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Tips for Eliminating Offensive Household Odors

There’s an old saying in the real estate biz that goes like this….. ”If it smells, it won’t sell”. Have you ever walked into a home and instantly picked up on odors? Did you realize that there was a cat or dog residing there before you actually saw it? Gained a sense of what they had for dinner last night?

Potential home buyers are equally as intuitive and can quickly be turned off by offensive odors. Here are a few tips for those that already have a home on the market or are considering selling your home in the future.

1. Deep Clean. Odors are created through a life well lived in a home. Cooking, pets and kids are just a few of the causes for odors and they can hide in plain sight. Dust, fabrics, curtains and carpets can all hold on to odors that have the potential to be offensive to potential buyers. A deep cleaning can help eliminate odors and make the home shine! Deep cleaning has the added benefit of providing buyers with a sense that the home is “move in ready” clean. Nobody wants to spend good money on old dirt. Be careful not to use strong smelling cleansers that can leave their scent behind. There is an increasing amount of people that are allergic to chemical scents. Use natural products, plain soap and water or my favorite combination of simple white vinegar and water. Your home will smell like pickles for a bit but the vinegar scent dissipates as it dries.

2. Fresh Towels and Bedding. Soiled bathroom towels can be neatly folded but still trap odors from this morning’s yard work, work out or sport practice. Always have crisp, fresh towels on hand to put out for a showing. Not only are they a staging tool but they eliminate odor when replacing your everyday towels. The same goes for bedding. The bed is the largest item in a bedroom and can trap the most odors. Always keep bedding clean and fresh. Pillows are a big culprit because they are typically kept for a long time. Now might be the time to invest in new ones?

3. Don’t allow smoking. If you or someone you live with is a smoker, the home must become off limits. Don’t even smoke in the garage or near entrances. Non-smokers are much more sensitive to the odor and won’t tolerate it. If smoking has been taking place inside the home, it may be necessary to eliminate existing furniture, carpets and curtains as well as applying fresh paint to walls.

4. Open windows. Out with the old and in with the new! Letting in fresh air is FREE and can help to eliminate odors. If weather permits, keep windows open during a showing. If the weather conditions won’t allow keeping windows open, air out your home a couple of times a week and between or just before showings.

5. Don’t use air fresheners. Resist the urge to cover up odors with other odors. Again, many people are allergic to the chemicals in air fresheners or simply don’t like them. Or they may simply not like the scent you have chosen. All of which can drive a potential buyer out of a room. In addition, the sight and smell of an air freshener screams that you are trying to hide something. A good alternative is to bake cookies just prior to a showing. Don’t bake? Buy a loaf of bread or fresh pie at the local bakery and simply warm it on a low heat in your oven then leave it on top of the stove. Not only can you enjoy it later but the smell of yummy baked goods creates an emotional connection with buyers.

6. Invite a friend or family member. Make sure it’s someone that will be totally honest with you. Seek an unbiased nose. Allow them to walk through your home before and after you have followed my tips to confirm that they can only smell good, clean living!

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About the Author

Karen Scovie, Staging Consultants
345 S. 23
Battle Creek, MI 49015

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