Things to remember before leaving the house…

Usually when we leave for a vacation we take care to clean the kitchen.

This time around it just got too hectic. We did decide to NOT leave the A/C running, though. I’m sure that saved us a few bucks. Of course, our return would have been infinitely more pleasant had we NOT left two packages of fresh, farm-raised catfish in a shopping bag on the counter.

This afternoon at 4:00pm we returned to a house that was eighty-nine degrees farenheit, and that smelled like sphincter.

Specifically, the sphincter it smelled like belongs to a man who has been dead for three days, and whose last four meals were fish-head soup, orange roughy, baked scrod, and a nice anchovy-and-limberger pizza.

So… stop on by my house this evening. We’d love to have you. After all, every molecule of putrescine that you inhale is one more I don’t have to breathe. Oh, yes, I WILL use my friends as air filters…

33 thoughts on “Things to remember before leaving the house…”

  1. You SO have my sympathy. Believe it or not, I can relate. We came home from a one month trip to find that lightning had stuck one week after we left, and shorted out the electricity in the house. About 75 pounds of raw meat of various types had been sitting in a powerless refrigerator for THREE WEEKS in the July heat.

    And I’m the one that opened the freezer door.

    Took six weeks before we could move back into the house. I hope you are able to get everything clean quickly!

    1. The year is 1994. We’d been in our new house for a week, and we took off for a week or so, leaving about 15lbs of frozen meat in the freezer, which was a bottom-door freezer/fridge — very nifty. The stuff that you don’t reach for much is on the bottom.

      Anyway, the unit failed. The fan kept blowing, but it stopped blowing cold air.

      We returned home to a much worse, much more pervasive stench than the fishmongery corpsesphincter we’re currently dispersing. The bloating packages and warm air had popped the “freezer” door open, and the fan had dutifully continued to circulate air as best it could. Fortunately the meat only had about four days of spoilage on it. The maggots in the bottom were all first-generation…


      1. Oh yes, truly gruesome! I think that the maggots in our ‘fridge had climbed several rungs on the evolutionary ladder before we found them. Much longer, and I suspect they could have run for Congress…

        1. Given the current raft of political candidates (both parties) I think I probably would have voted your maggots into office.

          At least I know where they stand vis-a-vis consumption of animal flesh.

  2. Reminds me of the time my mom could not for the life of her figure out what was making her car smell so bad… Until she realized that the two packages (similar situation!) of fresh, farm-raised catfish she thought she had forgotten at the checkout counter of the grocery store had not, in fact, been forgotten at said counter, but instead lost in the various other debris in her trunk. It baked, and it permeated… It wasn’t pleasant.

    I do not envy you in the slightest.

    1. Two 1 pound tubes of ground beef in the back of a geo tracker in the middle of summer…

      I thought someone had put poo in my car. It smelled that bad…

  3. Oh

    I think cigar smoke would be preffered…

    Maybe you can try some 30 day trial on an ionic air purifier?

    I just…


    I’m dry heaving here… Tell me you’ll take care of this smell by the time the book party starts…

  4. Dr. Rick prescribes spreading a large quantity of baking soda over the horizontal surfaces of your kitchen.
    The more surface area you expose, the faster it will absorb the nast-molecules from the air.
    Also, open shallow pans of plain white vinegar will absorb odor molecules as well.
    If you have curtains, I’d recommend taking them down and hanging them in a ventilated area, eg. carport, open garage, back porch, for a few days.

    But see, while I have useful tips for dealing with the issue, your solution of using your friends as biofilters is just… genius. You’re a sick, sick man, and I hope you never get well.

  5. You have the sympathies of every falconer who’s left the tidbit bag inside the gaming bag (or in my case, inside the hawking jacket, which lives inside the truck during season).

    How’s the house smelling now?

  6. Oh boy, this sounds like a case for my magic mortuary cleaner mix…
    Trust me, it does what the name says.

    Ok, you’ll need some a squirt type bottle…
    some rubbing/surgical alcohol
    some essential oil of lemon or lemon grass [not lemon juice]
    and some rosemary essential oil.

    First, unscrew the bottle, fill it about 1/4 full of the alcohol.
    Add around ten drops of the lemon oil, and 5-6 drops of rosemary.
    Fill rest of bottle with water.
    Recap, and spray liberally everywhere!

    Keep doing this until you run out.

    The citrus and rosemary oil break down the putrene molecules [yes, that’s what they’re called]. while the alcohol acts as a carrier media and emuscifier so it mixes with the water.

    And believe me, it works. I got the recipe from a mortuary attendant.

  7. *reeling*

    Oh man, I feel your pain. 🙁

    Although… speaking as someone who was in a house occupied by a man dead for three days (my dad, sadly), I’m not sure how comparable the odors are. Similar, I’m sure, but the thing that freaked me out was that this odor had a slight sickly sweetness to it.

    Thank God/dess for Coda Trauma Cleanup, they helped in myriad ways. :-/

  8. Ewwwww!

    Its probably too late, but if you fire up a ducted A/C when you have bad smells you’ll regret it. We had a large diesel farm next to us that was being removed and they were pumping contaminated ground water into the storm drain and the A/C -concentrated- the stench.

  9. Ewwwwwww!!
    Boil 1-3 cups of cider vinegar. That will help to neutralize remaining smell.
    And if you don’t want to waste the vinegar, make hot german potato salad.

    As for the A/C: you spend more power (money) trying to cool a house down from a high temperature than maintaining a lower one. It works and believe it or not, that bit of advice comes from one of our local power companies.

    1. That all depends on how long the higher temperature was allowed in place, and how often the A/C runs when it’s maintaining a temperature. Not running the A/C for four days, and then running it non-stop for 12 hours has got to be cheaper than running it 25% of the time for five days.

      I suppose it depends on how often the A/C kicks in when it’s on. It seems to me that it runs pretty much non-stop for six hours of the day (1:00pm to 7:00pm), so my 25% SWAG seems reasonable.

      1. Not necessarily. It depends on how your power company charges per kilowatt. If you are on a time of use plan that 12 hours could cost you twice as much. It also stresses you A/C unit to run non-stop like that, which will shorten it operational lifetime.
        We generally keep it at 85 or so when we are not at home and bring it down to 78-80 when we get home. Or rather we have the thermostat do that for us (I love having a robot). When we switched to doing that instead of turning it off for the day, we discovered our power bill dropped by 15%. Which was a lot nicer than coming home to a house in the mid-90’s every day.

  10. From what I’ve heard (no practical experience with this odor, thank all that is holy) ozone is a nice way to eliminate a lot of odors. So an ozone generator ‘air cleaner’ might be a nice thing to try if you can borrow one from someone nearby. You can borrow mine, but, er, Michigan.

  11. Worst odour I’ve ever personally encountered

    I need to preface this by saying that my wife has no sense of smell – she can just barely sense nail polish remover if it’s under her nose…

    My wife had picked up the cat from the vet after he had he teeth cleaned and such (never again) and he was dosed with morphine. Well, he let his bladder go on the passenger seat and my wife didn’t notice.

    Well, I was out of town on business for a few days and didn’t return until a few days after the kitty christening… In any case, I go to get into the car on the Saturday afternoon (on a particularly sunny and hot July afternoon) and was greeted by a palpable wall of tom-cat urine stench…

    From what I could tell by the spread pattern and the still damp lower upholstery, it was a full bladder of goodness that was left behind. My wife had continued to drive the car during the intervening days without noticing and found the entire thing quite humourous.

    Natures Miracle (as recommended by the vet) rescued that seat nicely – along with a full upholstery shampoo later on…

  12. Fish!

    I feel for you Howard.

    My car also smells of fish. About a month ago I went food shoppping. About three days after that, during which my car had been sitting in the hot sun, I had occasion to use the car again and discovered that a pack of (once upon a time) frozen fishfingers had fallen out of the shopping bag before I removed it and hidden itself behind the box of junk in my trunk that I use to hold my tire-iron, etc.

    It still smells. One month on.

    I wish you luck.

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