How do "dirty" people NOT know they smell?

United States
February 8, 2007 1:24am CST
I know we have all met and been around a "dirty" person that just simply smells. How on earth do you think they cannot tell they stink? Do you think they know and just don't care? I understand in some cases it's a medical problem but in most, lets face it, it's a case of laziness and just plain not taking care of oneself. I once worked with a guy that stunk so bad. He simply refused to use deoderant and he worked in a hot sweaty shop. Every time he would come into the offices it would smell for an hour! It was horrible! How could he NOT smell himself and realize he was offensive to others?
15 people like this
63 responses
• United States
8 Feb 07
They get used to the smell it's like the cat lady that doesn't realize her entire house smells like a cat! It stinks!
4 people like this
• United States
8 Feb 07
Man... that would be a hard thing to get "used to"! LOL I'm always amazed.... sometimes if I'm sick I don't shower that day... I am ready to hose myself off with a fire hose the next day! I cannot imagine smelling like some of them do but I think you may be right... they get used to their own stink!
3 people like this
@Idlewild (6094)
• United States
8 Feb 07
I think that's exactly it... they are constantly surrounded by the smell and so don't even notice it. Everyone has their own unique scent, which they probably don't notice because it's always been a part of them.
3 people like this
@cassidy22 (2975)
• United States
8 Feb 07
you just become immune to common odors, so you don't recopgnize it. Just like people who put on perfume or cologne, 20 minutes later they don't smell it anymore. some people are just clueless about BO. The kind thing to do would be to gently encourage them to use proper daily hygiene. I don't know how you pull that off... but you could try.
@kgwat70 (13396)
• United States
8 Feb 07
I remember this past summer in my bowling league how this one guy on the other team smelled so badly. He obviously did not put deodorant on. The smell was horrific and it was difficult to concentrate on bowling. It was just horrible. I hope that I never have to smell that again. He seemed like the type who did not care but I am sure he knows other people could tell.
• United States
8 Feb 07
It's so strange too... how could he NOT smell himself!? LOL I know it sounds mean but wow... it can truly gag a person!
3 people like this
@babykay (2133)
• Ireland
9 Feb 07
I don't wear deodorant but I don't smell.....I hope!
• United States
8 Feb 07
It is really hard to smell yourself. I think it's because you are around yourself all the time and just don't notice it as much. I know sometimes though i get a sniff of soemthing if I'm outside ands weating alot. Other then that you really don't notice your own smells.
2 people like this
• United States
8 Feb 07
Oh no way... I can smell my own odors immediately and have had times when I'll go... OMG.. I stink... can u smell me? to my family or friend I'm with. Maybe I'm just overly sensitive scent wise but I would assume others can smell themselves first? I dunno! LOL
@imadriscoll (2230)
• United States
8 Feb 07
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law lead a high school youth group in Minnesota. They have a couple of girls that they describe as being bright, beautiful and very likeable ... except that they stink. Their mother has a sister who has cancer and their mother believes that it's linked to deodorant (or something used in deodorant). So her daughter's aren't allowed to use deodorant and they suffer because of it. I think it's really sad. Honestly, what doesn't cause cancer? And how can anyone be sure that their aunts got cancer because of deodorant?? So, some people are stinky because they're lazy, or because of medical reasons, others apparently have paranoid mothers.
• United States
8 Feb 07
Even at that, there are organic versions of deodorant out there that can help too! I have heard others comment that they think deodorant is connected to lymph cancer, and I can understand the correalation but sheesh... use SOMETHING then! lol
1 person likes this
@ESKARENA1 (18299)
8 Feb 07
i think personal smell is very difficult to detect for the person giving it off, maybe they rely on helpful people to do that for them, now how does one do that?
2 people like this
@shywolf (4520)
• United States
8 Feb 07
I guess that the problem is that when you stink, you get used to the smell and it's really hard to tell that you're living with that smell anymore. Of course, it does bother me to think of someone who has been kindly informed about having such a problem who would continue to stink like that, unless there were truly something wrong with them where they could not. I mean, if it truly is just a matter of them not bathing, or taking care of themselves, then eww. LOL. I'm sure that we've all had rare days where we woke up so late we couldn't get a bath or shower, or days where we forgot our deodorant. But if someone stinks all the time and won't even listen to you when you tell them about it, that's a little bit sad.
2 people like this
@missyd79 (3438)
• United States
12 Feb 07
omg, i used to work with a lady that smelled so bad, i used to have bath and body lotions on my desk just so that i could put them on so i couldn't smell her and she in turned told out supervisor that my lotions were bothering her allergies. so i was the one that got in trouble but i told our supervisor why i was doing it and she eventually moved my seat to a different desk away from this lady.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Feb 07
LOL... well Lord forbid you smell GOOD and battle with her BO! LOL
1 person likes this
@missyd79 (3438)
• United States
21 Feb 07
exactly what i thought, but it wasn't BO that she smelled like, she smelled like a dirty diaper.
@cutepenguin (6457)
• Canada
8 Feb 07
I think you jsut stop noticing. I worry about this a bit, if I've been out all day - do I smell? But you can't really smell yourself, so what can you do? I'm confident my friends would tell me, though.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Feb 07
yeah... a good friend should definitely tell you!
• United States
8 Feb 07
I purposefully befriended a girl that stunk to high heaven. It was hard being around her, but necessary. I knew that she didn't (couldn't possibly) know about her BO. Then, one day, I said "Girl! You stink! You forget your deodorant?" And after that, everyone noticed--she didn't stink anymore! Wahoo! Mission accomplished. She is a very nice girl.
@signum (547)
• Australia
9 Feb 07
Eeek, I have been in this situation. My mate used to live with a guy who refused to shower, and he never washed his clothes or anything. My mate told me the smelly guy had worn the same clothes for at least a week on numerous occasions, change into another set of clothes for a week, and then change back into the first set without washing them at all. My mate sat him down and begged him to take a shower - that he would feel better if he did, and all my mate copped was abuse.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Feb 07
Yuck! Can't say as I could live with someone like that without getting to be pretty harsh on them and just telling them outright that they stink! lol
• United States
9 Feb 07
Offer the guy a bar of lava soap, well it what I have done to a Tech I hired. Never said a word ,just left it on his desk taped to a can of right-guard:).... It worked too. Have not smelled him since..
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Feb 07
LOL. all the guys leave deodorant on his work area... still hasn't worked! Not sure if people like this really can take a "hint"... at least you were lucky!
• United States
8 Feb 07
There was this kid one time at my schoo in high school who was smart, got a's all the time, but he wasnt social at all, and he sometimes forgot to shower or put deodurant on , but he had some kind of mental illness i can't remember what it was, the nurse had came by all of his classes to inform us on the first day of classes. But he stank up to high heaven.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Feb 07
I have seen a lot of cases where people are just socially inept and cannot truly blend in well with society. Those actually are quite often brilliant people.
• United States
8 Feb 07
I totally agree with you. I am an Admin Assistant and have had to do the write up for someone that had been talked to numerous times for their body odor. The supervisors unfortunately had to talk to two of the guys who worked there many times. If either of them would come into the office you could smell them coming, and smell that they had been there for quite some time. I really think that with one of them it was a case of laziness, but the other guy I am not so sure. He had a big cabinet in his work area full of things he shared with others, like headache medicine, snacks etc., and I know he had deoderant in there. Maybe with him it was a medical issue, who knows? I know with myself some deoderants work better than others, but I think I will take the time and money to find that one that works for me!!! The other guy though, not only did he smell bad, his breath was terrible as well. My manager once had me go and talk to him to find out what he wanted for his anniversary lunch because he said he would gag if he had to go and talk to him!!!! The guy was so nice, I felt bad for him sometimes. I just tried not to breathe when I had to talk to him.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Feb 07
How embarassing to be 'written up' for body odor! The bad breath thing I can say often can come from people's diet or health issues. I know that most people that go on the low carb diets go through a phase when their breath is horrid. And I do realize body odor can be a health issue too but wow... amazing isn't it? It is sad when the person is a great person but just simply stinks!
@pendragon (3352)
• United States
8 Feb 07
Damaged olfactory perceptors, perhaps? Perhaps they just don't care to put chemicals all over themselves all the time, stanky, but alive,lol.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Feb 07
LOL.. well I havne't grown an extra arm or anything from bathing?! I do agree though that some like to try to live "chemical free" but those who do have organic options out there too and if they're alert and intelligent enough to desire a chemical free life they generally will look very deeply into it, realizing there are organic alternatives. I'm just amazed at people who are clueless or seem to be clueless that they just plain stink! lol
@mzz663 (2775)
• United States
10 Apr 07
I think theres a difference between people that show up to work already reeking of bad body odor and the ones that dont but accumulate it while working. people that do tend to smell should try to keep their distance from other people. some people dont realize that if they can smell themself everyone else can. next time maybe make a comment that...wow! you look like you've been working hard! I bet you can't wait to get home to get a good hot shower and relax!
1 person likes this
@Jshean20 (14367)
• Canada
15 Feb 07
I think quite often the people with bad hygiene grew up around it and have just grown used to not taking care of themselves, they probably think nothing of it. What's even more sad though,is that in some cases people are suffering from medical conditions like depression and they feel so badly about themselves, that they lose the will to take care of their bodies.
1 person likes this
@cjsmom (1423)
• United States
13 Feb 07
Oh, I know what you mean, totally...I mean, I can tell immediately if I start to stink and I try to stay out of nose reach of others until I have taken care of the problem. It makes me want to hurl when I can smell myself, so I don't want others to feel that way. And what's weird is, I can take a shower a few hours before and still start to stink...perhaps it's a sign of old age for me...lol
1 person likes this
@howard96h (11658)
• New York, New York
13 Feb 07
I believe they know and just don't care. I don't know if it's because they don't want to spend the money on soap and deodorant or if they think going ALL NATURAL is a turn on for us all to smell. It's disgusting though.
1 person likes this
@hdb425 (72)
• Philippines
9 Feb 07
Apparently, people who have body odor cannot smell themselves. It's got something to do with their Endocrine system. Their brain tells them that they smell normal so they don't notice the awful smell that people around them experience (much to our disadvantage). It's also due to the fact that they're exposed to the smell practically 24 hours a day so their olfactory nerves (nose) get used to the smell.
@Debs_place (10525)
• United States
9 Feb 07
I used to work with someone like that, He stunk, everyone on th aisle had air fresheners all over. Maybe he did not smell it, maybe he got used to his smell. People would leave soap, shampoo and deodorant in his desk and he did not take the hint. I never understood my someone in mamangement did not talk to him..other then they could not or would not get that close to him. E-mail would have worked to. Beats me.
1 person likes this
@abhiquest (580)
• India
9 Feb 07
I think we can blame it on the functioning of our nose. It can only distinguish between good and bad smell for a small period of time, then it gets adjusted. I hope this makes people not knowing how bad they smell.
1 person likes this