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Some animal lovers become immune to pet odors over time, especially if all they see when they look at Fido are those big puppy-dog eyes. But pet odors — distinctive as they are — can be extremely off-putting to some buyers, and aren’t always easy to get rid of.
Try to find the source first and act accordingly
If there’s been a recent accident involving a pet’s bodily fluids, get right to the source as quickly as possible. Different types of pet accidents will react better or worse to different cleaning methods, so take note of what works best:
For cat urine, dog urine or vomit
If you’re working to remove some recently discovered vomit, first work on lifting as much as you can from the surface area, carpet or flooring, using a paper towel, spoon or knife, without rubbing it in more, particularly if it’s on carpet. Then, spray the area with cool water, blot water up with a dry paper towel and spray an enzymatic solution on the area. Nature’s Miracle is one frequently recommended enzyme-based cleaner that will help neutralize those strong odors.
For wet urine (hopefully unlikely in your listing, but you can pass this along to your clients just in case), use paper towels, newspaper and/or an old towel to soak up as much liquid as possible, layering both above and beneath rugs, if applicable. Rinse the area with cool water after removing fresh fluids. Then, proceed by using a wet vac over the area followed up by a sprinkle of baking soda that’s allowed to sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum the soda up too.
This wet vac/baking soda combo is also a good method for urine that’s already dried. Additionally, an oxy-based cleaner can also help with dried urine stains, if applied multiple times in succession, according to Martha Stewart.
For both wet and dry urine, you can also try a combination of citrus and hydrogen peroxide dispensed through a spray bottle (citrus is actually a natural enzymatic cleaner), or another enzyme-based cleaner.
Whatever you do, avoid using steam cleaners on carpet or upholstery, or using strong-smelling cleaners like ammonia or vinegar, the Humane Society advises. The heat from a steam cleaner could actually permanently set the stain, and the strong odors of ammonia and vinegar could actually make a pet want to re-mark the area with their own pungent urine. In addition to Nature’s Miracle, several other brands also create no-marking sprays that can help prevent future accidents.
For furniture odors
Most pet odors that don’t involve an accident come from pet fur, Jennifer Gregory of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, told Reader’s Digest. Because cats and dogs sweat through their fur, it can get pretty stinky. Therefore, it’s good to start by removing pet hair from sofas and other plush furniture with a vacuum. Beyond that, you also may want to sprinkle furniture with baking soda, let it sit for about 20 minutes or so, then vacuum that up as well.
To be on the safe side, test the furniture that needs to be cleaned with just a small sprinkling of baking soda in an inconspicuous area first, to be sure it doesn’t leave any permanent marks on furniture.
Or, for clients who are preparing to move soon anyway, another way to eliminate having to do a deep clean on the furniture is of course to simply suggest they move plush furniture that has whiffs of animal on it into storage for the time being (if possible) and replace with staging furniture.
For lingering odors on pet beds, toys, feeding areas
Like human furniture, pet beds that start to smell should first get a pet fur removal treatment with the vacuum. As most pet owners will know, that fur can get much stinkier when wet, so it’s essential to do this step before throwing anything in the washing machine. To really target that strong pet smell, the Humane Society suggests adding a one-pound box of baking soda to any regular detergent and wash machine-washable items like doggy beds or blankets as per usual.
Allow those items to air dry, and then if there’s still lingering odor, wash them again with an enzyme-based cleaner.
Other pet-related items like food and water bowls, toys and collars or leashes will all harbor a pet smell if they aren’t regularly cleaned too.
If these items are out during a home showing, make sure they’ve been washed recently. Or, again, it may be best to just take them out of the house altogether in preparation of showings.
Air it out
Promoting good air circulation throughout the house is also an effective way to get rid of smells. Start by opening up the windows on a breezy day. Making sure to replace air filters regularly will also help — most home improvement resources suggest every 90 days for homes with furry pets, so check in with your client about when the last time this was done.
Another way to clear the air is to use an ozone generator, which helps neutralize the air.
“An air purifier uses fans to pull air into it and runs it through a filter to ‘scrub’ it before sending it back out,” Jeremy Strickland, general manager of Randy’s Carpet Care, told Reader’s Digest. “But an ozone generator uses an internal fan to push air out. The air coming out of it contains an extra oxygen molecule, creating O3, ozone, which neutralizes the air on soft surfaces.” That O3 helps get rid of odors nestled in curtains or home furniture, and only needs to be run a few hours at a time, not constantly.
Email Lillian Dickerson