why is there a fishy smell in my bedroom?
Sleep Safety

Why Does My Bedroom Smell of Fish?

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter

If you notice the stench of fish in your bedroom is ever-present, you need to determine why because strong fishy smells always have an explanation.

A fishy bedroom smell is likely due to an electrical fault, like an overheated appliance or loose connection.

If electrical issues aren’t responsible, check for blocked drains or escaped water. Also, black mold growth is associated with a foul, fishy smell.

While a strong fish smell is undesirable, it’s often an early warning of a problem. The scent gives you time to address the concern before it becomes dangerous.

Why Is There A Fishy Smell in My Bedroom?

If you’re worried about gas leaks or wondering, “Does carbon monoxide smell like fish?” you can relax as CO2 is odorless. This means that a fishy stench isn’t a gas leak.

When determining the cause, the obvious explanation must be eliminated. Do you sleep with a fish tank in your room? Some people do, primarily because aquariums have relaxing qualities.

Alas, fish don’t live forever. Ensure all tank occupants are alive and well. The same applies to other ocean-associated animals kept as pets, like hermit crabs.

Assuming you don’t keep aquatic pets, what causes a fishy smell in a bedroom?

Electrical Faults

Electrical faults are the likeliest explanation for a bedroom’s strong smell of fish. While using appliances like cellphones, computers, and TV sets before bed is inadvisable, most bedrooms host such items.

Knowing that electrical appliances can lead to a fishy smell is only half the battle. You’ll also need to understand why the problem arises so that it can be resolved.

There are two common explanations for faulty electrics introducing a strong smell of fish:

what causes a fishy smell in a bedroom?

Overworked Appliances

All electrical appliances are at risk of overheating through excessive use. Lighting fixtures in the bedroom are likelier to have this problem, but other small devices can struggle if left on too long.

New safety protocols mean you’re less likely to burn out an appliance made in the last few years. However, older equipment can turn circuits hot and burn the wire’s plastic coating, causing a fishy aroma.

If you notice the smell of fish in your room, pay attention to when it’s most prominent. Is the aroma noticeable 24/7, or does it come and go when electrical equipment is used?

Loose Wires

Loose wires can lead to a fishy smell in a bedroom. As per Fire and Materials, loose connections on electrical appliances are frequently responsible for electrical fires in the home.

When you plug and unplug electrical appliances, always check the connections on wires, especially older applications. If you spot a loose connection, don’t use the device until it’s resolved.

Blocked Drains

Bedrooms are seldom on direct drain lines unless they have an ensuite bathroom. However, the smell of a blocked drain can easily travel to a bedroom.

Take a plunger to all toilets in your home and pour de-clogging chemicals from a hardware store down all sinks and drains. This will resolve simple problems, like air bubbles or slow drainage.

If this fails to resolve the smell, introduce the services of a plumber.

Faulty AC

If you have an air conditioner, note the smell when you turn it on. If a strong smell of fish immediately arises when you attempt to cool a room, the problem is likely within this unit.

The main issue with AC is the mold that grows within the unit.

Mold thrives in dark and moist environments, so an AC unit is perfect for fungal growth. The smell of fish will persist until the unit has been cleaned.

You could take the AC unit apart and clean it yourself, but seeking expert help is preferable. Also, regularly using a dehumidifier reduces the likelihood of mold.

Animals in Air Ducts

The stench of a dead wild animal is usually connected with rotten eggs.

That’s an equally vile sensation for the nose, but it’s rarely one that could be confused with fish. On occasion, an animal carcass could result in a fishy smell.

The likeliest explanation is that a rodent or bird became trapped in the chimney breast or air ducts. If the animal can’t escape, it’ll spend its final days there.

If you can, and you have a strong stomach, don a pair of gloves and investigate any air vents or chimney openings. Consider digging around with a broom handle or coat hanger to expand your search.

If you find the offending carcass, dispose of it ASAP according to the laws of your state and clean the impacted area. If in doubt, contact your local animal control representative.

Water Leaks

If a bedroom is carpeted, you must be mindful of exposure to water.

If stagnant water seeps into a carpet, it’ll smell before too long. This aroma can become rancid before you know it, often reminding the nose of rotting fish.

This water could result from rain entering the home after leaving the windows open during a storm.

If you notice this smell, focus your search on plumbing and radiator leaks.

fishy smell in house not electrical

Damp and Mold

If dampness continues in a bedroom, it’ll lead to black mold.

If you have an unrendered outdoor wall, check the interiors. These walls can grow damp during the winter months. Look at dark corners of bedroom closets because they can harbor mold.

Black mold can be fatal when breathed in, as per Medical Mycology Case Reports. If you notice this issue, it must be treated by mold removal specialists.

How To Get Rid of A Fish Smell in a Bedroom

The only way to remove a fishy bedroom smell is to identify and resolve the problem. For example, if there’s a wiring problem, you’ll need to hire an electrician.

You could try masking the unwelcome aroma with a candle or air freshener. Unfortunately, the fish smell will return as soon as the artificial scent wears off.

A more practical solution is a homemade odor absorber.

Warm water on the stove to the point of boiling and add some chopped lemons, warm vinegar, and ideally some strongly scented spices, most notably cinnamon, rosemary, and cloves

Beyond this, open as many windows as you can for as long as possible and use fans to circulate air around the room. The smell may take a while to dissipate, but it should subside eventually.

According to the Journal of Computer-Assisted Tomography, ‘phantom smells’ are comparatively commonplace and merit investigation. It could be blamed on the strength of the smell lingering in the nose, or a medical explanation could be at play.

Never ignore a fishy smell in your bedroom. Ignoring an offensive aroma is often impossible, and this stench invariably warns you of an issue that needs attention.