Dealing with Smells and Stains
Getting rid of nasty smells and stains may sound obvious, but you might be surprised. Some stains have been there for so long that you don't even see them. If it is possible to remove them, do so. If not, you may want to cover them with a throw rug or a plant. Smells are not as detectable as you think. Most people are immune to the scent of their own home and are not always aware that it might offend other people.
A scent many people cannot tolerate is the smell of mothballs. If you use mothballs, it may be time to switch to cedar shavings. Cedar is a natural moth repellent and has a much more natural, refreshing scent than mothballs.
One big offender is cigarette smoke. Smoke penetrates the drapes, carpet, and furniture. Over the years, it can even penetrate the woodwork and leave a film of odor on walls. Remove and clean all the ashtrays and evidence of smoking. If you still want to smoke, try to do it outside. If you cannot smoke outside due to the weather, smoke at an open window or door. This will not be ideal since smoke will travel back into the house, but it will be an improvement. Have the drapes and carpet professionally cleaned. Use a product like Febreze on your upholstery. Wash down the walls and woodwork with Pine-Sol or Lysol. Even if you smoke only in one area of the house, the smell of smoke will permeate every room. Wash windows and open them. Try to keep the house as aired out as possible. Do not use cover-up scents; they usually make the smoke smell stronger.
If you do all of these things and still have a problem, check an industrial cleaning supply house for odor-neutralizing “bombs.” They have formulations designed specifically for smoke odors that work in the same manner as pest control bombs. You close up the house, set them off, and leave the premises for a couple of hours while the gas penetrates and does its work.
Old cooking odors can also be a distraction. Wash down the walls of the kitchen to be sure they are free of grease. Keep the fan running while you cook and be sure to keep the garbage can emptied. Last night's fish really does smell like last night's fish!
I cleaned and painted, and now my house smells like cleaners and paint! What should I do?These smells do dissipate fairly quickly, but keep doors and windows open for a faster recovery. Be sure that cleaning supplies and paint cans are covered securely and stored away. Remember, the smell of paint and cleaning products is better than the smell of dirt and neglect.
The smell of mold is a certain turnoff to buyers, but it can also mean that there may be a problem. Don't leave damp towels in the bathroom. Rather than reusing them, you may have to wash towels more often, because the smell of damp towels can mimic that of mold. Be sure to wash down all wet areas with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water to keep mold from forming.
As mentioned earlier, most people are immune to the scent of their own home and are not aware that it may have an odor that could offend other people. It's very important to be aware of this when selling the home of an elderly person. When an older person has lived in their home for a long time, often with declining health and vitality, the home can fall into disrepair. Along with this unintentional neglect, a home can develop stagnant odors that elicit thoughts of aging and even death in the buyer's mind. If this is your dad's house, you may be used to the scent and therefore unaware of it. You'd be wise to ask a friend to come over and do a “smell check.” To treat this odor problem, use the methods previously outlined for cigarette smoke.
Older people may not have the energy to do general cleaning as often as they once did. Being sure that sheets are changed regularly, towels are washed frequently, and laundry is done daily will keep the house smelling fresh. If it is your home and you don't have the energy to do this anymore, have your kids help you or hire a service while your house is on the market.