Trying to keep your house smelling fresh while it’s on the market? Scent makes a huge first impression on visitors (especially potential buyers) — sometimes even more powerfully than design style or cleanliness. The right smell — which is sometimes a lack of smells — gives the impression of cleanliness and comfort, making home buyers want to linger and explore the possibility of buying your house! Strong odors have the exact opposite effect and can have buyers walking right out the door, sight unseen.
Here are our tips to keep your house smelling fresh and a few warnings on funky places you may never have thought to check.
- Open the windows. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours, this is a great way to get rid of stale odors and cooking smells.
- Take out the trash. Does this one really need an explanation? Garbage stinks. Empty it often, especially if your home is on the market.
- Don’t smoke. My dearly departed grandmother smoked like a chimney and firmly believed that a good heavy spray with a can of potpourri-scented Glade air freshener hid all evidence of her smoking in the house. My friends, I hate to break it to you…but this does not work. Cigarette smoke (all kinds) is an odor that clings and lingers in textiles, carpet, and even paint, despite thorough cleaning. Going outside to smoke is definitely a better option, but unless you’re smoking out there naked, understand that the odor will still cling to your clothes, which will be coming back into the house and into a laundry hamper where they’ll likely sit for a day or two. This odor is often difficult for smokers to detect, but trust me — non-smokers will still smell it, and this is a big turn-off to many potential home buyers.
- Run an air purifier. Not only do they reduce smells, they help reduce pollen and dust in the air. We like this one from Amazon:
LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Allergies Pets Hair Smokers in Bedroom, H13 True HEPA Air Purifiers Filter, 24db Quiet Air Cleaner, Remove 99.97% Smoke Dust Mold Pollen for Large Room, Core 300, White
- Remove mothballs. When I visit a client who’s using mothballs in a closet or garage, I can tell almost instantly by the distinct, pungent camphor fragrance. The next thing that immediately pops into my mind is “What kind of pest are they trying to thwart — Snakes? Mice?” Your buyers will head down this same train of thought! Find a different method of pest prevention while your home is on the market, and lose the mothballs.
- Seal up spices. If your family likes to use particularly pungent spices for cooking, keep them sealed in plastic baggies or storage bins to contain the fragrance.
AOZITA 24 Pcs Glass Spice Jars/Bottles
- Use an essential oil diffuser or wax melt warmer. Both offer gentle, continuous pleasing fragrance that’s a little safer than the open flame of a candle. But if you’re putting your house on the market — seller beware! Some fragrances can work against you!
COCODOR Preserved Real Flower Reed Diffuser
- Fire up the crockpot. If you prefer a more natural way to add subtle fragrance to your home, check out some of Three Bears Home Staging’s recipes for stove-top simmering potpourris using ingredients you may already have on hand! We have suggestions for both summertime fragrances, autumn-inspired recipes, and holiday scents. For more convenient heating, we recommend using a mini-slow cooker like this one from CrockPot:
Crock-Pot 16-Ounce Little Dipper, Chrome
- Sprinkle baking soda on carpet. Baking soda is inexpensive, natural, and a proven odor absorber. To use it, clear rugs of as much furniture as possible and sprinkle baking soda liberally. For best results, leave it for at least a couple of hours or even overnight (sprinkle right before bedtime) to allow it to fully absorb odors. Then vacuum it up and toss it out to keep your home smelling fresh.
- Be vigilant with pets. Obviously we can’t just get rid of our fur babies, so how do we deal? Keep pets clean, brushed, and bathed as often as possible. Launder their bedding frequently. Clean up any accidents immediately to avoid odors setting in. Regularly vacuum carpet and furniture. Empty litter boxes as often as possible (I mean really, you can’t overdo the litter box cleaning).
- Deal with shoe piles. Like many people, my family removes our shoes before entering the house, not only to reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked in but to reduce the amount of bacteria that comes into the house (yeah, those same shoes I used to walk around in a public restroom? They do not need to be schlepping through my house). Consequently, the area where shoes pile up can get a little funky. Periodically, spray shoes with an odor eliminator to get rid of the smell. Another trick? Use a little dry shampoo to absorb stinkiness and keep your house smelling fresh.
- Clean the disposal. Garbage disposals and sink drains are notorious culprits for hidden odors. To safely clean your blades without the use of harmful chemicals, pour a couple tablespoons of salt down the disposal, add five or six ice cubes and a few thin slices of lemon (or lemon juice if you’re worried about the rind clogging things up). Run the cold water, then turn on the disposal and let it grind. Continue running water for a minute or so afterward to flush out any remaining lemon particles. Once everything is safely turned off, give those hard-to-clean rubber flaps around the opening a good scrub as well (these can get super funky).
What are some of your favorite tricks to keep the house smelling fresh? Share them with us!
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