How to De-Stinkify Your Home

If you have a home for sale that just doesn’t seem to be selling, one problem could be that it stinks! Literally, as in it smells just awful!

Now we know that most people don’t want to admit that their home smells bad so before you say, “that’s definitely not my home!” consider these questions:

  • Do you have pets that live in your home or do you have friends or family who often visit with their pets?
  • Do you smoke? Do you allow others to smoke inside/outside your home?
  • Do you have a damp basement or crawlspace? Have you ever had a water leak or moisture problem?
  • Do you struggle to keep up with the following chores: taking the trash out, washing dishes, washing and putting away laundry, dusting, sweeping?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you need to at least consider that your home may not smell as pleasant as you think it does! But you can cut yourself a little slack over not realizing this problem sooner. You’ve probably become immune to the odor and others are usually too polite to mention it. If you think that your home could have an odor problem, we suggest asking your most honest friend or your Realtor to give it to you straight.


So now that you’ve figured out you have an odor problem, what should you do next? It’s not enough to just spray Febreeze on the couch and light a candle. Here are tasks that you should consider doing. Complete the ones that are applicable to your situation.

If you smoke or allow others to smoke inside of your home, scrub down walls, deep clean floors, rugs, and couches, and remove ashtrays from around your home. Keep up on laundry, which can harbor cigarette smells for days. And for goodness’ sake, stop smoking inside of your home as soon as you know you want to sell it! Instead, keep one ashtray outside of your home, away from the front door, where you or others can smoke. Before a showing, make sure to remove that ashtray and pick up any cigarette butts around the porch or yard that didn’t make it in it.


If you have pets or have had visitors recently who brought their pets along, deep clean floors, rugs, and couches. Remove pet dander and fur from furniture with a lint roller. Change your cat’s litter box frequently. Examine your pet’s belongings as some of these can harbor smells, items such as toys, cages, cat condos, and pet beds. In some cases, it might be easiest to remove these items from your home for a while rather than cleaning them. For more helpful tips on selling a home with pets, click here.


If you have a moisture problem, such as a damp basement, crawlspace, or bathroom, it can lead to a musty and displeasing odor. The best way to prevent this odor is by taking care of the moisture problem itself. Examine how to ventilate moisture-prone rooms better, consider a dehumidifying system, run your A/C in the summertime, and ensure the ground outside slopes away from your foundation. For more information on fixing a moisture problem in your home, read our post on finding, removing, and preventing mold in your home.


If you struggle to keep up with chores, first of all, know that you aren’t alone! Household chores are never ending and can pile up fast when you’re working or raising kids. We get it! While you’re selling your home though, it’s important to keep up on household chores so potential buyers can see your home at its best and to keep it smelling fresh and clean. Mounds of dirty laundry, piles of dirty dishes, overflowing garbage cans...these things can and will lead to odor problems. If cleaning just isn’t your thing, consider hiring outside help while your home is on the market. Some people find that all they need is one professional deep cleaning and then it’s much easier to keep up with the household chores after that.


Here are some other helpful tips for de-stinkifying your home:

  • Don’t make a big stinky meal before a showing (we’re looking at you, tuna fish!)
  • Routinely take out your garbage. Empty every trash can in your home before a showing.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of trash cans.
  • Purchase plug-in air fresheners for each room in your home.
  • Spot treat pet stains immediately after they occur.
  • In warm weather, open windows and doors to air out your home.
  • Dust your home frequently.
  • Run lemon, lime, or orange peels through your garbage disposal to eliminate odors from the sink.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and freezer. Throw away expired foods and old leftovers. Place an opened box of baking soda in each.
  • Use deodorizing carpet powder when vacuuming your floor.
  • Place potted plants around your home. They are natural air purifiers.
  • Stick with one type of air freshener and scent. Too many different smells, even pleasant ones, are overwhelming. Choose air fresheners that are light, opposed to strong, so not to bother someone with a sensitive nose.

Now that you’re home is smelling fresh, sit back, relax, and take a look at our other tips and suggestions for selling a home.