Placeholder canvas

How to Get a Smell Out of Your Carpet: Basics for Homeowners

My Pro Cleaner™
Josh Almanza, Owner SINCE 2004

Nothing puts a damper on spending time at home like a stinky carpet. Whether it’s a moldy smell or a pet odor, a house simply never feels clean when a stink is noticeable. In this article, we aim to help homeowners defeat offensive carpet smells using simple DIY methods.

The following ideas will only work for airborne malodors. If odors are coming from pet urine (ammonia gas) or pet dander (oils from shedding hair), then odor removal will usually require more skill and professional know-how.

If these basics on how to get an unpleasant smell out of your carpet don’t solve your carpet’s odor problem, consider hiring us at My Pro Cleaner. We help homeowners like you to keep your carpet in its best condition and smelling fresh and clean. That is our professional craft.

Three Steps for Deodorizing Smelly Carpet With Baking Soda

Baking soda is perhaps the most common method for taking care of smelly carpets, because it works by pulling the smell out of the air and the rug fibers. If you’ve ever put an open baking soda box in your fridge, you already know how well baking soda works.

1. Sprinkle Baking Soda on Carpet

Using gloved hands, a colander, or some other container that can disperse the powder, sprinkle baking soda over the affected area of your carpet.

Don’t be afraid to coat the carpet thoroughly — but avoid creating piles. Using too much won’t affect the process — but may affect your wallet!

2. Spread It and Leave It

Using your gloved hand or a broom, spread the baking soda to create an even layer over the carpet.
For faint smells, let it sit for a couple of hours.
For strong odors, let it sit overnight.
The longer you leave the baking soda on the carpet, the more stink it will absorb.

3. Vacuum It Up

After you have let it sit for a good amount of time, it’s time to vacuum up the baking soda. You will want to vacuum over the area several times, and in multiple directions, (see my article on proper vacuuming) to ensure that all the powder gets removed. Be sure to empty the vacuum or change the vacuum bag afterward to prevent the stink from lingering.

Additional Solutions to Use On Smelly Carpet

Note: When your DIY odor remover solutions are mixed properly, there typically should be no problems with the solution causing discoloration of your carpet. However, we always recommend doing a spot test in a small, inconspicuous area of the room, no matter what solution you try.

Spot testing is always a smart move before you begin using any of the carpet odor removal methods yourself.

If the baking soda solution isn’t as effective as you had hoped, here are some more tips on how to get a smell out of your carpet.

Carpet Cleaning Machines

If you own a carpet cleaning machine, like a Bissell, shampooing can freshen up your carpet. As usual, it’s a good idea to spot test if you are using an unfamiliar shampoo or using a carpet cleaning machine for the first time. Choose a hidden carpet spot for your test before going over the entire carpet.

If you don’t have a carpet cleaning machine, or if you don’t have the time to take on this project by yourself, we can certainly help! My Pro Cleaner will deep clean your carpet professionally, with powerful equipment and cleaning solutions that are scientifically tailored to your situation.

Baking Soda with Aromatics

If the baking soda trick needs a boost of effectiveness, try mixing in an aromatic before you put it over the carpet. You might add a few drops of essential oils to help drive the stink away. Citrus varieties like lemon tend to add a fresh, clean scent.

You can also add dried herbs to the mix, such as rosemary or dried lavender. Pulverize the herbs first, using a food processor or a mortar and pestle for the best results. Herbs and flowers are most fragrant right after they’re freshly cut.

Enzyme Products

For light dog and cat odors, you can buy an enzyme product from the pet store. Enzyme products are beneficial to combat pet odors, specifically. If your cat or dog has soiled your carpet, and there’s a lingering urine smell, try investing in an enzyme cleaner. They work by accelerating the rate at which bacteria break down the source of the stink.

You can find various enzyme pet products at your local pet or home supply store. You can also find them through online retailers. Simply choose your product and follow the instructions on the packaging.

White Vinegar

For musty smells like mold and mildew, try white vinegar. Dilute 1 part clear white vinegar with 1 part warm water in a spray bottle. Either targeting a specific spot or your entire carpet, spray the vinegar solution over the carpet.

We know the vinegar smell isn’t much better than the old stink, but it will fade. If the musty odor is still hanging around once the carpet has dried, give it another spritz.

It may be tempting to soak the carpet on the first application, but doing so may contribute to the musty smell instead of eliminating it. Instead, only dampen the carpet with the diluted vinegar solution, and wait for it to dry completely before adding any more.

Baking Soda and Borax

Try adding borax to the mix if you can’t stand the smell of vinegar and the simple baking soda solution isn’t strong enough to kill the stench. Borax is a cleaning agent that is especially effective at defeating mold and mildew smells, because it kills mold spores.

Mix baking soda with borax at a 2:1 ratio, and sprinkle this over the carpet. Let it sit for about an hour, and then vacuum it up. As before, be sure to empty the vacuum bag or canister.

Borax also serves as a laundry detergent booster. If your cat or dog leaves you a soggy gift on a piece of clothing in addition to your carpet, throw the clothing in the washer with your regular detergent and a sprinkle of borax.

As always, remember to spot test before using borax.

Febreze Fabric Spray

We’ve all seen the Febreze commercials on TV. A mother walks into a messy child’s bedroom, and you don’t need “smellivision” to read the disgusted look on her face. She grabs a bottle of Febreze, and a perky voice explains how the product eliminates odors instead of just masking them.

There’s some truth to that. A quick spritz of Febreze can do a lot to freshen up a stinky carpet. The fabric spray is a wet spray that eliminates odors as it dries.

This handy product offers a quick way to eliminate subtle odors. Febreze even has a scent geared explicitly toward pet odor.

Again, we caution you not to soak your carpet. Allow the first application to dry completely before spraying any more.

Tips for Keeping Carpets Smelling Fresh

It can be tricky to identify and treat stinky carpets. Here are some additional tips on how to keep your carpet smelling fresh.

Get the Air Moving

Carpet fibers hang onto smells beyond those caused by spills and moisture. They also grab odors in the air and keep them around even after the cause is gone.

An excellent example of this is smoky smells. If you’ve ever walked into a home where a smoker has lived, you may have noticed the lingering stench.

You can help prevent odors in the air from settling into your carpet by keeping the air in your house moving. If your home has an effective and efficient HVAC system, you can achieve this by running the whole house fan. You may also add standing fans or box fans to specific areas to prevent the air from becoming stagnant.

You may also want to look into purchasing an air purifier with a carbon filter. Carbon, when activated, acts like a sponge and adsorbs most odors. For an air purifier to be effective for odor removal, it should have a carbon filter.

If you have a smell in your house that you want to purge before it settles into the carpet, place a fan in a window facing out, and open another door or window to create a cross draft. This trick will suck the smelly air outside while pulling fresh, new air into your home.

Immediately Address Spills

It’s important to address any type of carpet spills — even plain water — right when it happens.

It’s often not enough to simply absorb the mess with paper towels. Use the appropriate cleaning products to prevent leftover particles from creating a big stink.

Coming soon! A Spot and Spill Chart!

Vacuum Regularly

It’s very important to vacuum your carpet at least once per week — more often if you have pets and kids — to remove surface dirt, dust, food particles, and other debris that can build up and cause a carpet to smell bad.

Tips for Keeping Your Whole Home Smelling Fresh

Clean Frequently

I know you know this, but you can improve the overall smell of your home with regular overall cleaning routines. By cleaning the house often (depending on how many people and children you live with), you can prevent unpleasant odors from taking root in your carpet.

If you own a large home, housecleaning can be an intimidating project. Maybe you can divide your home in sections, and stagger each section’s cleaning dates. For example, you may clean the downstairs one week and then the upstairs the next week.

Consider the Kitchen Trash

Kitchen trash cans without lids can contribute to odors throughout your home. Invest in a kitchen trash bin with a lid if you don’t have one, and try not to leave food trash in there for too long, as this can get quite stinky.

Consider the Kitchen Sink

Garbage disposals are another common source for gross household smells. If your kitchen sink smells musty or otherwise unpleasant, put some orange peels down the disposal. You can also use lemon peels or lime peels; the citrus zest adds a clean, pleasant smell.

Call us for a deep clean and professional deodorizing

If these DIY tips on aren’t quite getting the odor out of your carpet, or you’re facing the more challenging odor problems caused by pet urine and pet dander, consider giving us a call for a professional deep carpet cleaning.

We’re here to help! ?

Since 2004, My Pro Cleaner has been helping hundreds of homeowners in Spring Texas and Houston to keep their carpet and upholstery deeply cleaned and maintained — for its health, its beauty, and to keep it smelling fresh! Happiness guaranteed!

Search Articles

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

No comments to show.
Josh Almanza Expert Carpet Cleaner

If you have any questions about this article, or anything related to cleaning carpet, upholstery, tile and grout, and maintaining a healthy home, please feel free to give me a call, and let’s talk!

Josh Almanza
My Pro Cleaner™