Who Let The Dogs Out?

A BIG reason prospective buyers don’t buy a house is odor. If you’re trying to sell a home that wreaks of pets your buyers my walk before they even look.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Posted by John Hardy - 2015-08-04 17:07:00

One of the biggest reasons prospective buyers don’t buy a house is odor. Sound crazy? It’s not. Think about it, most agents will, or should, tell you to make your house smell as pleasant as possible. Next to sight, smell is the main reason buyers determine if your house is their next home. Read our post, Everybody Feng Shui Tonight, to learn more about that. 

So, if you’re trying to sell your home don’t add unnecessary obstacles. No matter how much you love your pet, a buyer smelling Fido, or Fluffy’s litter box may cause them to walk out the door before they even tour the house.

Lay off the Pine Sol®, we’ve got some expert tips that really work:


Out of sight. Out of mind.

If possible get your pets out of the house when you’re showing your home. Take them with you in the car or go for a long walk through the neighborhood. Nothing is more disturbing to a prospective buyer than an aggressive, or hyper, dog greeting them at the door.

If this isn’t an option be sure to let your agent know exactly where your pet is so they can properly approach the situation. No matter how cute your pet is; no buyer will like them as much as you do.


Hair today. Gone tomorrow.

Vacuum. Vacuum. Vacuum. Get rid of all evidence of pet hair and get a really good vacuum to do it. Bissel and Dyson make some really good machines to pick up pet hair and Dirt Devil recently came out with a new hard surface sweeper that does a nice job. We just bought their Power Air Cyclonic and have personally witnessed it suck in hair from five feet away with its 10-amp motor. And, if the vacuum isn’t enough there are lint rollers and Sticky Sheets that pick hair off furniture. Be very careful when vacuuming your furniture. If you’re using a vacuum with a beater brush one loose thread can destroy your couch.

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting the padding underneath can trap and hold a lot of odors. If it’s a problem area you can use Nature’s Miracle products that have enzymatic formulas to help remove the toughest odors and stains. Not sure if Fluffy has been naughty, buy a battery-powered black light (ultraviolet) and go through the house at night, with the lights off. If there’s a problem the spot will light up like an old Led Zeppelin poster. Mark these areas with tape so you can focus on them when you turn the lights back on.

Word of caution: follow the directions on the labels; they’re there for a reason. Of course, follow all directions, and test cleaners on a small, less-seen area first to test for colorfastness.


Not interested in spending a lot of money on these products? 

Here’s a homemade recipe that works well on cat urine and can be mixed with products you probably already have in the house.

     16 oz. Hydrogen Peroxide
     1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid 
     1 Tablespoon Baking Soda 
     1 Tablespoon Vinegar

P.S. Do NOT use ammonia; it will only attract your pet back to the same spot.

The purpose behind many of these formulas is not only to clean the area but also remove the scent that keeps attracting your pet back to the spot in the first place.

On hard surfaces you can try citrus cleaners. Most animals don’t like the smell of citrus so this will help keep Fido away from the hard wood legs of your chairs.


Touch up the walls.

Animals, our dog being one of them, like to rub up against walls. The oils in their coats can discolor your wall and leave behind a little B.O. Most paint-safe cleaners can handle these stains. If they are more stubborn you may have to wash and repaint the area.


Get that fresh country air.

Well, not all country air is really that fresh. I know because I grew up on a farm and if the wind was out of the wrong direction you could smell the neighbors cattle lot.

Clean the furnace and air filters. When you change the filter put a few drops of essential oils, found at many health stores, on it to quickly pump pleasant scents through the house. It’s a great way to instantly make the place smell great and is less obvious than your grandma’s rose-scented candles that usually scream, “Grandpa farted in the bathroom.” The best scents are usually lavender, eucalyptus or orange and they’re easy on the nose.

Other scents that usually bring back some childhood memories are fresh-baked bread or cookies but those are a bit more labor-intensive. Clean smells like these are great.

You can simply mix up a spray bottle with a bit of alcohol (like vodka), water and several drops of essential oils and spritz it around or try this recipe:


Vanilla Aroma Crystals

     1 cup coarse ground sea salt
     1 teaspoon jojoba or grapeseed oil (just enough to make the salt crystals glisten) 
     25 drops vanilla essential oil 
     10 drops lavender essential oil 
     10 drops sweet orange essential oil


Want a quick homey smell?

Stick a cinnamon stick in an apple and bake it for 15-20 minutes at 350°.


Time to throw in the towel?

Call in a pro. When you’ve tried everything possible and are losing the battle you will want to consider bringing in a professional technician that specializes in odors. Unfortunately, you can’t call Ghostbusters but ectoplasm probably isn’t the problem.

Image ©National Lampoon

Bottom line: Don’t let a $1,000 carpet ruin the sale of your home. Put down new carpet and don’t forget to put some sealer on the hardwood underneath so the urine problem stops. In your new home, stay on top of Fido’s accidents. The best time to clean them up is right away. We know that isn’t always an option but it will sure make your tail wag with your next sale.

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