Haunted houses are fun to walk through with your friends, jumping and screaming at each sudden appearance of clown-faced zombies or floating apparitions. But when the apparition hangs out in your own shoe closet, the thrill is decidedly less fun. Here are five signs that your house may be haunted.
#1 Unexplained sounds. The whole “bump in the night” thing is your first clue. If you hear the sound of footsteps and you don’t share a home with a boot-wearing night wanderer, you may have some unwanted ethereal guests. Other sounds may include opening and closing doors, falling items, or the ultimate “we’re getting a hotel room tonight” phenomenon: strange laughter and voices when you’re not hosting a dinner party. Just be sure it’s not the TV or the stack of books placed precariously on the table before you pack your bags.
#2 Cold spots. Cold patches of air are more than just favorite scary movie devices: they’re classic signs of a ghostly entity. Of course, if it’s winter and you’re standing by a drafty window, you may want to rethink whether the cold spot is evidence of a haunt or evidence of a lack of caulk.
#3 Unexplained smells. If you suddenly smell a rosy perfume when you are more into fruity scents, you may have an invisible visitor who prefers florals. Worse, if you suddenly smell a foul odor of rotting fruit or meat, you may have a ghost who places a little less value on hygiene. Either you have a haunt, or you should clean out your fridge.
#4 Disappearing objects. This haunting issue actually has an acronym: DOP (disappearing object phenomenon), and it’s a common sign of a ghostly presence. Objects such as car keys and office supplies disappear from where they were placed and reappear in other strange spots. Come to think of it, if DOP is a result of a haunting, the majority of household clothes dryers may be haunted by sock-loving entities.
#5 Strange pet behavior. Supernatural researchers believe that dogs and cats have enhanced senses to perceive ghostly presences. If a dog suddenly barks or whines at nothing, or if a cat watches something invisible move across the room, this may indicate that you have company that you can’t see. Keep in mind, though, that cats have a habit of pouncing on miniscule dust particles, and dogs can hear a car door slam in the driveway three doors down.
Admittedly, this list has us looking over our shoulders. We had some fun with it—but if you are really afraid of your own house, talk to a friend or clergy member about next steps. A home should be a sanctuary—not a scary movie.