Pass the Labrador cookies, please

By Will McCullough
The home that my family and I live in smells. Badly. But there’s a catch: I’ve never personally noticed the smell. Heck, we’ve never even had anyone tell us it stinks. So how do I know our home smells? Simple, because we have pets.  Now don’t get me wrong, we love our pets and they bring a great deal of joy to our family. But if you have pets in your home, there’s also a very good chance that you have pet odor. So, from one pet lover to another, let me give it to you straight. You may not notice the smell but when the time comes for you to sell your home, potential buyers will. Please don’t despair! There are many tried and true methods that a home seller can use to eliminate pet odor.

What I don’t recommend
Cover ups: Spray and plug-in air fresheners are normally viewed by a potential buyer as exactly what they are, a cover up. Same thing goes for baking cookies. While this is a nice touch in an odor-free home, in a home with pets, the underlying pet odor tends to mingle with that of your freshly baked treats. I’ve yet to meet anyone whose mouth waters at the scent of Labrador-flavored cookies.
Taxidermy: I admit, at first glace this might seem like a win-win option. You get a home free of pet odor and the kids get to permanently enjoy Marley in one of their favorite poses. However, I’m fairly certain that family therapy expenses would quickly outweigh any perceived positives.

What I do recommend
Invite a friend: Please know that I don’t mean just any friend. I mean that one friend you have who isn’t afraid to speak to you honestly. Most of your friends probably won’t tell you if your home has an odor. You need the one who will. Invite them over, explain to them that you are putting the house on the market and that you need them to tell you honestly if your home smells. If they say “yes,” thank them and, by all means, don’t disown them. We’re going to be needing them again later.

Steam Cleaning: Whether done professionally or by yourself, this can often work wonders on mild pet odors. The professionals, with their experience and materials, obviously have the upper hand in this arena, but if you’re working within a tight budget, the rental units you find at grocery store can do a fine job.  Just be sure to also get the attachments so you can clean the upholstery in addition to the carpets.
Arm & Hammer: These guys make a “Pet Fresh” powder that actually seems to do a good job at eliminating minor pet odors. While maybe not the best choice for the initial removal of odors, it can be a great option to help keep odors away after a more detailed treatment.
Scoe 10x: This product has a reputation for doing an excellent job at eliminating pet odors in general and the odor of  urine specifically. When used in conjunction with a black light to find old urine spots, it can be a powerful tool.  Find it online at scoe10x.com.
RoomShocker: This product can be found at biocidesystems.com and has an excellent track record for eliminating not just pet odors but smoking odors as well. As the name implies, it’s an “entire room” treatment as opposed to a spot treatment.
Ozone Generators: Found online at sites like odorfreemachines.com, these machines are reputed to work in a manner similar to the “RoomShocker” product above. They treat the area with ozone (O3) which reportedly breaks down the pet odor molecules. These units carry a large price tag and I have to honestly say that I have no personal experience with them.
Professional Cleaning Services: It should go without saying that these folks deal with issues like this on a daily basis. Don’t hesitate to call in the pros for an initial consultation. It may well mean the difference between selling your home or not selling your home.
No matter what pet odor treatment you use, my recommendation is that you invite your honest friend back over once it’s been completed. Ask them for an updated opinion and, if you get the “thumbs up,” you’ll know that you’re now good to go.  As a matter of fact, as a token of your appreciation, you may even wish to consider offering them a batch of freshly baked cookies.

Will and Deena McCullough of Lowcountry Real Estate can be reached directly at 843-441-8286 or at TheMcCulloughTeam@gmail.com.

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