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Vinegar Smell in House: How to Find it and What to Do Now

If you’re asking yourself how to get rid of a vinegar smell in your house, you’re not alone. There are several possible explanations, but the two most common are that either you have mold in your home or your carpet may need cleaning.

While both can be treated effectively, it’s important to determine which one it is before making any changes to your house or lifestyle.


Figure Out Why it Smells Like Vinegar

That vinegary smell will have you on your knees, crawling around with a spray bottle full of essential oils, hoping to find out where it’s coming from. But no need to fret; your search for vinegar smell sources can be easy and almost fun. The process is similar to any kind of sleuthing:

First, you need to approach it strategically (instead of emotionally) and second, once you’ve identified a culprit or two—approach it carefully!


Is it Your Whole House That Smells or Just One Room?

If you only smell vinegar odor in one room, it’s likely that something is off in that room. If you’re trying to figure out what it is, use your nose and open every cabinet and drawer.

Check under beds and behind furniture, too. In other cases, a leaky sink or backed-up drain could be causing odors to seep into other parts of your home; check your floorboards for water damage as well.

Vinegar-smelling homes may also have mold problems that need to be taken care of right away; contact an expert if you notice any unusual black spots on walls or ceilings.


Figure Out Which Room Has The Strongest Odor

Find out where your house smells like vinegar by smelling each room of your house. As you smell each room, it’s important to note whether or not there is an actual strong vinegar odor present in that specific room.

It might help to write down on a piece of paper what rooms smelled like vinegar and what rooms didn’t smell like vinegar. If you notice any particular rooms have a stronger smell of vinegar than others, you can focus your efforts on those rooms first.

For example, if your kitchen smells strongly of vinegar and your bathroom doesn’t smell like vinegar at all, then cleaning the kitchen should be your main focus.


How Long Has the Room Been Smelling Like This?

Check how long your room has been smelling like vinegar. If you’ve noticed a scent for a few days or weeks, it might be something deeper than the pasta salad you left out last night.


Does it Smell Like Vinegar All the Time Or Does the Unpleasant Odor Go Away Temporarily?

It might not be a problem if it goes away temporarily. Sometimes an unpleasant odor can be caused by certain foods you cook or by water pipes that are close to your tap, for example.

If you aren’t sure what to do, contact a local plumber to discuss your options with them, as they will likely have better insight into what may be causing that vinegar smell.

They may also want to test your water and pipes to determine whether there are any problems. This can help eliminate future smells as well.


Reasons Your House Smells Like Vinegar

There are multiple reasons that a house can start to smell like vinegar, and most of them are harmless. Here are some common causes of a vinegar-like odor coming from the home and their explanations of what’s happening in your house that is causing the smell.


Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a fantastic tool for preventing unwanted odors and generally cleaning up food waste. However, it can also be a serious source of unpleasant smells if it goes unwashed on a regular basis.

Any gunk that ends up in your garbage disposal can break down into sulfuric compounds that may be emitted as gases when you use your unit, which could contribute to unpleasant odors around your house.

If the smell is not primarily in your kitchen though, this is probably not the problem.


Dirty Laundry

While clean clothes smell great, dirty ones just kind of smell sour. On top of giving your entire house a pungent aroma, layers of old laundry or towels can harbor mold, mildew, and fungus that give off that telltale vinegary smell.

It’s probably time to give your dirty laundry a wash. If there’s more clothing than you have time to deal with right away (or if it’s been so long since they were washed that they need more than one cycle), stick them in a sealed container with baking soda to soak up odors while you go through your other stuff.

Then throw it all in a load of really hot water—the hotter the better!



It’s a commonly cited fact that when you think of that musty smell, your nose almost immediately goes to pets. That’s because one of the most common offenders of bad odors is pet urine.

Cleaning it up will go a long way toward eliminating smells in your home, but it can also be a source of lingering odors. Vomit is also difficult to remove, especially if you wait too long before trying to clean it up or your pet vomits in a hidden place.

Once vomit dries out, it becomes much harder to get rid of and can lead to strong odors over time.

If you have pets, try using an air purifier. These handy devices not only keep your home smelling fresh and clean, but also improve air quality and filter harmful pollutants out of your home’s atmosphere


Dirty Trash Can

One of those things you know but don’t really think about, your trash can is actually a breeding ground for odors. It’s also another place for them to linger once they start to set in.

So when your trash can starts smelling like vinegar (or any other obnoxious odor), take it as a warning sign. In other words, clean out your trash can!

Cleaning up after dinner shouldn’t be your favorite part of every night, but it shouldn’t be a burden either; keeping food waste to a minimum is one way to do that. By planning ahead and having easy access to an empty trash can, you give yourself more time in between sessions so you won’t have to rush through your cleanup routine later on.


Carpet Needs to Be Cleaned

Though you may not want to spend money on cleaning your carpet, you should know that a dirty carpet can hold on to nasty odors. The longer an odor sits in your carpet, the more likely it is that it’ll creep into other parts of your home and be difficult to remove.

When it comes time for deep cleaning, hire a professional; they have powerful machines that clean better than anything you can get at home. And when they’re done, ask them about deodorizing—if there are lingering smells in your home after cleaning, chances are they’ll be able to handle them too.


Mold and Mildew

If your house smells like vinegar, there’s a chance that it’s been afflicted by mold and mildew. Since mold spores thrive in dark and damp environments (like basements or closets), it’s worth double-checking to make sure you don’t have any leaks.

If you can, get out a flashlight and check behind your washing machine or around corners for signs of moisture. A leaky pipe or appliance is usually an easy fix, but if you can’t find anything obvious, you might want to consider hiring a professional inspector to look at potential structural issues that could be causing humidity problems in your home.



Studies have shown that when our food starts to go bad, it releases a chemical called ethyl acetate (essentially distilled white vinegar) into the air. And if you’re like most people, your kitchen is probably ground zero for all of those awful smells.

If you’ve found yourself wondering why your house suddenly smells like vinegar, you might have some spoiled food lying around. In many cases, your nose knows exactly what it’s talking about and there could be just a hint of rotting produce in your fridge or pantry – or maybe that bottle of salad dressing hasn’t quite made it to its best before date!


Something Died in the Crawl Space

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to open their crawl space and discover that it smells like vinegar. This unpleasant smell is a sure sign of mold, bacteria, or a dead animal lurking below.

The first thing you should do is clear out anything that may be decomposing in your crawl space, such as boxes and furniture. Then have a professional assess what may be causing such an odor, because if there is mold it can make you sick or affect your home’s resale value.

You might want to also test whether you need new insulation, since most insulation begins to lose its effectiveness after 10 years.


Stagnant Air

Open a window, or make sure you change it every two hours to prevent stale air from accumulating in a single room. The smell of vinegar is prevalent in many homes because people often forget to open windows or ceiling fans when they’re cooking, which can lead to stagnant air and an odorous house.

Try opening a window while you cook next time you’re making dinner to enjoy some fresh air while creating delicious food. Keep your windows open for at least two hours after cooking to keep that stench at bay!

To help the air circulation throughout your home, turn on ceiling fans in rooms where people spend most of their time, like bedrooms and living rooms. Using an indoor plant can also help with keeping stale odors out of your home. You can even put one in every room of your house if you want!


Air Conditioner May Be Malfunctioning

The smell of vinegar may be a symptom of larger issues. For example, some people experience it when their air conditioner is malfunctioning.

When that’s happening, you’ll typically notice other symptoms too, like excessive condensation or mold growth on walls or ceilings. If your home smells like vinegar in general or if you notice other weird symptoms while you’re running your AC, have an HVAC professional take a look right away and have them fix any underlying problems ASAP.

They could save you thousands in repair costs down the road!


Vinegar Smell in House FAQ


What Does it Mean if You Smell Vinegar?

The most common cause of smelling vinegar is due to high levels of humidity and mold growth inside your house or apartment. This can happen if you have an issue with ventilation or if there’s excess moisture from plumbing leaks or roof damage.


What Would Cause a Sour Smell in House?

You probably don’t want to hear it, but you may have a problem with mold and mildew. If your house has a sour smell that you can’t pinpoint, start by looking for signs of water damage (such as moisture stains on ceilings or walls) or evidence of leaks (like standing water on floors).


Does Mold Smell Like Vinegar?

Sometimes mold can give off a scent similar to vinegar. Both vinegar and mold smells are generated from organic compounds.


How Do I Get the Vinegar Smell Out of My House?

First, you have to locate exactly where the smell is coming from by walking around your house, smelling which room has the strongest smell, then finding what part of that room has the strongest smell. Once you have figured out what is causing the smell, then you can remove what is causing it or have a professional look at it if it seems to be under the floor or behind the walls.


More smells to be aware of and what they mean

Bad Smell Coming From One Vent in House

Why Does My House Smells Like Skunk and How to Fix It

Septic Smell in the House

Burning Plastic Smell in the House

Maple Syrup Smell In House

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