Tricks to Banish Bad Smells From Your Home—Forever
Even if your house looks immaculate, there are few things that will exterminate (with extreme prejudice) any kind of positive first impression than an off-putting smell. Whether it’s eau de cat, last night’s attempt at Nepalese cuisine, or just an overall mustiness, bad odors are bad news—especially if you’re trying to sell your home. After all, as Debra Johnson, a home cleaning specialist with Merry Maids, points out, “If you enter a home and immediately encounter a smell, that is generally all people focus on, and all they will remember.”
Banishing bad odors, however, isn’t as easy as dusting toe kicks. Certain scents are hard to remove—the more so when you’re so used to them, you become “nose blind” and don’t even notice. So for starters, you may have to ask people you trust (or your Realtor®, if you’re selling) to tell you honestly whether they’re picking up a whiff of anything weird. And if the answer is yes, we’ve got some tips and techniques for you.
Learn how to banish these common smells from your home.
What Is That Smell?
How to Get Lingering Odors Out of Your New Home
Top Three Smells That Turn Off Buyers
The odor of cat urine, in particular, is so obnoxious and persistent that people have actually sued former homeowners for not disclosing it. The odor might be successfully masked during showings, but reemerge once the new owners move in.
Luckily, there are sprays with enzymes that break down odor molecules to remove the stench. The trick is to soak the spot with the enzyme spray, letting it seep down into carpet pads and floors.
If that doesn’t work, you may have to pitch the rug or replace a section of flooring, but not necessarily the whole thing. Cats and dogs are creatures of habit when it comes to doing their business, so replacing just that area may do the trick.
Open windows and set the range hood fan on high while you’re cooking fish or other pungent items, then clean pans and utensils immediately. If odors still linger after dinner, set a shallow bowl filled with white vinegar or coffee grounds on the counter to absorb smells overnight. Another tip: Close bedroom and closet doors before cooking fish so clothes and linens don’t absorb the smell.
A cut onion can neutralize paint smells that can otherwise make your house reek for days. Before painting, peel a large onion and slice it in half. Place each half on a dish and position them in opposite ends of the room. After the onions absorb the paint fumes, wrap and toss. And don’t worry; the smell of the onion won’t linger for more than an hour, tops.
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