So I was doing my usual feedback calls with agents that have shown some of our listed properties, and got a bit of a shock. Usually, the calls are mostly positive, and the other agents are honest and fair, while providing useful solutions to problems their buyers may have noticed. But yesterday, I was told in no uncertain terms that this absolutely beautiful house STANK. I believe the exact words used were "it smells like a diseased nursing home. It's never going to sell." I was pretty taken aback by this, as I've spoken to other agents who have shown the home, and the most negative thing I heard was that the prospective buyer didn't like the choice of tile, and that the additional bedroom was a bit small. But I decided to turn this into a learning experience, and research ways to get bad smells out of homes. Here are some of the best tips I could find, so that you don't have to hear that your listing stinks!
1. General "funkiness." While I wasn't able to find anything regarding "diseased nursing home smell," I did locate this interesting recipe for a homemade air freshener that claims to remove general bad odors from a home on the cheap. According to Linda Cobb of the American Grandparents Association, you need only mix 3 parts water, 1 part vodka, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil to remove nearly every bad aroma from a home. The vodka is supposed to absorb the odor and then evaporate, leaving a clean, fresh scent. Disclaimer: I haven't actually tried this one myself, so I'd test this one out before using it in a listed property. Don't blame me if the house smells like a liquor store! Although, that might be more pleasing than "eau de nursing home."
2. Pet odors. Most pet owners tend to get used to their pet smells, but it can be overwhelming when entering a home. Personally, I've found that adding a layer of baby powder or baking soda to the bottom of the kitty litter box does wonders for absorbing smells. There are also plenty of products available at your local pet store, from activated charcoal stick-ons that you can place in high traffic pet areas; to sprays and powders that can be applied directly to carpets and soft furnishings and then vacuumed away.
3. Appliance smells. Not everyone is aware that the appliances used to clean our household items can develop their own particular funk, so advise homeowners to be proactive about cleaning their washing machine and dishwasher regularly. There are products available at most local stores to assist with this, but it's relatively easy to handle the problem cheaply and effectively on your own. Simply put about a cup of vinegar into the dishwasher and allow it to run a normal cycle. There will be a faint odor of vinegar while it runs, but that will quickly disappear, along with any mildewy smells. The same can also be done with the microwave! Also, run the washing machine with just a few cups of bleach on the quick rinse mode to eliminate any stale odors.
3. Garbage disposals. If a home has a strong rotting vegetable smell, the garbage disposal is a likely culprit. Chop up some fresh lemons and limes and throw them down the drain with the water and disposal running. The citrus aroma will absorb and overpower any lingering vegetable stink. You can also try Borax or baking soda if the smell is really strong! Just pour into the drain and let it sit for a few minutes, and then run hot water and turn on the disposal for another minute or so.
4. Cigarette smells. For occasional indoor smokers, simply opening the windows and spraying a normal air freshener will usually get that tobacco smell out. Unfortunately, if a home has been smoked in for a long period of time, there is no quick fix. The homeowner will need to have the walls, windows, ceiling fans, and air ducts thoroughly scrubbed, and in extreme cases may need to repaint the home to completely remove the smell.
Of course, the best advice is always to keep the house clean and tidy on a regular basis, and use candles or spray air freshener often to keep it smelling nice between scrubbings. Do you guys have any tips or tricks for removing bad smells?