Everyone’s house has a smell.
Sometimes it’s “dog”, sometimes it’s “curry” and sometimes it’s just “ick”.
We don’t usually notice the everyday smell of our own home because we’re accustomed to it. But when our au pairs walk in for the first time, they notice because the smell is new to them. Over time, they get adjusted and don’t really notice.
Unless it’s truly stinky.
An Au Pair writes:
Dear AuPairMom, My host family’s house smells bad. Really bad.
At first I thought it was the dog– except that they don’t have one. Then I wondered if maybe they just needed to open the windows. (They seem to keep their air conditioner on all the time.)
But I think that the smell is more serious than that.
I have been looking in the house for things that might be causing the smell. There is no pet, no one smokes, no one wears perfume, the smell isn’t the last thing that was cooked. The family is tidy so I don’t think there is garbage somewhere that I can’t see.
Anyway, everything in the house smells this same way more or less. The rooms smell and so do the pillows on the sofa.
I have been here for six weeks now, and the smell has not gone away.
I have been keeping my bedroom door closed, and opening the windows often, and I have washed all the linens in my bedroom. I have started to wear perfume every day so that when the smell really is bad I can just smell my own wrist for a minute. Or I go outside.
Is there any way to bring this up nicely? Or to fix it without them knowing?
Is there anything else I can do? ~ AuPairWithSensitiveNose
I don’t know about you other host parents, but I think I’d be a little bit offended if my au pair told me she thought our house smelled.
Come to think of it, though, I *have* received scented candles from au pairs in the past.
Maybe my house smells and I don’t know it?
For more details of the science of smelly homes: Why Can’t You Smell Your Own Home?, from the Science of Us