how to get smell out of carpets

How to Get Smell Out of Carpets in 8 Ways

A carpet’s job is to cover floors, not to stink. And with proper care, carpets normally don’t give off foul odors. But what do you do if you vacuum clean your area rugs and carpets regularly yet they remain a persistent source of stenchy smell? It’s time to learn how to get smell out of carpets.

First of all, everyone hates fouling carpets. In fact, odorous carpeting is a proven people repellent.

You want your guests or customers to have a great time when they visit with you. Not walk away never to return because you’re seemingly messy and ‘dirty’.

8 Proven Ways of Deodorizing Smelly Carpets

Let’s dive right in and learn how you can get that luxurious carpet smelling like home and not fouling like, well, hell.

  • Use a decent enzyme cleaner.
  • Sprinkle baking soda onto the odorous carpet.
  • Take on the unpleasant carpet odors with a water/vinegar deodorant.
  • Spray a mixture of baking soda and essential oils to tackle carpet odors while making the house or apartment smell like fragrance.
  • Use a mixture of baking soda and food processor-ground dried herbs such as lavender or rosemary.
  • Use a homemade deodorant created from baking soda, borax, and essential oils to annihilate bacteria, mold, and mildew while introducing awesome scents.
  • Shampoo your smelly carpet using a decent carpet extractor.
  • Work Vodka into the carpet to solve stains, kill fouling bacteria, and eliminate odors.

Carpets Rarely Smell

how to get smell out of carpets

Let’s get this out of the way already: Are you cleaning your carpets as often as you should?

Carpets aren’t naturally smelly unless you carpeted your floors for the first time ever this morning. New carpets may (and often do) give off odor, but the smell naturally vanishes after some time.

But ALL kinds of carpet are a sort of air filter. They trap various allergens such as dust, dust mites, mold spores, mildew, grass pollen, and lingering farts (haha). 

If you’re not cleaning your carpet at least 3 times each week, you’re the problem, not your carpet.

But it’s possible to disinfect your carpet through steam-cleaning and spot-cleaning pet stains and still have odors. If this is your current situation, it means:

  • that your cleaning efforts and the diligence of your vacuum cleaner haven’t been good enough.
  • your deep-pile carpet needs to be deodorized.

I insist that you try method #1 below before trying the suggestions that follow. This is because the best enzyme cleaners are safe on carpets aside from being environmentally friendly options.

Read each section of this resource carefully to grasp every carpet odor removal tip it describes. You don’t want to miss a critical cleaning tip and wind up destroying your plush-pile carpet.

Let’s now examine each of these carpet odor removal methods and learn how you can leverage each to solve your problem.

1.Use a Pet-safe Enzyme Cleaner to Deodorize Your Carpet

Pets are adorable. That’s a fact. But even the best-trained cats and dogs get involved in little nasty accidents that deposit urine on your plush carpet. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, pet urine stains left too long can cause all kinds of reversible and permanent damages to a carpet.

Whether the damage is permanent or not depends on what’s in the stain, how much time has elapsed, and the dyes and finishes on the carpet.

If the pet urine stays undetected for days, weeks, or even months, your carpet will inevitably smell like, well, fermented pet urine.

Enzyme cleaners are one of the smartest and safest methods of removing pet urine smells and other odors from carpets. These cleaners eliminate odors by hastening bacteria-driven organic matter breakdown. By organic matter, I mean odor sources such as pet vomit, urine, and feces.

You can find a good and safe enzyme cleaner on Amazon, Home Depot, and many other places online and offline. Be sure to use the product per the instructions provided.

Use a pet-safe enzyme cleaner, one made of 100% biodegradable ingredients. Choose a completely non-toxic, alcohol-free product. And if it’s available in a recyclable spray bottle, that’s even better.

I recommend the Only Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover, a plant-based enzyme cleaner that is also people and pet-friendly. And yes, it’s available on Amazon.

2. Apply Baking Soda on Your Smelly Carpet

There’s almost a 100% chance you have some baking soda in your pantry. It’s inexpensive, natural, and works like a charm as far as carpet odor elimination.

The particles of baking soda dive deep into the pile and neutralize odor, leaving your area rugs and carpet completely odor-free.

To remove smell from a carpet using baking soda, first off move the furniture so you can access the entirety of the carpet.

If you have a low-pile or mid-pile carpet, grab the baking soda box and pour out the contents all over the carpet. But if you’re deodorizing a thick-pile carpet, don’t do this.

Instead, sprinkle the baking soda onto a small area first and then work the substance into the fibers of the thick-pile carpet with your fingers. Once done treating one section, move on to another until the entire floor covering is treated.

Wait 24 hours if the odor is really bad and then use a vacuum to lift out the baking soda. The odor’s vanished, right? Move the furniture back and go cook a nice meal for your SO.

Do you know why I recommend this strategy? It’s because baking soda is a natural substance and relatively harmless. Aside from this, you won’t end up with stains on the carpet since it’s a dry deodorant.

3. How to Deodorize Carpets Using Vinegar

Prepare a white vinegar+warm water solution in the ratio 1:2. That is, add two cups of water to one cup of white vinegar.

If the smell situation in your home is extremely bad, add in two spoonfuls of baking soda to this concoction. You want to prep this homemade carpet cleaner in a spray bottle for convenience.

Then, shake the contents in the bottle and spritz them onto your odoriferous carpet. Wait until the carpet air-dries completely before stepping on it.

You also want to keep the carpeted area out of bounds for your pets until the drying process completes.

Avoid applying excessive amounts of a vinegar-based homemade cleaner on the carpet because this might encourage mildew growth. And mildew is a known source of carpet odors.

Vinegar kills mold and mildew on leather and other surfaces. It’s also a time-tested carpet odor removal tool. But what if some of the smell persists after deodorizing the carpet with vinegar?

That might happen because there were far too many odor molecules to remove. Or because the baking soda became saturated before it totally eliminated the odor. If this happens, repeat the process.

4. Use Essential Oils + Baking Soda to Deodorize Your Carpet

Some say that essential oils offer certain benefits to pets and humans, but definitive research supporting this claim is scarce.

Also, scents from several common essential oils have been found not to be dog-friendly. Cinnamon, eucalyptus, tea tree, pine, peppermint, wintergreen, sweet birch, pennyroyal, ylang ylang, clove, anise, and juniper essential oils can be bad for dogs.

Compared to dogs, cats have a greater sensitivity to the essential oils typically used in diffusers. Pretty much every fragrance that’s not dog-safe isn’t cat-safe. Also, any oil that contains phenol-based compounds can be harmful to cats.

Fortunately, some essential oils such as rosemary, lavender, ginger, chamomile, myrrh, and frankincense are safe for pets according to Outward Hound. You can use any of these scented oils mixed with baking soda to deodorize your carpet and freshen your home.

Do this: Put 2 cups of baking soda into a jar with a lid. You need to make several holes on the lid so you can use this jar for sprinkling the fragrance-enriched baking soda onto the carpet.

Then, add in 15 drops of any pet-safe essential oil such as lavender. Next, shake the container to blend the powder and oil into a scented powdery deodorant and sprinkle it liberally onto your carpet.

Leave the mixture sitting on the carpet for a day. Finally, vacuum the powder. This method should solve your smelly carpet problem.

5. Use Dried Herbs + Baking Soda as a Dry Carpet Deodorant

Don’t want to use regular essential oils and baking soda to remove odors from your carpet and area rugs? No problem. You can always use a mixture of baking powder and dry herbs such as lavender or rosemary instead.

Put the dried herb in your food processor and convert it into a fine powder. Then, mix the herb with a generous amount of baking soda.

Scatter the baking soda/dried herb mixture onto every part of the odorous carpet. You can use any lidded container (lid with holes) to sprinkle the homemade dry deodorizer.

Avoid applying too much of this substance on any area of the carpet to avoid wastage. Plus, you want your vacuum cleaner to do less when it’s time to pick up the powder.

6. Deep-clean the Smelly Carpet With a Carpet Shampoo

If your carpet has deep-seated stubborn stains and other kinds of filth that normal vacuuming hasn’t removed, use a carpet extractor.

This machine uses a wand to get water + a cleaner of your choice into the base of the carpet. It then scrubs the carpet and finally scoops out every tiny thing hiding deep down there, eliminating the smell.

Choose a shampoo that won’t harm your carpet and use it per the manufacturer’s advice. It’s always best to try treating a small hidden part of the carpet to see if it’s safe enough.

One more thought: use a carpet extractor that has a decent water-lift. Why? Because that kind of carpet shampooer leaves very little water+cleaner in the carpet. Your carpet will air-dry faster than when you use a low-water-lift extractor.

Wondering what carpet cleaner to use? Try out Kirby et Owners Foaming Carpet Shampoo. This is a popular pet, people, and carpet-safe shampoo with great stain removal powers. It’s enzyme-formulated and a safe biodegradable cleaner.

Don’t own a carpet extractor? Don’t worry; you can always rent a decent extractor at Home Depot.

Deep-cleaning a smelly carpet with an extractor addresses odors issues while providing much-needed carpet restorative care.

7. Work Some Vodka into That Odorous Carpet

Vodka breath doesn’t smell like the nicest scent you’ve ever smelled. All it does is get people drunk while bludgeoning brain power.

But did you know you can use the same vodka to deodorize your odoriferous carpet and leave it smelling like …nothing? Yes, you can. This judgment killer is also a great carpet stain remover.

So, pre-treat stains with a pet-safe product and then spritz some vodka onto the carpet. Let the vodka sit for about 10-15 minutes before absorbing as much of it using paper towels.

Finally, vacuum the carpet to suck up the vodka. Give the treated areas extra passes for the best results. Leave the carpet to air-dry and that’s it.

Alcohol kills bacteria. And since bacteria cause bad smells, applying vodka is a sensible way of dealing with unpleasant carpet smells.

8. Kill Mold and Deodorize Carpets With a Borax-rich Mixture

Sprinkling a mixture made from borax, baking soda, and essential oils onto smelly rugs kills mold and deodorizes them while freshening your home.

Here’s how to prepare this homemade carpet freshener: Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of borax (both are powders) and add 15-20 drops of a pet-friendly essential oil such as lavender or rosemary. You may also throw in some dried herbs if you like.

Put these ingredients into a container and give them a good shake. Then, pour the contents into a Mason jar. The jar needs to have a lid, and the lid should have holes. I suggest covering the Mason jar with a lid from a Parmesan cheese shaker.

Scatter the powder deodorant onto the troublesome carpet. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes and then vacuum the powder. If the stench is too bad, let the contents sit there much longer than that (24 hours?) before picking them up.

This mixture exterminates dust mites and eliminates carpet odors like no one’s business.

How to Stop Carpets from Smelling

Getting your carpet to stop smelling like stinky feet or giving off a mildew-musty odor using baking powder or vinegar is one thing.  But stopping carpet smells before they happen is quite another.

That said, there’s quite a few ways to prevent your carpet from smelling awful.

1.Keep Pets off your carpet.

If cat pee and dog wee don’t get into your carpet in the first place, you won’t have a stench wafting out of your area rugs and carpets. Fortunately, there’s all kinds of good pet repellents that keep dogs and cats off carpets. Use them.

2. Clean Up Pet Stains and Spills Soon After They Happen

It helps to have a bottle of a decent pet stain remover around so you can handle accidents as soon as they happen.

When your pet urinates on your couch, handle the stain immediately, otherwise it’ll settle in and make the whole place stink. The same goes for when little Timmy spills yogurt or a smoothie on the carpet.

3. For the Love of God, Stop Smoking in the House

It’s a free country, but your pets’ and family’s right to clean, fresh air starts where yours ends. So, take good care of your loved ones; smoke outside.

Tobacco smoke can linger for weeks or even months. It reeks into the carpet, reaching the deepest parts and saturating them with nicotine-y odor.

4. Vacuum the Carpet Regularly

Make sure to vacuum your carpet at least 3 times every week and deep-clean with your own or rented carpet extractor at least once every 12 months.

5. Get Your Doors and Windows to Vent Carpet Odors

Throw those windows open. Let bad indoor air flow out and fresh air stream in, and that’ll solve some of your smelly carpet issues.

Do you have two doors or even windows that sit opposite each other? Open one halfway and the other all the way to create a breezy air current (a cross-wind) that purifies your space.

Ok, so you can’t always open the windows. But whenever you can, why not?

Another way to improve a home’s ventilation and reduce odors is to install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms. Also, run floor fans and ceiling fans to get more of your indoor air moving.

6. Leave Your Shoes at the Door

According to the University of Utah, over 90 percent of bacteria and everything else the outsoles of your shoes collect from sidewalks, dirty puddles, and even public restrooms end up on your carpet, floor, or other floor coverings.

These pathogens can cause illness, and they can also make your place smell like rotted organic matter down the road. That’s why every carpet cleaning expert worth their salt always says to leave shoes at the door.

7.Keep Your Home’s Humidity Low

Excessive humidity and temperature are the mother of mold and mildew. If you keep the humidity in your home low enough (between 40-60%), mold will make your dwelling their cozy home.

Remember, no mold and no mildew in a home often means no carpet odors. If you need to get a dehumidifier (especially in the summertime when humidity increases quite a bit) to keep your home’s relative humidity where it should be, get it.

Final Thoughts

Carpet odor removal isn’t that hard if you know what strategies to use. While some of the suggestions given here need you to spend some money, the majority don’t.

With dried herbs such as lavender and many others, vinegar, baking soda, and a good vacuum cleaner, you can resolve carpet smell issues in no time.

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