The Smelliest States

By Kathy Morris - Jun. 1, 2021

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What’s that smell?

Anyone who has ever taken a cross-country road trip knows that answer is sometimes “Maryland” and requires all the car windows to go up.

From landfills to the unbathed masses (yuck), sometimes states kind of stink. However, not all states are equally smelly.

But where are the smelliest places in the US? We set out to make smell a science and uncovered the states in dire need of deodorant.

Turns out, the Midwest is super fresh, while the Northeast and the south are pretty rank.

The Smelliest States

  1. Maryland
  2. California
  3. Florida
  4. Delaware
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Alabama
  7. New Jersey
  8. New York
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Mississippi

Keep reading to see what won these states the less than sought after title of smelliest states in America, and where came up smelling like roses.

How We Determined This

We started with undisputed metrics of gross-ery.

  • Dirty air
  • Trash, or the percentage of each state that is landfill

To measure the dirtiness of the air, we referred Air Filters Delivered thorough ranking on air quality. Cleaner air smells better.

For the trash rating, we simply used the EPA’s data on the percentage of each state’s land that is taken up by landfills.

From there, we decided to look into human smell factors. Because smell is other people:

  • Population density
  • Bad breath (Dental health by state)

First, we examined population density using population numbers from the US Census to find the number per square mile. The more people the smellier.

However, not all states take personal hygiene to the same lengths. In fact, some states are in dire need of some soap and Crest toothpaste. So, we sought to examine the dental hygiene of every state using a thorough study by Wallethub. This study looks into dental visits, brushing frequency, and other important oral hygiene factors.

Keep reading to see what set the 10 smelliest states apart (in a bad way) and where fared the best in our rankings.

1. Maryland

maryland class=

Landfills: 0.026%
People per Sq. Mile: 610

Sorry Marylanders, but Maryland is the smelliest state in the US. What makes Maryland pinch your nose smelly? Not only is 0.026% of the state pungent landfill, there’s the groddy air and a lot of people to smell up the place.

2. California

california class=

Landfills: 0.015%
People per Sq. Mile: 246.1

California may be the golden state, but I don’t think that nickname is supposed to refer to the teeth there. Unfortunately for people with good sense of smell, Californians don’t have great dental hygiene.

3. Florida

florida class=

Landfills: 0.017%
People per Sq. Mile: 364.6

When you think of Florida, you might think of beautiful beaches or fun theme parks. However, judging from the rankings, you might should be thinking of air freshener.

4. Delaware

delaware class=

Landfills: 0.040%
People per Sq. Mile: 475.1

Delaware is pretty crowded. In fact, for every square mile there are 475 people living in the state. 475 people, and all of them with their own smells. And unfortunately not all of them appreciate deodorant.

5. Massachusetts

massachusetts class=

Landfills: 0.021%
People per Sq. Mile: 858

No one factor alone makes Massachusetts the 5th smelliest state. However, mediocre air quality, more than their share of landfills, and plenty of people to stink up the place leave it less than fragrant.

6. Alabama

alabama class=

Landfills: 0.006%
People per Sq. Mile: 95.4

The 6th smelliest state is Alabama. What makes Alabama so smelly? This Southern state has some of the worst air quality in the nation. If that wasn’t bad enough, the state also has inadequate dental care. I don’t want a whiff of any of that.

7. New Jersey

new jersey class=

Landfills: 0.042%
People per Sq. Mile: 1,210.10

The tiny, densely populated state of New Jersey has a trash problem. In fact, 0.0421% of the state is landfill- More than any other state in the country. To put that into perspective, Alaska only has 0.0001% of its land mass dedicated to being filled with trash.

8. New York

new york class=

Landfills: 0.015%
People per Sq. Mile: 417

New York, New York…what a smelly state? New York may be wonderful and full of both beautiful nature and cultural landmarks but the state is also home to trash, mediocre air quality, and dubious dental hygiene. Yuck.

9. Pennsylvania

pennsylvania class=

Landfills: 0.019%
People per Sq. Mile: 285.5

In 9th place is the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a relatively crowded state with lots of residents to spice up the aroma. Of course, those residents also have a lot of trash- so much so the state is 0.019% landfill. While that might not be much of a good thing, it’s way too much smelly trash.

10. Mississippi

mississippi class=

Landfills: 0.004%
People per Sq. Mile: 63.7

In 10th place is Mississippi. Mississippi has the worst oral health in the nation. Of course, with lack of dental visits and flossing, comes bad breath. Wonder if they also lead in amount of breath mints sold?

Life isn’t always roses

Sometimes life smells. Sometimes it smells enough breath mints, Febreeze, and rolled up car windows can’t hide it.

Unfortunately, for residents in the 10 states above, life just might have more of those smelly moments than most other states’ residents have to put up with.

You can see the full ranking of all 50 states below, from smelliest to least:

Rank State Landfills People Per Sq. Mile Air Quality Rank (Higher Is Worse)
1 Maryland 0.0263% 610 47
2 California 0.0153% 246 41
3 Florida 0.0166% 364 33
4 Delaware 0.0399% 475 35
5 Massachusetts 0.0205% 858 45
6 Alabama 0.0058% 95 49
7 New Jersey 0.0421% 1,210 27
8 New York 0.0146% 417 23
9 Pennsylvania 0.0191% 285 13
10 Mississippi 0.0035% 63 39
11 Arkansas 0.0035% 56 43
12 North Carolina 0.0119% 202 21
12 Connecticut 0.0111% 742 37
14 Rhode Island 0.0375% 1,017 12
15 Georgia 0.0122% 173 31
16 Indiana 0.0174% 183 23
16 Kentucky 0.0086% 111 17
18 Louisiana 0.0072% 107 15
19 South Carolina 0.0105% 158 11
19 New Hampshire 0.0079% 147 29
21 Michigan 0.0079% 175 43
22 Tennessee 0.0095% 157 9
22 Missouri 0.0046% 87 37
24 Ohio 0.0165% 283 17
25 Hawaii 0.0060% 218 29
26 Texas 0.0083% 101 8
26 Illinois 0.0160% 232 25
28 Colorado 0.0039% 50 39
29 Arizona 0.0038% 58 45
29 Maine 0.0013% 43 49
31 Virginia 0.0136% 209 5
32 West Virginia 0.0067% 77 3
33 Alaska 0.0001% 1 47
34 Montana 0.0004% 7 35
35 Nevada 0.0016% 25 31
36 Oklahoma 0.0034% 56 15
37 Minnesota 0.0028% 68 41
38 New Mexico 0.0013% 17 25
39 Iowa 0.0045% 55 21
40 Nebraska 0.0016% 24 33
41 Kansas 0.0032% 35 19
42 Vermont 0.0026% 68 6
42 Washington 0.0038% 104 4
44 Oregon 0.0019% 40 14
45 Utah 0.0019% 35 7
46 Wisconsin 0.0058% 106 2
47 Idaho 0.0008% 19 27
48 Wyoming 0.0004% 6 1
49 South Dakota 0.0007% 11 10
49 North Dakota 0.0007% 10 19

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Kathy Morris

Author

Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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