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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

The 4 Toughest Household Odors to Remove

11/2/2021 (Permalink)

This little cutie had an intestinal infection causing her to have accidents on the carpets of our customer’s Covington home.

If you’ve ever gone house or apartment hunting, you may have noticed the different scents that come with someone else’s home. Sometimes these can be pleasant other times, not so much. Some scents can’t be removed without professional cleaning services. The odors we'll discuss are urine, cigarette smoke, spices, and mildew. 

The difficulty of cleaning is found at the molecular level: proteins and oils. Breaking down these molecules can be difficult, but; it’s certainly not impossible. We'd like to give our readers insight into how we attack these resilient odors.


First, we will discuss mildew. Because it doesn’t fit into either category. It is also the most common call we receive about odors. The discussion typically starts with clients describing a musty and offputting smell. Likely, what you’re smelling is mildew. 

The EPA explains that mildew is the mycelium of a fungus that grows in a flat pattern. Like all fungi, mildew must distribute its spores to reproduce. It does this by emitting gasses to disperse the spores. It’s the gas you smell when mildew is in your home. We treat mildew like we would most mold remediation. Luckily mildews like Aspergillus vs. molds like Stachybotrys has a growth pattern that doesn’t typically penetrate materials like drywall. It is often referred to as a surface mold due to its aforementioned flat growth habits. Mildew can cause staining but, it's easily cleaned with products like Sporicidin.



Do you remember a time when your pet had an accident or two? You thought you had it cleaned up. Then, on the next rainy day, the smell comes back. You’re frustrated. You clean it over and over again still, the odor continues to return. 

The smell reappears because of a protein called uric acid. This is a molecule that doesn’t break down with soap and water. So, if you’re using just a typical household cleaner, that could be why the smell always comes back. Uric acids require a cleaner that will break down the protein molecules. 

Sometimes we use a gentle product called Benefect. Other times we need something more powerful. In this case, we use a product called Vanquish. The products we use vary based on severity and the types of materials we are cleaning. For instance, what we use on carpets may not be safe for hardwood and vice versa.   



When herbs are cooked, they release volatile oils. This is what gives the spice its flavor and smell. The oil in these spices penetrates porous objects like drywall and cupboards in the kitchen. That’s why the odor remains for months, even after the previous inhabitant has left. Whether you find the smell unpleasant or it just makes you hungry every time you walk in the room, a powerful degreaser is what we need to remove these odors. 

Cigarette Smoke

The second most common call we get regarding odors is cigarette smoke. Even if they smoke outside, the smell follows them inside and lingers in the house for a long time. The reason for that is much like spices. When tobacco is smoked, it releases the chemical nicotine. It is an oily substance that will absorb into all of your porous surfaces. 

If the previous owner was a heavy inside smoker, drastic measures are needed to remove it. Often times the carpet and pad have to be replaced. We usually use an ozone machine to battle this substance. Sealing the walls is another way to keep the odor from coming back. 

Every home is different so, we won’t know the exact methods we need to use until we see your home. If you’re ready to have your house smelling fresh, give SERVPRO of Boone & Kenton County a call today! We’ll be able to schedule your free estimate and offer that 5-star service you’ve come to know and trust!

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