Does your home smell….bad?

February 15, 2017


Clients are always asking me what they can do to make their home more saleable. One of the easiest ways of improving the desirability is to make sure your home isn’t undesirable to a prospective Buyer.

So what is the first thing which greets us when we enter a home?  Even before we see anything our nose is picking up wafts of the last meal we cooked or the all-time favorite, pet smells.  At our house we cook Salmon at least once a week and yes the smell tends to linger. And yes Holly our dog doesn’t always smell the best.  But the way to make the smell go away shouldn’t be confused with overpowering one smell with more scents. Marketers of so-called air-fresheners, plug-in, scented candles are telling us our homes are foul smelling when they really aren’t that bad.  Simply opening windows to let fresh air in is the simplest, most effective and least offensive way of dealing with odors which we might be concerned about.

Please, please, please (I can’t stress this enough) don’t install one of those little scent making devices called “Air-Fresheners”.  All these do is give your house another strong odour on top of the other odours you are trying to “cover-up’.  It just doesn’t work, it releases un-needed chemicals into the air and may significantly offend a prospective Buyer.  I have had many Buyer clients turned off by these little odour makers.  Lets face it, some people are “Scent”-sitive.

Here are some alternatives to the “Air-Fresheners”

What if you like a little fragrance now and then or cleaning won’t get rid of a persistent smell in your home? You still have options if you want to avoid any potential risk from commercial room fresheners — and many of them are easy on the wallet.

To get rid of odours:

– There’s something to be said for a good “airing out”. Open the windows when weather and outdoor air quality permit. Good ventilation is important to disperse and dilute odours.

– If you don’t have an air exchange ventilation in your home, place a fan in the window pointing outwards to blow air out of the room. Open a second window to promote a breeze

– Make sure areas of your home where moisture builds up, like the bathroom or basement, are well-ventilated to discourage mould.

– A box of baking soda works well in small, enclosed spaces (not just your fridge or freezer). You can also sprinkle it on carpets (which tend to absorb odours) and vacuum up.

– Try setting out bowls of vinegar or put it in a spray bottle and mist the room.

– Make your own air freshener. There are many good recipes on the internet such as RecipeZaar, or check your local library for books on making all-natural cleaners.

– Try an odour-absorbing product like the Volcanic Deodorizer from Lee Valley ($17.50 for a bag covering up to 4800 cubic feet). Some time in the sun every six months and a yearly rinse with salt water will keep this product going indefinitely.

– Look for environmentally-friendly odour neutralizing sprays, such as those that contain enzymes like Nature’s Fresh. The enzymes work on “organic odours” like urine and smoke.

– Bake!  If you have time of course.  Who doesn’t like the smell of a fresh banana bread or just about anything that has cinnamon in the recipe.

– Purchase an air purifier or filter for use in the home to reduce odours and allergens in the air. These products can be a little pricey, ranging from $50 – $300, so assess your needs carefully and watch for sales.

To add some scent:

– Simmer some citrus rinds or vanilla or other spices like cinnamon in a pot of water on your stove top. Lemon is a good way to banish cooking odors.


CBC News: Dangerous chemicals showing up in some air fresheners

CBC News: Scented consumer products contain undisclosed toxic compounds


The Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia: Guide to Less Toxic Products

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Fresh scent may hide toxic secret