Why Does Your Backyard Storage Shed Stink? (It’s Time to Purge the Funk)

Why does your backyard storage shed stink? This is a question that many homeowners may ask themselves when they notice unpleasant odors emanating from their outdoor storage space.

While storage sheds are essential for storing gardening tools, lawnmowers, and other outdoor equipment, they can also be a source of musty smells and other unpleasant odors.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why backyard storage sheds can stink and provide tips on how to freshen up your outdoor storage space.

Key Takeaways

  • Shed odor can be caused by a variety of factors, including humidity, poor ventilation, and pests.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance can help prevent shed odor from developing.
  • Addressing the root cause of the odor is key to finding a lasting solution.

Understanding the Causes of Shed Odor

If you notice a bad smell emanating from your backyard storage shed, it’s essential to identify the underlying causes to eliminate the odor effectively. Several factors can contribute to a musty or unpleasant smell in your shed. Here are some of the most common culprits:

WaterMoisture is one of the most common causes of shed odor. If water seeps into your shed, it can create a damp environment that promotes the growth of mold and bacteria.
PetsIf you store pet food or bedding in your shed, it can attract pests like rodents and insects, which can leave behind droppings and urine that create a foul odor.
Grass and Organic MaterialsIf you store lawn equipment or other items that have come into contact with grass or organic materials, they can transfer the smell to your shed.
Mold and BacteriaIf your shed is damp or humid, it can promote the growth of mold and bacteria, which can produce a musty or sour smell.
Cardboard BoxesIf you store items in cardboard boxes, they can absorb moisture and create a musty odor.
GreaseIf you store items that contain grease or oil, they can decompose over time and create a foul smell.
Rodents and InsectsIf you have a pest infestation in your shed, it can create a strong odor from their droppings and urine.
Animal DroppingsIf you have pets or wild animals in your yard, their droppings can create a foul odor if they are left in your shed.
CompostIf you store compost or other organic materials in your shed, they can create a strong odor as they decompose.

To eliminate the odor in your shed, you need to identify the source of the smell. Once you know what’s causing the odor, you can take steps to eliminate it.

For example, if you have a pest infestation, you may need to use traps or repellents to get rid of the pests. If your shed is damp, you may need to install a dehumidifier or improve ventilation to reduce humidity levels.

How Humidity Contributes to Odor

One of the main culprits of a stinky backyard storage shed is humidity. When moisture accumulates in a small, enclosed space, it can create the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive.

These microorganisms can produce unpleasant odors that can be difficult to eliminate.

To combat humidity in your storage shed, you can use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier works by removing excess moisture from the air, which can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

When shopping for a dehumidifier, make sure to choose one that is appropriately sized for the cubic feet of your shed.

A general rule of thumb is to choose a dehumidifier that can remove about 50 pints of water per day for every 1,000 square feet of space.

In addition to using a dehumidifier, you can also improve ventilation in your storage shed. This can be achieved by installing windows or vents that allow fresh air to circulate through the space.

Ideally, you should aim for at least one air change per hour in your shed. This means that all of the air in the shed should be replaced with fresh air once every hour.

If your storage shed is built on a crawl space or basement, it may be more susceptible to humidity. In this case, you may need to take additional steps to dehumidify the space.

This can include installing a vapor barrier in the crawl space or using a dehumidifier with a humidistat that can automatically turn on and off as needed.

Finally, it’s important to make sure that your dehumidifier has a drip pan and an automatic shutoff switch. This will prevent water from accumulating in the dehumidifier and causing additional moisture problems in your shed.

By taking these steps to reduce humidity in your storage shed, you can help eliminate unpleasant odors and keep your stored items fresh and dry.

The Role of Ventilation in Odor Control

Proper ventilation is essential for controlling odor in your backyard storage shed.

When your shed is not well-ventilated, it can lead to a buildup of moisture, which can cause mold and mildew growth. This can lead to an unpleasant smell that can be difficult to get rid of.

One of the most effective ways to improve ventilation in your shed is to install windows or air vents.

Windows allow fresh air to circulate inside the shed, while air vents help to remove stale air. You can find a wide range of windows and vents at home improvement centers, and they are relatively easy to install.

Another option to consider is installing an exhaust fan.

Exhaust fans are designed to remove stale air and moisture from your shed. They are especially useful if your shed is located in an area with high humidity or if you store items that produce strong odors, such as gasoline or fertilizer.

Wind turbines are another option to consider.

These devices are installed on the roof of your shed and are designed to spin in the wind, drawing hot air out of the shed and replacing it with cooler air. While wind turbines can be effective, they do require a certain amount of wind to work properly.

When selecting a ventilation system for your shed, it’s important to consider the size of your shed and the climate in your area. A larger shed may require multiple vents or fans to ensure adequate air circulation, while a smaller shed may only need one or two vents.

Cleaning and Maintenance for Odor Prevention

To prevent your backyard storage shed from smelling bad, regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial.

Here are some tips to help you keep your shed smelling fresh:

Cleaning with Bleach

Bleach is a powerful cleaning agent that can help kill bacteria and remove mold and mildew. To use bleach to clean your shed, mix one part bleach with four parts water.

Use a sponge or mop to apply the solution to the walls and floors of your shed. Be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing when working with bleach. Rinse the surfaces with clear water and wipe them dry.

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can help absorb odors in your shed. You can sprinkle baking soda on the floor of your shed and let it sit for a few hours before sweeping it up.

Alternatively, you can mix baking soda with water to create a paste and apply it to the walls and floors of your shed. Let the paste sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off with clear water.

Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar is another natural cleaning solution that can help remove odors from your shed. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply the solution to the walls and floors of your shed. Use a sponge or mop to work the solution into the surfaces. Rinse the surfaces with clear water and wipe them dry.

Storing Garden Tools

Storing garden tools in your shed can contribute to bad odors. To prevent this, be sure to clean your tools before storing them. Use a sponge or brush to remove any dirt or debris from the tools. You can also apply a coat of oil to the metal parts of your tools to prevent rust and corrosion.

Regular cleaning and maintenance can help prevent bad odors in your backyard storage shed. By using the right cleaning products and storing your tools properly, you can keep your shed smelling fresh and clean.

Addressing Odors from Pests and Animals

If your backyard storage shed has a stinky odor, it could be due to pests and animals that have made it their home. Here are some tips for addressing the issue:

Identify the Source of the Odor

The first step in addressing odors from pests and animals is to identify the source of the odor. It could be caused by animal droppings, predator urine, or even the smell of skunks. Once you have identified the source of the odor, you can take steps to eliminate it.

Get Rid of Skunks

If the odor is caused by skunks, you may need to take steps to get rid of them. Skunks are attracted to food and shelter, so make sure that your shed is not providing either of these things. You can also try using ammonia to repel skunks. Place a bowl of ammonia in your shed and leave it there for a few days. The smell of ammonia will deter skunks from entering your shed.

Clean Up Animal Droppings

If the odor is caused by animal droppings, you will need to clean them up. Wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from any potential health hazards. Use a disinfectant to clean the area thoroughly.

Use Pest Control Measures

To prevent pests and animals from entering your shed in the first place, you can use pest control measures. Clear all foliage and debris from around your shed to eliminate hiding places for pests. You can also use a pesticide specifically designed for the type of pest you are dealing with.

The Impact of Plants and Composting on Shed Odor

Plants and composting can have a significant impact on the odor of your backyard storage shed. Let’s take a closer look at how these factors can affect the smell of your shed.


If you have a compost pile in your backyard, it can be a source of strong odors that can make their way into your shed. Composting is a natural process that involves the breakdown of organic materials, such as grass, seeds, citrus peels, and onion, which can produce strong odors.

To prevent these odors from seeping into your shed, it’s essential to properly manage your compost pile. Use a yard butler compost aerator to ensure proper aeration, which can reduce odors. Also, avoid adding too much of any one material to your compost pile, which can cause an imbalance and lead to unpleasant smells.


Plants can also impact the odor of your shed. Some plants, such as citrus and cayenne pepper, can have a strong smell that can permeate the air around them. If you have these plants near your shed, their odor can make its way inside and cause unpleasant smells.

To prevent this, consider planting these types of plants farther away from your shed. You can also try planting other plants that have a pleasant scent, such as lavender or mint, which can help mask any unpleasant smells.


The overall condition of your backyard can also impact the odor of your shed. If you have an overgrown lawn or unkempt garden, it can produce strong odors that can make their way into your shed. To prevent this, make sure to regularly mow your lawn and maintain your garden.

In conclusion, composting, plants, and the overall condition of your backyard can all impact the odor of your shed. Proper management of your compost pile, planting the right types of plants, and maintaining your backyard can all help prevent unpleasant smells from seeping into your shed.


Remember, prevention is key. Regular maintenance and upkeep of your shed can help prevent moisture buildup and keep your shed smelling fresh. By following the tips provided in this article, you can ensure that your backyard storage shed remains a clean and pleasant space for all your storage needs.

Action Items
Choose a good location for your shed
Ensure proper ventilation
Use a vapor barrier when building or installing your shed
Clear out the shed
Wipe or spray the walls with white vinegar
Use charcoal or moisture absorbers
Keep your shed clean and dry
Additional “BAD ODOR” Topics
Why Does Your Bathroom Smell Like Fish?
Why Does Your Mobile Home Smell Like A Sewer When It Rains?
Why Does Your Dishwasher Smell Like Wet Dog?
Why Do Your Garbage and Trash Cans Stink?
Why Does Your Fridge Smell Like Rotten Eggs or Fish?
Why Do Bedrooms Smell in the Morning?
Why Does It Smell Like Something Died Under Your Bathroom Sink?
What Should You Do If Your Roommate Has A Body Odor Issue?
Why Does Your Barn Stink?
Why Does Your Closet Smell Musty?
Why Does Your Home Office Smells Bad?
Why Does Your Couch Smells Musty?
Why Does Your Garage Stink?
Why Does Your Backyard Storage Shed Stink?
Why Does Your Daughter’s Room Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Coffee Maker Smell Bad?
Why Does Your Oven Stink When You Turn It On?
Why Does Your AC Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Baby’s Nursery Stink?
Why Does Your Vacuum Cleaner Stink?
Why Does Your Son’s Room Stink?
What Does It Mean When Your Tap Water Smells?
Why Do Your Dishes Smell Like Fish?
Why Does Your BBQ Grill Smell Bad?
Why Does Your Mini Fridge Smell Bad?
Why Does Your Washing Machine Stink So Bad?
Why Does Your Freezer Smell So Bad?
Why Does Your Above Ground Swimming Pool Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Microwave Oven Stink?
Why Does Your Stove Smells Bad When You Turn It On?
Why Does Your Hot Tub Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Laundry Room Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Blender Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Greenhouse Smell Funny?
Why Does Your Air Fryer Smells Funny?
Why Does Your Toaster Smell Bad?
Why Does Your Electric Blanket Smell Bad?