Some people have a strong stomach for smells and the like, while others (like my husband) find themselves dry heaving over every single poopy diaper they run across.
No matter which type you are, though, there are bound to be some smells that get to you – and these 17 people don’t have to try too hard to recall the worst of the worst.
17. Burning poo.
We caught a fire at a compost facility, the week of Christmas 2005. The stuff had apparently spontaneously combusted…the facility didn’t even call 911, they just called the station directly. We didn’t think much of it at the moment…how bad could it be, right?
We arrived on scene and couldn’t see anything burning…but according to the staff “the rats all came out, so it’s too hot in there”.
Grab a thermal imaging camera (TIC), definitely seeing elevated temperatures. The building was this giant concrete warehouse-like structure, but the “roof” was a canvas-like material, which would have posed issues should the compost actually erupt into flames.
So, we go to work…have the staff grab a front-end loader and start dragging the compost outside…
He drives the bucket into the stuff and backs up…it erupted into flames…
Fantastic. We’re going to be here a while…
“A while” turned into 14 hours…with several other stations having to be called in for support.
And the smell. God the smell. We ended up throwing out at least 300’ of hose since we couldn’t get the smell out of it. I think we also ended up tossing several BA masks and god knows what else… The cab of the fire truck REEKED for weeks…and I swear to god, you can still smell it occasionally.
And me…I went home for Christmas and was greeted with “What the hell is that smell?!?”
I had to get a buzz cut to get it out of my hair…
16. Every terrible smell at once.
The inside of a hoarders home after 15ish years.
I was a licensed property manager for 5+ years.
Honestly, nothing even phases me anymore… but… the worst of the worst…
Hoarder situation (unfortunately a lot more common than people realize), but the guy had paid rent on time for years, long before we were managing the property, and the owner refused to let us evict him, even though we knew that his issues were causing harm to the property… anyway…
He passes away, and we thankfully find out the next day from one of his relatives. They sign off on us just taking everything to the dump, and even are nice enough to offer covering some of the costs if it goes above his security deposit (which was 100% going to happen), but we told them that wasn’t their responsibility and we’d have the owner make an insurance claim, etc. We get out to the house, open the door, and can’t even make it into the entryway the smell is so foul. It was like every terrible smell I’ve ever experienced, all at the same time, and somehow simultaneously all so powerful that it overloaded my senses completely. I locked up, I couldn’t think for what felt like 10 minutes, but was probably 10 seconds.
After holding back throwing up, I waited a couple minutes to ‘air it out a bit’ and tried to go in again, still couldn’t do it, and decided to go ahead and call a hazmat team, since there was clearly something going on in there that was a lot worse than just ‘stuff.’
Well, apparently, both unsurprisingly, but also unbeknownst to us, he had a cat… and at some point another cat… and some time later another cat… Well, he’d been there something like 15 years total, and when his cat would go missing, he’d just adopt another stray or whatever and go about business as usual.
4 cat corpses, in varying states of decay, underneath mounds of garbage, miscellaneous ‘stuff’, horrendous underground porn, and cases of food, many of which were intended to be refrigerated, but were not.
Don’t get me wrong, this guy had actual mental illness and I genuinely feel sorry for how he lived and so on… but… just thinking about that smell makes me want to gag nearly 10 years later. I’ve been near dead bodies, I’ve smelled some stuff that sticks with you… but this… it was just… I don’t even know how to better describe it, it was pure nasal terror.
15. How do you even clean that?
Meat freezer went out and stayed out for three weeks while I was on vacation. The floor around it was white and fuzzy with black, tacky goo underneath in a huge radius. The inside…
I was prescribed pills to forget the inside.
14. Many mummified animals.
My step dad’s mom is a hoarder. When I was about 12, my parents bought her house (the house my stepdad grew up in). It was in a really nice neighborhood, but the house was neglected.
We had to hire a crew of people to clean it out. It was so bad they wore hazmat suits. Many mummified animals were found in the home. They laid a lot of the animals out on the lawn one day for her to see. I’m in my late 30s, and I can remember what those mummified animals look like till this day.
My parents said they probably drank antifreeze, which mummified them(?). Iono.
Not my worst stank, but close.
13. Not fish.
I had a freezer full of fish stop working and we didn’t notice until the smell crept up to the living area of the house. So disgusting.
The husband started to open it to look inside and immediately closed it and barfed. So we borrowed a truck and took the whole freezer to the dump. Dumps in those days were like a huge open field that everything just got put down and then a guy in a tractor would move the stuff around.
So the freezer gets set down and we go back to the car and the guy with the tractor comes rushing at it with a look of adventure because it’s fun to crush things.
Drives over the freezer, a ton of liquid fish spills out and the tractor guy just stops dead in his tracks and his so overcome with nausea he can’t work the tractor to get himself out of the mess. Poor guy.
12. He could smell him through his eyes.
I was a foreclosure inspector. Many stanks in that job. Abandoned dead pets.
Powered off fridges filled with food. Poops in winterized toilets. The worst was a dead homeless guy died in a vacant property. I didn’t see him, but I saw his foot. Called the police and they came out and verified it was a dead man.
But before I called the cops, I wrapped my face in several t shirts in my car, and I could still smell him. I felt like I could smell him through my eyes. It was so bad.
11. I wish I was surprised.
I once stocked the mini-fridge in my one-person office and unexpectedly had to leave for a month.
Not sure if the fridge stayed on the entire time, but even if it did — it was definitely underpowered. I practically lived in the office back then so I bought a ton of (mostly perishable) food to stock it for 3 meals a day for that work week.
When I came back and unlocked the office door, opening it just a crack — it was already very obvious what happened…
I never ended up opening the fridge door itself. Went right downstairs, bought a bottle of vodka, took several big gulps, smoked a cigarette, and gathered up enough courage to walk back in there and walk past it to get to my desk.
However, that was the extent of my courage. Continued sips and the next one or two hours of attempted self-motivation were all futile. Eventually, I got drunk enough to start “thinking outside the box”.
I put up an ad on the craigslist free section: “free fridge!” and even offered $60 to haul it away. Explained the situation and made it clear that whoever wants it needs to come with a hand-truck and haul it away as-is (without opening it under any circumstances).
Lo and behold, it was gone 20 minutes later.
10. The instant gag button.
I’m a maintenance engineer and I had a call out to board up a door with some ply sheet in a small block of flats.
I arrived and was greeted by two female police officers who were refusing to go back in the property because of the smell. I was there to board up the front door as it had been kicked in. An old guy had died on the floor and been there for a couple weeks.
They had removed the body but me being me asked if I could go in and look and they said yes to my surprise? You could see where he had melted to the carpet, there were flies everywhere and I was ok at first and then it hit me. The smell hit me like a Mike Tyson punch and switched on the instant gag button.
It smelled like a reptile shop but x1000 and the smell stuck up my nose for weeks!!! And even months after my brain would just go ‘hey! Remember that smell?’ And it would come back!
9. Is there a good kind of banana bread?
I work in a nursing home , when you have to change the trash filled with multiple diapers from different people , it smells like a mix of vomit and banana bread
But not the good kind of banana bread.
8. Hardly a dent.
Back in 2007 my church youth group took a mission trip to New Orleans to help clean up after Katrina.
Our main job was gutting out houses that were beyond repairs, furniture, carpets etc. One of the houses we did was a full 2 story house and LITERALLY every single room was absolutely jam packed full of crap to the point you could hardly open the door.
I don’t think anybody knows how long this house had been hoarded and then took extensive water damage and sat for almost a year in southern Louisiana. We found dead cats, rats, mice, along with the smell of their shit and piss.
We filled 3 full size dumpsters in the span of maybe 6 hours, we hardly made a dent in that house.
Even with ventilators and masks it didn’t help at all with the putrid smell of that house that still haunts me to this day. So yes I would agree 100% with you!
7. Straight rot.
I worked maintanence and infection control in a nursinghome. C-Diff diarrhea was one of the worst. I feel like I’ve smelled worse, but that’s certainly up there.
One morbidly obese woman had pressure ulcers that became infected with MRSA. The rot smell from that was probably worse than the C-Diff now that I think about it.
6. The worst ever.
A bad egg. It came out black and grey, and I can’t describe the smell. It was (as you say) the worst smell I’ve ever smelled in my life.
Cracked one into a pan one morning. Quickly had to dump an entire pan of eggs, and gosh did it stink.
I’m yet a bit leery of scrambled eggs, and will not crack directly into pan.
5. Don’t puncture the intestines, whatever you do.
Post-mortem dissection. (Once encountered rotting rice in colon).
4. Super depressing.
A homeless guy on the train in Washington DC, he was sitting near the middle of the car and everyone else was squeezed to the sides of the car as far as they could get from him because he smelled so bad.
Dude was barefoot and legit looked like he had mold or something growing on his feet. He was just sitting there laughing hysterically too.
Was super depressing.
3. Well, we’ve identified the issue.
Managed a halfway house for a few years. One guy always smelled SO bad. Like a mix of moldy cheddar and stale farts. The smell would burn your nostrils and linger in any room he left for literally about 20 minutes.
He showered regularly and changed his clothes so I couldn’t figure out the cause. Turned out to be his socks. He wore them every single day for months and never changed them.
They were so crispy with dried funk they could stand up on their own.
2. It really clung.
Was waiting for the tube in Shepherd’s Bush after a gig and every carriage was packed but then one was empty!
Me and my idiot friends piled in. There was a large homeless chap halfway down, asleep in the carriage. His smell was unreal. Piss, shit, vomit, general unwashed horror.
We dived out at the next station but it felt like the smell was in my clothes and hair.
1. A recipe no one wants.
C-diff while awful by itself and extremely distinctive is the worst and it is so often mixed with other potentially awful smells.
Here’s the recipe for those that are curious
-1 part poop
-1 part poorly seasoned compost pile (the smell where you know something is growing)
-1 dash ammonia
-1 part super rancid special sauce (that really ties it all together)
Description: you walk into the room and are hit with a hot eye watering smell that makes you think “that ain’t right”.
You look at the poor person’s face and they are haggard from fatigue with sunken cheeks from dehydration.
You suddenly know that this is the room where sorrow dwells.
Y’all, I hope I never smell any of these things. Yikes.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever smelled? We want to know what else to avoid in the comments!