either. I can’t imagine why his mom hasn’t had him checked out by a doctor, but I don’t know her well enough to ask her. Good luck, MOL. You may be helping more people than you know.

Very diplomatic solutions, all. When I was in the Navy, these situations were handled in a very different way…

I always wondered if these things actually work. I read about them in a magazine; apparently you take a pill as regularly as you brush your teeth, and it attacks everything from bad breath to foot odor.

oh, and with men, we prefer to be much more blunt. I came home from a night of drinking and my roommate said, “Did you throw up?” I said no. He said, “Then someone must have thrown up on you.”

And my first roommate . . . he didn’t sleep at night. He’d just lay in bed and decay.


I am curious as hell as to what this mysterious odor is.

Could it be her breath? maybe she’s taking the Atkins induction diet to extreme and has a severe case of bad breath due to ketosis (ok grasping at straws just a WAG)

A friend of mine (a teacher) had 2 students go to the bathroom during class and both came back reeking so bad half the class complained but neither could smell it. The smell was pungent and overpowering. I suggested it might either have been the 2 going into a drug lab making meth or cocaine. A police friend of hers concurred with the cocaine suspicion.

So I did a little investigation. I figured since the first time I got a whiff of that awful, awful odor was immediately after she’d bathed, whatever was causing the stench was something she used in the shower. I smelled her soap, shampoo, conditioner and that little pouffe thing that she showers with. Results: inconclusive. Everything smelled fine. So on to her lotion and hair products. Results: inconclusive. Again, everything smelled fine.

:confused::confused: :confused: :confused:

Now I’m stumped. How can anyone smell that bad freshly out of the shower if she’s not using stinky products? I’ve got to tell her, but I haven’t decided how. Usually, Daniel, I would just tell her she stinks. I do this with my friends b/c we’re comfortable around each other to be blunt and not get offended. Plus we see each other everyday and there’s not awkwardness. If I said this to her, there would be. I’m not really friends with this girl. We just live together. Actually, I don’t like her at all. She’s always adjusting my thermostat and when she speaks, she ends her statements as if she’s asking a question. It’s more annoying than I could ever express. But I digress. Tonight is the night. I’ll stop pretending I don’t smell her whenever she walks by and finally sit her down and inform her of the odor.

This is just a WAG, but it could be her vitamins or other supplements. Besides garlic, there are a number of vitamins that give off a truly nasty odor. It could also be a medication she is taking – antibiotics can cause a body odor change, as can the pill and some antidepressants. Also, if there has been a significant change in diet, like going on a high protein or carb diet, may affect the way a body smells.