When you’ve found the perfect new home and are counting down the days until you can move in, nothing can put a damper on your spirits quite like bad smells in the house that just doesn’t seem to go away. Musty or stale smells, odors from previous smokers or pet owners, or even smells from fresh paint can be less-than-welcome and hard to get rid of.
While it might take a little elbow grease, there are several plans you can put into place to get your new home smelling a little fresher.
1. Start with a top-to-bottom deep clean
While one can hope that the previous owners, previous tenants or landlord have already done a thorough move-out clean, it doesn’t hurt to go through the process once more to ensure nothing was left behind in the turnover process.
Wipe down surfaces, sweep and mop the floors and use your go-to cleaning products, so the scents left behind will be familiar to you. Perhaps the most important task: open up the windows, turn on any ceiling fans and let fresh air circulate throughout your new home. This will help eliminate any bad smell in the house.
2. Try to identify the cause of the odor
If the bad smell in your home still seems to be lingering a day or two after you’ve cleaned and aired out your new space, it’s time to get to the bottom of the issue. Depending on the source, your cleaning techniques will be different.
Odors left behind by pets can be notoriously strong and difficult to get rid of — especially if your home has carpet. Try to identify specific areas where pet urine may have left stains — a blacklight can help you here as it will illuminate any areas containing urine.
You can try techniques like baking soda or an enzyme-based carpet cleaner to spot treat the area and neutralize lingering odors. Spot test any cleaning products first or your security deposit could be at risk if you cause further damage to the flooring.
If strong food or spice smells are still present after your general cleaning, focus your attention on the kitchen and deep clean areas like vents, fans, oven, refrigerator, etc. Examine sinks and garbage disposals to see if they might be the source of bad smells. Consider asking your landlord to repaint any walls located close to the oven, refrigerator, sink or microwave.
Cigarette smoke is one of the most potent odors and hardest to remove, which is why most landlords and property managers prohibit smoking of any kind indoors. Very strong remaining odors can even lead to thirdhand smoke damage to new occupants.
To truly tackle cigarette smoke odors, removable items like blinds, carpet and draperies will need replacing, which is something you should discuss with your landlord.
Odors from mold or moisture damage are not only unpleasant, but they can also impact your health. Mold typically grows in parts of the home that are prone to moisture or ventilation issues — like the bathroom or basement — but can grow almost anywhere including on wood, carpet, food and fabric.
For areas with light mold like the shower, use bleach to effectively remove the mold. For larger mold issues, contact your property manager as a few states have laws in place defining landlord responsibility regarding mold maintenance.
3. Consult with your property owner
If you’ve done your own deep cleaning, tried to address the issue at the source and still can’t seem to shake the bad smell in your home, it’s time to consult with your landlord to see how the two of you can address the situation together. In some cases, foul odors can be a sign of a larger issue that is beyond renter control.
Stubborn odors from a previous pet or smoke damage may require a cleaning crew or maintenance crew to replace items like blinds and filters. If your home contains a substantial amount of carpet, ask to have the carpets professionally cleaned if they weren’t already before you moved in.
You may run into issues concerning financial responsibility, as foul odors from food or unhygienic previous tenants are not typically a health risk (though odors from cigarette smoke or pets may be, depending on individual situations). Your landlord may ask you to split the costs or cover costs of additional cleaning if you are unhappy with the living situation, but it is always worth bringing it to their attention early on to see what the two of you can work out.
Eliminate bad smells in your house
Even though they are a pain to deal with, most unpleasant smells in the home can be handled if you are persistent and try various tried-and-true methods to eliminate them.