“De-pet” Your Home Before You Sell….. It Makes “Scents”!
Selling your home is a real art form these days. There’s the marketing! The staging! And, then there’s the one thing that you as a homeowner and pet owner often forget: Would-be buyers don’t care how much you love your pets. They’re not interested in seeing or smelling any evidence of Fido or Fifi.
“People are really, really sensitive about pets,” says Don Aslett, owner of a cleaning business and author of “Pet Clean-up Made Easy.” “One of the biggest reasons people will or won’t buy a house is odor, believe it or not,” says Aslett. So how do you scrub all evidence of your pets from your home before you sell it, especially if you’ve lived there with them for a decade or more? Here are some expert tips that really work.
1. Make your pet scarce: If at all possible, keep your animals out of the house whenever you’re showing your home. There’s nothing more off-putting for a homebuyer than opening the door to an aggressive or hyperactive dog. If the pet must be at home, put it away, and make sure the real-estate agent knows exactly where it is. Remember: Few buyers think your dog or cat is as charming as you do.
2. Go on a hair hunt: “The first thing that you want to get rid of is evidence of hair” says Julia Szabo, author of “Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot’s Digs Stylish & Spotless”. She recommends Dyson’s Animal or Bissell’s Pet Hair Eraser. (Bissell also makes the Spot Bot Pet, a portable deep-cleaning machine that can remove pet stains from carpet and upholstery while the owner walks away.) And don’t forget to vacuum and launder your drapes. They can hold plenty of hair and smells.
3. Tackle the carpeting: “If you have carpeting, such as wall-to-wall carpeting, that traps a lot of odor and a lot of hair,” Szabo says. The padding beneath the carpet can often grab and hold odor and stains, too. Urine can even seep into the plywood or press wood subfloor and into places like the carpet tack strip (usually raw wood). The bad news? For serious pet stains, even professional carpet cleaning won’t do the trick. In fact, adding water (think carpet shampooing, or even a humid or rainy day) can simply “reactivate” the smells. Not what you want at an open house! The good news? You can try to extract it all. Aslett highly recommends applying a cleaning product that is a “bacteria/enzyme digester.” These products literally enter the carpet or other problem area and break down the stains and smells. Don’t expect instant gratification; often you have to apply them and leave them to dry for a day or two.
4. Clean up your hardwoods: Some seemingly hard surfaces will absorb urine – flat or matte-finish latex paint, unfinished wood, unsealed concrete and vinyl tile between the cracks. In these cases, where urine has been absorbed and can linger, use a chemical deodorizer and cleaner first. If the odor problem is quite serious, seal, varnish or repaint the surface afterward to help lock in any odors.
5. Clear the air: A great way to improve the atmosphere of your rooms is to clean your home’s furnace or air-conditioning filters. Then take essential oils — only the real stuff, from a health-food store — and dab several drops on the filter before replacing it. “This a wonderful, great way to pump scent through the air and is less obvious than lighting a bunch of candles, which screams, ‘I’m hiding something.'” Lavender oil or patchouli operate very nicely on a person’s olfactory sense. Think you need to go deeper? Get your ducts cleaned before showing the home. A home’s air ducts can collect everything from animal dander and hair to skin cells, mold and dust — things that will agitate a particularly sensitive would-be homebuyer. Also, if you have cats and have been using clay kitty litter, definitely get your ducts cleaned. The micro-dust generated from clay litter goes everywhere.