Horrible Smell in Basement!

shcoultJuly 15, 2008

I need help! We have our house listed for sale. After the first few showings, the feedback stated that there was a horrible smell in the basement! I guess since we live here, we can't smell it! We have 3 cats and one of our cats was sick - he had diarrhea. He would not go in his litter box while he had the diarrhea, always on the floor. We had to remove all carpeting from the basement because it was ruined. After removing the carpeting, he began to poop on the concrete floors. We have scrubbed and scrubbed until our fingers were raw! We used bleach water solution in front of the litter box (one of his favorite places to poop,in front of, not in the litter box!). We used about 80% strength of PineSol Lemon in water and mopped all the concrete floor and let it seep into the concrete. We washed all the walls down with PineSol. We have removed all boxes out of the basement because they too retained that wonderful smell. We even threw out the sofas down there. Our basement is basically empty, except for a few pieces of hard wood furniture. We burnt heavily fragranced candles hoping the wood and other things would soak up the candle smell to get rid of the lingering "odor". It's not cat urine, it's a smell like cat feces. We can not "find" any feces anywhere. We can't locate the source of the odor. After having a few neighbors and friends come in and perform a "sniff test" for us, the odor was gone - or so we thought. After a couple days, the odor is back. We have even had a builder tell us to dump coffee grounds on the concrete floors and let is set overnight to absorb the odor. I did that as well. Just made it smell like coffee for a few hours after I swept it all up. Can anyone recommend anything? I am desperate and overwhelmed at this point. We keep the litter boxes clean all the time, but my cat is still "pooping" half the time in the box and the other half on the floor. It's not the current poop that's the problem, it's the lingering smell of past poop I guess. My sister had her clothes down there and they stunk too! We have removed everyting fabric and anything in a box or materials out of the basment. I don't know if it's still in the concrete, if it's in the walls (which is panelling), air ducts or where it is coming from. Help me please! If anyone can recommend a cleaning solution that has worked for them, or any other possible solution, please let me know. I'm at my wits end! My basement is so clean you could eat off the floors, it just stinks!!!

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Unfortunately, the products you've been using will not eliminate pet odors......they just mask them.

You need to use an enzyme product made for cleaning pet urine/feces. I've used the one below and it works. Most pet stores sell these enzymes and they're also sold online. Look for anything recommended by dog/cat kennels!
In addition to using the enzyme I'd recommend you seal the concrete after it's thoroughly dry. That should take care of the odor in the concrete. If the cat has sprayed the walls and the odor has seeped into the wood then that odor will be a little more difficult to get rid of. The OdorMute listed below can be used on wood also so I'd probably spray all the walls and the floor during the cleaning.

I'd strip the basement bare since it's possible the wood and fabric on any of the remaining furniture has absorbed the odor.

While showing the house you should move the cats and their litter boxes to a spare bedroom or the garage and let the realtor know that no one is allowed in those rooms during showings because of pets. If you have a serious buyer, they will return to see the room they couldn't see on the first visit.

When showing a home, it's important to remove the pet and as much of its stuff as possible. It doesn't matter that you keep the litter boxes clean if the cat has decided to do their business right before a buyer arrives to view the home. Plus, people who don't own pets often are more sensitive to odors that pet owners are accustomed to.

Here is a link that might be useful: enzyme cleaner

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:55AM
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I have two suggestions, both I've tried for various situations and both work wonders, from a locked up vacation home that had a mildew smell after too long to bowl-you-over perfume smell saturating the drawers of an antique bedroom set. It will take a week or so to kick in, but then you should notice it. Doesn't mask odors, but rather absorbs them.

Citrus Magic or my preferred Natural Magic gel tubs. Then there is Gonzo volcanic odor absorber, they have one for basements. You can reactivate the Gonzo bag every 6 mos by setting it in hot sun for a day. I'd suggest you do that first thing when you purchase it, just for extra measure. You should be able to find all these products at a hardware store (Home Depot carries them). And I would use both Gonzo and Nat Magic tubs at the same time to really get to work on the odor. Agree with annz on cleaning with an enzyme solution as well.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 7:45AM
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Have you tried running a dehumidifier down in the basement as well to dry out the damp air? Drying the air will help with some odor as well, especially after you've scrubbed so much, there will be dampness in the concrete, etc.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 7:47AM
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Nature's Miracle (PetsMart) worked to get stains and smell out of our carpet. You might also consider cleaning the concrete floor with TSP, but follow the directions precisely in a closed area like a basement.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 10:10AM
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Nobody suggested putting plastic sheeting down under the litter box to catch future accidents.

Lots of good cleaning ideas. The dehumidifier is a good idea. I have a truck that smelled like dog in wet weather for a couple years. It may be bacteria making the stink, and they go dormant when it's too dry.

I was thinking about an ozone generator, maybe you can rent one and put it down there for a couple days.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 12:56PM
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Regular Nature's miracle won't work for cat stink. Try:
Pet-tastic, Simple Solution, or Nature's Miracle Cat Formula.

My local Pet Supplies Plus supposedly has a product specifically for removing smell from concrete - but I don't know what it is or how it works.

I'll second the idea of a dehumidifier - it's amazing how much stink comes out when the weather is muggy.

You can also try a new litter 'Cat Attract' - it has something in it that makes cats want to use the litter box.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:57AM
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I used Kilz (it's like thick paint) in my last house on the concrete floor before we laid new carpet down. Worked like a charm. Ventilate well.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 5:14PM
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