The Over 60 Old People Smell.

If you have it, how to get rid of it.

John Iovine
3 min readSep 5, 2020


Photo by Author

What is old people smell?

Glad you asked. First of all, it's a real thing. It’s a characteristic odor of older people. By older, I mean starting around 60 years plus. But it can occur as early as 40 years old. As we age our metabolism changes, our skin gets thinner. Our older skin has a weaker anti-oxidant capability which causes an increase in the breakdown of the skin’s natural oils into an aldehyde called 2-nonenal.

It is the nonenal compound that is responsible for the musty odor of elderly people. This smell is most noticeable in large congregations of the elderly like those found in nursing homes and other elder care facilities.

Not Always Unpleasant

Granted not everyone wants to smell musty, most dislike it, but a few like the smell. It may evoke childhood memories of visiting parents and grandparents.

In Japan old people smell is referred to as kareishu.

Interestingly some young women may be attracted to the musty smell of older men. It appears biologically reaching an older age shows beneficial genetics. In this case, that musty smell from a male can signal good genes.


Bathing and washing more often isn’t a solution. Unfortunately, nonenal isn’t water-soluble. So this compound can stay on the skin after washing. The compound can also transfer from your body onto fabrics, sheets, couches, and clothes. This can eventually lead to your apartment or home smelling musty and old.

Standard Soaps

Standard U.S. soaps contain fragrances and deodorants but these do not neutralize nonenal.

Japanese place a high value on personal grooming, so it is not surprising that there is a large market in Japan for nonenal odor eliminating soaps.

Smelling Younger

Who doesn’t want to smell younger? I do.

One company, Mirai Clinical sells a soap bar product specific to neutralizing the body odor of nonenal. The soap incorporates tannin a persimmon extract, which is effective at dissolving nonenal. Persimmon…



John Iovine

Science writer, thinker, self-experimenter, focusing on personal development and health —