You know how sometimes you walk into a new place, and it has this unique smell? It’s a smell that becomes ingrained in your memory and is automatically associated with that place. Sometimes it’s a wonderful aroma, floral or spicy and delicious. Other times it’s just a familiar, comforting scent that you can’t place, but it puts you at ease immediately.

And then there are the not-so-good smells.

If you’ve ever walked into a house that has that lingering pet smell or the stale scent of cigarette smoke, you know exactly what we’re talking about. The bad thing about some scents is that we get used to them. Your home may not have a distinct smell to you anymore since you’ve lived there for a while, but other people can detect it right away. If you love your pets dearly and are used to their scents, you might not realize guests are greeted with a wave of dog odor or cat urine when they step inside your house. If you’re selling your home, it’s important to get an unbiased party’s opinion. Ask your real estate agent to give you an honest answer about any off-putting odors your home might have. And then get to work on neutralizing them pronto.


Cigarette smoke. Smokers might not realize that the smoke they blow out doesn’t just dissipate into nothingness. That smoke circulates and spreads throughout the house, depositing residue and odors on furniture, lightbulbs, moldings, and carpeting. Get rid of the lingering smell of cigarettes by first removing porous surfaces from the house, including carpets, curtains, furniture, and any other item that absorbs odor. Then repaint the rooms. Paint is a great odor neutralizer.

Mold. First things first: find the source of the mold or mildew, repair it, and prevent it from happening again. To rid an area of that moldy, mildewy smell that can sometimes permeate an entire house, try activated charcoal. It’s become a pretty popular product lately, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find. Check your local health food store or pet shop. Place a few containers in inconspicuous places, and it should absorb the moisture that’s causing the mold and mildew smells.

Pets. If the pet smell is restricted to a certain area of the home, it should be a little easier to get rid of. Mix one part distilled white vinegar and six parts water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture generously over pet stains and rub it in with a carpet brush or a toothbrush, then blot with a white towel. Remove the vinegar residue by applying an oxygen or enzyme-based cleaner. If an entire carpet or rug is affected by pet smells, sprinkle them with baking soda and allow to sit for twelve or more hours, then vacuum. If that doesn’t kill the odor, you might just have to replace the carpet (which is honestly a good idea any time pets are involved). When an odor is really stubborn, check to see if the carpet pad and subflooring are stained as well.

Stuffy air. Sometimes a house just smells stuffy, like when the doors and windows have been shut for a long period of time. Make sure to let in some fresh air, but also try adding a few house plants. They’re natural air cleaners! Think about also adding a few drops of essentials oils (orange, lavender, and grapefruit are great, clean-smelling choices) to a spray bottle full of water and spritz the air and fabrics for a clean, fresh scent.

Kitchen odors. No matter how clean you keep your kitchen, sometimes there’s a lingering odor that you just can’t figure out. If there’s a rotten garbage or mildew smell, try these remedies. Boil sliced citrus fruits and herbs in some water. Separate the citrus from the water, and then pour the water into the dishwasher and run it through a cycle. Dump the citrus down the garbage disposal to neutralize any odors that might be emanating from it. Once the disposal is cleared of the citrus, sprinkle in some baking soda. Don’t forget to clean the insides of the oven and microwave as well. Burned-on food stains could be adding to that stale kitchen smell.

These are just some of the common culprits of icky odors that can be found in a listing. Use these tips to kill those odors before they kill your listing!


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