why is there a fishy smell in my bedroom?
Questions And Answers

Why Does My Bedroom Smell of Fish? [6 Possible Explanations]

(Last Updated On: June 3, 2022)

Nobody likes a foul smell in their bedroom. If you find that the stench of fish is ever-present, you’ll need to determine why it’s happening, as strong fishy smells don’t arise for no reason.

A fishy smell in the bedroom is likely due to an electrical fault, such as an appliance overheating or a loose connection.

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

The smell of fish in the bedroom is unpleasant and can be dangerous. While the bad aroma is mercifully not connected to gas leaks, it’s certainly not good news.

Why is There a Fishy Smell in My Bedroom?

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 too dangerous.

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

When determining the cause, the obvious explanation needs to be eliminated. Do you sleep with a fish tank in your room? Some people do, largely due to the relaxing properties of aquariums.

Alas, fish don’t live forever. Ensure all occupants of the tank are alive and well. The same applies to other animals associated with the ocean that are often kept as pets, such as hermit crabs.

Assuming you don’t have aquatic pets, what causes a fishy smell in a bedroom? Let’s explore some of the possible explanations and how you can resolve the unwelcome aroma in your bedroom.

1/ Electrical Faults

Electrical faults are the likeliest explanation for the strong smell of fish in a bedroom.

While it’s inadvisable to use appliances such as cellphones, computers, and TV sets immediately before bed, 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 to resolve it.

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

what causes a fishy smell in a bedroom?

Overworked Appliances

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

You’re unlikely to burn out an appliance made in the last few years. Safety protocols are increasingly stringent. However, older equipment can lead to circuits running hot and burning the wire’s plastic coating. This is what causes the fishy aroma.

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

If turning on a lamp brings about the smell, and it disappears after lights out, you potentially have an explanation. You don’t necessarily need to throw the entire appliance away. Just replace the insulation if this is a cheaper or more appealing solution.

Loose Wires

Loose wires are another explanation for the 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, do not use the device until this has been resolved.

You can try to solder the connections back into place or call in the services of an electrician. The latter is recommended unless you have experience in managing loose connections.

A shoddy repair is just as dangerous, if not more so, as a loose wire.

2/ Blocked Drains

If the fishy smell isn’t electrical, drainage issues are the next most likely culprit.

Bedrooms tend not to be on direct drain lines unless they boast an ensuite bathroom. The smell of a blocked drain can easily travel to a bedroom, though.

Take a plunger to any toilets in your home and pour de-clogging chemicals from a hardware store down all sinks and drains. This will resolve simple solutions, like air bubbles or slow drainage caused by loose hair. In theory, vinegar and baking soda will do the same job if you prefer a homemade solution.

If this fails to resolve the smell, bring in the services of a professional tradesman.

3/ Faulty AC

If you have an air conditioner in your home, pay attention to the smell when you turn it on. If a strong smell of fish immediately matches your attempts to cool a room, the problem is likely within this unit.

The biggest issue with AC is the mold that grows within the unit. Mold thrives in dark and moist environments, so as you can imagine, an AC unit is heaven for fungi. The smell of fish will persist until the unit has been cleaned.

You could take the AC unit apart and clean it yourself, but it’s preferable to seek professional assistance. In addition, regularly using a dehumidifier will reduce the likelihood of mold.

4/ 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 rarely one that could be confused with fish. On occasion, the carcass of an animal could result in a fishy smell.

The likeliest explanation is that a rodent or bird became trapped in your home’s chimney breast or air ducts. Sadly, if the animal cannot escape, this is where it will spend its final days. The consequences will make themselves known via a pungent scent.

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 thoroughly. Depending on the animal, you may be permitted to leave it in the trash.

If in doubt, contact your local animal control representative.

5/ Water Leaks

If your bedroom is carpeted, you’ll need to be mindful of any exposure to water.

If stagnant water seeps into a carpet, it will 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 your windows open during a storm. That’s unlikely, though. If you notice this smell, focus your search on potential plumbing leaks.

In a bedroom, the likeliest culprit is a radiator. Check your heat source for any loose connections that allow water to seep into your carpet or rugs. Even the most minor drip can spread over time, especially if the radiator is out of sight behind a bed or wardrobe.

fishy smell in house not electrical

6/ Damp and Mold

If damp goes untreated in a bedroom, it will lead to black mold. This brings a smell of fish, in addition to health concerns.

Mold tends to grow in damp, dark corners of a home. If you have an unrendered outdoor wall, check the interiors. These walls can grow damp during the winter months. Always look at dark corners of bedroom closets, too, as these can harbor mold.

Black mold can be fatal when breathed in, as per Medical Mycology Case Reports. If you spot this issue, immediately resolve the black mold growth with bleach, but remain aware that this is only a short-term resolution. The mold spores will remain and must be treated.

How To Get Rid of A Fish Smell in a Bedroom

The most critical step to removing a fishy smell from a bedroom is identifying the cause and resolving it.

You could try masking the unwelcome aroma with a candle or air freshener, but that’s a temporary solution. You’re essentially applying a band-aid to a wound that requires stitches. The fish smell will return as soon as the artificial scent wears off.

A more effective solution will be 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. It may take a while for the smell to dissipate, but it should do so eventually.

As discussed in 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 – even if you’re capable of doing so. Ignoring the fact that such an offensive aroma is often impossible to disregard and still get a good night’s sleep, this stench invariably warns you of an issue that needs your attention.