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How to Get the Dog Smell Out of Your House If You’re Trying to Sell

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

You love your dog, but when homebuyers are holding their nose as they cross your threshold, there’s a bone of contention from that doggy smell lingering in the air. You need help to remove Fido’s fragrance, so your home can be more appealing and the sale more profitable.

To help you quell the smell, we’ve gathered expert insights and researched the best solutions you need to remove dog smells and add the sweet smell of success to your next showing or open house.

Real estate agent, Edward Kaminsky, who has over 35 years of experience, in Manhattan Beach, California, knows the value of preparing your home for a sale, as he is currently ranked among the top 100 agents in the U.S. We’ll also share tips from Greg Shepard, the founder and CEO of Dallas Maids of Frisco, who has over 18 years of experience in the cleaning industry.

Worried About How Your Home Smells?

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Why do dogs make your house smell bad?

Dogs can have a variety of odors wafting from different parts of their anatomy or from the environment that’s carried into your house. The parts that typically are the smelliest include:

  • Oily skin is when gland secretions can result in stinky skin
  • Bad breath can be a problem from a poor diet or medical condition
  • Drool/saliva is typically excessive when there’s a dental or medical problem
  • Ear wax buildup that usually is caused by poor hygiene, yeast or bacteria
  • Anal glands called anal sacs, located on either side of their anus that can smell fishy
  • And of course they poop, pee and have gas like the rest of us!
When you live in a home, you don’t smell the things that other people smell. And so it’s important to point it out to the owners. So you can at least have an honest conversation about how other people will react when they walk in the house.
  • Edward Kaminsky
    Edward Kaminsky Real Estate Agent
    Edward Kaminsky
    Edward Kaminsky Real Estate Agent at The Kaminsky Real Estate Group
    Currently accepting new clients
    • Years of Experience 36
    • Transactions 1341
    • Average Price Point $2m
    • Single Family Homes 899

How can a strong dog smell affect your home value?

When you’re looking into your dog’s big, soulful eyes and enjoying their sweet disposition, their smell might not be noticeable to you. That’s why when Kaminsky is first assessing a home, and can immediately tell if a dog lives there, he often will have a tactful discussion with the homeowner.

“It’s because you noticed it and a lot of times, the truth is, owners don’t know. Because when you live in a home, you don’t smell the things that other people smell. And so it’s important to point it out to the owners. So you can at least have an honest conversation about how other people will react when they walk in the house.”

After discussing the issue, then Kaminsky will know if the seller is willing to take actions to address the odor, typically increasing the home’s value, or if they prefer to sell the home in its current condition, usually for a lower price. Sometimes his recommendations will include cleaning, new staging furniture, and in one case he suggested a family vacation with the dog and changing the flooring to a new wood style.

“Because, one, it was going to look amazing, and it’s going to smell amazing, and those two things would make a profit for the owner. It was a challenge to remove the dog for a period of time, but it probably in this case, enhanced the home by close to fifty to a hundred thousand dollars,” says Kaminsky.

How can you get dog smell out of your house?

You’re ready to roll up your sleeves and expel the smell around the house by paying special attention to those areas where your dog spends the most time. According to Shepard, the best strategy for overall house cleaning is to go from top to bottom as dirt will fall down as you clean that can be removed later when you do the floors.

Dust and sweep to whisk away the dog hair

  • Dust: Depending on how often your dog breed sheds, will determine how much pet dander combines with other particles in the air that land on your furniture. Generally, if your dog sheds a lot, dust every few days or at a minimum, once a week.
  • Swiffer®: Dog hair that gathers on hard surfaces like wood and vinyl floors should typically be cleaned with a Swiffer® once a week, especially for dogs that shed a lot.
  • Sweep: When you haven’t had a chance to clean your wood or kitchen floor for a long time, then it’s better to sweep the hair up with a rubber broom that will attract it.

Get attached to vacuuming around the house

  • Dog beds: Use your vacuum attachments (such the upholstery and crevice tools) once a week to vacuum up the dog hair and remove other bits of dirt lodged in the edges and seams of the dog bed where it can get trapped.
  • Floors: Depending on how much your dog sheds, for general upkeep, you will want to vacuum twice a week. For removing strong odors, baking soda usually works the best. “Sprinkle baking soda on all the carpets and let it sit there for a night. The baking soda is really good about soaking up all that smell,” says Shepard. After letting the baking soda sit, then vacuum, and if it still smells, Shepard recommends repeating the process a second time.
  • Furniture: For a large amount of dog hair consider vacuuming every other day, if possible, otherwise once a week using your upholstery tool.

Clearing the air will make the most sense

  • Airing the house out: Open as many windows as possible for a cross breeze and use fans to give new air a chance to freshen up your home.
  • Deodorize walls with paint-safe sprays: There are specific sprays that are designed to help remove the smell of urine from oil based or latex painted walls.
  • HEPA Air Purifier: There are different sizes, price points and features of air purifiers, with HEPA filters that help eliminate odors electronically through the purifier.
  • Odor-neutralizing sprays: Using sprays like Febreze® are designed to eliminate bad odors by capturing and neutralizing molecules in the air and on upholstered furniture.

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Use the mop and washing machine to get surfaces clean

  • Bedding and linens: If your dog snuggles on top of your bed, rolls around, drools and leaves hair (and hopefully no other surprises), your bedding and linens will need to be washed every three to four days to keep them smelling fresh and clean.
  • Dog bedding and crate: All dog bedding including your dog’s crate needs to be checked regularly and should be washed and deodorized with pet safe cleaning products every two to four weeks.
  • Mop tile and vinyl floors: Depending on the pitter patter of muddy paws and hair that congregates on your tile and vinyl floors, typically mopping once a week will keep your floor clean.
  • Carpet Cleaner (enzyme cleaner): If you decide to rent a machine to clean your carpet, first use an enzyme cleaner to help get rid of the odor, and avoid using hot steam on the stain itself as that can permanently set the urine into your carpet. Shepard recommends for pet stains, the earlier you can treat the spot, the better, blotting with some pressure to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. He also suggests following the directions when using a liquid enzyme bacterial digester. “Just make sure you allow the product to soak there, do its job,” says Shepard. After the product is done soaking, then you would use fresh towels to blot it again to finish treating the stain, according to Shepard.
  • Upholstery and drapes: Usually you can carefully spot clean your upholstery and drapes. If the drapes are washable you can typically hand wash and gently dry them, or use a dry cleaner if they’re not washable.

Sniff out a new scent or keep things under cover

  • Fresh flowers, potpourri, candles and diffusers: Introducing a new smell that is more pleasing to the senses can help make your home more welcoming. Before picking your posies or lavender candles, but sure you do everything you can to clean and neutralize first, otherwise you’ll have urine scented potpourri.
  • Odor removing gels: These gels are usually in a small plastic jar that you activate by removing the inner seal and putting on the lid which has holes in it so the gel can neutralize the stinky molecules through the top of the jar.
  • Paint walls: Some paints are powerful enough to lock in a bad odor and not allow the odor to come back through. However, if you decide to paint your wall, realize that you’ll likely have a new paint smell instead, which can also be stinky.
  • Place furniture undercover: Slipcovers, blankets or quilts that are washable will make your job easier when cleaning up messes and hiding any stains. If urine soaks through into your furniture, the smell usually doesn’t go away.
A dog that might create a smell in a house.
Source: (Conner Baker / Unsplash)

Ready to be your dog’s stain detective?

Think you know every nook and cranny of your house where your pet might have relieved themselves? If you’re not easily frightened of what you’ll find in the dark, consider purchasing a blacklight to identify exactly where to clean. While you might uncover more than you want to see, at least the mystery will be solved and you’ll know what areas need the most attention.

Typical spots where dogs use as a bathroom are:

  • Around curtains
  • By their crates or beds
  • Corners of the room
  • Near potted plants

When should you consider calling a professional?

You’ve done lots of vacuuming, mopping and dusting of your home and while things have improved, you can still smell your dog’s essence, and now need to seek out additional help. Professional cleaners such as carpet cleaners will assess your situation, usually address stains with an enzyme treatment and then finish with a deeper carpet cleaning.

After the professionals get their chance, if your house still has a pet odor, then you’ll usually have to consider replacement of the carpet and padding to eliminate it altogether.

How can I minimize future dog smells in my home?

Short of sending your dog to a pet resort for a long extended vacation, after you go to the trouble of removing your dog odors, you don’t want Rover to do it all over again. In order to ensure your home stays smelling fresh, try these proven strategies that will keep your dog and home clean:

Caring for your dog:

  • Regular bathing including a gentle washing in a basin or tub, usually once a month
  • Grooming services every four to six weeks that typically costs between $30-$90
  • Routine health checkups to screen for skin or dental infections
  • Thoroughly brushing your dog every couple of days to manage shedding
  • Applying proper potty and house training techniques to avoid accidents

Fresh ideas for your home:

  • Use natural dog odor eliminators (baking soda, vinegar and vodka)
  • Purchase an air purifier with HEPA filters used where the dog hangs out
  • Use odor-neutralizing sprays to freshen the air and your fabrics
  • Activate odor-removing gels that can usually absorb odors within 450 square feet
  • Treating stains quickly because the longer they set the likely they’ll sit, and stay

Conclusion: No smell, easier to sell

If you have a pet, the most important thing to do is ask people that have not been to your home before or very often, could you please be honest and tell me if you smell anything that’s not great,” says Kaminsky. After getting this feedback, Kaminsky suggests looking at the materials that would likely retain the smell and determine if it can either be cleaned or replaced.

If you’re ready to welcome buyers with a sensational home that is fresh and clean smelling, remember these key takeaways:

Assess your situation: If you’re not sure the dog smell will affect your sale, ask friends or professionals who don’t regularly visit to be “nosy” for you.

Spring into cleaning: Clean and freshen up every area of your house, especially where your dog hangs out and use a blacklight to see every stain, if you dare…

Hire a professional: If the job is bigger than what you want or can accomplish, consider hiring a professional who can either clean or install new carpet or wood flooring.

Ready to find an agent who can help your sale smell sweet?

Consider using HomeLight’s Agent Match platform where a top real estate agent who has years of experience can help you address dog smells and other concerns to help you navigate a successful home sale.

Header Image Source: (Hannah Lim / Unsplash)