What Smells Are Most Offensive?


There are some smells that most of us like while others we consider to be offensive. For example, the smell of freshly cut grass, baking bread, or fresh coffee grounds are appealing to some people, but not everyone. Moreover, while the smell of sewers, skunks, and rotting meat are typically classed as offensive to many, to others they are not so bad. So what makes us like or dislike certain smells, and why do some people find some smells more offensive than others?

There is much debate into the topic of why we like or dislike smells. Some scientists believe that our responses to smells are learned while others think we are born predisposed to smells. One thing is for sure, responses definitely vary when it comes to what people perceive to be the worst smells. The following are just some of the smells classed as the most offensive. Maybe you will agree; perhaps you will actually like some of these smells:

  • Rotting meat
  • Rotten eggs
  • Raw sewage
  • Wet dog
  • Smelly feet
  • Animal feces
  • Body odor
  • Skunks
  • Babies’ diapers
  • Garbage trucks.

The above is some of the most common smells considered offensive. But there are some odors that are classed as even worse. Thankfully most of us will never get to smell them. Take the corpse flower, for example. The Rafflesia arnoldii, or ‘stinking corpse lily’ as it is also known, might look pretty but it is said to smell like a rotting corpse mixed with fish and smelly feet. It is actually Indonesia’s national flower and is the largest in the world, with each flower measuring a meter across. The smell is designed to attract the carrion fly, which will then pollinate the plant.

How Do We React to Offensive Smells

The way in which people react to smells they find offensive varies. Some will simply cover their nose and mouth when they smell something they don’t like, but those with a heightened sense of smell might feel physically sick and will retch when smelling something offensive.

The type of smell can also affect how a person reacts. For example, some smells might be so strong and offensive that the person will feel a burning or stinging sensation in the nose and throat, which may then cause them to cough or wheeze. Some people will get a headache if the smell is extremely offensive to them.

How to Deal with Bad Smells

There are different ways to deal with bad smells, particularly those within the home. For instance, if you have smelly shoes, you might wash them and then make sure they are completely dry before wearing them again. The makers of ShoeFresh would also recommend using a shoe deodorant to eliminate odors and prevent the buildup of bacteria.

It is always advisable to find the source of the bad smell and deal with it directly rather than trying to mask it by spraying air fresheners, etc. If your drains are emitting a foul odor, then it might be worth contacting a plumber to come and find the source of the bad smell. It could be a leak in a pipe somewhere.


Each of us perceives smells differently. And while some smells are classed as really offensive to some, for others they are nothing more than unpleasant. We also have different ways of reacting to bad smells. One person might retch and feel sick at the smell of rotten eggs while someone else might simply wrinkle their nose in disgust. We can all agree, however, that whatever the smell, it is best to try and deal with the cause rather than trying to mask it with something else.