How to Get Rid Of The Previous Owner Smell In A New Home

In 2020, there were more than 6.5 million homes sold in the U.S. The figure has been rising steadily and is projected to reach 7.1 million by the end of 2021. Although moving into a new house can be an exciting experience, especially if you are a first-time homeowner, several aspects might seem less attractive.

For instance, if you are moving into a pre-owned home, you have to deal with issues such as getting rid of that “old house smell.” Even so, if you understand the cause, getting rid of the smell can be pretty easy. 

To get rid of a previous owner’s smell, make sure to ventilate your home thoroughly, clean hard surfaces with a vinegar mixture, and use baking soda to absorb odors from their furniture and carpets (vacuuming it afterwards).

However, that’s just the short answer. We’ve prepared a detailed insight into getting rid of previous owner smells below – everything from cigarette smoke to must and mold.

Roll up your sleeves, grab some cleaning supplies, and try out these cleaning tips:

How to Remove Cigarette Odor from Your New Home

Without a doubt, tobacco smoke is one of the most pervasive and persistent scents that can cling to your ceiling, walls, carpet, and clothing for the longest time. Also known as third-party smoking, this unpleasant odor is capable of causing health issues. 

So, now that the smoker has taken the old habit away from home, you need to do damage control. The first task would be to find out the cause of the smell to help you in your elimination. Among some of the things you’ll need include:

  • Cleaning rags
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Bleach Cleaning solution 
  • Vinegar

After ensuring you have everything ready, here are some things you can do to mitigate the existing smoke odors.

Step 1: Get Any Item Made of Fabric Out of the House

Have you ever sat next to a chain-smoker for a long time? Well, there is a high chance that your hair and clothes will have that lingering tobacco smell that can’t seem to get off.  

Technically, smoke can seep into everything with air ducts. For this reason, gather up any item made of fabric, including rugs, drapes, furniture, and everything in your closet. 

Step 2: Wash the Soft Clothes With Cold Water

Now that you have gathered everything that might be holding the cigarette smoke smell, it’s time to give them a clean wash. Add at least two cups of vinegar to the washing machine and wash with cold water. Note that it might take multiple washes to get rid of the smell completely.

For more oversized items such as furniture, you might need the help of a dry cleaner to help you get rid of the smell. However, ensure you let them know that you need their help removing the smoke smell. They will use their professional expertise to get rid of the smoke.

Notably, once the items have been cleaned, please do not bring them back to the house. It might still be leaking smoke. You can put them in polythene bags and remove them once you’ve completed the rest of the steps.

Step 3: Spread Baking Soda Over the Furniture and Carpets

After cleaning all the soft items in your house, you will likely be left with curtains and large mattresses, furniture, and carpet. Prepare a baking soda solution and gently sprinkle it on the items. Ensure you mix enough baking soda for optimum results.

Ideally, you can start by spreading the baking soda on the fabric, then sprinkle water until it has evenly distributed on the item. Move around the room until all the equipment, carpet, mattress, or furniture have been covered. 

After you have finished spreading the baking soda, your carpet should appear snowy. Now let the baking soda work its magic. Let it sit for 30 or 60 minutes.  You can help spread it further on the soft surfaces by walking on the items (eg; carpet and mattresswith socks on your feet.  

Apply baking soda and water on carpet
Apply baking soda and water on a cigarette-smelling carpet, then sprinkle water to ‘activate it’

As you wait for the baking soda to work its magic on the soft surfaces, you can proceed to work on the hard surfaces.

Step 4: Apply Vinegar on the Hard Surfaces.

Technically, smoke leaves a greasy residue on walls and ceiling after floating through the air and sticking on any hard surface it makes contact with.

Among the most affected parts are ceilings and the upper half of walls.  Fill a bucket with 75% vinegar and 25% water, but if the mixture is too strong for you, you can add more water until you attain a solution that is tolerable to work with.

Use a rag to scrub all your walls thoroughly. Start with the top corner down to an approximately three foot-by-3 foot section of the wall. 

Notably, this step doesn’t need to be done meticulously to be effective. All you need to do is gently clean the walls and leave them with a thin layer of vinegar to absorb the odor.

Step 5: Vacuum the Baking Soda

Your soft surfaces should now be clean by the time you are done cleaning the hard surfaces. Vacuum the baking soda from the smooth surfaces and repeat the process if the smoke smell is still present.

What’s more, you should leave your windows open to allow fresh air to circulate in the room. You can also leave exhaust fans running throughout the day.

How to Remove Damp and Musty Smell From Your Home

A damp and musty home can be pretty uninhabitable. It not only makes your home unwelcoming but also harmful to your health. Even so, that does not mean you cannot attain that fresh springtime air. Among some of the things you’ll need include:

  • Several fans
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Wash rug
  • Grout brush

Here is how you can clear out the humidity and stagnant airflow in your new home’s bathroom.

Step 1: Ventilate for Improved Airflow

Turn on fans and open windows to allow fresh air to circulate in the room. It will significantly work on ensuring that the humidity in your room is under control, which, as a result, helps avoid mildew formation. Additionally, when not in use, it is recommended that you leave the bathroom door open to allow air to circulate.

Step 2: Add More Bleach to Your Towels and Hang Them Separately

Usually, towels and washrags should be laundered regularly — preferably once per week. Add an equal ratio of bleach and water to the washing machine to remove odors that stick to clothes even after a complete wash cycle, and you’ll notice that everything smells fresh and clean.

Step 3: Apply Vinegar and Water Mixture

It is imperative to ensure that you air out your shower after every usage. What’s more, you might need to clean the curtain to avoid the formation of mold and fungi.

Cloth shower curtains clean up quickly in the washing machine with bleach water. 

After doing so, apply a mixture of vinegar and water and clean your tiles. Scrub the surface down with a grout brush until it’s spotlessly clean. Also, ensure that you spray your shower with an air cleaner after every usage.

Step 4: Check for Leaks and Clean Out Your Drains

The bathroom, toilet, or sink may leak and smell. The best way to get rid of this odor is to find the source and clean where necessary. If you notice water on your floor, replace the seal under the toilet on the floor.

What’s more, if there are water pools under the sink, check for a leak along the pipe. In case you discover a problem with the piping, consult a professional plumber to help you out.

Step 5: Service Your HVAC Systems

While they look complicated, air conditioning systems often have very easy to access filters. Removing these and cleaning or replacing them (depending on the type) is one of the easiest ways to keep your home smelling fresh.

These filters naturally pull out a lot of particles from the air, which helps to treat bad smells. In particular, if you can get HEPA filters these are especially good at keeping your home’s air fresh and clear from bad smells.

How to Remove Decomposition Odor from your Home

One of the most disturbing and severe odors is the smell of a decomposing animal. It is not only hard to remove but can make your new home uninhabitable. Here is how you can get rid of decomposition odor.

Dead Animal Odor

If a small animal such as a mouse is the cause of the decomposition, eliminating the odor is similar to cleaning pet urine or skunk spray. First, wear cleaning garments and remove damaged absorbent material from non-porous and semi-porous materials. 

Over-the-counter disinfectants are usually enough to clean most issues in a new home

Notably, semi-porous and non-porous materials should be appropriately cleaned and sanitized with a disinfectant to remove any odor.

Over-the-counter disinfectants are highly efficient and are capable of providing you with a clean and healthy surface.

Dead body odors

It is advisable to consult a specialist if the problem involves a deceased person. Once the competent authorities have removed the corpse, the washing and removal of fluids is covered under Blood and Other Potentially Infectious Material (BOPIM) rules for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). 

The guide provides users with the required cleaning approach, security concerns, equipment, and items to be utilized for secure removal and decontamination of a BOPIM affected region.

These standards are followed by most professional restoration firms across the world to decontaminate places where decomposition occurred. That being said, if aggressive cleaning is required due to human decomposition, the local health department should make an inspection before allowing anyone to live there.

Deodorize Your Home, Avoid Artificial Fragrance, and Keep Smells Simple

Studies reveal that the smell in your room dramatically impacts your mood. Besides, other studies show that simple scent puts people in a “buying mood.” For this reason, if you are looking to sell or rent a house to a new owner, it is advisable to keep the scent simple. 

Technically, it’s quite easy to go overboard with overly strong odors, which can make buyers skeptical and worry if anything is hiding. Additionally, avoid plug-in fresheners or spray, instead adhere to the neutral spectrum’s fragrance — think fresh cotton or those candles which will make your place smell like a cool place rather than sugar-brown vanilla.

You can also bake some fresh cookies to make the house smell “homey.” What’s more, you can also try natural scents such as citrus. Simmer sliced citrus fruit with water over the kitchen burner or put some small pieces of citrus in the garbage disposal.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are selling or buying a home, one thing that can prove to be daunting to eliminate is the “old house smell.” It is often the first thing that hits you when you open the door.

However, if you follow the above cleaning steps, there is no doubt that you will experience exceptional results.

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