Keeping Your Bedroom Smelling Fresh

I confess: it has been a problem most of my married life.  I’ve tried several ways of dealing with this ‘problem’ and I could never find the right combination of events.  What ‘problem’, you say?

The boy smell.

Ever walk in to a boy’s college dorm room?  Did you have a brother?

Yes.  That is the one.  And it was running rampant in my bedroom.

That oily-headed-thick-in-the-air smell.  How do you describe that really?

Let’s not…and move on with how to fix it.

How to Keep Your Bedroom Smelling Fresh

Since implementing this new method, I haven’t smelled this scent not one time.  Here’s how I keep it from coming back.

It takes a little bit of work, but I’d much rather work a little harder and keep the smell at bay.


How to Keep Your Bedroom Smelling Fresh

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I religiously change my sheets once a week.

Besides the fact that clean sheets are one of my favorite things, it really helps keep the boy smell in check.  In my current laundry routine, they are changed on Thursdays.


→ I use pillow protectors.

I use these pillow protectors that I purchased cheaply from Amazon for about $3.75 each.  The key to these is changing them every time you change the sheets.

These must stay fresh to keep the boy smell away.  If your pillows ever get the smell in them, it can take some real work to remove the smell completely.  So the idea here is prevention.

To make sure they are always on our pillows, I have a pair that stays folded with each set of sheets for every bed in the house.


→ I wash our comforter and bed blanket every 5-6 weeks.

I know that seems really often…and it is.  More often than I’d like.  But like I said, I’d rather work a little harder than have boy smell in my bedroom.


→ I wash our mattress pad every 2.5-3 months.

Again, I know this seems like a lot.  But it’s really not that bad.  It’s such a part of my laundry routine now that I hardly notice the extra work.



I know – it’s an embarrassing problem.  Don’t feel obligated to leave a comment… unless you’d like me to feel better that I’m not the only one battling the boy smell.  🙂



  1. LOL I LOVE THIS POST! And yes, I just yelled that. Thanks for the reminder to change the pillow covers too. I sometimes forget to do it.
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..Disney Annual Pass Payment Plan =-.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Oh I’m so glad I’m not the only one with the boy smell in the house!

      Thanks for commenting, you brave girl. 🙂


    • My smell is different and its freaking me out. This musty old room smell? I washed the curtains removed the carpet. I live in Europe so no blankets but duvets. I air everything daily but hate the smell got air freshener now smells like a mogue… Help!!!!

      • Lauren Hill says:

        Could it be the carpet? Or Curtains? Throw pillows?

        Anything that is fabric related can harbor smells – musty smells, The Boy Smell, anything.


  2. Oh, the boy smell! I completely understand. I change the pillow protectors in between sheet changes- and I do the same for my 4 year old son!
    .-= Ashley @ Just Another Mom of 2´s last blog ..Time out for Theta Mom Thursday =-.

  3. Yes, yes, yes!!

    Boys and men have this smell.

    And when they play outside, it turns into a wet dog smell.

    I TOTALLY know what you are talking about, with 5 boys and a husband.
    .-= Crystal & Co´s last blog ..Once Upon a Time You Trusted Yourself =-.

  4. WOW – you are right. Thought it was just my hubby! I have a LONG way to go, but am enjoying your blog very much!
    .-= lynn @ Maven of Savin´s last blog ..20 SwagBucks available NOW =-.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Oh Lynn….It’s definitely not just your hubby! I do believe it is universal!

      Thanks for your kind words!


  5. I do all these things also and use Febreeze also!
    .-= Weekend Cowgirl´s last blog ..New Shetland Pony for Sister & Me =-.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Hmmmm… I’ve never used Febreeze but I’ve heard such fabulous things about it. I’ll have to give it a try next time I have a coupon!

  6. There is one other thing that really helps–open your windows EVERY day. I the weather is really cold or really hot, make it a short time–but still do it. If the weather is nice, open them as long as possible.

    Bedrooms get stuffy every night. Opening the windows helps SO much! This is also important in the rest of the house, but especially in bedrooms.

    Cheryl Mendelson goes over the proper way to air a house in her book Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House.

    In the bedroom, she suggests airing the room out while the bed is unmade, and then making the bed after that. Doing that made a huge difference at my house.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Yes, I too am a huge Cheryl Mendelson fan. 🙂 And you’re right – she gives a great description in airing out the bedroom! Thanks for the reminder!


  7. Oh my gosh – THANK YOU for this post. I have been complaining to my husband about the smell in the bedroom for WEEKS and I haven’t been able to do anything about it.

    The sheets is definitely a good tip, but I hadn’t thought about the comforter. I’ll have to try that!

  8. First, I want to applaud your courage. Your bravery in the face of this issue. (Especially in the winter… doesn’t it seem worse in the winter?)
    Second, I want to thank you. I have long suspected that my husband & I were the only ones with this problem. I feel better now that I know we are not alone.
    Third, I must say this: HOLY MOSES! Why have I never heard of the pillow cover thingies? I mean, seriously, people! I really must get some of those.
    And since you’re making this confession, I’ll make a related one of my own. It’s a little gross. Ready? I am currently sleeping on the exact same pillow that I have had since I was about 12 years old. I know. It’s really old. And I don’t want to think about what is actually going on inside there (especially since I didn’t know about this pillow cover invention). But the polyfill has broken down perfectly (it’s like a lighter version of a down pillow). And it has lumps in all the right places. And I just can’t bear to part with it…
    Especially now that I know I can stick it in a pillow cover!

    • mamalaundry says:

      Kelly – you are so funny. 🙂 The thoughts of that old pillow just make me laugh. You are braver than me!

      The pillow covers are a lifesaver! You’ll love ’em! Don’t buy the allergy ones unless you don’t mind a ‘crinkly’ pillow – they feel like paper and sound like it under your head!

      Hope this all works for you! Thanks for commenting…


    • antoinette says:

      Right, don’t feel bad, i have had my personal pillow, since i was 13, my mom, told me 2 throw it away, and i love this pillow, i know gross, i can’t find another 1 like it. But this boy smell in my teens room is driving me crazy, i believe it’s the linen.

  9. Oh, thank you for posting this! This has turned into a real problem in my marriage. I’ve always had a strong sense of smell and I grew up with a brother that had the same smell my own bedroom has now and I wouldn’t step foot in his room then and now if I want to sleep in my own bed i have no choice but to go in my room!

    They say smells can trigger childhood memories, who wants to be thinking about their brother while laying in bed with their husband. In the morning my husband wants to cuddle and I just want to get out of the room. I love my husband very much so I’ve been searching the net for a solution. If I can get rid of the smell, you may have just spiced up my marriage!

    Thanks again!

    • mamalaundry says:

      Monique, I’m so glad it was helpful! I totally agree – the boy smell is awful and gross.

      Hope this works for you! Thanks for commenting! 🙂


  10. Desperate times…I’ve resorted to putting a dryer sheet or two or twenty inside the pillow protector and under the mattress pad. Thank you for this article…now, I don’t feel guilty about it!

    • mamalaundry says:

      Oh I never thought about using dryer sheets! That would be great after washing the pillows. Smart 😉


  11. THANK YOU for exposing this silent epidemic!
    I try to keep my room clean and fresh, yet most mornings it smells like a locker room!

    Switching to 100% cotton bedding helped the problem quite a bit. Unfortunately, that means my sheets are wrinkled (I don’t iron), but I would rather have sheet wrinkles than Boy Smell.

    I will absolutely try these suggestions ASAP!

  12. This is fascinating. I had no idea this was a universal guy thing! I am so relieved! Thank you for the “game plan” to combat it!!!

  13. A couple of ideas…use 2 pillow cases on each pillow and change both each time. Another idea, have extra pillow cases and change the cases out for clean ones every couple of days. (Between sheet washing)

  14. Just googled “how to get boy smell out of your bedroom” and this article came up ha ha. Glad I’m not alone. Thanks for the tips!!

  15. Charles Wilson says:

    Great info here. Even though I am a guy, I have a strong sense of smell. My bedroom stinks along with my kids. I do everything. The changing of the sheets are a big plus, but you all forgot about the hamper. Dirty clothes after one week, absolutely give off a terrible scent. I’m not sure how to solve this yet, except I just get my clothes down to the laundry room. A huge help. Changing sheets from 2 weeks to 1 week I’m sure will also help. Great post.



  16. I seriously thought I was the only one until I talked to my mom. It’s nice to know that more people than you realize deal with this too. My husband “boy smell” dissipates a few hours after he leaves the room but there is still a lingering smell. He is a very clean man, always bathing and brushes, flosses and mouthwashes before bed. But there is still that smell in the morning. I am buying new pillows today! I usually spray everything down with Odoban, works wonders for all smells, and I air out my room daily. Why don’t women leave a smell lingering? I always smell soap, shampoo and cleanliness when my husband is at work for the night.

  17. You are NOT alone! Any suggestions on how to get the smell out of your couch? I unfortunately have cushions on the back that can’t be removed. I have a decorative blanket I hang over the back that I wash all the time but the stink still hits the couch. Gagoramma! I try to keep it as natural as possible around the home, but am seriously considering a flame thrower.

    • Lauren Hill says:

      Abby, your comment totally made me laugh out loud! I completely understand!

      I don’t know anything to truly eliminate that boy smell in a piece of furniture, other than having it professionally cleaned. I’ve tried Febreze to no avail, sadly.

  18. MorganMarie12 says:

    I love this! I am a 25 year old girl living with my boyfriend and our guy roommate. I know that smell so well. I walk in our roommates room and get hit by a wall of smell. I have been so worried it was going to spread! I now know how to prevent it… and maybe i can get our roommate on board with this. Thank you!

  19. Yelena Brokaw says:

    i have been living with my “cohabitant”, (California does not have “domestic partner” living). We have been together 20 years now and I have tried just about everything to get rid of that “locker room smell”. He showers twiceee daily, (morning and just before getting into bed), so I know that he is clean but he sweats profusely. I can’t wash his pillow because it is goose down filled. I have to change sheets every other day as the sheets are soaking wet, (along with my side). I usually have to get up and sleep on the day bed in our living room as I can’t stand sleeping on wet sheets. I vacum the mattress along with putting dryer sheets on all four corners of the bed, (dryer sheets also keeps bugs out, they can’t stand the smell)! Also putting baking soda before vacuming. The windows, (2), are always open, 24/7, no matter the weather, as we both enjoy fresh air. Ceiling fan on 24/7. We live in the desert. And still cannot get rid of the smell. Is there anything else?? Nothing is working!

    soaked and smelly,
    Lady Yelena


  1. […] of the smelly bedroom – you know that “man” smell.  Thankfully my pal over at Mama’sLaundryTalk has a solution to that.  Isn’t it funny when you realize that others have the same issues as […]

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