Having pet odors inside your home can turn off potential home buyers and keep your home from selling. Ask your real estate agent for an honest opinion about whether your home has a pet smell.
If your agent holds her nose, here’s how to get rid of the smell:
Air your house out. While you’re cleaning, throw open all the windows in your home to allow fresh air to circulate and sweep out unpleasant scents.
Once your house is free of pet odors, do what you can to keep the smells from returning. Crate your dog when you’re out or keep it outdoors. Limit the cat to one floor or room, if possible. Remove or replace pet bedding.
Scrub thoroughly. Scrub bare floors and walls soiled by pets with vinegar, wood floor cleaner, or an odor-neutralizing product, which you can purchase at a pet supply store for $10 to $25.
Try a 1:9 bleach-to-water solution on surfaces it won’t damage, like cement floors or walls.
Got a stubborn pet odors covering a large area? You may have to spend several hundred dollars to hire a service that specializes in hard-to-clean stains.
Wash your drapes and upholstery. Pet odors seep into fabrics. Launder, steam clean, or dry clean all your fabric window coverings. Steam clean upholstered furniture.
Either buy a steam cleaner designed to remove pet hair for around $200 and do the job yourself, or pay a pro. You’ll spend about $40 for an upholstered chair, $100 for a sofa, and $7 for each dining room chair if a pro does your cleaning.
Clean your carpets. Shampoo your carpets and rugs, or have professionals do the job for $25 to $50 per room, depending on their size and the level of filth embedded in them. The cleaner will try to sell you deodorizing treatments. You’ll know if you need to spend the extra money on those after the carpet dries and you have a friend perform a sniff test.
If deodorizing doesn’t remove the pet odor from your home, the carpets and padding will have to go. Once you tear them out, scrub the subfloor with vinegar or an odor-removing product, and install new padding and carpeting. Unless the smell is in the subfloor, in which case that goes next.
Paint, replace, or seal walls. When heavy-duty cleaners haven’t eradicated smells in drywall, plaster, or woodwork, add a fresh coat of paint or stain, or replace the drywall or wood altogether.
On brick and cement, apply a sealant appropriate for the surface for $25 to $100. That may smother and seal in the odor, keeping it from reemerging.
Place potpourri or scented candles in strategic locations. Put a bow on your deep clean with potpourri and scented candles. Don’t go overboard and turn off buyers sensitive to perfumes. Simply place a bowl of mild potpourri in your foyer to create a warm first impression, and add other mild scents to the kitchen and bathrooms.
Control ongoing urine smells. If your dog uses indoor pee pads, put down a new pad each time the dog goes. Throw them away outside in a trash can with a tight lid. Remove even clean pads from view before each showing.
Replace kitty litter daily, rather than scooping used litter clumps, and sweep up around the litter box. Hide the litter box before each showing.
Relocate pets. If your dog or cat has a best friend it can stay with while you’re selling your home (and you can stand to be separated from your pet), consider sending your pet on a temporary vacation. If pets have to stay, remove them from the house for showings and put away their dishes, towels, and toys.
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G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer whose former mutt Marley no doubt created a wet-dog aroma in her condo that still remains. A regular contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.