Are ready to sell your home but your home smells? This is a major turnoff to buyers and it needs to be addressed before you put your home on the market.

Maybe it’s a lingering, stale cigarette smell or a musty odor wafting up from the basement. Perhaps the home seems perfect and ready for the market—until you reach a room with the pungent smell of sweat, dirty laundry, and old shoes, even though it appears spotless. It’s difficult to imagine getting any buyer interested in your property unless you dispel such unpleasant odors. 

Lingering cigarette smoke: When smokers blow nicotine and tar into the air, it disseminates onto every surface in the home, including light bulbs, rugs, and moldings. First, remove all porous surfaces, including carpeting, curtains, and anything that absorbs odor. Wash until yellow stains stop coming off. Finally, repaint the room—because paint is an odor neutralizer.

Mold: Put a few containers of activated charcoal in an out-of-reach and inconspicuous space. Activated charcoal absorbs moisture and will help remove mold and mildew smells. You can find it at most pet stores.

Rotting garbage: The smell of garbage that’s been left in the kitchen too long starts to linger. You can boil sliced citrus fruit and herbs in the microwave, then separate the citrus from the boiling water. Pour the water into the dishwasher and runs a cycle with it, while dumping the citrus down the garbage disposal for an instant scent upgrade. Once you clear the garbage disposal, sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of it.

An active child’s room: Soiled clothing laying around a teenager’s unkempt bedroom can cause a distinct odor that likely will offend prospective buyers. When smelly items have been allowed to sit for long periods of time—which enables the smell to “marinate” into the surroundings one of the better methods is to use an ozone machine. The machine removes strong smells by destroying the spores and bacteria that cause them. Ozone essentially attaches itself to the other molecules, thereby changing their structure, which eliminates the odor. Most ozone machines, depending on the sophistication of their features, can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars, but they may be more effective in smaller spaces.

Dirty laundry or sweat: An alternative to the above for dealing with this type of odor is to combine one-fourth of a cup of vinegar and a gallon of water, and then add the mixture to a spray bottle. Spray the walls and wipe them down, along with woodwork, closets, air vents, and windows. Change the carpet and pads, and try painting the room including the ceiling. If a mattress smells sweaty, sprinkle baking soda directly on it, and let it sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming it up.

Pets: If there is a specific area of the home that smells, mix one part distilled white vinegar and six parts water, says Dean Davies, a professional carpet cleaning technician at London-based Fantastic Services. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and generously spray over pet stains. Rub the solution into the stain using a carpet brush or a toothbrush, and then blot it using a white towel. To remove vinegar residue, apply an oxygen or enzyme-based cleaner. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, and then blot the surface. If you have entire areas of a carpet or rug that are affected, sprinkle baking soda onto the smelly areas, let it sit for 12 to 14 hours, and then vacuum the surface. If the stench is still there, you may have to replace your carpet, says Nancy Wallace-Laabs, SFR, co-founder of real estate investment company KBN Homes. In extreme cases, problems resulting in pet odor could lead to damaged flooring and sub-flooring. “Remove smells from the sub-floor with a combination of vinegar and water, let set, rinse, and repeat,” Wallace-Laabs says. “If the odor remains, use Kilz spray to neutralize the smell.” But if the wood is under the pad and it still smells, you’ll need to replace that as well.

Stuffy, closed home: When windows and doors have been shut all winter (hello, spring!), don’t just let fresh air in. Add some house plants, which clean the air through phytoremediation (organic air purifiers).