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Do Women Smell Better Than Men?

August 22, 2016

Of course women smell better than men, but pheromones aside, do their noses work better?


Mrs. Chatterbox is often saying to me, “What’s that smell?”


I seldom know what she’s talking about. I have a terrible sense of smell. She’s in the habit of saying, “Time for that shirt to go into the wash.” Or, “I think you left some dirty socks under the bed.”


We’ll be watching TV and she’ll say, “Something in the fridge has turned.” She’ll get up and clean the fridge right in the middle of Game of Thrones. Dragons are flying overhead and my wife’s head is buried in the crisper hunting for an offensive piece of fruit that I wouldn’t notice if a flying dragon dropped it on me.


The other night we were watching the Olympics and Usain Bolt was about to run when she bolted from the couch to pour bleach down the kitchen sink. She was only gone a minute but when she returned Bolt was already doing a victory lap.



On Saturday she said, “We need to change the sheets on our bed.”


I said, “Didn’t we change them last week? We’re not running a hotel, or brothel. I don’t think they need changing.”


She sighed. “You men would live in filth if we women let you.”


I tried to defend myself. “Changing bed sheets every other week doesn’t mean we’re

living in filth.”


Her expression suggested otherwise. We ended up changing the sheets.


Mrs. Chatterbox has an extremely sensitive nose, so it’s a wonder she’s stayed with me

for forty-two years. I don’t have a sensitive nose. More than once she’s said, “That milk you’re drinking has turned. She says it slowly for emphasis—“…tuuuuurrrnned!”


“It has?”


“Yes. Doesn’t it taste sour to you?”




“Look at the date on the carton. It expired two days ago.”


Expiration dates are something we never agree on. She thinks groceries need to be thrown out on the expiration date while I say things shouldn’t be sold after that date. This argument has been going on for years.


Finally, I landed a win in the “Smell Olympics.” We each have our own car although I don’t enjoy driving nearly as much as she does. When traveling together we take her car and she usually drives. Mrs. C’s car stinks lately because it’s been hot and mildew in the air-conditioning system produces a smell. I’ve told her she needs to turn off the air when we’re a few miles from home and leave the fan on to dry out the moisture so there isn’t a mildew smell. Mrs. C. has difficulty remembering to do this, so her car has an unpleasant odor.


“Why is it,” I asked, “that you can smell a raisin under the couch but an offensive mildew smell in your car doesn’t bother you?”


Instead of answering, she looked at me and wrinkled her nose like she does when she smells something bad, a look that makes me think I need to hit the shower.


Does your significant other win the gold medal when it comes to ferreting out smells, or does the award go to you?



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My wife definitely has a much better sense of smell. However, I'm the one who chucks stuff on its expiration date, whether it's food or medicine. I also don't mind changing the sheets once a week. And yes, I'm the one who does it, because my wife can't make a bed properly to save her life.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 22, 2016
I really don't have a sense of smell so just about anyone can smell better than me. I hope Mrs. C's car doesn't end up like in the Seinfeld episode where the funk is so bad that he leaves his car in a bad neighborhood for it to be stolen--and then of course not even the thief can tolerate the odor.
By: PT Dilloway on August 22, 2016
I'm not going to get into this. I smell a rat!
By: Catalyst on August 22, 2016
I don't know which of us has a better sense of smell but it took us years to get rid of the smell in this house after we bought it. it didn't really go away until we had new ductwork put in but it wasn't a mildew smell. the wife put bars of Irish Spring soap around in all the closets and cabinets for air freshener I guess. then she had to put out roach poison everywhere because she was feeding them with the soap.
By: Ellen Abbott on August 22, 2016
I'm not going to touch this one... smells fishy!
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 22, 2016
I believe I have a better sense of smell than my wife.. I'm not especially sensitive, but it is usually me that can smell that one of the kitchen rags is getting mildew or can smell something coming from the garbage disposal. Although, she is especially sensitive to cigarette smoke. If anyone lights up with 12 miles of us, she knows it. My mother, on the other hand, could smell everything all the time. As teenagers, my brothers and I would get in trouble for visiting places we weren't supposed to be. There was no point in denying it because she could smell the place on it. That included some people's homes. They didn't stink, but every house has a distinct aroma to it.
By: Brett Minor (Transformed Nonconformist) on August 22, 2016
Oh hahahah I read the title and thought to myself- I like the way my husband smells in the morning because he showers and shaves before coming into the kitchen to make coffee. Then after reading I realized it's all about the ability to ferret out stinky stuff in the house and it would have to be our cat Lucy! She can smell a cat treat a mile away! Have a lovely day!
By: Kathe W. on August 22, 2016
My Mrs. C is an amazing detective and has great hearing...not quite as much on the smell thing...probably a good thing for me. That best by date just means you need to start sniffing it after that date.
By: cranky on August 22, 2016
I wonder if men smell the kind of stuff that matters to them. Mildew in car a/c as opposed to laundry. That sounds really sexist. I'm not really.
By: Jenny on August 22, 2016
I can smell better than Mike can, but we both are REALLY good at ignoring odor in the house. We never get company, and it mostly just smells like our house to us :) I won't pitch anything until I know it's bad, and we change the sheets every two weeks - so I'm in your camp there :)
By: The Bug on August 22, 2016
The significant other has a much keener sense of smell in this house. I think men are more tolerant and offensive odors don't bother them as much.
By: red Kline on August 22, 2016
Sweetie claims he has a better sense of smell than i, and i don't argue with him about it. The dates on food are either best if used by dates, which means you can still eat it after that, but it might not taste as crisp or fresh, or sell by dates, which tells the store it can't sell it after that, but doesn't mean you can't consume it after that.
By: messymimi on August 22, 2016
Ah, you've hit on one of the great conundrums of marriage. In our house I have the sensitive nose and to such a degree that Lana says it is "too" active. Hmmmm!
By: Tom Cochrun on August 22, 2016
I think that answers the age old question of mine. How can a guy smell a shirt, put it on and not know it is no where near being fresh? Who knew it was in the genes.
By: Arkansas Patti on August 22, 2016
sadly, my sense of smell was ruined by about 50% by allergy nasal sprays my doc thought i could use... not...
By: TexWisGirl on August 22, 2016
I definitely have the better nose in the family. But I'm very generous about those expiration dates. I know when milk goes bad, and I've had milk that was two weeks past the expiration date. I chalked it up to the grocery store having a really good refrigerator in the dairy.
By: Pixel Peeper on August 22, 2016
I don't think Willy Dunne Wooters has a sense of smell. I have a sensitive nose. I judge milk by the odor and not by the expiration date. I am aware of your problem with Mrs. C. over expiration dates. I continue to maintain that if it ain't sour, you can drink it after the expiration date, which is a suggestion and not a law. Recently, however, I found some food items in my cabinet that expired in 2011. I threw them out. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 22, 2016
My husband SAYS he has a great sense of smell, but that does not explain why he pours half a bottle of Chaps (given to him as a Christmas gift by my sister the ex-mayor's wife sometime in the past century) over his head whenever he thinks he has to fancy-up. Most days he won't even try to hold in a fart. But when he deems it time for fragrance, he must deaden his olfactory nerve in order to remain conscious.
By: Val on August 22, 2016
I change my sheets every week. This weekend, I actually took the mattress pad off the tempurpedic mattress I own and washed it. Then I washed all the bedding too. I do that about once every three months, but sheets get done every week on Saturday. I can't stand filth. Did you know that there's a link to smell and alzheimer's disease? It triggers the same part of the brain that alzheimers attacks. For example, you should be able to smell peanut butter with both nostrils. Close one and sniff, then close the other and sniff. If you can't smell the peanut butter in one nostril, it's a sign that you may be susceptible to alzheimers someday.
By: Michael Offutt on August 22, 2016
I'm definitely the nose in the family. Drives my husband nuts because I can smell the stank a mile away. Got good ears too---which means I can ALWAYS hear him mumbling under his breath when I've annoyed him about his stinky shoes.
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on August 23, 2016
I definitely can relate to your story today. My husband does not ever look at the expiration date...doesn't care unless it's covered in mold and will argue with me about it. I pitch before the due date! Also, ever since I quit smoking my nose has gone into overdrive. Which is not always a good thing...especially when around a large number of smelly in the grocery store.
By: Terri on August 23, 2016
I'm more similar to you than Mrs. C. regarding odors. My last bf complained about smells and insisted on opening my windows - for no viable reason (in my opinion). But he was annoying in many ways, and a total neat freak.
By: Robyn Engel on August 23, 2016
I too am olfactorily challenged. I'm not sure I could smell a turd on my toe. But my wife can even if I were standing in the barnyard 200 yards away :)
By: Rick Watson on August 25, 2016

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