The nose knows

One of the most common tips you’ll see in real estate articles for getting the home ready for open house is to have cookies baking in the oven. Seriously, have you ever heard of someone buying a home because it smelled like cookies? Probably not, but you may have heard of people losing a deal because the home had a funky odor.

You can stage a home visually, but make sure you take care of the sense of smell, too. Here are some easy tricks to give your guests a whiff of a good first impression.

Instant air fresheners

  • Coffee: They always say that if you enter a malodorous home or room, brew a pot of coffee. This will instantly neutralize many of the odors around the room. You can also put a few tablespoons of fresh, unused ground coffee into old socks (clean ones, please) and hang them in your closets to stop musty odors.
  • Charcoal: There’s a reason they put charcoal in Odor Eaters! Fill a container with activated charcoal (available at pet supply stores) and place in areas affected by mold and mildew, such as the basement or a closet.

Spot treatments

  • Carpet: You can’t wait till the last minute to do this. Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the affected area to soak up smells. Wait at least an hour, then vacuum it all up.
  • Musty basements: Most people think of onions as the cause of bad breath, but they are also great for eliminating odors. Cut an onion in half and leave it on a plate overnight in musty areas. This will absorb musty smells in the basement, like magic.
  • Kitchen sink: Stick orange, grapefruit or lemon peels into the garbage disposal to make your sink—and the kitchen—smell fresh. There’s also a product called Plink! that does the same thing, if you don’t have fruits around.
  • Microwave: Fill a large microwave-safe bowl with four or five cloves, 1/2 a lemon, chopped; and 1.5 cups water. Microwave on high until the water boils, then let it sit until water cools. Wipe the walls of the microwave with a paper towel and leave the door open to air it out.
  • Living room: White vinegar, like onions, absorbs bad smells. Pour some in a bowl and shut the door to the room to remove odor. Get the air circulating as well; open windows and turn on a fan if necessary.

Whatever you do, don’t use household sprays or perfumes to mask the smell, as this will probably make it worse (or at least smell like you’re hiding something). Just mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to neutralize air odors. If you still want some kind of scent, use a candle or plug-in afterward, but it’s not recommended for open house.