Pets give us so much joy and entertainment but they can also kill a home sale. If you're getting ready to sell your home or have had your house for sale for a while then you should view/smell your home as a potential buyer would. Take a short walk outside and then come back home prepared to take in and evaluate the smells of your home. When you open the door, are you immediately greeted by the smell of your pets? Even if the smell is mild to you, to someone without pets that smell may be overwhelming.
Here are a few steps you can take to taming pet odor.
Open your windows and doors to allow fresh air to flow through the house. Here in Florida, it's a bit more difficult to do this during the summer months but even if it's just for an hour or two in the morning or late evening this can help. Since we rely so heavily on air conditioning, we tend to keep our homes closed up most, if not all, of the year. Without ventilation, all the smells in our home just linger and soak in. Some of the smells that will affect the overall smell of your home are pets, cooking and the residents (think smelly teen bedrooms). Take a couple of hours and turn off your AC, open your windows and doors and let some fresh air in.
Remove the offenders
Many times when I'm showing homes I see pets crated, which helps to keep pets from running out the door or jumping on potential buyers but it doesn't help with the smells. If you're able to, take your pet for a walk or car ride during showings. If you have family living close by maybe they would be willing to let your pet stay with them for during the day so that you don't have to worry about them while you're at work. Remove the offender also applies to litter boxes. Be sure to clean the litter box multiple times during the day and during showings set the litter box in the garage to help minimize the odor. If you have smalled caged animals such as ferrets or hamsters then take them and their cage out during showings.
Wash those fabrics
Fabrics are notorious for holding smells. Wash the doggie bed, your bedroom sheets if your pet sleeps with you, and draperies (be sure they are machine washable). If you have a fabric sofa then check the cleaning instruction for that as well. You'll be amazed at what a difference cleaning the smells out of fabrics in your home will make.
Spend time on your floors
Your pets spend the majority of their time on the floor, so you'll have to spend a little time cleaning them. If you have carpet then either bring in a professional or rent a high-quality steam cleaner. You may have a carpet cleaner but they don't work nearly as well as the professional steam cleaners at getting those set in stains and smells out. If your pet has soiled the carpet recently then be sure to notify the carpet cleaner (if you hire one) so that they can use an enzyme cleaner on those areas. If you have wood or tile floors you're not off the hook. Mop wood and tile with the appropriate cleaners to remove any stains, pet hair and odors. While you're scrubbing those areas you may want to tackle window sills, walls (cats and dogs like to rub on walls and leave their oils behind) and baseboards.
Replace what can't be cleaned
Sometimes pet odors are so bad that they cannot be removed. This is especially true of rugs, carpet, and padding. I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone should run out and immediately replace your carpet but if you're trying to get top dollar for your home and the smells are bad then it's certainly something to consider to reduce the amount of time spent on the market and increase the sales price of the home. Also, if your pet made a mess on wood/laminate floors or marked a wall, those are also areas which will hold smells.
Filter the air
HEPA filters do wonders to filter out pet dander, dust mites, tobacco smoke, and pollen. I've heard other real estate agents mention ozone machines or ion filtrations but there is information that these could be bad for your health. HEPA air purifiers are easy to use and can be purchased for around $100. These can also great for allergy sufferers.
Bring in a new nose
Once you've done all this, have a friend or family member come over and ask for their honest opinion of how the house smells. Sometimes people will try to be nice and say, "it smells fine" because they don't want to hurt our feelings. This is not a time to be nice, you need a brutely honest opinion because we become noseblind to smells in our own home.
If you're still living in the home with your pets then you'll need to be diligent to keep smells at bay. Vacuum, mop, and wash rugs, pet beds, and sheets often. Also, have your pet groomed a bit more frequently.
This will not be a quick, easy process but will be well worth it in the end. Many buyers, especially those without pets, will be hesitant if there are odors because they don't know how difficult it may be to get the smells out. If this is tackled at the very beginning then that's one less objection to overcome and one step closer to getting an offer on your home. For additional suggestions, WikiHow has a great article How to Get Your House to Not Smell Like Your Pets.