Having unpleasant smells in your rental property can easily turn away viable tenants

This musty odor can be a sign of poor property management on the owner's part. Also, no tenant wants to move into a home that does not smell good.

This is why it is extremely important to maintain a pleasant smell in your rental properties.

In this guide, we will explain how to get rid of these unwanted smells and how to avoid them in the future.

First, let's talk about some of the most common sources of these smells.

Sources Smells Property

Where Do These Smells Typically Come From?

Before getting rid of a certain smell, you have to know where it is coming from. Below, we will be going over some of the most common sources of unpleasant smells in rental properties.


One of the most common, but not known, places where unpleasant smells originate is in the dishwasher. Since the dishwasher constantly receives dirty plates and utensils, rotting food and grease can linger after everything is taken out. If this is left uncleaned for a long time, the smell can start to become very bad.

This is why it is recommended to regularly clean your dishwasher when using it. This does not have to be a deep cleaning, however. Just simply wiping the interior with a damp cloth regularly can prevent the strong, unpleasant smell. You can also sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher before running a hot water cycle.


Another thing that should be checked for unpleasant smells is the refrigerator. The refrigerator can foster bad smells due to the presence of bacteria and mold. This is especially true if rotten food is left inside the fridge for long periods of time.

So, to prevent this, it is recommended the rotten food be disposed of as soon as possible. Also, if anything breaks or spills inside the fridge, it should also be cleaned as soon as possible to quickly get rid of the smell.


Carpets are oftentimes the dirtiest things in your home. They hold onto pet odors, cigarette smoke, and other stubborn odors that are not easy to remove. For a large property management company, it may be wise to hire a professional cleaning crew to take care of the carpets. However, if you want to do this yourself, there are some ways that it can be done, explained thoroughly below.


This one is pretty obvious, but goes overlooked by many people. It only takes about one week for a garbage bin to start smelling disgusting. This is especially true if the garbage has food leftovers that have been sitting there for too long.

Pros and Cons Pets Property


Although pets are cared for and loved by their owners, there are still accidents that happen inside. Pet urine smells, especially cat urine, are especially difficult odors to get rid of. Not only does the smell infect a large area of the property, but it also leaves pet urine stains. And these stains can be even harder to remove than the odor.

This is why property managers have to seriously consider whether or not they will accept pets in their rental properties. If they do allow them, they have to be prepared to deal with the pet odor and possibly have to hire a professional cleaning service to completely get rid of the smell.


Another one of the most common sources of unpleasant odors is smoke. These smoke odors can be either cigarette odors, marijuana odors, or any other smoke odor. Regardless of the smoke, these bad odors are immensely difficult to remove from a property. This is only one of the reasons that many property managers enforce smoking policies for their properties.

So, you have gotten your property back but have some lingering smells from the previous tenant. No worries! Below, we have listed the 8 best ways to get rid of any smell that is lingering in your rental property.

How to Remove Smells

Top 8 Ways To Get Rid Of Unwanted Smells In Your Rental Property

Renting out a property to a new tenant with a foul odor is not very easy. For that reason, we have outlined a full set of steps to help you get rid of any smell in your rental property.

1. Deodorize The Air

The first thing that should be done when getting rid of any smell is deodorizing the air. The best way to do this is to open all windows and doors to improve the circulation of fresh air throughout the unit

You can also purchase odor eliminator gels, sprays, or tubs that will help in deodorizing the air. If that doesn't work, ozone generators have been known to eliminate unwanted odors from the source.

And, for general use throughout the property, air purifiers can maintain the good smell that you are working so hard for. For more information on air purifiers, be sure to visit DoorLoop’s Full Guide On Air Purifiers.

However, for smells like a smoke smell or pet odor, you're going to need to do a lot more than that.

Clean Carpets Guide

2. Clean The Carpets

The next thing that should be done is clean the carpets. Carpets are great at holding on to foul odors and even more depending on how past tenants treated them. If the past tenant was a pet owner, cleaning the carpet might not even be enough.

One of the tried and tested ways to clean a carpet is to sprinkle baking soda in a thin layer over the carpet. After leaving it there for several hours, you can vacuum it very slowly. If not, you can try using other cleaning agents to get rid of pet dander or cigarette ash.

For a more in-depth guide on cleaning carpets, be sure to visit DoorLoop’s Guide To Deep Cleaning Carpets.

3. Clean Ceiling And Walls

Depending on the kind of paint that was used in the interior of the property, smells may or may not stick to the ceiling and walls. To remove these smells, the entirety of the area needs to be thoroughly scrubbed with a cleaning agent.

One common cleaning agent that can be created at home is a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. After leaving this agent on the walls for some time, you can scrub it vigorously to get rid of the foul smells as well as some discoloring of the walls.

4. Clean Hard Floors

The next part of the house to tackle is the hard floor. This refers to any hardwood or tile surfaces in the property. These hard surfaces should be mopped with soapy water and some sort of disinfectant to remove dust and dirt. If none of these work, you may have to steam the floors to completely remove the unpleasant smells.

5. Replace HVAC Filter

One of the reasons that landlords prohibit smoking in rental properties is because it tears through air filters. These air filters should be changed every few months but, after a smoker's lease ends, it is important to replace air filters. Since these filters can hold on to a certain level of ash and smoke, it is a good idea to change them out when getting rid of unwanted odors.

When replacing it, you may want to consider purchasing an odor-reducing A/C filter with baking soda or charcoal. These are slightly more expensive but very worth the investment.

6. Clean Windows

After cleaning all the major areas in your property, you can begin to take care of more specific areas. Windows are important to clean because they can hold on to bad smells due to the wind coming in and out of them.

After scrubbing down the windowsill and the corners, it is recommended to pay special attention to the window dressings. Since these are typically made out of cloth, unpleasant odors easily stick to them. So, you can put them in the washer on a normal cycle and add a cup of white vinegar just before adding the drapes. Don't leave them for too long, however, as vinegar is naturally bleaching.

7. Clean Cabinets And Drawers

If the smell is still persisting, you can move on to cleaning the cabinets and drawers. Since these are places where people could put their products, like cigarettes, they can be holding on to some of the smell. Wipe all of the cabinets and drawers down with a vinegar cloth. Then, leave them all open for several hours until dry.

To further clean and sanitize these high-contact surfaces, you can try installing some UV-C lights. If you do not know much about these lights, feel free to visit DoorLoop’s Full Guide On UV-C Light Sanitization.

8. Call A Professional

Your last resort should be to call a professional. This is typical after having a tenant that is a heavy smoker. Professionals have specialized equipment that will get into every corner of the property and surely get rid of the smell. It may sound like an expensive investment, but it may be the only way to completely get rid of the lingering odors.

So, now that we know all about what causes unpleasant odors and how to get rid of them, let's find out how to prevent the smells from getting there in the first place.

Rules to Prevent Smells

How To Prevent Smells On Your Rental Property

Any property manager knows that having rules does not necessarily stop the tenants from doing something. But, the act of having an established rule can help you get your money back for repairs or getting rid of the smell.

Below, we have outlined some of the things that landlords should consider doing to prevent having unpleasant smells in their rental properties.

Prohibit Smoking

As learned throughout the post, smoking can completely ruin the smell in a property. Not only can the smell be very strong, but it is also extremely hard to get rid of. For this reason, many landlords decide to prohibit smoking on the property. If they do not prohibit it, they may designate certain smoking zones in the property where the tenants are allowed to smoke.

Consider Prohibiting Pets

Another rule that many landlords decide to implement is a no-pets rule. Again, as seen above, pets can cause a lot of damage in the form of smells and stains. For this reason, it is easier for landlords to prohibit them from their rental properties. However, it is important to also consider the benefits of allowing pets, like charging more rent or having a larger tenant pool.

Perform Regular Property Inspections

Lastly, the best way to make sure that your rental property does not suffer from unwanted smells is by conducting routine inspections. These inspections should be done on a certain schedule that has been agreed upon by both parties. Property inspections should check a wide range of things on the property and should serve to make sure the tenants are following all the rules.

For more information on rental property inspections, be sure to visit DoorLoop's Full Guide On Rental Property Inspections.

Santiago Aday is a Summa Cum Laude graduate and has a background in software development. As the Marketing Automation Specialist at DoorLoop, Santi loves simplifying the complicated aspects of property management.

Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is from public sources, for informational purposes only and not intended for legal or accounting advice. DoorLoop does not guarantee its accuracy and is not liable for any damages or inaccuracies.