Tips for dealing with common smells in the home


Bad smells in a home do not help when selling a home. We stage home so agents can sell them but one obstacle that we come across often is ‘smells’.


We just completed a home staging consultation for a client who is selling her home.

This seller has worked very hard to remove the clutter and make the needed (and necessary) updates to her house like flooring and her property is looking great!  The house has a lot of potential and the seller is really doing her best but one thing we could not get past – was what we decided to blog about today…


The seller has 2 cats and 3 children and like any other busy house hold there’s a lot happening.  When it comes to selling your home – you can update as much as you like and follow the home staging steps but if that house comes with smells? Buyers will be turned off immediately.  It’s so important to figure out what is making your home smell and how to deal with that (or those) smells.




Hopefully you have identified what the smell is (and don’t be embarrassed – all homes have smells).  There are different strategies to deal with each type of smell.


  • Stale air:

  • this can happen in a house that has been ‘closed up’ for the winter season or a vacant home.  It happens to most homes and it’s easy to deal with.  Open up the windows and let in that beautiful fresh air.  It is an instant refresh to the entire home and it doesn’t take long.  We suggest opening up all the windows and pulling the blinds up and the drapes back and let the air (and the light) in!


  • Regular garbage removal:

  • don’t let the garbage pile up! Be sure to take out the trash daily – kitchen garbage, bathroom garbage and baby nursery garbage (that Diaper genie can fill up fast) all add to the smells in a busy family home, daily removal will keep the smells down.  As an added step, spray the empty garbage cans with a disinfectant (that can help too).  If you waste bins has any food residue (or other residue) give them a good clean with soap and hot water (not daily but every so often – this helps keeps the odours at bay).


  • Cat litter clean up:

  • This is a smell that really turns off buyers, so clean that litter daily! The ‘cat’ smell is a strong one and can really take over a house.  If the cat litter is located in a very visible space and a room that buyers will frequent like the kitchen, bathroom or laundry …try relocating it to a more discreet location like the basement (if possible).  For dog smells, a good carpet cleaning really helps.  Pick up after your dog from the front and backyards.  Before you hit the market – getting your pets groomed can make a huge different in their odour but also excess pet hair that can get on everything!



  • Mold and Mildew:

  • this happens is wet areas like bathrooms and in the early stages – it is pretty easy to deal with.  A good scrubbing with a bleach cleaner will do wonders.  A professional cleaning can do a great job if you are pressed for time.  A mildew smell and musty smell in a bathroom just isn’t a great impression on buyers.  If the problem is really out of hand and can’t be handled with a good cleaning with the right products – consult a contractor as there could be bigger problems like a leak behind a wall – you will want to deal with that before you get on the market.



  • Add some natural scents to the home:

  • ones that are pleasing and not over whelming.  We recommend natural scents like baking (cinnamon in a pot of boiling water with a dash of vanilla is so easy and smells great), odour-eater sponges (have them out discreetly) can capture unpleasant smells. A lot of plug-ins and potpourris can be overkill and the smells can be a bit chemically.  But this is an easy and natural alternative – Lemon, Vanilla and Rosemary Stove-top Potpourri


We all have smells in our homes but when it comes to selling we need to be extra careful not to have our house smelling ‘funny’ or ‘off’ – it is a huge turn off for buyers.  Your home may look great but if it smells – that won’t matter. 


If you are selling – get the opinion from friends, family and your agent and tackle those smells before hitting the market! Honesty can be tough but selling a smelly house is tougher!


We hope these tips are helpful and you get that home SOLD fast!

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