Moving Into A House That Had Pets (4 Steps To Take)

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You’re moving into a house and just realized the prior owner had pets. Indoor pets are common in America and they tend to take a toll on a house.

You might find scratches on the doors and floors. If there are carpets you can bet there is plenty of pet dander (shed pet hair and skin).

There will also be subtle smells associated with the dog or cat that lived inside. Dogs and cats sometimes relieve themselves inside and it can cause stains and water damage.

As someone who suffers from pet allergies, I know what it’s like to move into a house that had pets. It can be worrisome if you have to do a lot of work to remove their allergens and smells.

In this article, I’ll share a few tips you should know when moving into a house that had pets. The type of pet matters too!

Experience In An Apartment That Had Pets

In college, I moved into an apartment. I gave little thought to the people who lived there prior to me and wasn’t concerned about pets.

I had never kept pets indoors but I knew many families that had and I had no problem with it. After moving into the apartment I began to smell something musty from the carpet.

It smelled like wet dog but I figured it would go away after a month or two.

The carpets had been vacuumed thoroughly before I moved in and the apartment was in good shape. I the smell continued and when I vacuumed I still picked up dog or cat hair from the prior tenants.

At the same time, I began to experience more severe allergy symptoms. I wasn’t sure the exact cause but I felt that the pets might be contributing to my symptoms.

Later in that year, I discovered I was allergic to many things in the house (mostly dust mites) and to pets. I realized later that pets provide a lot of food to dust mites in the form of dander.

4 Actionable Steps: Moving Into A House That Had Pets

I learned a few lessons after moving into an apartment that had pets. There were questions I should have asked and things I should have observed.

Before moving my belongings into the house I also should have done extra cleaning to reduce the chance of frustration. The tips below are things you should do prior to moving into a house that had pets.

#1 Ventilate

Ventilation will be essential to get rid of the smell associated with pets. Your ability to open the windows and doors of the house will depend on the season (probably not possible in winter) and the safety of the neighborhood.

Ventilating the house will do more than just provide fresh air. It should help dry out carpeting that was cleaned and will help with mold growth due to excess indoor moisture.

If you live in a humid climate it’s advisable to invest in a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier will help dry out the air and can also help with musty smells from pets.

It takes days, sometimes a week for washed carpets to dry out. Ventilate even if you think you don’t need it!

#2 Mind The Carpets

Ever since I was diagnosed with allergies I’m very careful about moving into a house or apartment with carpets. Sure, carpets are super comfortable however they’re tough to keep clean and have a tendency to catch and hold dust.

If you’ve ever removed an old carpet you know what I mean. Vacuuming will not capture all dust from a carpet.

If pets were in the house the problem will be worse. Cat dander is one of the smallest allergens (even smaller than dust mites) and it can burrow its way into carpets, beds, and couches.

If you have cat allergies and are moving into a carpeted house make sure there were no cats living there! If so, you’ll likely be suffering for a long time!

In addition to pet dander, fleas can also survive in carpets for a long time.

When moving into a new home make sure to ask if the carpet has been shampooed or washed. Using a vacuum isn’t enough!

If you’re moving into a house with hard flooring (tile, wood, linoleum) you’ll be in good shape. There’s less chance of stains and hard floors make it easy to remove dust and dander.

#3 Replace Furnace Filters

After being diagnosed with allergies I always keep a close eye on my HVAC filter and I’m particular about the filter I use.

A trip to your local home improvement store will not provide a selection of high-quality allergy filters. It’s easiest to find these online. Although they are a little more expensive they will filter our tiny dust particles from the air including dust mites, pet dander, and pollen.

Standard filters don’t do a good job at filtering air pollutants in your home so if you’re moving into a new house that had pets consider replacing the filters.

I’d recommend using the best furnace filters with carbon filtration that will get rid of pet odors and smoke. You can run the vent on the HVAC for a few days straight!

#4 Additional Tip: Air Purifier

If the house happens to be dirty and full of carpeting then you might want additional long-term options for your indoor air.

Pet dander can remain in carpets for years if not removed. For anyone suffering from allergies a HEPA air purifier is a good choice to filter indoor air (here’s my ranking of best air purifiers).

A HEPA filter is a high-efficiency filter that will remove all allergens from the air. I have a HEPA air purifier and it quietly runs all day and night in my bedroom.

Many air purifiers also have carbon filters that remove smells, and some are also antibacterial too.


If you’re moving into a house that had pets you’ll want to be prepared. Maybe you’re wary about the smells and stains or maybe you’re concerned it will cause your allergies to worsen.

Understanding the impact pets can have on a house can help you prepare. Outside of the visible impact like door and floor scratches, pet dander can find it’s way into carpets and stains can damage floors.

Before you move in, make sure to thoroughly wash the carpets and ventilate the house. If there is high humidity consider getting a dehumidifier to help dry the indoor air. Dehumidifier help with mold and damp carpets.

You’ll also want to wash carpeting with soap. Shampooing carpets will do a much better job than simply using a vacuum but it’s important to do both.

Most people overlook the HVAC filter but you’ll want to replace it as soon as you move in, preferably with a high-quality allergy filter. Some of these furnace filters help with odors as well.

If you’re like me and have strong allergies the last thing you might want is a HEPA air purifier which runs 24/7 and works great in a bedroom where it filters dust mites, pet dander, and pollen.

You’re excited to move into a new house but it can be disconcerting when you find out there were pets inside. Make sure to ask questions and take the necessary steps to clean the house before moving in. A few simple changes can go a long way to erasing the memory of pets inside the house.

Thanks for reading another Dust Mite Solutions article. Check out the homepage for more interesting articles on indoor allergens.

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