Author Topic: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?  (Read 12001 times)

MVal

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Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« on: February 10, 2017, 02:50:49 PM »
I just rented a house and although it is very clean, it has a weird, non-organic smell to me, like a cheap, car air freshener potentially mixed with a slight cigarette odor. I already sprayed nearly an entire bottle of Febreeze on the carpet all through this little 700 sq ft house and it made no difference. I really dread bringing my clothes and other items into the house with this smell. It's not nasty, just kind of "white trash" smelling.

What have you landlords used in rentals to get rid of odors from past tenants?

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2017, 02:59:34 PM »
Ugh. Well, for one, I note smell and do not rent places that smell bad. That being said, it's obviously too late for you.

What is the flooring? If it's fresh laid laminate or similar, you're probably SOL because it's likely related to that. If it's carpet, it could be whatever they cleaned it with. I would steam clean the whole thing and see. I would also feel the walls and see if they fell 'weird', and wash them if they do. I'd also run an air purifier for a while.

Good luck. That seriously sucks.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2017, 03:04:39 PM »
Febreeze is just perfume coverup that has a great marketing team. It does nothing to stop real odors - just covers them up for a short time. Don't waste money on that crap.

Proceeding from least to most expensive:

1. Change all air filters in house, even if the owner said they already did. If the former tenants smoked or they used cheap gross scent, it's in that filter and you can use this opportunity to make sure to get a better quality one anyway. Open windows and sprinkle baking soda on carpet areas. Let at least 1-2 hours pass like this. And yes, baking soda like in the little yellow box that people use to bake with (I get the generic stuff from the dollar store for like 50 a box because I clean with it too - sinks, tub and counters in bath/kitchen).

2. If that doesn't vastly improve the smell: Use a 1:1 solution of water/vinegar and wash down hard surface floors (NOT wood floors tho - tile or vinyl fine, but check for proper cleaning solutions safe for wood), any counters or walls that can be washed down (eggshell painted finish with no texture - check in inconspicuous area to test first). Don't forget surfaces like ceiling fans and tops of cabinets.

Again, all windows should be open for as long as you can stand it, as the more air circulating, the better.

(I honestly would do both 1 and 2 myself since the vinegar is a great deodorizer and kills mold/mildew as well).

If you can leave all of this overnight, great, but otherwise the longer you let the baking soda and vinegar do their magic, the better.

After the time has elapsed, vacuum up the baking soda (keeping in mind that the vac bag will smell funny until it's changed out if you use bags).

3. Expensive but likely to have the best effect: do all the above and then go rent an ozone generator and leave it running for a few hours with the windows and doors closed, but all rooms and closets open so the ozone can do its thing. Do not put any living items (people/plants/pets) in the house until you're finished.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2017, 03:09:02 PM by Frankies Girl »

MVal

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2017, 03:12:04 PM »
Ugh. Well, for one, I note smell and do not rent places that smell bad. That being said, it's obviously too late for you.

What is the flooring? If it's fresh laid laminate or similar, you're probably SOL because it's likely related to that. If it's carpet, it could be whatever they cleaned it with. I would steam clean the whole thing and see. I would also feel the walls and see if they fell 'weird', and wash them if they do. I'd also run an air purifier for a while.

Good luck. That seriously sucks.

Yeah, other than this smell, it's a pretty decent place. I've been looking for several months for something modest and close to work, and unfortunately this is probably the best I can afford in the part of town where my job is. I may try washing the walls, like you say. I read somewhere about washing the walls with a baking soda solution, so maybe I'll try that. The laminate is NOT new, so it's not that. Do you think I could rent an air purifier like you're talking about?

Blatant

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2017, 07:45:06 AM »
What does "white trash" smell like?

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2017, 07:52:19 AM »
What does "white trash" smell like?

See, to me I would guess Febreeze to be honest haha. So I was a little surprised when OP said he or she used a ton, lol.

I'm guessing cheap artificial scents, like maybe bathroom air freshener?

MVal

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2017, 08:08:40 PM »
What does "white trash" smell like?

See, to me I would guess Febreeze to be honest haha. So I was a little surprised when OP said he or she used a ton, lol.

I'm guessing cheap artificial scents, like maybe bathroom air freshener?


Yes, I thought cheap car air freshener, but my sister put her finger on it better, "macaroni and cheese, cigarettes and bad fabric softener."

I just changed the furnace filter today to the highest filtration level I could find, so hopefully that will make a difference.

Drifterrider

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2017, 06:17:14 AM »

What have you landlords used in rentals to get rid of odors from past tenants?

Paint.  Odors seem to sink into carpet and paint.  Washing the walls and ceilings might help.  Maybe.

Dave1442397

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2017, 06:30:29 AM »
Febreeze is just perfume coverup that has a great marketing team. It does nothing to stop real odors - just covers them up for a short time. Don't waste money on that crap.

That's exactly what I used to think too, and then I read the story of how Febreze came to the market. It was actually odorless when first invented, and it really did neutralize odors. I still don't buy the stuff, but it seems to do what it claims.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20120226/COLUMN70/102269984

http://chemistry.about.com/od/cleanerchemistry/f/how-febreze-works.htm


pbkmaine

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2017, 06:33:36 AM »
Get an enormous box of baking soda and sprinkle it on the carpets. Leave it in overnight, then vacuum. If that does not work, have the carpet professionally cleaned. If there are curtains, wash them or have them dry cleaned.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2017, 10:40:44 AM »
You might also try leaving a cup of white vinegar sitting out, or in front of the air return to help deodorize. My house occasionally gets a kinda funky scent (especially in humid weather) and small cups of vinegar hidden around have helped.

MVal

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2017, 10:36:16 PM »
You might also try leaving a cup of white vinegar sitting out, or in front of the air return to help deodorize. My house occasionally gets a kinda funky scent (especially in humid weather) and small cups of vinegar hidden around have helped.

Interesting, I may do that next. So far I have put about 3 lbs of baking soda into the carpet all over the house, left it and vacuumed a couple days later, wiped down all the walls with vinegar water and left all the windows open like Frankie's Girl and some others have suggested. Didn't seemed to have helped too much so far, but I also just changed the furnace filter to an ultra-high filtration one like some of you all have suggested. I'm going there tomorrow, so we'll see if there's much change.

On the up side, I had my friend over there and she said she can't smell anything.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2017, 07:18:17 AM »
If it stays really bad, but you still want to live there, see if you can paint. Killz primer really takes the smell of cigarette smoke and cats down a few notches. That's what we always did after smelly tenants for my aunt's rentals.

And then steam cleaning those rugs. You can get special soap formulas. If you think it could have been animals, get a pet one, otherwise see if they have an extra strength or cigarette one.

Kroaler

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2017, 10:06:56 AM »
Febreeze is just perfume coverup that has a great marketing team. It does nothing to stop real odors - just covers them up for a short time. Don't waste money on that crap.

That's exactly what I used to think too, and then I read the story of how Febreze came to the market. It was actually odorless when first invented, and it really did neutralize odors. I still don't buy the stuff, but it seems to do what it claims.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20120226/COLUMN70/102269984

http://chemistry.about.com/od/cleanerchemistry/f/how-febreze-works.htm

It's also mentioned in "the power of habit".    Was a great product that worked, but they had to change it to its current iteration for sales reasons.

accolay

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2017, 02:18:24 PM »
Ozone generator. I have not used one, but hear of good results.

Lmoot

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2017, 04:44:32 AM »
Cleaning the blinds with degreaser (if in fact they smoked in there, it could hold tar), and follow with vinegar (depending on the material of the blind. Do the same for anything a hand touches: switchplates,, doorknobs, cabinet and furniture pulls, appliance handles, thermostat (ever stand near the buttons on an elevator and get a waft of stale cigarettes from the smokers' fingers pushing the buttons?)

You could ask the landlord, or ask if you can pay for it yourself, for an AC vent cleaning.

At night, put shallow pans (cooking pans work great), of vinegar in each room. In the daytime, when you're home, turn off the AC and put on the ceiling fans, open the windows.

I agree with painting, as others have mentioned. But first sandpaper walls (further removed odor, also makes paint stick), wipe down with diluted water-dish soap mix, then paint.

Buy a couple cheap air filter for a couple rooms. But yeah, you will need a citrus degreaser to get tar residue (which can be invisible) from hard surfaces.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 04:49:44 AM by Lmoot »

accolay

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2017, 07:58:22 AM »
Cleaning the blinds with degreaser (if in fact they smoked in there, it could hold tar), and follow with vinegar (depending on the material of the blind. Do the same for anything a hand touches: switchplates,, doorknobs, cabinet and furniture pulls, appliance handles, thermostat (ever stand near the buttons on an elevator and get a waft of stale cigarettes from the smokers' fingers pushing the buttons?)

I agree with painting, as others have mentioned. But first sandpaper walls (further removed odor, also makes paint stick), wipe down with diluted water-dish soap mix, then paint.

If they smoked in there, everything will need cleaning with the ceilings being the most PITA thing to clean. IF the landlord would let you paint, probably have to go with KILLs type paint. If you try to paint over tar with regular latex paint it can soak right through leaving a brown stain. I've used a mixture of water, vinnegar, ammonia and washing soda to get it off. Spray the wall, wipe off with water sponge. Change fresh water bucket often. final wipes with rag or paper towel. PITA.

Another Reader

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2017, 08:37:21 AM »
If you use Kilz, only the oil-based version is effective.  If you live in a state where that is banned, such as California, don't waste your time or money.

Lmoot

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Re: Rental house: how to get rid of weird smell?
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2017, 08:37:31 AM »
Agree. Even if they smoked outside of the house, and wash their hands, the smell stays on the hands even after washing. Hopefully they didn't smoke in the house (from the description it didn't seem like it was an intense smoke because that's ALL you would smell), but I agree, you would need a barrier primer and to wash the walls (scour really, with sandpaper).