Investment Property Nightmares: How to get rid of that smell!


I purchased my first investment property in Victorville, CA. It was an REO that looked ok on the outside but I had no idea what I was going to find inside.  When I opened the door to take a look inside I couldn’t believe anyone could live in such conditions. The place looked and smelled like a garbage dump. I am not kidding, it literally looked like one. Roaches would cascade down doors I opened them up. I think they were upset that I disturbed their sleep, lol.  The previous owners pets no doubt had full range of the house, but especially in this one particular front bedroom. The smell of urine was so bad you needed a gas mask. Even though the property was in need of many repairs it was still a great investment.

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The Battle to Clean this Investment Property

I ended up purchasing the property and began to gut it out. I removed all the carpet and hauled out all the trash. The smell began to lighten up around the house but this front bedroom still had that awful smell. I thought that by taking the carpet and padding out it would of solved the problem, but I was dead wrong.

So, I did what any person would do and went to my local home improvement store to buy some kind of odor remover. I bought the most expensive one and mopped the concrete floor with this stuff diluted with the recommended amount of water. I instantly thought the smell was gone. Unfortunately it was only masked. After a couple of days the smell came back. I didn’t know where this smell was coming from so I ended up taking the baseboards out. I then mopped again but this time with full strength and made sure to get some of that remover up underneath the drywall. Two days later the same smell kept creeping back. I was at my wits end. I ended up trying 2 different cleaners but to no avail.

I couldn’t figure out where in the world it could be coming from.

So I spoke to some investors at a meeting I attended later that week and someone mentioned good ol’ laundry bleach. Using bleach never dawned on me. Later that night I went to the house, threw on some rubber gloves and put some bleach in a spray bottle. I took that spray bottle and sprayed deep in between where the drywall and the concrete met and after a couple of days I noticed that the smell was finally gone. There was so much pet urine in that place that regular odor removers could not even come close to working.

Nothing but bleach got rid of the smell!

All in all it was learning experience on how to get rid of the nastiest of smells. Little did I know that I had the solution all along, just sitting in the laundry room.

Don’t forget if all else fails put a clothes pin on your nose, LOL.

About Author

Winston Westbrook is broker & owner of Westbrook National Real Estate Company servicing the cities of Victorville, Spring Valley Lake, Adelanto, Hesperia, Apple Valley & the surrounding Victor Valley High Desert communities of So. California. Specializing in short sale and distressed properties.


  1. Terri L. Hawkes-Valdez on

    Winston, I helped my parents for years with their rental properties and what you encountered is par for the course. I can not do the bleach because of breathing problems so have discovered the products sold at Petsmart and other pet shops. They sell special enzyme cleaners that “eat’ the urine and fecal matter to completely remove the cause of the odor. Kilz is also my favorite pre-paint method to prevent any bleed through of color or scent. Good luck.

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