Have you ever come across a home that smells? Where you just want to hold your nose and run out the door screaming. Who can blame you the sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses, especially when selling a home. The scents and odors in a home can connect or disconnect buyers or even guests to a house with just one sniff.
There is a reason why a home owner isn’t aware of the woozy urine smell or last night’s dinner odor haunting the air; they’re immune to the odor. It’s too familiar to their nose.
As a home stager, I’ve seen our share of “stinky homes” from pets, food, clothes or shoes, smoking, mold, appliances and air vents. When showcasing a home we recommend clients get rid of the sources of bad odor, rather than simply mask the smell with a scent. But, what if your listing stinks? Here are a few ways to tackle these unwanted smells:
Simply having a pet can create allergy flare-ups for some buyers. While on the housing market make sure to bath and brush your animals regularly, but one of the worst smelling offenses is pet urine and feces. Clean litter boxes every other day. If your animal has been using your floor as a toilet, make sure to steam clean carpets and/or replace wood.
Cooking food can create lingering odors in a home. When cooking use stove top fans, open a window. Wipe down hard surfaces, wash drapery and other fabrics around kitchen. After cooking make sure to dispose of trash outside immediately, to avoid lingering smells.
Also leaving out ground coffee or vinegar in a bowl can absorb some of the smell. The best way to avoid food smells is avoid cooking with fish, spices like curry or ethnic foods with potent odors while on the housing market. Try going out to dinner for those foods.
Smelly socks, sports equipment, shirts or shoes anything that has perspiration on it, while eventually create a stink. Make sure to wash, linens and clothing on a regular basis don’t let it pile up when selling. Try leaving shoes outside to air. Febreeze also works on bigger items that can’t be put in the wash.
Cigarette smoke is hard to get rid of without completely painting the room, wiping down hard surfaces, removing fabrics and carpets. Smoke sticks to everything even light bulbs, then when the light is on and heats up the scent will return. Keep the light bulb clean and it won’t be a problem. Also try leaving a bowl of vinegar out for 24 hours to remove that smells of cigarette smoke, but be prepared this won’t help heavy smokers.
Mold smells are a huge red flag for buyers. Take care of musty or mold smells immediately with a dehumidifier or kill mold spores using chlorine dioxide, if it’s extremely bad hire a professional.
Buyers will open refrigerators, especially if it’s something that comes with the house. Make sure to remove smelly or rotten food from the fridge at least once a week. Use a box of baking soda to absorb odors in the fridge and wipe down shelves when needed. Appliances throughout the house should also be cleaned on a monthly basis, including ovens, dishwashers and washers.
Change the filters in any ventilation, heating, or air conditioning system. Those systems work better when the filters are regularly cleaned anyway, and if you’re trying to get rid of odors, there’s no sense having them circulate in your ventilation system. Also, check air vents and wall outlets for odor source, like a dead mouse in the wall.
Once you address the source of the odor you want to make sure the space smells clean. A clean smell and a deodorized smell are different though. Pulling out scented candles, plug-ins or preparing baked cookies may smell nice to some, but others may think you’re masking a smell or could find the scent appalling. Even worse the scent could distract the buyers ability to make a decision, according to a recent study in the Journal of Retailing, which found shoppers spent 31.8 percent more when a store was scented with a simple orange scent over a complex blend of scents.
The study recommends using simple scents, such as orange, lemon, basil, vanilla, green tea, pine and cedar. These scents are easier to sort out, less distracting and thus more conducive to spending. When deciding what scent works best for a home take a cue from location, pine and cedar would work at a house in the woods, but not at the beach.
What’s causing a stink in your home? Let us know in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you. Remember, it’s important to find the source of the smell, take care of it, then infuse new scents into the home.