When you live in your home for years and years, decades, it is not uncommon for the house to develop an odor. Realtors call it “old-house odor’ and it is dreaded because of the negative ‘first impression’ it can leave on a potential buyer. The good news is – this can be taken care of and new life breathed into that home. Whether you are selling your home or would just like to give it an ‘odor-control makeover’, you can follow these steps to remove old-house odor and leave your home smelling as good as outdoors. For those of you who think that no odor is best, we agree and here’s how to accomplish it.

1) Air circulation is important. Open those windows, replace air filters regularly. This will help dry out the home, which will, all by itself, help remove old house odor. Additionally, the fresh air will replace air that has become saturated with Volatile Organic Compounds that may have entered your home with new mattresses, paints and other items. If ventilation in some rooms is not good, use fans to blow the air around and speed the drying.

2) Check for damp areas and make sure they dry out. You may need a de-humidifier to help. Humidity control inside your home is crucial. It is smart to have a hygrometer (measures humidity) and thermometer for every floor in your house. They are cheap these days and can tell you when to run that de-humidifier. If some rooms are often higher humidity, you may want one especially for that particular room. Damp, or high-humidity rooms are definitely a source of old house odor.

Mold

3) Mold is one of the primary sources of that old-house odor. Taking steps to dry out and dehumidify removes a necessary food source for mold. Without a water source, mold doesn’t grow. So check for leaks in rooms that feel excessively humid. Mold is actually a type of fungus and musty odors all come from fungal infestations. If you can locate the area of fungal growth and get some SNiPER on the fungus – that odor will disappear!

HVAC and Ductwork

4) Check your HVAC system. Ducts can harbor mold as well and since you can’t see inside them easily, they can often be a source of hold house odor. If necessary, have the ducts cleaned and spray some SNiPER disinfectant in there to remove residual odors. A ‘fogger’ is the best type of sprayer for ducts. (they are not cheap, however, and it may be your best option to rent one from your local tool rental shop).

Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator SNiPER Kills Mold
Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator NokOut Odor Eliminator

5) Interior walls are rarely cleaned and even though they may not appear to be dirty, they can become greasy from cooking and then dust sticks to them easily. You can spray walls and painted surfaces with Nok-Out and wipe them down. This is especially important if there have been smokers in the home.

Carpets absorb odors – and are a Source of Odors too

6) Carpets are like a floor-based air filter and accumulate dust, mites, insect carcases and all manner of smelly stuff. Give the home a good thorough vacuuming and then do it again, and maybe again one more time. Most of the soils that are in carpets are not water soluble so just your vacuum cleaner can do a great job of removing potentially smelly stuff that has accumulated in your carpet.

If there are pet odors in the carpet get yourself a small black-light flashlight (UV) and go into the affected areas in the darkness. Urine will glow a pale green color and is quite obvious. You may also see a purplish color – this is detergent of some sort. In severe cases, you may need to have the carpet professionally cleaned. Use a pump-up garden sprayer, and dilute Nok-Out 50/50 with tap water and spray the carpet after the cleaners have finished, while the carpet is still wet.

Remember that Nok-Out and SNiPER do their work when they come into direct contact with the odor source. Diluting up to 4 to one (water to Nok-Out) will work for spot treatments.

Check for residual odors

7) After all this cleaning, there should be a big difference in the way the house smells. Give it a few days for everything to normalize and then go about the house giving it the nose test. Some odor sources may be in the attic or in crawl spaces below the home.

It may sound like a lot of work to remove old house odor, but the rewards of having your home smell fresh are certainly worth it! Remember that it took years for the old-house odor to develop. But if you work at it, you can remove that old-house odor before selling Grandma’s old house!

Additional Reading

  1. Carpet odors: https://www.nokout.com/Carpet-Odors.html, http://blog.nokout.com/carpet-cleaning-nok-sniper-revisited/, http://blog.nokout.com/that-darned-cat-has-stunk-up-my-carpet/.
  2. Use of a ‘Fogger’ machine: http://blog.nokout.com/to-fog-or-not-to-fog/
  3. Mold: http://blog.nokout.com/how-to-manage-mold/, https://www.nokout.com/Cleaning-Mold-and-Mildew.html
  4. https://www.nokout.com/Get-Rid-of-Musty-smells.html
  5. https://www.nokout.com/Basement-Mold-and-Mildew-Removal.html
  6. https://www.nokout.com/Get-Rid-of-Black-Mold.html
  7. https://www.nokout.com/Mold-and-Mildew-Problem.html
  8. https://www.nokout.com/Keep-black-mold-out-of-your-shower-stall.html
  9. How to find odors in your home: http://blog.nokout.com/how-to-troubleshoot-odors-in-your-home/
  10. HVAC: https://www.nokout.com/Clean-and-Deodorize-HVAC-Systems.html