The fragrance of sticking plasters (adhesive bandages) like Band-Aids is pleasing to some people, but not everyone. An antiseptic smell similar to fresh sticking plasters can come from sources such as cleaning products, plastics or adhesives. An unpleasant used sticking plaster fragrance can be caused by certain bacteria. In some cases, the smell can be strong enough to permeate your entire home. You can get rid of the smell by finding the source of the odour.
Fridges and air-conditioning units
Your air conditioner and your fridge work in a similar way, using a motor to pump refrigerant gases around a system so that they draw heat away from the area you want to keep cool. Both may be to blame for odd smells around the home. While refrigerant gases such as Freon have little or no odour, lubricant oils and plastics used in making air-conditioning units and fridge compressors can create an antiseptic smell, especially if they are breaking down. Bacteria growing in your air conditioner can cause an offensive stale plaster smell; if someone used antibacterial cleaner to counter bad air-conditioner smells, an antiseptic odour can result.
Plastics and glues
Plastics can often give off strong smells, especially when new, which may be the source of the sticking plaster smell. For example, the familiar odour from a new PVC shower curtain is caused by the evaporation of plasticisers -- chemicals that make the plastic more flexible. Glues and adhesives such as those used to stick down carpets can give off fumes as they dry, causing a "Band-Aid" smell. Such chemicals reportedly cause headaches and other conditions, particularly in sensitive people.
Home beer and wine-making can create odd aromas, including a smell that some people describe as resembling sticking plasters. Sometimes this kind of smell can be caused by the disinfectants used to clean wine-making equipment. There are also certain microorganisms -- specifically the Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Dekkera bruxellensis yeasts -- which create a range of aromatic compounds including a 4-ethyl phenol, which can have an antiseptic sticking plaster smell.
Cleaning products, especially antibacterial products, can leave a strongly antiseptic smell even when used in small quantities. Products containing certain phenols and strong-smelling constituents such as camphor may be responsible for a sticking plaster odour. Antiseptics used for wound care have a strong smell that can linger after use, especially if they are spilled on carpets or soft furnishings.
- Home Maintenance for Dummies; James Carey, et al.; 2009
- Aroma Dictionary; Wine Education Topic: Brettanomyces Character in Wine; Richard Gawel; June 4, 2004
- Mother Earth News: The Final Touches: Bathroom Software
- Longman Science Chemistry; Nitin Kohli
- The Artificial World around Us; Lucy Kavaler; 1967
- BBC; Sticking Plasters; February 2000