Having a stinky pet can be more than just a minor inconvenience at home, especially if you’re trying to sell it—your home, that is. Not your pet.
If you can recall those Febreeze nose blind commercials, it’s like that. Except instead of your friends and loved ones having a cat couch intervention, your pet odorous home could result in zero buyer interest. In the real estate industry, we call that not good.
If you worry that your furry loved one is harming your home’s sale potential, don’t worry. There is hope! And there are plenty of ways you can combat and completely eliminate pet odors from your home.
The best way to combat pet odor is to give your home a thorough cleaning–and to keep on top of it so stinky smells don’t get the chance to take over your household again (at least until you close). The best way to tackle pet odor is to prevent them in the first place, but in the event you went nose blind, prepare to tackle the problem head on now!
Remove all traces of pet hair (including that stuck deep into couch crevices and the dust bunnies under the fridge) and wash EVERYTHING. Seriously. Leave no stone, throw pillow, or carpet unturned. Here’s a breakdown of some of the basic cleaning you should be doing to eliminate smells:
That’s right, give that dog a bath.
Your dog might hate baths (mine does), you might not feel like you have time for it, or maybe you worry about over-washing your dog and drying out his coat. These are all understandable concerns. But if your dog smells like, well, dog smell, a bath might be in the cards.
The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog at least once every 3 months, but your dog might require more frequent baths. It really depends on a number of factors, like the kind of coat your pup has and/or if he likes to roll in stinky dead things. Personally, I try to bathe my dog every 4-5 weeks. I don’t wait for her to get stinky before I stick her in the tub.
If you’re worried about overbathing (or if your dog already has dry skin/other skin issues), look into a good quality mild shampoo formulated for pets. Talk to your vet if you want to ensure you’re using the right type of shampoo!
Note: cats generally don’t need to be bathed as often as dogs. Select a product specially formulated for cats, as some ingredients may be harmful. The same goes for any type of pet you are bathing.
Bonus tip: if you want to avoid washing your dog at home, you can always book an appointment with a local groomer.
Frequently washing any beds, blankets, quilts, couch covers, or pillows your pet comes into contact with is going to help keep your home free of that “dog smell.” While keeping your dog clean will certainly help prevent the transfer of unknown germs onto your bed, pillows, and other soft places, there’s no substitute for cleaning these items, too. One issue that I have at home is my dog is a licker—she thoroughly licks her bed, the couch, pillows, the floor…so even though she doesn’t smell, it doesn’t take long for her bed to get a little funky.
You can add some baking soda to your regular detergent when you wash these items to further help eliminate odor. If possible, let these fabrics air-dry. If the stain/smell is serious, try using an enzymatic cleaner or laundry boost.
Get in the habit of washing these items frequently (at least if they don’t require dry cleaning) to get ahead of the odor. To help protect your couch against dirty paws, loose fur, or even serial lickers, a pet protective furniture cover like this one might become your new best friend.
For upholstery, mattresses, and carpets that can’t just be thrown into your washing machine, you can use fabric sprays to remove odors (and stains, too, if they’re fresh). Vacuum first to eliminate fur and dander before spraying. If using a commercial product, follow their specific instructions regarding how much to spray. Make sure the spray you use is compatible with the material you are deodorizing—we always recommend doing a spot test in an inconspicuous area before using any product.
For carpets (and even beds and furniture) you can also use baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda liberally on your carpets and use a cleaning brush to spread it into the fibers and/or fabric. Leave it on overnight or at least a few hours to absorb the odor. Vacuum the baking soda from the carpet.
If the carpets really smell awful (maybe due to some “accidents” in the house), you should give them a very thorough cleaning, such as shampooing. You can rent a carpet cleaning machine or hire a service to steam clean your rugs. This is a good idea anyway if you’re trying to sell your home, as you want your home to be impeccably clean—especially for open houses.
If you’re in trouble with urine, these are issues you want to tackle while they’re still fresh. You can find some more helpful tips on eliminating pet urine odor out of carpets here.
Note: If these in-house accidents are uncharacteristic for your pet, it might be time to take a trip to your vet. An underlying problem, such as a UTI, could be the issue.
If your odor problem persists, you might want to look into investing in an air purifier to help filter dirt and odor from your home. You can find some of the best-rated ones for pet owners here.
Check out our tips and tricks for Selling and Showing Your Home When You Have Pets
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.