How do I deal with odors in hotel rooms?

how do i deal with odors in hotel rooms

How do I deal with odors in hotel rooms?

Most of us stay in hotel rooms from time to time, some more than others. Have you ever walked into a hotel room and found yourself immediately confronted with an uninviting odor, not sure of what to do next? Odors in hotel rooms are quite a common problem and learning how to deal with them can potentially save you a lot of hassle on your next trip.

We’ve all been there, the hotel is full, no more rooms, either put up with the smell or sleep in your rental car.

Dealing with poor air quality in hotel rooms is probably not something you really wanted to do after that long plane trip yet, here you are. There are the obvious things so try them first.  Open the windows if possible. Open the door and ventilate the room out to the hallway. Often, the issue is isolated to the room and the air in the hallway will be cleaner. Ask to be moved to a different room.

If the front desk is not accommodating, ask for a manager to meet you in the room so they too can experience your pain. Look for a possible cause. Often, the source of a hotel room odor is obvious.


Mold is frequently the cause of hotel room odors. Of course, check in the most likely spots first, like the shower or mini-fridge. Often these are caught by the cleaning staff so check in the not-so-obvious places like the windows and windowsills, check air conditioning and heating vents.

Look at the mattress, on the curtains, the furnishings, and bedding for hidden sources of mold. Mold on hotel room wall can cause odors in hotel rooms

Mold exposure can have some pretty serious side-effects, even for the healthiest among us. If you find yourself coughing, sneezing, and wheezing after you’ve checked in, chances are good that mold is the problem.

Be particularly careful if you are traveling with young children, persons that have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, or the elderly. These folks are much more vulnerable to mold in the air.

If you smell a strong musty odor, you are likely smelling mold even though you may not be able to see it. Mold could be growing in the walls of the room, behind the wallpaper, behind cabinets, or under the carpeting.

Don’t take chances with your health when it comes to mold. Change rooms if symptoms of mold exposure appear.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

 VOCs are chemical compounds that are emitted from various materials by the process of outgassing. Chemicals like benzene, toluene, acetone, ethylene glycol, and formaldehyde are potential health hazards and they could be in your hotel room.

Often, these VOCs are not associated with such a strong odor but with unexplained symptoms that suddenly appear after entering the room.

VOCs can come from the carpets, bedding, drapes, and mattresses. Particularly if they have recently been replaced by the hotel and are relatively new. Cleaning products like glass cleaner, disinfectant, carpet powder, toilet bowl cleansers can all be potential sources of these substances.

So, what can you do if you suspect VOCs but can’t change rooms? Take a quick trip to Walmart and pick up a couple of 4-pound tubs of Damp Rid or some Arm and Hammer Moisture absorber. It shouldn’t take long to see some results.

How can you avoid potential problems with hotel room odors and poor air quality?

1. Make sure to reserve a non-smoking room. Make sure the room is located in a section of the hotel that is completely non-smoking. Cigarette smoke can linger in rooms for long periods of time. Smoke and soot can coat the walls and furnishing and embed into carpet fibers. These substances then outgas over time and can really affect your health.

2. Check for hotels that offer hypo-allergenic rooms. These are available at many of the big-name hotel chains and are targeted to those who are sensitive to allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold.

3. Check for pet-free hotels to eliminate pet dander. This can be a great way to avoid odors in hotel rooms for obvious reasons.

4. Bring your own travel style air purifier. If air quality is a real concern, here are many styles and makes of small air purifiers available that could easily fit into a standard suitcase. Make sure that the unit you select has a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter.


Odors in hotel rooms and overall poor air quality can be a problem for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. Strong musty odors indicate mold growth. If you suspect mold, change rooms if possible. Open windows to ventilate if needed and use a moisture and odor absorber if you suspect VOCs are causing symptoms.

Avoid problems that could aggravate allergies and asthma by booking non-smoking rooms, staying at hotels with hypo-allergenic rooms, and are pet free. Finally, consider traveling with a travel size air purifier if hotel room air quality is a serious concern.

Clean hotel room in nice hotel

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