Top Ten: Worst Smells

K8‘s other half has been complaining about the smell of the magnificent White Lily.

I have to agree with him, despite her objections – white lilies seriously upset me. They’re very pretty, I suppose, but I’d choose a less attractive flower with a less pungent odour any time. I have been known to leave a room when white lilies are present. Actually, I don’t think it’s so much that I dislike the smell (although, really, there genuinely is a faint whiff of cat pee)… more that it causes me pain. I’m not good with perfume in general, particularly if I end up sitting next to someone who has felt the need to douse their hair and clothes with half a bottle of cheap stuff. It weaves its way into my nostrils and spreads internally throughout my body, to the point where I can taste it, hear it, feel it, and see spots in front of my eyes. White lilies seem to have a similar effect, and they make me nauseous and sneezey.

Anyway, I commented to K8 and to Biopro that the smell of the White Lily would be on my top ten list of Smells I Absolutely Detest. Then I thought I might as well chase the thought and make the list. Perhaps this is a sign that I am struggling for inspiration at the moment. But let’s run with it, shall we? In no particular order:

1. B.O. – It really does make me gag. I used to know a painter and decorator who suffered badly from Antiperspirantlessness (what? It’s a real thing!), and had incredibly whiffy armpits. Unfortunately, being nearby as he worked was sometimes unavoidable for me, and of course his job involved him spending a lot of time with his arms raised in the air… urgh. Once it was so bad that I had to pretend I had a cold and put Vicks on a tissue, which I then held to my nose for most of the day. For the same reason, I also find it very difficult to be on public transport during the rush hour cattle-car-squeeze. Being someone who overheats very quickly, myself, I have every sympathy for the hot and sweaty amongst us. But really, there is no excuse for letting it get stale and gag-inducing.

2. Public Toilets – I avoid them as much as I possibly can, but when you’re travelling they become a necessity from time to time. The smell horrifies me. Stale urine and all the etceteras. Even the clean ones smell bad to me, because the stench of bleach mingled with the underlying scent of sewage is almost as bad as the sewage on its own. If I go into a public toilet, I pull my t-shirt or jumper up over my nose and try to breathe through my mouth the whole time.

3. Babies – Or at least the ones who need their nappies changed. My pet hate is being in the supermarket and a passing mother wheeling a trolley containing a small child, and the overwhelming baby poo smell wafting over me. I know they can’t help it, but it doesn’t stop it being utterly disgusting.

4. Bins – Fermenting fruit and vegetable peelings, rotting meat, emptied ashtrays, used coffee grounds, smelly food packaging, leftovers… all mixed up and contained in a small, airless space. Open lid: BLEURGH!! Always makes me emit distressed noises.

5. VomitAbsolutely putrid. Although it has to be said that the sight, for me, is worse than the smell. Seeing (or even hearing) someone throw up will honestly make me do the same. There’s a scene in a music video by Pink (if I recall correctly) where a bulimic girl sticks a toothbrush down her throat and… well.. actually, I can’t finish this, or I’ll puke. Suffice it to say that that scene is permanently stuck in my head.

6. White Liliesas mentioned.

7. Breathnot necessarily just bad breath. Even if a person has been drinking something with a very nice smell, like coffee, or wine, I would prefer not to smell it from their breath. I hate it when people get really close to me when they’re talking, unless they’ve brushed their teeth within the last 5 minutes. And if they have bad breath, my displeasure becomes queasiness. I accept that mine is probably not much better, but I don’t insist in leaning right into your face and sharing it with you, you see. And anyway, I can’t smell my own breath, so it doesn’t bother me. :)

8. Damp Towels – you know, when you realise you haven’t washed them for a while, or you forgot about the one lurking at the bottom of your swimming kit. Or damp anything, really. I have occasion to be repulsed by this smell quite a lot, as I very often forget to take things out of the washing mashine on time. Yuck.

9. Stale Cigarette Smoke – I quite enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke (particularly if I’m in the middle of a quitting phase), and I really love the smell of pipe and cigar smoke. But smoke on clothes and in hair after a night out turns my stomach. It’s not such a problem nowadays, since They force us to go and stand outside in the fresh (and cold) air to smoke, but it used to be a smell I hated waking up to on a Saturday morning!

10. Sour Milk – mainly because the smell inevitably reminds me of the many times I have inadvertently tasted it. :::shudder:::

What’s your most hated smell? I’ve heard that decomposing corpses are the worst of all, but fortunately I don’t have the relevant experience needed to include this one on my list. Have I missed anything obvious? Or is there a smell you detest but everyone else seems to like?

This is riveting stuff, cutting-edge journalism and all that. Tell your friends.


5 thoughts on “Top Ten: Worst Smells

  1. K8 says:

    GOOD list – deserves a Pulitzer if y’ask me.

    I’d swap the lillies for the smell of stagnant lilly/flower water… you know when it’s left for to long and you get that grey gloop forming on the submerged stalks?


  2. I hate the smell of babies too, and their little hands are gross.. Yuk, always covered in petit filou. Since giving up dairy, regular milk has started to smell rotten to me too. It’s strange, because I used to love drinking the stuff.

  3. McBouncy says:

    I know I have told you this before, but,
    I was told that a smell is actuall caused by little particles of the thing you are smelling.
    Lillies will be tiny flower particles, poo will be tiny little bits of poo :-/
    Now everytime someone in our house farts/passes wind, we all cover our nose with t-shirts etc for fear of some of their poo entering our nose.
    Now yet another reason to barf when you see someone picking their nose and eating it!!!!!

  4. I’m not sure this one is super high on the list, but the smell of raw silk doesn’t turn me on one bit.

    And have you ever smelled a refrigerator that has been turned off and closed up? Bad, I tell you.

    Asian markets almost always stink, too. I think it’s probably the durian fruit, but it doesn’t usually stop me from shopping.

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