SELLERS BEWARE! A home can be a haven but it can also be a haven for the everyday odours of life. Perfumes, pets, cooking and garbage can leave behind a trail of odours that will be one of the first things a buyer notices. 

I know what you are saying, I don’t smell anything. Believe me when I say the buyer will. The science behind why we can’t smell everyday odours is quite simple. Your brain is made aware of each new odour through your nose to your odour receptors. This allows the brain to send you a message of run or yum. However, the brain receives so many messages that it can become exhausted. So our receptors stop sending messages of a new odour after a few minutes to allow it to focus on any new smells. That means you can’t smell the kitty litter but others can.

Smell tends to be one the the fastest ways to turn off a potential buyer. An unpleasant odour will negatively affect how a buyer views your home. They will associate it with uncleanliness and a home that has not been properly maintained. I have had many buyers turn around in the foyer and stop the showing after encountering an unpleasant scent.

Fortunately, it is an easy fix. There are many ways to make your home smell yummy.


Before you put your home on the market, clean! A deep clean is the best way to make your home smell wonderful. Open up your cupboards and give them a good scrub. Wash all the doors, walls, doorknobs with a fragrant cleaner. Wash all of your bedding and curtains. Professionally clean your carpets and furniture (Febreeze can work here as well if you don’t want the cost). Wash your windows and window sills. Scrub your bathrooms and kitchens until they shine! Don’t forget your appliances here. A dirty oven, greasy exhaust fan or dishwasher can emit a dirty smell throughout your home. Just a dishwasher tip. Clean the area under the door where the seal is. Old food debris sits here and can be quite smelly. Clean out the kitty litter and wash that pet bed. Give your teenager a good scrubbing as well if you can catch them between video games! 


That dress you swore you would fit into into a few years hasn’t just  been sitting in your closet collecting dust, it has also been absorbing everyday odours. Getting rid of any clutter that is not being used is a great way to eliminate odours in your home. Go through each and every closet and storage area in your home and decide to keep, store, toss or donate. Decluttering will also make your home look larger and more organized. Great smell, large and organized screams buy me to the potential buyer.


Oh, what fresh air can do for a home! Of course, winter does play a significant factor here. We don’t want you to freeze but when weather permits open up those windows. Turn on the motor on your furnace to allow the fresh air to be distributed evenly throughout your home. Open up all of the cupboards and closets and let them BREATHE! If possible give you home a good airing just before a showing.

Remove Odour Causing Items!

Sports equipment stinks! There I have said it. Normally, stinky equipment and running shoes can be tolerated for the love of the person who owns it, however, during the sale of your home these items must go. Store any sports equipment, stinky shoes, dog blankets or kitten scratch posts outside of your home during showings. Place them in the garage, your car or in a garden shed. Removing odour producing items will go a long way in reducing the overall odour of your home.

Stop Smoking Indoors!

smoking indoors immediately. Buyers HATE the smell of cigarette smoke. Cigarette odour is one of the more difficult odours to remove but stopping smoking indoors can remove a large portion of the odour. So grab your coat and brave the elements for the duration of the sale of your home. Don’t forget the ashtrays. Keep them outside while your home is for sale. Keep watching for our blog on how to remove cigarette odour from your home.


It must be removed. Mould gives any home a musty odour that is quite noticeable to buyers. Nothing scares off a buyer like mould. For surface mould remove with a mould remover purchased at most hardward stores. Bleach has been used for years to kill mould but it does have its drawbacks. Bleach is an irritant and is toxic. It only kills the mould on the surface on hard, non-porous surfaces. On porous surfaces such as wood or drywall the mould spores will not be killed by bleach. Mould removers encapsulate the spores as well as killing the surface mould. If your mould is a large area or has been caused by a sewage leak you must seek professional help. Removal of mould can be hazardous to your health and proper removal is necessary to contain the spores that are released. 


Think about how much food, hair & waste is washed down your drains on a daily basis. Drains are wet, dark places that are breeding grounds for odour producing bacteria. So don’t forget to pour a little baking soda down your drains to make them fresh. A stinky kitchen drain can be quite noticeable. Tip: if you have a floor drain in your basement don’t forget to pour a bucket of water down the drain periodically. If the drains dries out you will notice (or not) a strong stench of sewer. Not the best first impression for a buyer.

We have touched upon some of the main contributors to smells within a home. Now lets have some fun and talk about ways to take your home from smell free to smell fantastic. We have chosen ways of making your home smell wonderful without harsh chemicals or candles to eliminate any reactions to artifical scents or fire hazards.


Nothing smells better than fresh coffee. Brew up a batch just before a showing to  make  your home smell wonderful. Fresh coffee grounds in the fridge and closet will make both smell fresh.


Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked cookies (or bread)? If you have time before a showing a fresh batch of cookies will make a home smell like home. Note your brain doesn’t just smell odours. It also unlocks memories associated with the odours. The cookie smell will, in most cases, bring back wonderful memories of childhood or special occassions and make your home feel warm and welcoming.


Diffusers are the new potpourri. They are inexpensive and use essential oils which scent the air without chemicals. Just fill the diffuser with water and a few drops of essential oils and your home will be filled with fragrance. Just a tip: essential oils come in a wide range of scents. Try to pick a fragrance that everyone would like such as lemon, orange or vanilla. Stay away from heavy scents or strong spices. Diffusers come in all shapes and sizes and are quite attractive. 

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets don’t have to stay in the laundry room. Place these sheets in closets, between towels in the linen chest, under your mattress and couch cushions to give your home that clean smell. Tip: remember to change them often and don’t go too overboard. Fresh can become overwhelming if overused.


The more complicated our lives become the more we realize that simple things work. Vinegar is a great way of elminating odours. Place a bowl of vinegar overnight in a room to absorb odour.

DIY Air Fresheners

Air fresheners are everywhere. Looking at the grocery aisle  you would think that skunks live in North American homes not people. Homemade air fresheners are economical, healty alternatives. To make your own air freshener take:

3/4 cup of water

2 tablespoons of vodka or rubbing alcohol (makes the water and oil mix thoroughly).

5 to 10 drops of essential oils (or a combination of oils).

Spray just before a showing. Tip: I tend to not spray over a high gloss ceramic floor or hardwood as the spots tend to show after spraying. 

Keep out the reach of children.

Kitty Litter

For any enclosed closet or small area kitty litter can be used. Place a box of litter in closets or basements to get rid of musty odours. Sprinkle a think layer of cat litter in the bottom of your trashcan or diaper pail before you line with the bag. I fill old pantyhose or trouser socks with kitty litter and use them in my luggage, shoes and drawers to elminate odour and keep out moisture.

Fresh Flowers

Are a great way to bring in a fresh scent to your home. There natural beauty is a bonus as well. Place small vases of flowers in your bathrooms, hallways and kitchen.

If you are still not convinced invite a neighbour or unbiased bystander to come into your home and give you a brutally honest appraisal of your home’s scent. You may be surprised.

A fresh smelling home sells faster. Reduce your home’s odour and you may just reduce your home’s days on the market.

Smell you later.