How To Bust the Odors in Your Rental Home

We all want a “home sweet rental,” but what happens when “home sweet rental,” becomes “home unsweet smelling?” 

Smell is considered to be one of our most powerful senses. When we smell something good or familiar, it brings forth feelings of joy. However, bad smells have a negative impact, making us feel uneasy and uncomfortable, even in our own home or rental property.

The benefits to neutralizing odors are a sweet smelling home with fewer allergens and bacteria, as well as happy landlords, property managers, renters and guests! That’s why we’ve compiled a list of how to combat those mystery smells so you start the new fall season off with a fresh-smelling rental. 

Lava Ridge Property Management’s Tips For a Great Smelling Rental Property 

Do a Root Cause Analysis.

Typical offenders include the following: litter boxes, dog messes, garbage bins, diaper pails, garbage disposals and pet beds. Be sure to clean your litter boxes daily (and consider putting them in a less conspicuous place), pick up dog messes as soon as they happen, clean your garbage cans and diaper bins regularly (don’t just change out the bag), freshen your garbage disposal and wash your pet beds. 

If the smell still persists, consider less obvious offenders such as bed linens that need a good washing, a closet that needs vacuuming or sneakers that need a wash and dusting of foot powder. 

Tackle Pet Smells Dead On.

Changing out and washing the litter box, scooping the litter box regularly, picking up outdoor dog messes, washing pet beds and properly disposing of pet waste will certainly help keep pet smells at bay. However, washing and grooming your pet regularly (and cleaning their ears, teeth and paws daily), keeping them off the furniture, vacuuming your rugs, sweeping hair off your floors and combing your pet with a de-shedding comb are also important steps for pet owners to keep their house fresh. 

As a renter, you are responsible for permanent damage caused by pet messes. In the event your pet has an accident in the home, clean it up immediately. The best way to do this for urine is by patting it dry with a paper towel to get as much of the urine up as possible. Follow up with an enzyme cleaner such as our favorite Furry Freshness (we swear by this stuff!). 

For other messes like vomit—or worse—left on the carpet, sometimes it’s best to let it dry so you can pick it up in large pieces, then apply a heavy dose of enzyme cleaner (it make take multiple tries to get the stain out).

Clean Out Your Refrigerator. 

Food stinks, especially food that’s been there for a while. It’s one thing to toss out the bad milk, but for everlasting freshness in the fridge, you need to dig deeper. Start by tossing expired fresh food and leftovers that often get shoved to the back, then take a look a condiments, which are an often over-looked offender. A quarterly wipe down of your shelves drawers with a vinegar/water/dish soap mixture will help neutralize spills and odors and keep your fridge fresh. Finish off by switching out water filters and vacuuming the vents on the refrigerator, which keeps your fridge in tip-top shape so it lasts longer.


Change Your Furnace Filters Regularly.

Furnace filters are a renter responsibility and should be changed out every 2-3 months (more frequently if you have pets) to help keep the air clean, combat Central Oregon’s dusty atmosphere and keep the furnace in operating order. Not only will this instantly freshen your rental home, but furnace issues caused by lack of maintenance to the filters are a renter responsibility! It’s generally an easy and inexpensive process, however, if your furnace has internal filters, Lava Ridge Property Management will send out a technician to do this. Don’t forget to report ANY odd sounds, functions or issues with your furnace to your property management company so these potential issues can be addressed immediately. 


(Bonus Tip: Adding a few drips of essential oil to your furnace filters will send the fresh smell through your ventilation system, giving your rental a fresh boost for weeks).


Let the Air Flow.

In the fall and winter months, it is less common for us to open our windows and turn on our fans, however a little outside breeze on a mild, dry day is a great way to freshen your rental. Even a small crack can make a difference, exchanging stale air for fresh air. In draftier houses where this may not be an option, consider purchasing an air purifier which has a similar effect. 


Neutralize, Don’t Cover Up.

The only thing worse than the smell of day-old fish is the smell of day-old fish and petunias! The key is to neutralize the air, not cover it up. Some ways you can do this is with things like air neutralizers, fabric refreshers and active charcoal purifiers. 

If that’s not enough, consider a homemade stovetop potpourri. Our favorite recipe is sliced oranges and lemons in a couple cups of water with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and a dash of vanilla. 

There are lots of recipes on Pinterest using items right out of your kitchen that give the home a fresh, neutralized smell and aren’t as messy or as fragrant as candles. If you are a devoted candle-burner and refuse to give them up, consider passing on overwhelming scents that can be offensive to others. Subtle scents and scents found in nature are generally more well received by everyone and don’t compete with kitchen smells. Cinnamon, lemon. woodsy and herb-y smells are generally well accepted and work well with the smells that already exist in the home. 


Clean Up.

The absolute best way to guarantee a great smelling house is just to commit to cleaning up. Old dishes left in the sink and dirty clothes on the floor harbor orders, dirt and bacteria. If you can smell it, that’s a sign of bacteria overgrowth that’s been neglected too long!


As a top property manager in Central Oregon, Lava Ridge Rentals is committed to making sure investors’ homes are well maintained. We do monthly drive bys and yearly in-home checks. Smells are an immediate red flag for us because they signal what we can’t see. 

On the other hand, each home is somewhere our renters call home, so if a smell is persistent and offensive in your rental from the time of move in, give us a call so we can do what it takes—paint, carpet cleaning, dehumidifiers, mold detection—to make your home comfortable, livable and smelling good!