How to Handle a House That Stinks

House odors can turn off buyers and limit a home's ability to sell quickly. Strong pet or cigarette odors could cause buyers with allergies or young children to walk away from an otherwise perfect home, while kitchen odors may give an impression the house isn't clean. Here are a few fragrant facts on how to handle house odors, and the people who produced them:

Understand odor is often caused by bacteria, which may cling to ceilings, walls, carpets and draperies long after the source of the odor is gone.

Identify the source of the odor  address the issue. Hire a professional cleaner or use a nontoxic fogger such as DynoFRESH. Everyday room sprays and plug-ins temporarily mask an odor; until surfaces are truly cleaned, odors can come back.

Add pleasing—but not overpowering—smells. Lemon, green tea, cedar, pine, basil and vanilla are scents that don't distract people, according to a study by the Journal of Retailing. Consider laying fabric softener sheets between clothes on shelves, running lemon peels through a garbage disposal, and adding plug-in air fresheners near bathroom doors.

When it comes time to sell your house be aware about the impact odors can have on a sale. Let them know odors can reduce the selling price or cause the house to sit longer on the market.

Minimize odor build up when your home is on the market: Take out the trash after every meal, keep the refrigerator clean and avoid laundry pileups. Use the stove fan when cooking and avoid cooking fish, broccoli and garlic before showings. Finally, bathing pets and keeping litter boxes clean is a must.

Follow these strategies to ensure foul odors don't sour the sweet smell of success.

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