Just Say NO to Febreeze!


Okay, I know I keep harping on the importance of not scenting our homes with chemical-based fragrances and room "deodorizers",  but I have witnessed yet another potential sale go south due to a buyer's violent allergic reaction.

Oh, yes, and I LOVE the commercial with the Realtor® who is dancing around with the bottle of Febreeze, exclaiming, "I use this in every client's home!"

Have you been anywhere public in society lately?

Have you seen the signs posted everywhere that warn us of existing "scent-sensitivities" and ask us to refrain from wearing perfumes and deodorants?

More and more people out there have, or are developing allergies to the chemicals that are in scented products. Yes, this means that those same chemicals are in room-deodorizers, fragrance sprays, and candles.

When selling a property, we all have the tendency to think our home needs to smell "pretty".

In actual fact, when selling a property, the best scent is no scent at all. Fresh air is your best bet!

If you really feel that you need a scent of some sort, there are many natural alternatives out there.

But, keep in mind we have to be very careful with natural scents as well. What is your first thought when you walk into someone's home, and you are hit with strong fragrance of some sort? I know that I immediately wonder what odour they are attempting to cover up.

Scents of any sort cause buyers to wonder what the underlying issues are. Do they have pets? Do they have a leaking foundation or roof making a mould smell apparent? Do they smoke? And the questions go on and on. Not a good foot to start out on as soon as the buyer enters the property.

A nice, spicy or flowery scent doesn't impress a buyer. It makes them think, "Oh great, this home is dirty and has issues somewhere."

And, I have news. Using even a little bit of Febreeze is not good. I find that people who regularly use this become very de-sensitized to the smell. I, for one, can smell Febreeze down the street from a home that has sprayed it. Inside a home where it has been used, I can taste it. My immediate thought when I smell it (or taste it) is, "hmmmm, I wonder what stinks in there."


Rhonda Wilson - CCSPTM
Owner/Operator of
Revealing Assets
Home Staging and Decluttering Services
We transform properties into highly
sought-after products that sell in half
the time and for 7-10% more money.
Through personal experience, extensive
research and training, and a compassionate
approach, we De-clutter living/work spaces for
up-lifting and positive life changes.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Comment balloon 21 commentsRhonda Wilson • September 17 2010 12:49AM


Rhonda, funny post.  I start sneezing when around Febreze.  Just say no.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 10 years ago

Now..question is...what will I do at the open house, if I can't use Fabreeze...(just kidding..)

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 10 years ago

Pamela, thank you.

Yes, I start sneezing as well.

The worst, however, was one of those "Airwick" timed-release containers.

I was half way down my clients' stairs to their basement, and the client was behind me.

I turned to ask him why he had chosen lavender as the wall-color, and as I turned, with my mouth open, that stupid little air freshener squirted right to the back of my throat. I was sick for four days and had no voice. Bad stuff.


Praful, I would suggest getting there early, cranking the heat up, opening all of the windows, and turning on any available fans. Also, if there is a garburator in the kitchen, take a look in the fridge, find a lemon or a lime, and throw it through the garburator. Natural and effective. lol.

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 10 years ago

Febreeze, incense sticks, fragrance candles. They should come bundled with aspirin and migraine medicine

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) over 10 years ago

Dave, you are so right!

They should also be packaged with a little label that reads, "Congrats on your purchase. Now, do not ever use this product. It would be best if you simply returned it to the store you just bought it from."

Probably not a likely or successful marketing plan though.


Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 10 years ago

Thank you for this post, so agree.  I do use scents in homes, but use natural things that are not strong, like a natural scented candle that burns only during our open house....I use things that are scented with some thing natural and an edible scent ( vanilla, chocolate and so on) the best scent ever I think comes from food I actually cook in the property.....

When I do an open house I bake cookies in there, not trying to cover up smell, just like it to appeal to all the senses....Recently met with the designer of one of my listings to photograph the finished product before it went on the market the next day.  We ate Indian food, the next day still smelled like it, that was the best!

Thank you for highlighting this, I get really really sick with synthetics and Fabreeze can kill an animal who walks on it with their paw pads, so what does it do to people breathing it?



Posted by Anna Matsunaga, Seller specialist, Certified Negotiation Expert (Team Momentum Keller Williams Realty Tacoma) over 10 years ago

If we are to "Just Say NO to Febreeze", then outside of fresh air is there anything you can recomment?

Posted by Richard Weeks, REALTOR®, Broker over 10 years ago

Nothing worse than a smelly house....ANY smells and I do think folks think that Febreeze is a cure all...not so!

Posted by Kathy Burke, S.F. East Bay Home Staging (Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA) over 10 years ago

I was just in a home where the master suite smelled of dog with an over-spray of febreeze! THE BEST SMELL IS CLEAN!!!

I had one client tell me she had to go to Emerg. after visiting a home with room fresheners.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) over 10 years ago

Hello Richard!

There are MANY alternatives to Febreeze and fresh air.

See my above "reply" regarding the garburator, and grinding a lemon or lime through it.

If there is not a garburator, I have some of the Realtors(R) I work with carrying some key tools with them, along with instructions.

Pack a zesting-tool, or cheese grater with you, and a few lemons. Get to an open house early, and grate the rind/skin of the lemon directly into the kitchen sink. Grate some of the "meat" of the lemon in there as well. Leave it sit for a few minutes, and rinse out the gunk before your visitors get there.

I also have some realtors carry around a shallow baking pan and some cinnamon sticks in their car. When they get to their open house early, they put the oven on the lowest heat, put 2" of water in the bottom of the baking pan, lay the cinnamon sticks in the water, and slip the whole thing into the oven. While it simmers away, a nice faint cinnamon scent fills the home.

Janice, thank you for your reply as well. Nothing is worse than people who cover up the dog/cat/hamster/ferret/bird/reptile smells with sprays. I think that people really buy into Febreeze's claims that the spray "eliminates" odours. Really, how is that possible? There is no magic inside those bottles. We are just layering a cocktail of terrible smells!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 10 years ago

Rhonda- so very true- Buyers are savvy to heavily scented candles, scented sprays, or "cookies baking".  They will wonder what the homeowner is covering up!  Even a bowl of fresh lemons would be better. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 10 years ago

Hello again, Kathy! Thank you for your reply!

Yes, buyers are much more savvy with what to look for these days. They have heard all of the "tricks", and know to dig deeper.

Yes, a bowl of lemons works well. FRESH flowers also add a nice, faint, and lively scent.

Too many people have the wrong idea about the concepts behind Home Staging, and truly believe that it has something to do with disguising underlying issues.

Home Stagers are trained and experienced at the art of ACCENTUATING a property's attributes.

So, if a property that I work in smells funky, I am upfront with the owner/seller, and work with them to find the source of the smell and eliminate it. Unfortunately, no matter what the commercials claim, there is no fragrance chemical that can perform this magic all on its own.

One very common smell that comes to mind is Cat Urine (ammonia). There is absolutely nothing a person can do to eliminate this smell, short of ripping out and replacing carpet, or sanding down and re-painting walls. That stuff penetrates properties right to the very root.


Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 10 years ago

If a home has an unpleasant odor then it is our responsibility as Realtors and stagers to advise the client of what the source of the smell is and what they need to do to eliminate the odor before any potential buyers step foot into their home.  Febreeze or any other type of "Air Fresheners" are not solutions to the problem, they only try to mask the odor with their own and tend to make things worse.  

Posted by Gilles Carriere (Invidia Home Staging) over 10 years ago

It's true that everyone in the industry knows the smell of fabreeze. I hate it when I walk into a home that I am showing and it just smells like chemicals. I do recommend reed diffusers with a natural scent. That gives a nice light fresh scent without all the chemicals. 

Posted by Rayna Mckay (RE/MAX Real Estate Advocates) over 10 years ago

Hello again, Gilles! Yes, you are so right. It certainly is a duty of the Home Stager and Realtors(R) to be upfront and honest about the existence of smell/odour in a seller's home. However, this can be very sensitive ground for a Realtor(R) to set foot onto. A Realtor(R) stands a real chance of damaging their relationship with the seller. So, it can be touchy and difficult for a Realtor(R) to push the subject too much.

This is definitely where the Professional Home Stager comes in. A Home Stager is experienced and trained in breaking the "Bad News" to our cilents. A Home Stager only succeeds once the seller and the Realtor(R) succeeds. So, it is in our best interest to be brutally honest, with just a touch of sugar. And, once the smell is pointed out, yes, the next task is finding the source and ELIMINATING it, rather than covering it up.

Rayna - Thank you for your reply as well! There are many great reed diffusers out there now with completely natural, or soy-based scents. And, they are also great because they are never overpowering!

Just say no to Chemicals!!!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 10 years ago

Great post! This post sure doesn't stink! I totally agree with everything you wrote! Clean smell is the best.  I also love the smell of a freshly painted room and new carpet! Might not be too natural but smells and looks great! :)

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) over 10 years ago

Awww, Janice! Nice to see you again so soon!!!

Thank you for your comment.

I also love the smell of fresh paint and new flooring.

Absence of smell or the smell of new upgrades....they are both up there at the top of my books!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 10 years ago

Cosmetics & most all other scented products contain some of the most harmful chemicals we can expose ourselves to.  There are currenly no consumer laws requiring those products to disclose the contents as we have in food products.   If we knew what was in them we wouldn't be using them.

Posted by Joel Gwillim, Associate - REALTOR® (CIR Realty - Condo Specialist) about 10 years ago

Thanks for your post. Several years ago our family switched to natural cleaning products and such...its made a tremendous difference to our awareness of chemical based products - not to mention our health. The company we chose (Melaleuca) actually has a very nice 'linen spray' they call it...very light, very clean - no chemical smell. I use it very sparingly as I, like many others, believe that ridding the source of a bad smell is the best way (clean the place) - and just open the windows for a while.

Posted by Bruce McCallum, Homes In Victoria BC (DFH Real Estate, Victoria, BC 800-668-2272) about 10 years ago

I've never cared for the scent of Febreeze anyway.  And some of the "potpourri" scents I've noticed during home tours are enough to gag a maggot.

Posted by Eric Kodner, Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island (Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes) about 10 years ago

Hello, Bruce! I have experienced that particular spray from Melaleuca, and it is very pleasing to the senses in small doses. But, yes, the best bet is always to find the source of the odour, and eliminate it!

Eric, "enough to gag a maggot"??? That is GREAT!!! It takes a LOT to gag a maggot, I hear.....

Yes, many of the room-scents don't smell any better than those little "trees" you can buy at the gas station to hang on your rear-view mirror...especially that "New Car Scent" one. I would return the New Car to the lot if it smelled like that little tree....thank you for the laugh!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) about 10 years ago