Guest blogger Michelle Bardwell knows more about aroma than anybody in the world! A brilliant clinical aromatherapist and friend for years, she is the one expert I turned to when I wanted to know what we could do about making your home smell as wonderful as it looks, when it is on the market.

I once sold a home, years ago, and my agent filled my freezer with frozen fruit pies. When I asked her what she was doing — I did not feed my family frozen pies — she said, I’m just baking them right before your open house. We’ll never eat the things, in fact we’ll dump them. I just want the smell of Mom’s apple pie!

Did we sell that home? In a nanosecond, in the worst market ever. That agent taught me a valueable lesson: if you are trying to sell your home, smells can be the kiss of death, or the cha-ching of success.

What’s unfortunate is that most people can’t ‘smell’ their house as others do. Furthermore, what smells good to one person is a turn-off for another. For example, someone wants to ‘freshen up’ their home for a showing, so they burn an expensive candle made with synthetic flower oils. Your realtor informs you later that the client had to leave shortly after arriving because of the migraine they developed due to the burning chemicals in the air. Oops!

Would you make an extra effort to breath in bleach or any popular cleaning product? Of course not! (Editor’s note: I, Candy, am one sick person – I actually enjoy the smell of bleach!) So why would you breathe in a chemical air freshener, plug-in, or chemical scented candle? When confronting the issue of aroma in your home, just because it has a ‘fragrant aroma,’ don’t be fooled, chemicals are chemicals. You want to create an inviting environment that is fresh and gives the sense of health and happiness.

Here is how you do it:

1. Don’t cover up a bad smell with a chemical smell. You want to neutralize the bad smell by cleaning with a mild soap and water. Besides the earth friendly detergents you can find at your favorite health food store, you can also find traditional detergents from major soap companies with new formulas that have fewer chemicals. Clean everything with a wet, soapy rag then go back over with a clean damp towel.

2. For areas that need a stronger anti-bacterial action, consider cleaning with white vinegar. Here is a very helpful website to get you started

3. Create a delightful but subtle, aromatic space by using therapeutic grade essential oils. In the kitchen, I suggest using Cardamom Essential Oil because it gives a since of warmth. Put 4 drops of Cardamom essential oil on a damp towel and wipe down all the cabinets and counter tops. Afterwards, hang the towel on a rack and it will continue to subtly diffuse into the room for hours.  In the bedroom, use 2 drops Lavender Essential Oil on each pillow, which will encourage relaxation and deeper sleep. In the nursery, use Lavender to wipe down hard surfaces for the anti-bacterial quality. To give the bathroom a fresh, clean aroma, and simultaneously kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces and in the air, my best suggestion is to use a combination of Eucalyptus and Ravintsara essential oils. Put several drops directly on surfaces and wipe down. You can even put a few drops on the shower floor and in the toilet.

You will be amazed how wonderful your house will start smelling once you replace chemical based products with gentle soaps and essential oils. I suggest you only use therapeutic grade essential oils because a lower quality oil could be adulterated with chemicals. These suggestions will definitely get you on your way to a happy house that sells fast — what everyone needs in this market!

Michelle Bardwell is a Registered Aromatherapist, mother of 3, lover of French Bulldogs and resides in Dallas, Texas. She has an extensive education in Clinical Aromatherapy and other Naturopathic modalities. Her company, Flower Road, is a line of organic skin care, environment sprays and therapeutic grade essential oils.