How do I get rid of the stale smell from my grandmother's house?

Please forgive me of this sounds offensive but I really don't know how else to describe it. My grandmother recently died and the house she owned has a very pungent elderly person smell. I don't know how else to describe it so please don't take offense but I think everyone knows the smell I'm talking about.

What would be the best products to use to get rid of this smell? Is this smell even able to be expelled? It's very strong and almost makes me sick. 

Please help. Is the home salvageable?

9 Answers

  • 10 months ago
    Favourite answer

    Start by airing out the house -- windows and doors wide open and so on. If necessary, get fans into every room to get all the air moving. Move the furniture around too.

    Clean out the closets, and make sure they are all well-aired.

    Replace the curtains and sheers if there are any. This depends on how old they are; sometimes washing or drycleaning them is enough

    Similarly with the carpets and flooring -- underlay can hold onto smells like nothing else on earth, and many people used newspapers under vinyl flooring/linoleum, which gets damp and is almost as bad as underlay.

    Get all the soft furniture (armchairs, couches, bedding (especially matresses), etc.) cleaned by professionals.

    Oh, and watch the underfloor spaces and over ceiling spaces -- old insulation can carry the smells too, and there's likely various forms of mould in the walls.

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Yeah.  All people smell.  Even you.  That is why the dog likes you and can identify you out of crowd of people blindfolded.  It knows your stink.

    Now what I suggest seems counter intuitive but it really works.  Get one of those cheap plastic Plant Misting bottles with the adjustable nozzle.  It holds about a quart of fluid.   Now you need white vinegar.(buy it at the grocery store).  You could check in the cupboards and maybe granny has some.  

    If it is Apple cider vinegar, or wine vinegar those you can pour into a shallow bowl that you first set on the kitchen table...before you pour in the vinegar.

      Second thought...don't use either for the simple reason of fruit flies.  They are attracted to the fruit.(grapes& apples)

    So you need white vinegar. Buy a gallon.  It basically looks like water.  If you got a misting bottle this is the fastest way to fumigate a house.

    You can fill the bottle half full of vinegar and go with that.  DO NOT DILUTE IT.  It is already diluted so it is 85% water and 15% vinegar.   There is no such thing as pure 100% vinegar.  

    Anyways vinegar will not stain anything.  So you can spray fabric as fabric "HOLDS ONTO" smells.  Meaning curtains, rugs, lampshades, clothing...and flat wall paint.  ( The paint that is not shiny.)  Now go to the farthest room from the front door and start in there and start in a corner about an arm length from both walls.   Aim your arm out and up at a 60 degree angle so you are kind of shooting toward the ceiling corner and with the sprayer on the finest mist possible pretend you are spraying the block of air toward one wall and give it  2 squirts .  Then at the other wall up high and 2 squirts of mist.  It does not have to hit the ceiling. Then shoot level with your shoulder 2 times on both walls.  You are not trying to hit the wall as much as mist the air in front of you .  Most corners have a corner lamp which is fabric covered...shoot at it a double ...if there is carpet at the floor hit that with a double.

    Now step to the side a big side step and you are focused on the space in front of you. Ceiling 2x and mid height 2x and floor if it has a carpet maybe 2.  It it is bare varnished wood or painted it only needs one.   Make another step to the side.  The idea is to never walk where you have sprayed.  So you do not have to smell the vinegar,  If you hit a window curtain  then the curtain, I gave it a 3 shot high and 3 low so it got more because it stinks more.  Repeat and do the entire room and fabrics carpet included.  So half a bottle won't go that far  You will have to refill and continue on. Where you last left off  Keep the windows closed. and do room by room always walking away.  Now you have imaginarily sprayed all the air in the rooms.  If you start to notice the odor of vinegar. Don't worry.  It has not dried up yet(fully evaporated)  Come in the next day.   You won't smell nothing.  No perfume and no vinegar.  And nothing is sticky or stained and it attracts no flies.   If you walk around and find areas that you missed .  It still stinks, then spritz that area .  The closets are going to be full of it.  Now you can take the clothing out on the hanger and spray the clothing like you did the curtains and it takes away the odor.  And the shoes. It takes a day for the vinegar to dry.   I did everything except electronics.  Moisture is not good inside TV's and stereo's.  Raw wood(unpainted and unvarnished will suck in odors so that means it needs a doosh with the vinegar mist.  Vinegar is able to soak up 6x's its weight in odor.  ANY ODOR.

    The products they have like Air Wick or Febreeze actually hide one odor with another.  Then go in the kitchen and cook a pot of boiled cabbage.  You stink up the house with a different odor.

    With vinegar, NO ODOR remains.

  • 10 months ago

    open the windows, get a professional cleaning 

  • I care
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    Sweetheart,  don't worry many of us have experienced this also.

    Rugs,  curtains,  spreads,  towels as such need to be washed fresh.

    So many times furniture needs professionally cleaned to sell.

    Bathrooms will need thorough cleaning to rid this smell.  Purchase room spray bottles that are fresh smelling to use all over until all is done.)  

    Why not, hire Merry Maid etc. to help it sounds like you have a huge job ahead and apparently no one to assist you.  If don't,  why not call other family members to help.

    Mattress will either toss,  there are trash haulers to pick up such as this.$$

    There are places who will take furniture you don't want to keep and decent yet.

    They also pick them up for you.  Auctions sometimes pick up much and money is paid back to you.  Sometimes if in nice weather-open windows to freshen the rooms.

    Closet with clothes.....also need emptied out and all cleaned to give away.  

    If some shoes good,  Goodwill also picks up items ….and clothes etc.

    Go through all photos, and make sure all receives what they should.

    Go through all important papers to make sure you know all she had and what needs done to all of it. (Maybe purchase an according folder to place papers in for now, and work on later)  Believe me it will take some time.....whew.  Bless you. 

    Talk to a realter to get advice about what all needs done to sale.....make a running list to do to receive a higher price when sold.  Make sure to make a pile of items you plan to take home/memory.  

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  • 10 months ago

    Remove everything from the house and open all the windows for about a month.

  • Cammie
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    After you clean everything , perhaps get rid of old soft furniture , open all windows and doors.It would be best to get rid of any carpet as well.Odo Ban products will also help after the cleaning.

  • 10 months ago

    Its from all the fabric in the house, sofa, bedding etc.

    Id strip curtains and get rid of furniture or get it outside in a dry spot.

    Shampoo carpet


    Air fresheners

    Open windows for the day

    Bleach everything first

    Wear gloves

  • 10 months ago

    Clean the carpets. Wash the walls and ceiling. Repaint.

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Paint the walls,  wipe all the hard surfaces down, shampoo the carpets and upholstery and clean all the other soft furnishings in the washer.

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