Pet Odors May Put Off Your Home Buyers, but Help is at Hand

Heather Gott, REALTOR Author - Heather Gott

dog wrapped in robe with lotion

You’re selling your home, so you want to make sure everything is set up for maximum appeal.

You’ve tidied up, moved out some of the bulkier items of furniture and given the place a thorough clean.

There’s plenty of advice out there about setting the scene to make your potential buyers feel at home. Coffee brewing and freshly baked cookies on the kitchen counter, anyone?

However, there’s one household odor that can be an acquired taste.

Your pets. You love them. They’re part of the family and you’re used to their unique odor. Unfortunately, not everyone who visits your property has had the opportunity to get acquainted!

The good news for Fluffy and Fido is that there are plenty of solutions that don’t require them to pack their bags.

Step One – Understand the Pet Odor Sources

OK, we all know what the source is – yep, it’s you we’re looking at Fido!

In fact, there are some simple mechanisms at work here. Urine, feces, and vomit provide a great source of nutrition for smell producing bacteria. So ideally you want to stop that ending up on the carpet and furnishings in the first place.

Most domestic animals will avoid fouling their own living spaces if they can. Some positive reinforcement can help train your pet to go to the door to show you they need to go out. Regular exercise and being aware of the tell-tale signs will help both of you.

Animals are very sensitive to odors and can quickly get the idea that an untreated smelly patch of urine is where they are supposed to go again. Cleaning up accidents quickly and efficiently will help discourage repeat offenders.

Dogs and cats have natural odors in their fur, saliva and sweat. This is going to transfer onto furniture and bedding if they’re allowed to snuggle up. Ideally, they shouldn’t be allowed on the furniture but hey, that’s why we call them pets! Putting a throw over the sofa at cuddle time will help to keep odors out of the fabric. You can easily wash the throw on a regular basis.

Accidents Happen – Clean Up Tips for Rugs and Pet Bedding

Loose fabrics can go straight into the washing machine. The Humane Society recommends that a pound of baking soda can be added to an enzymatic detergent. This will also work on some of the more established dried-in stains and smelly fabric from pet bedding too.

For larger items, like rugs, use a lot of paper towels above and below the site of the urine to soak it up. If it has already dried then dilute it with fresh water and a mild detergent, before soaking it up with paper towels and some old rags top and bottom. Sprinkle and rub in a good handful of baking soda to neutralize the smell.

If it’s a carpet or furniture fabric, then you’ll have to work from the top. A wet vac can be very helpful here.

Wooden floors are a lot easier but be careful not to use any cleaning products that might damage wax wood treatments or varnishes.

According to the Humane Society it’s best to avoid products containing ammonia, or vinegar because the odor can encourage pets for a repeat performance.

Lingering Pet Odors in the Background

No matter how careful you are, there will always be pet odor. This will be apparent to visitors who don’t have pets. You can lessen the effect of this by ensuring that rooms are well ventilated immediately before a viewing. If possible, open the windows. In winter conditions you may need to just do this a couple of minutes before and turn the heating up!

Go with competing odors like coffee and fresh baked bread and anything else that makes a naturally pleasant odor. Air fresheners are a last resort as these are often very obvious and not very effective.

Remember You’re Selling a Home, not a Doctor’s Office

People are looking to buy a comfortable home. It’s important not to be too paranoid and clinical here. Check with the realtor beforehand. Viewers with pets of their own being welcomed by your (well behaved) pooch will make any lingering odors completely understandable.

If they don’t like pets, then discretion is the better part of valor.

Crank up the coffee machine and serve freshly baked cookies!