When I was in college I lived in a house with five other guys. We had one standard rule that was intended for the safety and comfort of us all. If you had not showered, you were required to wear a hat as a public service announcement to the residents of the home. I have to admit this was a very effective means of communication and allowed us to avoid or accept our roommate’s current status.
While this worked great for a bunch of college kids, when you are showing your house to prospective buyers, wearing a hat or attempting to disguise nasty smells can ultimately leave potential prospects with a bad taste in their mouth. It can be worse during Denver winters when it is harder to air out your home. We sell houses year round, and while a closed home can be a slight inconvenience, it is easy to keep it smelling fresh and inviting.
Identify the Culprits and Eliminate the Odor
One of the biggest odoriferous offenders is food. Lingering smells can quickly become the focus of potential buyers. Make sure all leftovers and food scraps are immediately taken outside to the garbage can or put into the compost pile. Leaving them in the house only adds to food smells. If your favorite dish is fish, my advice while you are selling your home, is to enjoy it at a restaurant and leave the leftovers there.
If your kitchen still has the remnants of past meals or perhaps an overcooked dish try boiling a few tablespoons of vinegar in water or leave a small bowl of vinegar on the counter overnight. This will absorb the smells. The rule of thumb is, leave out the vinegar until you only smell vinegar then pour it down the drain. The vinegar smell will air out quickly and your kitchen will smell clean.
Is There a Fire Burning?
I love a nice wood fire in the winter, but the smell can permeate the house even after it is out. Keep the fireplace cleared of ashes and close the flue when not in use. This will keep the sooty smell from the home. You may also want to refrain from having fires while selling your home just in case someone is allergic to the smoke.
I Smell Feet
Often overlooked items in the winter are snow boots and cold weather gear. After a fun day of playing in the snow, these items can get piled up and start to get a life of their own. Make sure these items are dry before you put them away, or if you have kids and they are always wet, wash them frequently. Boots can be made to smell better with baking soda and in extreme cases disinfectant spray. For the most part, try to keep these items in the garage or someplace out of the main traffic areas.
Get Some Help
Most of us have no idea how our house smells because we have become accustomed to it. I recommend enlisting the help of a good but brutally honest friend with a sensitive nose. Have them walk through your home and tell you what they smell. Ask them to identify bad and overly good smells. While air fresheners may help, too much is like middle school and high school kids bathing themselves in perfume or cologne. Some clients have had great results with simply boiling some leftover Christmas tree trimmings and cinnamon every few days. It adds a festive touch to the air and gives the home a holiday spirit. Also here is a GoodHouskeeping.com article on more ways to eliminate household odors.
Unfortunately, you will always have to deal with last minute showings or even your own college kids, but if you are prepared in advance, you can feel comfortable leaving your home knowing it smells fresh. If you have any other questions about selling your home in the winter, please give us a call at 303-991-9878 or contact us. We would love to help.