Whether you realize it or not, your home has a distinct smell. If that odor is an unpleasant one, it could be turning off buyers.

Here are the six most common household odors and how to eradicate them from your Scottsdale home before you put it on the market:

Pet odors

We all love our pets, but sometimes, the odor associated with them can be a bit overwhelming, especially if your pet has a tendency to have “accidents” in the house.

Your first step to eliminating pet odor is to vacuum regularly to remove the dander, dirt, and oils that cause general pet odors. Then, bathe your pets to keep them clean. Finally, invest in deodorizers such as plugins and scented candles to keep your home smelling good.

If your pet has done its business on the rug, it will take a little more effort to permanently remove the odor. Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean, recommends sprinkling Odorzout, a 100 percent natural, dry product on the affected area and vacuuming.

This should work, but if it doesn’t, you may need to call a professional cleaner who can use a black light to find the stains and apply an enzyme cleaner that will eat away at the urine.


Cigarette, cigar, or burnt food—it doesn’t matter. Smoke stinks. Avoid the problem in the first place by paying attention when you cook and by not allowing smoking inside your house or anywhere near it. Even if someone smokes outside, the smoke can drift through open doors and windows and become embedded in your carpet, walls, air ducts, and everything else.

How you get rid of that smoky smell depends on how strong it is. You might be able to eradicate a mild odor by pouring vinegar on a towel and swinging it through the house like you are cheering on your favorite team. Or, you may be able to clean the area from top to bottom using a mix of one part vinegar to five parts water or a cleaning agent called TSP (trisodium phosphate).

If you are planning to paint before putting your house on the market, prime your walls first with a sealer such as KILZ. Not only will it lock the smell in, but it will allow the paint to adhere to the wall better and prevent smoke stains from showing through the fresh paint.

Before you put your house on the market, invite a friend over and ask whether they can smell the smoke. If they still can, you may need to have your carpets and air ducts professionally cleaned.

Pungent foods

Depending on what you cook—fish, onions, or curry, for example—the smell can linger for days. While your home is on the market, you may want to avoid these foods altogether. If you do prepare them, turn on vents as you cook and, afterwards, set a bowl of vinegar out overnight to absorb the kitchen’s smells.

Food odors can build up over time, too. If you fry a lot of food or regularly eat pungent dishes, for example, the smells can become engrained in your cabinets. Wipe them down with warm water and soap.

Also, clean out and disinfect your kitchen trash can at least once a month to avoid foul odors developing there.


Sometimes, a house just smells “old” or musty. The solution could be as simple as opening the windows and letting some fresh air in, but sometimes, that smell is due to mold and mildew. You can try to treat the issue yourself by thoroughly cleaning the affected area with a mixture of one part boric acid, two parts white vinegar, two parts hydrogen peroxide, and four parts water, according to Mrs. Clean.

You can also sprinkle zeolite, a natural element, or baking soda over the area and vacuum it. A dehumidifier may help in the short term by drying the affected area. However, to completely resolve the problem, you may need to call in a professional to find the leak and repair it permanently.

Foul pipes

If there’s a sour smell coming from one of your bathroom drains, the pipe could be obstructed with a build-up of hair, toothpaste, gel, dirt, and other gunk. Clean it out by removing the P-trap (the bend in the pipe under the sink) and flushing out the build-up or by pouring an enzyme-based cleaner such as Bio-Clean down the drain every day until the enzymes can eat away the build-up.

You can also pour a blend of ½ cup of household bleach and ½ cup water down the drain, wait an hour, and then flush it with cold water.

In the kitchen, deodorize your garbage disposal by simply freezing vinegar and small pieces of lemon together in an ice tray and popping one in the disposal as needed.

General funkiness

Have an odor your just not sure about? Try this. Mix three parts water with one part cheap vodka and 10-20 drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus, citrus, or lavender. Whenever you have a funky odor, spraying a little in the air should eliminate the odor, according to the Queen of Clean.

Smells are only one element to consider as you prepare you sell your home. For more information about what else you need to do to get your home ready for the market, feel free to give us a call anytime.

Don Matheson
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255