HouseFresh is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How To Stop Smells From Coming Through Walls?

Updated on February 5, 2023
Written by
Danny Ashton
Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.

Our verdict

Bad smells can enter your home in many different ways, including through gaps in the walls, windows, and doorways. What’s worse is that since these smells are not coming from your home, it can be difficult to eliminate them. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent smells from coming through your walls. By using an air purifier that has an activated carbon filter, sealing any gaps or cracks in your walls, and installing an extractor fan, you can dramatically reduce the risk of these foul odors entering your home.

Bad Smells Can Seep Through Walls

It can be so frustrating when your clean and tidy home is invaded by bad smells which seep through the walls. What makes the situation even worse is when you don’t have access to the source. When this is the case, it can be difficult to eliminate those odors. 

So, what can you do to stop smells from coming through your walls?

Lucky for you, there are a few simple actions you can take to eliminate bad smells from sneaking into your home through the walls like ghosts. We’ll also give you some tips and tricks that you can use to eradicate lingering odors in your home.

Which smells can travel through walls?

Bad smells and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are not only unpleasant, but they can also put your family’s health at risk; second-hand smoke is a prime example of this. On top of that, smells, odors, and VOCs can stick to your clothing, furniture, walls, and curtains, leaving a lasting smell that can affect your ability to enjoy your home. 

When the bad smell is originating from your home, then you can take swift action to remedy the problem, such as cleaning, taking out the trash, etc., but when these odors are entering your home from your neighbor’s place, it can be much harder to eliminate the source of the odors.

Smoke from cigarettes and weed, old trash that contains rotting food, and even odors produced from cooking food; all of these have a bad smell that can enter your home through your walls. Of course, the dangers of second-hand smoke are well known and can adversely affect your respiratory system. These days, more people are growing and smoking weed at home, so this problem is on the rise. 

Bad smells can also cause eye irritation, nose irritation, and can even cause you to have a sore throat. Cooking at home has drastically risen in the past few years which is negatively impacting the lives of homeowners all across the country. 

So, what can you do to prevent bad smells from entering your home through the walls?

How can I stop these smells from coming through the walls?

The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to eliminate bad smells, odors, and VOCs from entering your home through the walls. 

Your best bet is to use an air purifier that contains an activated carbon filter and a high CADR count. But you can also fill the gaps in your doors, windows, and walls. Installing an extractor fan in your home can also make a big difference, and of course, before doing any of that, you should talk to your neighbor to see if they can resolve the issue on their end. 

Let’s go over each one of these solutions in more detail so that you can safeguard your home from bad smells, odors, and VOCs. 

  • Use an air purifier with a high activated carbon filter count

Air purifiers are designed specifically for filtering out airborne pollutants, such as dust, pet dander, mold, mildew, and more, but if you want to remove foul odors from your home, then you need to make sure your unit utilizes an activated carbon filter which contains a high amount of activated carbon. 

Activated carbon filters are made up of loose carbon fillings which effectively eliminate odors by adsorbing them. The more carbon the filter has, the more effective it is at removing odors and VOCs from the area. For example, one of the leading units for tackling VOCs on the market is the IQAir Healthpro Plus which contains over 5lbs of activated carbon.

If you want to mount your air purifier on the wall, be sure to look at what we think are currently the best wall mounted air purifiers. These air purifiers will allow you to clean air from the other side of the wall without using up precious floor space.
  • Seal any gaps in doors and windows 

Go on the hunt to see if there are any gaps that might exist in your doors and windows around your home, as foul odors and VOCs can easily penetrate these gaps and travel from room to room. Caulking is one option and does a great job at sealing these sorts of gaps, but even using a bit of duct tape can make a huge difference and can prevent bad smells from entering your home. If there are any cracks in your windows, then you’ll definitely want to repair those as well, even if it’s just for the sake of your security. 

  • Check and fill any gaps in the walls 

Likewise, you’ll also want to find and fill any cracks or gaps in your walls. Even a tiny gap can be an easy access point for smoke and other odors to enter your home. Again, caulking will work best here, but any means of plugging those gaps will make a big difference. 

Even if there are no bad smells entering your home through these sorts of cracks, it’s still a good idea to fill them in because mold and mildew often settle into cracked walls, which can pose a much more serious risk to your health. 

  • Fit an extractor fan 

Extractor fans are an excellent way of removing all sorts of smells and VOCs from your home. Extractor fans essentially push the air in a room outside, which allows fresh air to cycle in while eliminating bad smells in the environment. In most cases, you’ll be able to find an extractor fan at a big box store, such as Wal-Mart, but if not, then there are plenty of models available online at Amazon. Extractor fans are usually relatively inexpensive, and you should be able to find a good one for $100 if you shop around.

  • Seal off any adjoining vents 

If any adjoining vents run between your home and your neighbor’s place, seal them off as this is one of the primary ways that smells travel between residences. If you really need to have those adjoining vents in operation, consider installing an inline fan that will return any smells emanating from your neighbor’s home. Inline fans are inexpensive and easy to install, so this can be a great option for those on a budget.

  • Speak to your neighbor

Before you rush out to buy an extractor fan or a tube of caulking to fill the gaps in your walls, you should first try talking to your neighbor. Explain the situation and ask if there’s anything they can do to prevent these odors from entering your home. 

Your neighbor might be willing to help eliminate those smells at the source, saving you the time, money, and hassle of combating these harmful odors yourself. You can even direct them to HouseFresh and help them find the right air purifier to eliminate the smells before they get a chance to travel into your home.

Here are a few of our favorite units for tackling bad smells and VOCs:

Air Purifier   Room Size Suitability
IQAir Healthpro Plus 450 sq ft to 1125 sq ft
Alen BreatheSmart 45i up to 800 ft²
Coway Airmega 300 628 ft² to 1,256 ft²
RabbitAir MinusA2 up to 815 ft²
About the author

Danny Ashton

Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.