Common Odors Left Behind By Tenants and How to Eliminate Them

Common Odors Left Behind By Tenants and How to Eliminate Them

The best smell a rental can have is no smell, but that is not always the case. Even after tenants move out, they can leave behind common odors from their time living in the space. What can be even more frustrating is when there is no apparent cause of the smell. If you are experiencing an odor problem, you want to take care of it as quickly as possible. Here are some of the more common odors landlords have to deal with and how to neutralize them quickly. 

Common Odors Tenants Leave Behind

Pet Smells

Pets are great, but they can be stinky, especially if they aren’t adequately trained. Pet odors are challenging because they seep into the carpet and leak into the pad underneath. Thus, a two-part attack may be necessary. The first and best step is to use a professional carpet cleaner to clean deep into the carpet. A professional can pull out pet odors and any other dirt and grime that may cause odors. Then, after the carpet dries, you want to spray it will an enzymatic cleaner that will penetrate the pad and eat away at the odor-causing bacteria. 

Smoke Smells

Next to pet smells, smoke smells are the most common odor left behind by renters. These can be stubborn odors, so this is again a multi-step process. Your first step is to open up all the doors and windows to let in the fresh air and hopefully let out the stale smokey air that has circulated around the home. Next, remove all fabrics from the house, like drapes and rugs, wash or replace them, and clean the carpets. Unfortunately, smoke smells can even cling to the walls, so you want to wash the walls and repaint them, preferably with an odor-neutralizing paint. 

Kitchen Smells

Kitchen smells can be frustrating because they can be difficult to find. If you have cleaned all the surfaces, but there is still a persistent odor coming from the kitchen, you may have to dig deeper. First, remove the appliances from their spots to ensure there are no materials underneath them that could be causing a smell, and clean the floors in case there is an odor-causing bacteria that is not visible. Next, clean the fridge, dishwasher, and stove with cleaners designed specifically for each one. Finally, use a garbage disposal cleaner to flush out any debris and bacteria which can hide in the pipes. 

Fabric Odors

Fabrics collect odors from the air: anything from cooking, smoke odors, and body odor. If there is a general funkiness in the house and you can’t figure out where it is coming from, it is likely emanating from the fabrics left behind. Remove any fabrics that you can from the house and have them dry, cleaned, or replaced. You can use a professional-grade upholstery cleaner to deep clean any fabrics that can’t be removed. 


Areas in the house that don’t get much light can develop a musty smell from mold spores. If you find any mold, spray it directly with a mold killer that you can find at any home improvement store. If you can’t find the source, treat the whole room with a mold killer with a fan in the room to circulate the air. Open the windows and close the door for 48 hours. Any mold in the room should die. Then, the two-day period should give enough time for the musty smell to dissipate. 

Learn More About Eliminating Common Odors

The good news is that, while some smells are more stubborn than others, almost all of them can be dealt with without spending big money on professional cleaning. If you own multiple properties, it is not bad to invest in professional-grade cleaning machines like carpet cleaners and steamers. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with harsh odors, but now you are prepared if the need arises.