I love a delicious-smelling home, don’t you? Home buyers do, too. (There’s nothing worse than a stinky house.) Home shopping should involve the senses — why else do some sellers leave out warm, freshly-baked cookies for potential buyers and play soft music? 

Smells evoke memories and feelings of comfort and warmth, and a showing is the perfect time to bring warm, delicious smells into your home. 

Here are some of my favorite ways to create a delicious-smelling home — whether your home is on the market or you just want to evoke some delicious memories. The best part about each of these is that they are natural smells which won’t compete with any cooking you do, so they’re also perfect for dinner parties and gatherings, as well as just a cozy night at home.

To Make Your Kitchen Smell Amazing

  • Orange & Cinnamon. Just before a showing, boil citrus peels (orange, tangerine, clementine, etc.) peels with cinnamon on the stove. It smells heavenly…and you get to enjoy the rest of the fruit!
  • Lemons, Limes, and Other Citrus. Save lemons, limes, and other citrus that you’ve juiced or zested in a bag in your refrigerator. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the peel or juiced sections in a small bowl of water for a minute or two – this will help to deodorize (and make it easier to wipe down) your microwave and make your kitchen smell clean and fresh.
  • Another use for citrus. Save those citrus peels and juiced sections, and add a few to your garbage disposal and run it. The disposal will release the oils in the citrus peels and clean and deodorize the unit.
  • Vanilla. Put 1/2 cup water and 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds. Voilà! The smell of freshly-baked cookies, without the baking.
  • More vanilla. You can also put two teaspoons of vanilla extract into a mug or other oven-safe dish and bake at 300 for one hour.

For Rooms With Carpet and Upholstery That Need a Pick-Me-Up

  • Baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets, let sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum as normal. (You can also use a store-bought carpet deodorizer — but beware, those can smell a bit harsh or chemical-like.) 
  • Glamorous Wash Diva Detergent Spray. A client of ours swears by Glamorous Wash Diva Detergent, available on Amazon. We have to say: we agree, especially if you have a home with carpet and dogs. Simply mix some in a spray bottle with water and then spray on your furniture, carpets, beds — anywhere that needs a little refresh. (She also says to use a non-scented laundry detergent and add a capful of Glamorous Wash Diva Detergent to make your sheets and towels smell heavenly.)

Around the House

  • Essential oil diffusers. Essential oils and diffusers have become all the rage, and they smell more natural and less harsh than typical commercial air freshener sprays. Choose a scent that is either food-related (cinnamon or vanilla, for example) or very lightly floral (such as lavender). Remember that scents that are too exotic (like patchouli) or too flowery (like rose) may be a turn-off to some buyers, so go for subtle! 
  • Make your own room freshening spray. Commercial room freshening sprays can be expensive, and they’re also made with chemicals that can be potentially harmful to your furniture and pets, not to mention just plain offensive to your nose. Instead, try making your own with water, alcohol, and real essential oils. Spritz generously when you have company coming or when you just need a little pick-me-up for your nose.
  • Coffee beans. Purchase whole-bean coffee beans and fill candle holders, shallow dishes, or bowls throughout your home. Then nestle tea light candles in the beans. When lit, the tea lights will gently warm the coffee beans and enhance the scent even more. (NOTE: please don’t leave candles burning unattended or when you leave the home.) These can also smell great without the tea lights, but the warmth will “activate” the coffee beans for a more immediate scent.
  • Dryer sheets. Put a dryer sheet in the bottom of your trash cans and recycle bins, especially in the kitchen (but it’s a great pick-me-up for bathrooms, too)!
  • Eucalyptus stems. Put eucalyptus stems (available at your local craft store) in a pretty vase for a modern-looking yet effective decoration. The eucalyptus will absorb smells and look pretty at the same time. 

What To Avoid

  • Avoid using fragrance plug-ins. Not only do most just not smell natural (they can smell really fake), but they also can smell way too strong, making a buyer wonder what you’re trying to cover up.
  • Avoid too many scents in one home. It’s lovely to have a warm vanilla, cinnamon, or citrus scent in the kitchen and then a soothing lavender in the bedrooms, but too many scents throughout a home may be too much for some buyers. Choose one or two scents and separate them from each other.
  • Avoid overdoing it. Buyers with allergies or sensitive noses may actually find strong scents to be a turn-off. Err on the side of subtlety.
  • Avoid stinky cooking. While your home is listed for sale, try to avoid cooking food that is overly pungent. We know this one can be tougher — if you’re living in the home, chances are you need to cook in order to eat! However, choose your menus wisely, know that showing requests can happen with very short notice, and you may not have long to get ready for a showing, say, immediately after you’ve just fried up that bacon for breakfast or made that delicious curry or fried chicken for dinner.


If you’re thinking of selling your home, we’d love to help you! Give us a call at 404-994-2181 or email Maura(at)BuySellLiveAtlanta(dot)com!

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.