Oof. Houses that smell or look like pets have lived in them are just harder to sell.
To avoid that happening to you, de-pet your house before putting it on the market — and keep it that way while you sell. Here's how.
#1 Steam Clean Everything Fabric
Job No. 1 is to take care of the soft surfaces in your house, says Melissa Maker, star of Clean My Space YouTube channel and owner of a Toronto cleaning service. “They hold odors and hair like nothing else."
This includes carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and even the drapes, she says. Pets rub against drapes, getting oils, odors, and fur on the fabric. Send curtains out for a professional cleaning.
#2 Groom Your Pet
Hire a pro to groom your pet before you list your house. You can do it yourself, but a pro can get more hair and dander off than you can — plus, all that gunk is better off in the groomer's drain than yours.
Brush your furry friend regularly (outside, preferably) while your house is on the market. Any hair you get off on a brush is hair that won't end up on your sofa or in your rugs.
#3 Clean Tile-Floor Grout
Tile resists dog stains, but grout is porous and sucks them up like a sponge. "I had a cat who had an accident on a tile floor, and the pee seeped into the grout," Maker says. Steam clean grout to lift old smells and stains. If your grout is really cruddy, hire a pro to chip out the old grout and put in new — or DIY it if you have the skills.
#4 Get an Air Purifier Tower
To you, it smells like home. But others may not find that smell so inviting after your HVAC has circulated the same hair and dander again and again (especially in hot and cold weather when the windows are closed).
Add an air purifier tower with a HEPA filter. It pulls hair and dander out of the air before they even reach your HVAC.
Most air ducts don't need cleaning, especially if you change filters regularly. But if dander and fur seem to be taking over, hire a duct-cleaning company before putting your home on the market.
#5 Use Enzymatic Cleaners
They're the special forces of odor busters. Enzymatic cleaners are made of beneficial bacteria that eat stains and odors. That means they're formulated to stamp out a specific type of stain, so a cleanser that targets urine won't be the same as one for vomit.
"They're cultivated for a specific mess," Maker says. Apply them liberally to stains regardless of how old they are, before listing your house.
#6 Get Rid of Scratch Marks
Pet toenails leave telltale marks on doors and walls. The material used will dictate how you treat the scratches. Paint over marks on walls and doors made of synthetic materials. But repair scratches on a wooden door with a wood-filler pen. For hardwood floors, rub out small scratches with steel wool or fine sandpaper followed by mineral spirits, wood filler, and polyurethane. If damage is major, refinishing the hardwood is a good investment; it has a stellar 100% ROI.
#7 Absorb Odors With Charcoal
Charcoal pulls moisture and odors out of the air. You can get inconspicuous little bags of it to hang in places your pets love most. Or, just strategically stash some charcoal briquettes around the house.
Just be sure to get the ones that aren't presoaked with lighter fluid.
#8 Spot Clean Furniture Daily
If you're like many pet owners, trying to keep your fur buddy off the couch completely isn't worth the effort. Instead, cover your freshly cleaned furniture with throws or pet covers, and wash them at least once a week. Vacuum rugs and carpets every day. If that seems like too much, remember that pet smells sink in fast.
For quick hair removal before a showing, wipe down the couch with rubber gloves. The hair comes right off.
#9 Get a Sniff Test
You've scrubbed everything, and you think your house smells like a pet has never set foot in the door and a litter box has never been part of the decor. Get a second opinion about whether the odors are really gone, Maker says. “You may be noseblind. Ask your agent to walk through and give you an honest opinion."
Related: How to Keep Your Whole Home Spotless While It's on the Market