Hommati Logo

Download the App

Top 4 Odors That Are Dealbreakers for Homebuyers (And How to Fix Them)

Go back
Top 4 Odors That Are Dealbreakers for Homebuyers (And How to Fix Them)

You're ready to buy a house, so you've scheduled a viewing at a potential property. From the pictures, it seems like your dream home.

You arrive and everything seems promising; that is until you step through the door. A sharp smell hits your nostrils and it's making your eyes water and your stomach turn.

You try your hardest to focus on all the home's plusses, but your mind keeps coming back to that pungent smell. And because of that, you cross it off your list.

Many homeowners don't realize this, but smells are huge dealbreakers for buyers. So, in addition to making your property look nice, you need to make it smell good as well.

Read on for the top 4 odors that can turn home buyers away and how you can fix them before they even view your house!

1. Smoke

Maybe you're one of the many smokers in the nation, and you don't always step out to light up. When you're feeling lazy or it's too cold (or wet) outside, you prefer to smoke indoors instead.

But now, you see that it was a huge mistake, as it's evident in your home. Even if you only smoked in one room, you've realized that it's spread all over. And it's not just that old smoke smell, but it's also the yellowing of your walls and floors!

The appearance and smell can be so bad that even smokers who are willing to buy your house as-is will hesitate. So how can you fix this?

Air Out the House

Open all the windows and doors (if possible), and get air circulating through your house pronto! It can also help to place fans near openings to speed things along. Not only can they help blow stale air out, but they can also draw fresh air in.

Wipe Down Hard Surfaces

You should already be cleaning surfaces regularly to keep germs at bay. But this time, use white vinegar, as it's a natural deodorizer.

While you're at it, place bowls of vinegar around your home. You can also hang up bags of activated charcoal. This can make deodorizing go by quicker!

Paint Your Walls

It's too late to try and scrub your walls clean of smoke smells. The best action is to just add a new coat of paint!

You'll need to do this anyway to make your property as attractive as possible. Plus, there are some brands that specialize in odor-killing paint.

Wash All Soft Items

For curtains, blankets, bedsheets, cushion covers, etc., wash them thoroughly.

For things that can't go in your washing machine, dusting with baking soda is a great solution here, as it's a fantastic deodorizer. Sprinkle generously, wait a few hours, then vacuum it all up.

Steam Clean Your Carpets

Simply vacuuming won't be enough to clean your carpets, especially if the smoke smell is heavy. You'll need to either steam clean your carpets or hire a professional to do it.

In the worst-case scenario, you'll have to replace your flooring.

2. Must, Mildew, and Mold

A musty smell won't leave a good impression on homebuyers at all. Not only does it smell bad, but it'll also make them question the integrity of your house. After all, if there are odors like that, there must be leaks and much-needed repairs, right?

Not only that, but must, mildew, and mold can all create health problems for inhabitants. So, prove to potential homebuyers that your property isn't just clean, but also safe to live in. Here's how to get rid of these nasty odors.

Kill the Mold

To stop the musty smell, you need to keep it at its source. You'll need to break out the heavy-duty cleaning solutions; use ammonia or bleach, not both in combination! If you mix them, it'll create toxic fumes, so make sure to keep these two solutions separate.

Put on your cleaning gloves, mask, and googles, and start scrubbing. You'll only want to use bleach or ammonia on non-porous surfaces.

For porous surfaces, you can use white vinegar. This is great for wood and drywall.

Run Dehumidifiers

If you have particularly moist rooms (like the bathroom or kitchen), your surfaces might be growing mold, even if there are no leaks. You should buy powerful dehumidifiers and place them in these rooms to keep excess moisture out.

Ventilate Your House More

Not only should you run dehumidifiers, but you should also ventilate your house better.

You don't always have to have your doors and windows open. But if you're boiling water for an hour in the kitchen or you're taking a very hot shower, make sure you turn on the kitchen hood while cooking and that you open the bathroom window for your shower.

Have All Leaks Repaired

After cleaning up, you'll want to have a plumber come inspect your property. They can determine where there are leaks and get them fixed up in no time.

That way, that musty smell will disappear for good.

3. Food Smells

You might be a foodie so you're always cooking up a storm. But over time, the ingredients have become practically baked into your walls. And now, it's an awful combination to smell.

Even if you only cook pleasant things and think your house smells nice from those ingredients, remember that not everyone has the same tastes!

So here are some ways to ensure your food doesn't offend potential homebuyers.

Don't Cook Strong Foods Before Viewings

You might love curry and garlic-laden foods, and that's ok. But not everyone does, so refrain from cooking anything too adventurous at least a day before a viewing's scheduled.

When you do cook, ventilate your kitchen well so there are as few lingering odors as possible. Take out the trash as well!

Put Baking Soda in Your Refrigerator

Even if your ingredients and leftovers are sitting in (what seems to be) airtight containers and wrappers, their odors can still leak through. Your fridge then becomes a smelly area as well.

A simple fix is to put an open box of baking soda in there. It'll absorb any emitted smells!

While you're in there, make sure to remove any expired or moldy foods to prevent more offending odors.

4. Pet Odors

You might enjoy Fido's company, and unfortunately, it's easy to go nose blind to your pet's smells. You might think you've got pet odors covered since you've cleaned up any messes they've made, but to be safe, you should have a friend come over and give you an honest opinion.

If they've spotted problem areas, here's what to do.


Right before a viewing, vacuum your house thoroughly. Take extra care to go over your pet's favorite spots, as some viewers might be allergic and can have a reaction when in your house.

Don't just vacuum the floor either; go over furniture, pet beds, all surfaces, etc.

It's best if you dust the surfaces with baking soda before vacuuming a few hours afterward.

Mop Your Floors

For hard flooring, you'll need to mop in addition to vacuuming. You should use white vinegar for tiles and a special wood floor cleaner for hardwood flooring.

Empty and Clean Litter Boxes and Cages

If you have cats, you'll want to deep clean their litter boxes. This means scrubbing it with soap and water, then putting fresh litter in. To make sure it stays fresher, you can sprinkle some baking soda on top.

Otherwise, for all other pets, you'll want to deep clean their cages and put fresh bedding in if applicable.

Wash Soft Items

Anything your pet likes laying on, throw it into the laundry machine. This includes their pet beds, blankets, furniture and cushion covers, rugs, and bedsheets.

Feel free to use baking soda in addition to your regular detergent for extra cleaning power.

Bonus Tip: Don't Go Overboard with Artificial Scents

In an effort to mask bad smells or to make your house smell fresh, you might resort to candles, air fresheners, diffusers, wall plug-ins, wax warmers, etc. while staging your house.

While yes, these things can help your property smell nice, it's possible to overdo it. When you have too many of these for a showing, the scents can be overpowering and cause sensory overload.

Worse yet, it can make potential buyers wonder what you're trying so hard to cover up. Even if you've used all our above tips and your house looks and smells clean, filling it up with artificial scents is only going to backfire.

Instead, get good air circulation going through and only rely on a few strategically placed candles and air fresheners. A light touch is the best way to go.

Make Sure Your Property Doesn't Have These Odorous Dealbreakers

Now that you know what odorous dealbreakers can ruin a home sale, you can tackle them on your own property. From smoke, mold, food, and pet odors, you'll be able to eliminate these smells and make your home fresh and clean.

As a result, you'll be able to sell your house much more easily!


If you're certain that your property isn't a horror house of smells and you're ready to sell it, then find an agent on Hommati now. We can connect you with the top real estate agents in your local area to sell your home for the best price possible!