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box of dead fish - Smelly Apartment? Here’s how to deodorize

Are your tenants complaining about a smelly apartment? Here’s how to deodorize.

Are your tenants complaining about a smelly apartment? Here’s how to deodorize. Living in a multi-family complex sometimes means tenants must tolerate sounds and smells they wouldn’t choose for themselves. Cabbage, fish, pet smells, and spices such as curry have a pervasive aroma that not everyone appreciates. When tenants complain, what can you do?

Here are some simple inexpensive methods to minimize smells and some more thorough fixes that have a higher price tag.

Inexpensive methods to minimize a smelly apartment

Close the doors

The two easiest ways to minimize smells and contain cooking odors are:

  • close the kitchen and bedroom doors
  • place a draft stopper  or swimming noodle in front of the door


Kitchen fans, open windows, air conditioners, and air filters can go a long way in dissipating smells during cooking.

Use Air Fresheners

During and after cooking:

  • Burn incense or scented candles
  • Boil 3 cups white vinegar and 6 cinnamon sticks and simmer for an hour or longer
  • Boil flowers or leaves such as Kewra (Screwpine) leaves or vanilla beans and let simmer for at least an hour
  • Use plug-in air fresheners that contain vinegar or baking soda to absorb and cleanse air
  • Set out bowls of white vinegar and baking soda to soak up pungent smells

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Deodorize fabrics

Cloth-covered furniture, drapes,  and carpets are notorious smell absorbers.  Sprinkling baking soda over fabric furniture and carpets overnight and vacuuming the following day helps to disperse the smell, as does spraying with vinegar or a microbial solution.  Before spraying, check whether fabrics tolerate the solution first.

Freshen the drains

Microbial agents are great odor eliminators for clearing plumbing and reducing drain smells. Follow manufacturer instructions for how much and how often to use.

Higher ticket eeodorizers for smelly apartments

Ozone & Hydroxyl Units

Ever wonder what restoration companies use to get rid of the stench of mould or smoke? Restoration companies use hydroxyl and ozone generators. Hydroxyl generators work by using the same UV radiation found in the sun to naturally clean and deodorize. They produce oxidizing gasses that dismantle odor molecules. Ozone air purifiers create ozone which cleans the air. Use caution with hydroxyl and ozone generators, be sure they meet international health regulatory requirements. Costs for these products range from $100 – $4,500. If potential tenants are turning your place down because of the smells, this is a maintenance issue that can’t wait.

Steam Clean Carpets and Upholstery

Professional steam cleaning services have formulas that work wonders on odor removal.  You can also rent your own steam cleaners and use a solution of your choice.  Depending on the size of your unit and the number of cleaning items, costs vary.  Most steam cleaning services offer reduced prices for cleaning packages and can be very reasonably priced.

Repaint the walls

Paint has come a long way over the decades. KILZ is an oil-based primer/sealer/stain blocker designed for high humidity, moisture, and temperature environments such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. It creates a mold and mildew-resistant film, which keeps odors from seeping out and prevents new odors from penetrating. Vanilla extract and odorless additives can also be added to paint to remove odors.

Providing your tenants with a few simple tips to contain or dissipate odors sometimes does the trick.  For more pervasive or persistent odors, you may have to take more drastic measures and invest in repainting or hydroxyl or ozone generators.  

Do you offer your tenants tips on deodorizing? How? I’d love to hear about it [email protected]

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