OdorXit's Real Estate Page
The Do's and Don'ts For
Removing Odors From Stinky Properties
This page is specifically geared to solving the odor problems
People Who Remove Odors from real estate properties like,
Real Estate Rehabbers, Investors, Wholesalers and Home Buyers
Why are you here?
Lets face it, you are here because you have an odor problem
with a current property or one you are considering acquiring or even the one you live in. In
the past you have probably tried all the home remedies like bleach, ammonia,
vinegar, various sealers, tomato juice (huh?) and even the other odor elimination products
only to find that on the next hot and humid day the smell returned.
Good News & Bad News
The good news is that OdorXit is capable of solving the kind of odor problems
house buyers and sellers run into permanently (or at lease until the
area is re contaminated). The bad news
is that OdorXit is not a magic wand or a silver bullet. You will have
to invest a little time and effort to learn how to use OdorXit, acquire
the appropriate tools to apply it properly and then actually use it properly.
The situation is: most serious excrement contamination problems that took weeks
if not years to accumulate. Expecting to squirt some stuff at the contamination
one time and fix the problem it simply not a realistic expectation. Other
non-excrement odor problems may not be as unpleasant but many are just
as difficult to remove.
There is one other point that needs to be made here; Short-cuts don't work. Some may make you think they are working but very rarely do they actually work for longer than a week or month. Sealing and painting just make the odor problem almost impossible to fix permanently.
Keys To The Kingdom
The key to solving all odor problems is to understand what
you are dealing with. Hopefully this document will help you to understand
your odor problems and their solutions.
If not there is the
OdorXit Odor Wizard that most likely will.
Starting with: If getting rid of the really tough
odors was easy, everyone would be doing it successfully. Just ask
your carpet cleaning professional. Most will not even talk about
removing cat urine or spray odors from a carpet. This is because
removing cat urine odor generally can not be done in 10 minutes (which
is all most carpet cleaning people are willing to spend on the
problem). And they certainly won't guarantee that they will work or can get 100% of the odor out. Now you can.
Home Remedies and Urine
Home remedies are simply not made of the right stuff to eliminate urine odors.
The urine residue that causes most of the really bad odor on humid days is a water
soluble and extremely hygroscopic urea salt (its
simplest form is CO(NH2)2).
It can actually suck moisture right out of the air. When urea salt becomes
damp, it reacts with its surroundings and produces a gas called mercaptin
(A sulfur-containing organic compound with the general formula RSH where
R is any carbon based radical, S is sulphur and H is hydrogen. The 2 carbon version (ethyl
mercaptin) C2 SH.) is the
smell that is added to natural gas and propane so that we can smell even a small gas leak,
The larger carbon versions are what we associate with a urine contamination.
Products like bleach, ammonia, and vinegar do nothing to alter the urea salt.
They can dissolve some of the urea salt if they are mixed with water, but
water, especially when mixed with detergent or
, does much better. Once
the soluble urea salt is dissolved, the solution must be removed so that it
will not make the contaminated area larger and more deeply imbedded in
the cracks and pours of the flooring.
Bleach will often lighten the stains but does not react with the urea
salt. Mixing bleach and ammonia, even in small quantities, produces
free chlorine gas that can and will severely burn your eyes, nose and lungs.
Mixing chlorine bleach with fresh urine can be very dangerous because as
the urine dries it gives off ammonia gas which when mixed with bleach releases
chlorine gas. Enzyme products produce small amounts of ammonia gas as a
byproduct of their reaction with urea salt. If there is any bleach in the
area, the reaction will be the same.
Some other notes on using bleach. Bleach is formulated
to clean and whiten clothing. In order to attain that goal,
many other chemicals are added. Eliminating urine odor is not
among the goals. If you are using the bleach for a disinfectant,
you would be far better off to use swimming pool liquid chlorine shock. It
is much more concentrated, and is not mixed with chemicals for
Finally, do not use OdorXit Concentrate in combination with chlorine or oxygen based bleach products. They
both oxidize the organic salts and oils in OdorXit, making them ineffective.
Sealing and Painting Floors
Sealers are intended to block stains on walls from bleeding through and
staining new paint applied to a wall. They are not designed to
seal or block gasses (odors) from escaping or passing through. Some
but not most paints do produce a continuous membrane finish that
are not gas permeable, but considering that only one of many sides of an
object like a piece of drywall or flooring is being sealed (painted),
this approach offers limited odor control and success. In fact, the reason they work when they
do is they block the water from getting to the urea salt, which blocks the catalytic reaction
that produces the gas.
Fire and tobacco smoke damage are the obvious exceptions. But even long
term contamination of walls and ceiling with tobacco smoke can be sealed
in only after the majority of the tobacco tars (the yellow stuff) has been
washed away with
. (OdorXit Concentrate is ineffective against most smoke odors
unless it is mixed with
or used after
has been used. Even then, it
does not eliminate the odor completely but does reduces the odor
substantially). If smoke odor is the problem, OdorXit
AQM and are both very effective against tobacco
and fire smoke. AQM packets of the appropriate size, placed in a room with a small fan to circulate the
air, will eliminate the smoke odor in 1 to 3 days. If the smoke has been painted over, the same process
will take 3 to 4 weeks to complete.
Sealing urine odors into flooring
can work on sheet flooring but careful analyses of
what is actually happening reveals some serious flaws in the
practice. Sealing sheet flooring actually reduces the amount of
water and water vapor getting to the urea salt so that the salt does not
produce the mercaptin gas. However, when the floor is put back into
service small movements of the surface
caused by occupant traffic and furniture will cause the sealers to crack and
leak water vapor in and the evil mercaptin out. The cracks are large enough
to allow water vapor in and mercaptin gas to escape, but too small to
allow OdorXit Concentrate and water to get in to work on
the urea salt. Further, floor boards have 6 sides. Sealing one side is not enough to
do the job.
Using sealers or paint to seal concrete floors is a
bit more effective but most sealers and paint are gas permeable.
Additionally scratches and wear spots in the sealer or paint will cause mercaptin
gas to leak past the "seal", again, creating the problem mentioned above.
Heavily contaminated wood and concrete flooring
present yet another problem. When the urea salt gets wet from
water drawn from the bottom of the wood or concrete, the gas produced can and will actually lift
sealers and paint off the floor. When these blisters burst, the
Removing the bulk of the problem
Shampooing (extracting) a carpet contaminated with urine will
remove large amounts but not all of the urea salt. Even using a treatment
called acid wash will not remove all of the urea salt though it can remove
most of the salt and a great deal more dirt.
Washing flooring will also remove much of the urea salt, but flooring
has an additional dimension which must be considered. Almost all
wood flooring material uses a tongue and groove design to hold the boards
together after being installed. The small cracks between adjacent boards
allow the urine, while in liquid form, to run into the cracks and dry,
leaving the dreaded urea salt in the cracks. Particle board and OSB flooring
takes this problem to the limit with hundreds of tiny cracks per square inch.
And though the cracks are rather small you have to count them all. Washing
of the soluble urea salt out of all these cracks and the pores in the
wood is simply not going to happen regardless of how well you wash the
flooring or what cleaning agent you use.
Concrete flooring, despite its hard appearance, is porous. If
water can seep though a concrete wall or floor, you can bet that urine
can and does the same. Concrete covered with tile presents an interesting
problem because there are gaps between the tile and cavities between the
tile and the concrete. These gaps and cavities can and will harbor large
amounts of odor causing material.
Finally, because it takes very little urea salt
to produce large amounts of mercaptin (the odor), additional treatment
alternatives must be considered.
Additional Treatment with OdorXit Concentrate
The additional treatment is OdorXit Concentrate. When OdorXit comes in
contact with urea salt, it reacts with the salt in the same way that the hydrogen sulfide(HS) does,
preventing the HS reaction from occurring. Because OdorXit is a liquid, like urine,
it can and does get into all the places where the urine has gone.
But remember, the urine has had days or weeks and often months or years
to get to all the really hidden places. By force of knowledge and
volume of OdorXit, you and OdorXit can get to those same places much faster.
OdorXit solution can be applied to carpet with a carpet shampoo machine
or an extractor but this is not nearly as effective as spraying. Spraying
OdorXit onto carpeting is very effective especially while the carpet is wet from shampooing..
OdorXit can and should be sprayed on to any hard surfaces A trigger
sprayer works well enough on small areas but a tank type sprayer is required
for larger areas. DO NOT USE SPRAYERS THAT HAVE BEEN USED FOR BUG POISON
OR YARD CHEMICALS FOR ODORXIT! Get a new one.
The object is to get the OdorXit solution in physical contact with all
of the urea salt. Any urea salt left in its original form will continue
to produce mercaptin in amounts proportional to the amount of untreated
urea salt (too much).
Now comes the question; Why mess around with removing the dirt and urea salts
in the first place if OdorXit can and does neutralize it? The answer
is: urea salt is extremely hygroscopic even after OdorXit has modified
it. If left in the carpet or flooring every time the weather gets a
little humid the affected area will become wet regardless of whether
Step by Step Recovery of Urine Contaminated Carpeting
Recovering urine contaminated carpeting is the
most complex odor elimination problem real estate investors and rehabbers
and home owners are likely to face. Taking a step by step approach is by far the
best. The steps include:
- Determine if the carpet is worth saving.
If replacing the carpet, padding and installation is worth
less than the materials, recovery time and effort, and the lost rent to
remove the odor, trash the carpet, padding and tack strips,
decontaminate the flooring and install new padding and carpet so
you can move on with the rehab. New carpet will make the property easier
to rent or sell and in the case of rental, could encourage the tenant to
take better care of your property and stay longer.
- Assuming the carpet is worth saving, clean the
carpet with a good quality carpet machine or have the carpet cleaned
professionally. If you clean it yourself, you can add 2 or 3 ounces of
OdorXit to each batch of carpet shampoo. If you have it professionally
cleaned, most pros will not let you add anything to their shampoo
machine. In that case, just come in with your own machine and apply
OdorXit mixed with Hoover or Sears carpet cleaner while the carpet is
- The next day, air out the treated area to flush
any remaining OdorXit or carpet shampoo smells then close the area. Check for
urine smell especially in the corners for cats, in the middle of the carpet for dog urine.
If there is a slight odor, retreat just the area with OdorXit and water
2-3 oz per gallon. If the odor is stronger or persists, go to step 4.
- With heavier carpet contamination it will be
necessary to inspect the back of the carpet in the areas that continue
to smell like urine. The problem area can be identified easily from the
back because there will be a yellow to dark brown patch of stain on the
back of the carpet. Cut out the padding plus 6 to 12 inches that match
the stain on the carpet. Wash the floor and spray it and the back of the
carpet thoroughly with a solution of OdorXit and water (4 ounces per
gallon of water). Do not allow the carpet to lay on the wet flooring. It
will soak up the OdorXit that should be seeping into the nooks and
crannies in the flooring.
- The next day, air out the treated area again
and check for urine smells. Often you will find new spots as the overall
level of contamination falls. If new areas are found go to step 4. If
the area seems to be free of odor, close the area and check it the next
day. If the weather is cool or cold, heat the area to at least 75
degrees F in order to promote the creation of odor if it has not all
been eliminated. Again go to step 4 if more areas are found.
- Now that you have successfully eliminated the odor, cut out new
pieces of compatible carpet padding and tape it into place with 2 inch
duct tape. Put the carpet back and stretch it over the tack stripping.
Step by Step Flooring Recovery
Recovering flooring from urine contamination is relatively
simple by comparison to carpeting.
- Remove all dirt, remnants of padding, old
linoleum, carpeting, tack stripping and loose paint by what ever means is appropriate
for the flooring in question. This could include anything from simply
running a shop vacuum over the floor, to a long handled ice scrapper and
a shovel. Don't gasp, I have used both and others too! Don't forget to
clean out the floor mounted heating and cold air ducts.
- Wash the floor with Tri-Sodium Phosphate (containing
phosphates not the PC version. People in NY and CA among others states
may have to acquire these products out of state). Mix the TSP 1/2
cup per gallon of hot water and spread or spray it on the floor. If
you scrub the floor, only do it along the length of the boards, not
across them. After 2 to 5 minutes vacuum up the spent TSP
and rinse with fresh water and vacuum again. Let the floor dry over
night without fans. If there are spots of white powder on the floor
wash and rinse the area again. If there are black sticky spots, you should
seriously consider cutting that area of wood out. It is rotting and will continue
to rot. Anywhere you remove wood, clean, rinse and treat the wood
- Spray the entire floor with OdorXit solution (4
ounces per gallon of water) so that it is wet and stays wet for 15 to 20
minutes, especially in the stained areas. Also spray under the moldings, up the wall at least 1 foot and in any floor mounted
duct work. If the floor boards have holes or if there are cracks in or
between the boards, spray OdorXit solution directly into the holes and
- The next day air out the treated area and check for urine smells
and damp spots. If there are damp spots read about the treatment of
If there are areas that are dry but still smell of urine, re-spray
and cover the wet area with a piece of plastic. This will retard the evaporation
of the OdorXit solution and give it more time to soak into the same areas
the urine soaked into. If the smell still persists, refer to
extreme cases or call the OdorXit
Help line at 1877-ODORXIT.
Extreme Flooring Cases
Though personal observation of local properties and via customers requests
for help on the OdorXit help line, we have seen and/or heard about flooring
that was heavily contaminated with urea salt. Some were just stained black,
while others, after being repeatedly washed with a variety of detergents
and completely dried, would become wet and sticky again after a few hours
from the hygroscopic action of the remaining urea salt. Now, we are talking
about really contaminated flooring!
Though these extreme cases are more or less rare, more aggressive treatment
More aggressive treatment in one case included sanding the surface of
the area that was black and drilling a series of small holes through the
hardwood flooring. The combination of the two removed the floor's finish
and the holes provided a path for OdorXit to get to and neutralize the
urea that had soaked into the surface and ran between and under the floor
In another case more aggressive treatment included removing the most
heavily contaminated part of the flooring. This revealed that the rafters
and ceiling below the removed flooring was also heavily contaminated.
Treating these newly exposed areas with OdorXit finally eliminated the
Extreme Example 1
Extreme Example 2
Extreme Example 3
Pet Scent Spray
Cats, both male and female, neutered or whole, are capable of scent
marking their territory. Neutering does not remove the scent gland,
it may in some cases reduce the desire to scent mark . De-clawed
cats are generally more likely to scent mark than fully armed
cats. Dogs scent mark as well, but mostly they do it outside on every tree,
fire plug and lamp post. So as far a interior rehabbing is concerned scent
spraying is limited to cats and smaller exotic pets like ferrets.
Eliminating scent spray odors is relative easy provided that you have
not painted over the area and you can find all of the involved areas. The
black light approach works about 70% of the time based on the type
and amount of phosphor in the animals diet. The black light will
cause these phosphor salts to light up as a pale yellowish green mark that
looks like it was applied with a squirt gun. Anywhere you find one of
these marks, stick a thumb tack 2 inches above the mark so you can find
them after you wash and rinse the area with TSP.
Mix up a 16 ounce trigger spray bottle of OdorXit Concentrate with 1
ounce of Concentrate and 15 ounces of water. Spray the marked areas with 2
to 4 pumps of product and let it dry naturally. These scent marks often
take 2 to 5 applications over as many days to remove all the odor.
Places to find scent spray include: walls, doors, door frames, window
frames, outside door thresholds, entrance ways, above and behind kitchen
cabinets, behind baseboards and door trim. The unpainted bottom of wood
doors are a very popular place for scent spray to hide. Most can
be successfully treated with the 1:15 mixture, but often it is actually
more cost effective to replace trim and often doors.
Extreme Example 4
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are both a result of water invading a dark space and
providing an environment where mold and mildew can grow. Getting rid of
the water is the first step in solving this problem.
Once the water has been removed the mold will stop growing but when the
mold fungus goes into its "dormant" state, it begins to spray spores
into the air in an effort to procreate and relocate. The solution to
the problem has recently become incredibly simple.
dioxide oxidizes mold fungus and mold spores too. OdorXit's Air Quality Manager (AQM) produces Chlorine Dioxide and should be used in a room up to 1000 to 2000 sq ft basement
or cellar or crawl space in 1 to 5 days depending on several factors.
There are 2 ways to use the product (both produce the same quantity
of gas, just at different rates. Standing the 10 or 25 gram pack in a flat bottom glass or cup with 1/8" of water will cause all its gas to be produced in just 24 hours. Exposing the packets to 40% relative humidity but not liquid water will cause the packet to produce the same amount of gas in 20 to 30 days.
The fast version would seem to be a rehabbers dream except that during
the 24 hour treatment period you must not be in the house being treated.
Though the slower release version releases gas for 20 to 30 days,
it normally only takes 2 to 5 days to clear an open basement completely
which gives you 15+ days to treat a second house or another area in
the same house and you can be working in the area being treated. Additionally, very often the high dose treatment does not have time or approprate air flow to get the gas to all the places it needs to treat in just 1 day.
a small fan to circulate the air in the area being treated helps the
process a lot. Refer to the ClO2 section of this web site for more information on product sizing and application.
If you are providing your tenants with a refrigerator, you
have a special odor problem. As an example, how many refrigerators
have you thrown out because a tenant left food to spoil inside a turned
To save the refrigerator, wash out the interior of the refrigerator
with hot detergent water. Then spray OdorXit solution (1 ounce per quart
of water) on the entire interior, concentrating on the places you can not
easily scrub, the hole where the refrigerant tubes come in the back, shelf
mounting brackets and the door gaskets, the door shelves and all around
Some times the refrigeration coils are under the floor of the freeser and if so, they need to be exposed to be treated as well.
The next day the refrigerator will be ready for
Odors From Duct Work
What do you do about the smell of the garbage and pet urine that accumulates
in floor mounted HVAC ducts?
Simply cleaning out the ducts often does not get rid of the smell that
it produces by the trash, food, urine, and other
material that finds its way into the duct
Cleaning is essential, but afterwards, spray OdorXit as far back into
the duct as you can reach with the sprayer you are using. Pay particular
attention to the joints in the ducts because they contain much of the
material causing the smell. Don't forget the grates. Cleaning
and painting them will often not fix the problem.
If the duct work is not accessible, it may be worth the expense to have
them professionally cleaned but not sealed. After they have been cleaned,
spray them with OdorXit Concentrate 1:30 to eliminate the remaining odors.
Urine Splash in Bathrooms
What do you do about the urine splash around the toilet?
The main issue with urine splash in bathrooms is
that if the urine has not dried yet, it is easier and cheaper to wash it
off with detergent and water. OdorXit Concentrate is designed to work on urine
byproducts. Urine, while still wet, has not produced the urea salts that
cause the odors that Concentrate neutralizes. If the urine has dried, spray
OdorXit Concentrate solution on after washing the area and the problem will be gone in a few