We've all had the experience of walking into a luxury hotel lobby or a department store and immediately feeling pampered and refreshed by the fragrance in the air. When your home is up for sale, you've probably focused mostly on how it looks. But you can't ignore how it smells. 

If you want to "scent brand" your home the way major retail businesses do, you can start by eliminating any offending odors. Then,  you can create an atmosphere that tells buyers your house is safe, clean, comfortable, and desirable. 

Those are the two secrets to making your home's unique aroma one that is a selling point! 

First step

Certain smells are positive and others are negative. One scent that's a sure turn-off is mold and mildew. 

It's common for people to become accustomed to the aromas that surround them daily, so you may not realize that you have a mold problem. It's also common for people today to have mold allergies that create health problems. You may not see mold inside your home but you can test whether you have a mold problem by ordering a test kit from a company called ImmunoLytics.  

One way to keep mold and mildew at bay is to keep the air inside your home dry and circulating. Mold thrives on humidity and stagnant air. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recommends indoor air be below 60% relative humidity to avoid mildew and mold growth. The way to mediate mold and mildew in your home depends on the type of mold and its extent. 

The ImmunoLytics test kit will determine not only if you have mold but if so, what kind and how to eliminate it. Sometimes it's simply a good cleaning with bleach or another disinfectant. But sometimes it calls for adding air purifiers, replacing drywall, cleaning the HVAC ductwork, or improving the drainage around your home's foundation.  

Fresh air is always nice if the air outside your 
home is not contaminated by pollen, dust, or other 
common pollutants from sources like traffic,
construction, or manufacturing sites. Photo: Laura Casey

Other scents

There are other smells that work against your home being desirable. One comes from pet dander and pet litter boxes. If you keep any animals indoors, there is no excuse for people touring your home picking up any animal odors, given the number and quality of litter products, urine scent cleaners, and washable dog beds available today. An air purifier will go a long way toward keeping your home free of pet hair, dander, tobacco scents, cooking aromas, the stink of sweaty clothing and shoes, and animal scents. 

If you're rehabbing a home that has been vacant or has been occupied by elderly or sick persons, you'll need to pay special attention to the scents that might linger. Circulation of fresh air and a thorough cleaning are a good start. Check upholstered pieces, draperies, carpeting, and rugs to determine if they need replacing, washing, or shampooing.      

This is the air purifier I use.
The cost was less than $115 but it does
a great job keeping the air clean of
dust, pollen, and cooking odors.  

Outside air

Another source of unpleasant scents is your septic system. If your home has a septic system that is not functioning properly your home can have foul indoor odors, soggy ground outside, or interior drains that backup. 

The average household septic system needs to be inspected at least once every three years by a septic service expert. So, it's a good idea to have yours inspected and serviced before listing, and then make the inspection report part of your sales package. 

There are certain plants that give off unpleasant odors as well. I'm not going to suggest you remove problematic landscaping like Bradford pear trees in bloom or boxwood shrubs or some ginko trees, but you can avoid strong scents that can be offensive and even trigger allergic reactions in some people. The most common offenders are narcissus, marigolds, and some lilies. That's another argument for staging your home with silk flowers.  

Other scent sources 

While mold and pets and dirt and poor plumbing and garbage and cooking are common sources of undesirable odors inside, you can check other places that might make your home smell bad. 

Anywhere water can be stagnant is one place. Clean your in-sink garbage disposal. Disinfect the insides of trash cans and wastebaskets. Leave the lid open on your washing machine for a few hours after each load so that it can dry thoroughly. Run a cleaning cycle on your dishwasher. Have your water quality checked if it has any scent of chlorine or sulfur.

Introduce new aromas

Once you've dealt with the causes of anything that stinks in your home, you have a clean palette to add some pleasant scents. I'm a big fan of using essential oils as a way to scent a room. I've blogged about how artificial fragrances are unhealthy and how best to use essential oils. 

The diffuser I use doesn't call attention to itself, so it's
ideal for staging a home. Since I keep my indoor
air dry, I keep the diffuser near my African violets
to give them some of the humidity they love. 

Please don't count on plug-in air fresheners. They are a fire hazard and they annoy people with chemical sensitivities. Fabreze only masks smells and is loaded with carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, irritants, and toxins! I also don't endorse scented candles for the same reasons. 

The most common clean-smelling essential oils to use are lemon, orange, lavender, lemongrass, and mint. My favorite brand is Aura Cacia

Get the look, get the book

Scents are especially highly evocative and will cast a spell that can trigger either happy memories or uneasiness in people touring your home for sale. Don't put a home on the market that has halitosis! You can harness the power of fragrance to lure home buyers into a quicker, more profitable sale of your home. 

I give you more tips for smart ways to stage your own home when you download my DIY home staging eBooks. You can easily and frugally start your simple staging today to make your property the one that stands out from the competition!

Top photo: AliExpress