HELP BAD ODOR PETS SMOKE SMELL

15 Replies

I finally got renters out the house I just bought and they lived like pigs and had smalls dogs. I pulled out the carpet out the house so there's absolutely no carpet in the house and I scrubbed the house with vinegar. unfortunately the house still smells like cigarettes and wet dog/ the pet odor smell. Its much worse in the kitchen were I cant take out the floor right now but its like this plastic tile flooring. I have not painted the rooms yet because I want to rid the smell first. I have tried pinsole as well only lightened the smell a bit. the floors are this nice genuine hard wood floor. I will not be putting carpet back into the house. thank you

Ps. cheapest option this house is used as a rental.   

Buy an ozone generating air scrubber.  You can get them for less than $100 on Amazon.  I use them all the time on heavy smoke and pet smell houses and it works great in neutralizing the odors.  You'll also want to put at least one if not 2 heavy coats of primer like Kilz on the subfloors before you put new flooring back in.  This will help lock in any subfloor saturation if you don't want to replace the section.  Make sure to wipe down the walls, trim and doors before you repaint so that you remove the layers of nicotine, otherwise your paint likely won't stick.

What did you clean? I use a five gallon bucket and tile sponge or floor sponge mop on pole with TSP from the paint department on the walls.

Priming with a stain blocking primer helps alot. Best BIN (used on burn-outs), next original KILZ oil based, but I generally have good results with Zinzer 123 or Coverstain, both water-based.

The hardwood floors may be where the smell is. Are there big urine spots on the wood? I have read posts where landlords swear by hardwoods with 3 coats of poly as being bulletproof in rentals, but I would suggest clicklock vinyl over the wood...not the thinner glue down. It should lock down any light, lingering smell under the finish floor, protect the original hardwood and might cost about the same as refinishing the hardwoods. You can also install it right over the kitchen tile if it is not peeling (but if the kitchen comes up easily, I would remove it).

I believe there are enzyme cleaners at pet stores that can be used on wood. There may be lingering smoke in the hvac vents and coils. I have used a block of "cleanaire" gel stuff or similar name from Ferguson hvac supply in the return air vent to absorb smells for 3 months.

The ozone generator is definitely a must, another thing you can do is wipe all surfaces down with a product called TSP. TSP is a powder you add to water so if you wipe down drywall with it make sure the sponge is damp and not soaked then make sure everything is dry before you paint.

im confused how this ozone generator works does it neutralize the scent in a home? Also how long do I have to leave it in the home?
Thanks !!

Originally posted by @Owen D.:

Buy an ozone generating air scrubber.  You can get them for less than $100 on Amazon.  I use them all the time on heavy smoke and pet smell houses and it works great in neutralizing the odors.  You'll also want to put at least one if not 2 heavy coats of primer like Kilz on the subfloors before you put new flooring back in.  This will help lock in any subfloor saturation if you don't want to replace the section.  Make sure to wipe down the walls, trim and doors before you repaint so that you remove the layers of nicotine, otherwise your paint likely won't stick.

How long you leave it in the home depends on the size of the home and the degree of the odor. Usually a couple days does the trick.  For a better explanation on how they work, just Google it or look one up on Amazon. I'm sure they explain it better than I'd be able to.

much appreciated hopefully this is the fix!


Originally posted by @Owen D.:

How long you leave it in the home depends on the size of the home and the degree of the odor. Usually a couple days does the trick.  For a better explanation on how they work, just Google it or look one up on Amazon. I'm sure they explain it better than I'd be able to.

Originally posted by @Owen D.:

Buy an ozone generating air scrubber.  You can get them for less than $100 on Amazon.  I use them all the time on heavy smoke and pet smell houses and it works great in neutralizing the odors.  You'll also want to put at least one if not 2 heavy coats of primer like Kilz on the subfloors before you put new flooring back in.  This will help lock in any subfloor saturation if you don't want to replace the section.  Make sure to wipe down the walls, trim and doors before you repaint so that you remove the layers of nicotine, otherwise your paint likely won't stick.

I buy older multifamily and just wanted to add to this to not forget to change the lights and air filters.  Excellent advice

A place that I bought several years ago had smokers and cats in one unit just prior to my purchase. I pulled all the carpet out, and I painted the entire place including the subfloor. The subfloor I painted with Kilz primer to try to seal the cat urine smell. In any case, this in addition to cleaning every surface seemed to do the trick. 

It's because of this property that I no longer allow cats or smokers in rentals! 

I'm one of the previously-mentioned believers in solid hardwood flooring finished in place with three coats of poly and heavy-traffic-rated floor tile laid by a competent installer. As I am the flooring guy of our little property outfit, among other things, this works for me. If you are not the person installing and maintaining the tile and hardwood flooring in your rentals, it will not work for you over the long haul.

All the same, I would urge you not to think in terms of the CHEAPEST finishing options for a house used as a rental, but the toughest and/or the most easily replaceable. If you don't, you're going to be right back here when the next set of tenants move out, complaining about their bestial living habits. You've made a good decision to eliminate carpet. I don't think there's a legitimate case for carpet to be made in a profitable rental property in 2017.

For now, you've received a lot of advice to scrub down your walls using TSP and to paint your exposed subfloors with oil-based Kilz. It's good advice. But they don't take into account the things you've told us about your home's existing flooring.

It sounds like you have peel-and-stick vinyl tile in your kitchen. That's a no-no for rentals precisely for this reason. However, you can install vinyl plank flooring over that floor and get rid of a lot of the smell. You'll be back where you started soon enough, but at least you'll be able to remove the plank flooring easily enough and replace it for a low cost.

You do not mention bathrooms, so I figure there are three possibilities. The first and ugliest is that they were carpeted over hardwood flooring, like much of the rest of the house. The second-ugliest is that they're just plain hardwood. The third is that they're either sheet vinyl or more peel-and-stick vinyl tile. Your solution in all three instances is to put down another vinyl plank flooring, and be ready to replace it when necessary.

Good luck.

I'll tell you what I've done in the past:

I got stuck with a rental that smelled of tobacco tar like nobody's business. I ended up using bleach water and a sponge mop. I literally "mopped" the floor and ceiling several times. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough after I let it air out for a while. 

If that is innefective... repaint with Killz. It's a brand of paint that is designed to be non-porous, so odors don't leak out from the underlying material.  

thank you all for this help I ordered an ozone air scrubber hoping that's going to do the trick. I actually just bought this home. first ever rental property for me. the kitchen and bathrooms you are right they do have the peel and stick vinyl tile. I'm gonna run the air scrubber for a day and hope for the best ! I will let you guys know what happens

@Amr Taweel

I know it looks bad right now, but one day, this duplex (I read your profile) might become a golden opportunity for you to learn how to lay ceramic floor tile. Lay the vinyl plank flooring over the peel-and-stick for now, but when you're ready, there are plenty of people in the BP community who can teach you how to lock down those kitchen and bathroom floors for decades with waterproofed tile installations.

As everyone has said above the air scrubber is essential, such a great tool for landlords as you just never know what you are going to get with a new investment. Then scrub the heck out of everything, floors, walls, ceilings, surfaces with water/bleach. If you are happy the walls etc are clean then re-paint, the paint should also help cover the smell

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you