“How to deodorize carpet” is not a new question for many of you. Indeed, nothing bugs you more than a smelly carpet. Just imagine, after a long and exhausting working day, you come back home, and an unpleasant odor fills your nostrils; how terrifying it is, right?
So everything I want to cover today is to keep your home-sweet-home always smelling nice. In particular, I will F5 – refresh your carpet, to put on it a new freshness with very cost-efficient products.
Wait no longer; grab your pen and a paper to write down these quick and smart solutions to treat your old carpet.
Want Your House Smell Nice 24/7? – Start With Your Carpet Now
Strong odor carpet can be seen as a way to imply a property owner is a dirty person. The health risks relating to smelly carpets are numerous; therefore, you have to clean and deodorize your carpet regularly to ensure healthy indoor air quality not only for you but also for your family.
That’s why in this post, I will show you several carpet cleaner solutions with extensive information and step-by-step guides so you can easily remove the stains and smell from your carpet. Do not worry; these solutions will not cost you a leg and arm to have a fresh carpet.
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Some of them are natural and friendly-environment products; some are less green but still work well to improve your carpet quality. But the most important is that all of the solutions I am about to introduce are non-toxic to humans.
There are 3 main deodorizer categories which include:
Powdered-based Solutions With:
Method 1: Baking Soda (pet stains and smells)
Method 2: Borax (musty smell)
Method 3: Essential Oils with Baking Soda and Borax (germs, mold, and mildew stains and smells)
Liquid-based Solutions With:
Method 1: Club Soda (pet, food/drink stains and smells)
Method 2: Enzyme Cleaner (pet’s stains and smells)
Method 3: White Vinegar (mold, mildew stains and smells)
Method 4: Alcohol (bacteria, mold, milder and sweat stains and smells)
Method 5: Hydrogen Peroxide (mold, mildew stains and smells)
And Specialized Solutions With:
Method 1: Laundry Detergent (all stains and smells)
Method 2: Carpet Shampoo Cleaner (deep cleaning for all stains and smells)
Reasons For Bad Odor From Carpet
Everything happens for a reason. That’s why before you know how to deodorize your carpet, you should have known what caused the bad smell from your carpet.
There are many reasons for this, some of them are just your routine habit. And here are some common sources of carpet odor that I think you might already know, but you have not realized its consequences.
1. High Level Of Moisture
Moisture is one of the most prevalent problems that make odor occur. Imagine your carpet is just like a sponge material that can absorb water well.
Therefore, moisture or dampness, particularly underneath the carpet, will create a musty smell that might harm both your physical and mental health.
Where does the moisture come from? If you live in a high humidity area, this is the first reason. Natural disasters like floods, torrents, rainstorms sweeping through your house, or some water dripping from spills or potted plants can also be several reasons that increase the moisture.
From time to time, the moisture that your carpet has locked will encourage the growth of mold or mildew, leading to the worst situation not only about the smell but also ruin the texture of your carpet, let alone the health risks related to mold exposure.
2. Pet Urine or Vomit
Everyone loves pets. But regulating their ‘toilet routine’ is not easy, particularly if you are not good at training them from scratch. And your carpet can be your pet’s favorite toilet, which also causes a stinky smell.
And you know what’s worse? The smell of their urine can stay very long on the carpet even though you already cleaned it. Besides, the sensation of your pets is much higher than humans, so once they still smell their urine on the carpet, they might repeat peeing on it.
Likewise, your pets’ vomit can be another source that is associated with carpet odor. And unlike hardwood floors, cleaning the carpet is not very easy. So training your pets is very important if your whole house is covered by carpet.
3. Food or Drink Spill
You might accidentally drop your liquid-based food or drink on the carpet. And the wet carpet will create an ideal living area for mold, making your carpet smelly.
Moreover, as some foods are organic, the bacteria in foods will break down when you spill them on your carpet and cause a bad odor.
For some dark-colored foods or drinks, it will also leave stains on the carpet. Therefore, it requires quick action to clean and get rid of the potential smell.
4. Cigarette or Cigar Smokes
Carpets are not only good at absorbing liquid but also the smell. So if you or some of your family members are a smoker, the smelly carpet is inevitable.
And as you are so used to the smoky cigarette smell, you might not realize it until someone comes into your house and tells you so.
I know it is hard to change your smoking habit, but if you smoke, make sure you will have the best solution to eliminate smoke odor for your carpet.
5. Infrequent Or Low-Quality Carpet Cleaning
Too lazy to clean the carpet or clean it superficially is another popular issue that makes the carpet smell terrible. The dust or dirt can be attached to your carpet. And combined with other factors as mentioned above, there is no doubt that your carpet is impaired over time.
Suppose you are a workaholic, most of the time you spend is just for work and have no time for cleaning the house, especially your carpet, then can you feel good when you come back home after work and suffer the annoying odor from your carpet?
No, absolute no. Therefore, your carpet needs to be cleaned regularly – daily, weekly, or monthly, as long as you can keep them fresh all the time. And once you clean the carpet, do it thoroughly and carefully.
6. Old Carpet
The final reason that I can come up with is an old-age carpet. You cannot expect your old carpet to smell fresh forever.
Most carpets are made of fiber. And over time, the quality of the fiber will wear down, making them look and smell old. Besides, long-time carpet accumulating dirt is not good for your health and results in many allergic symptoms (1)
So no matter how much you clean your old carpet, you cannot remove the smell from it 100%. And there is nothing much to do but replace a new carpet for your house.
Deodorize Carpet In Several Ways To Remove Bad Odor
The bottom line in this article is about what you should do to get rid of the awful smell from your carpet easily and economically. You might need some machines like a vacuum cleaner, carpet cleaning machine, and other household stuff that I bet you all have on hand.
You can rent a carpet cleaning machine in Home Depot, Walmart, or some carpet cleaner stores at around 30 bucks or more per day. In fact, you can hire a professional team to clean your carpeted floor, but it will obviously cost more money.
So why don’t you check for some below ideal deals to help your carpeting always look fresh and smell nice. I also divided them into 3 different groups based on different characteristics. Let’s take a look.
Powdered-based Solutions For Your Lovely Carpet
As the name of this group suggests, the cleaning agent in this section includes baking soda, borax, and the combination of baking soda, borax, and essential oil.
Besides its culinary uses, baking soda also has been known as a good cleaning agent for decades. This powerful white powder can absorb the liquid or moisture on your carpet and lock in an unpleasant smell.
Therefore, with just a few bucks, you can get a great remedy for your carpet to smell fresh like new. And if you are a pet owner, baking soda can help you remove any accumulating pet stain and odor without affecting your fur baby’s health.
It also works the same way with smoke odor. And another good news about this solution is baking soda will not ruin your carpet’s fabric, well, if you do not overuse it.
First, you might want to remove the furniture or any other stuff on the carpet before cleaning. You also need to prepare some stuff in advance as:
- A box of baking soda
- High-performance vacuum cleaner
- Some dried herbs like rosemary or cinnamon (optional choice if you expect your carpet to smell even better)
- Broom (optional)
Alright, let’s get down to business with 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Sprinkle baking soda on your whole carpet with a generous amount, or you can focus on the strong odor spot. If you want to add the dried herb, combine it with the powder and shake well before sprinkling it on the carpet. Then let it sit there for hours, or better, overnight.
Step 2: After a certain time to allow the baking soda to absorb bad smells and moisture, use a vacuum to suck the powder. If you do not have a vacuum, you can use a broom. However, it might not be as effective as a vacuum in collecting all the powder.
Step 3: If you still sense some funny unpleasant smell, repeat the same process for the second time.
Borax (aka sodium borate) is boric acid in a white and powdery form (2). Similar to baking soda, borax is another option to deodorize the carpet without any toxins that can cause skin irritation.
Moreover, borax can remove stains, mold, or mildew and help you forget the musty smell. If there are some food/drink spills, or pet urine, you can give borax a try to put a new look on your carpeted floor.
You can buy borax in any supermarket, particularly in the household section. But for a better outcome, mix borax with baking soda. So in this solution, you might need:
- A box of borax
- A box of baking soda
- A vacuum
So here are 3 steps for carpet treatment:
Step 1: The ratio to mix these 2 whitey powders is 1:1 (1 cup of borax with 1 cup of baking soda). So mix 2 cups of borax and baking soda, then shake well.
Step 2: Sprinkle the mixture on your carpeted floor and leave it for hours (minimum is 1 hour) for the mix to kill mold, mildew (if any), and absorb the smell.
Step 3: Clean the floor with a vacuum.
Besides getting rid of pet odor, the cleaning uses of borax in other households are beyond your expectation.
Essential Oil with Baking Soda and Borax
I group essential oil in the powdered cleaning agents because essential oil will work as smell compliments for baking soda and borax.
I know many of you, especially girls, who always want your house to smell really nice. Therefore, if you want to add some essential oil to carpet powdered cleaner like baking soda and borax, go for it.
Using these two potent powders will not only destroy germs, mold, or mildew but will also make the carpet smell wonderful again. Now by adding essential oil, it will increase the freshener scent. However, essential oil can only work in the short term.
In this case, there is something that you need to prep for:
- A box of borax
- A box of baking soda
- A clean jar or a shaker
- A damp cloth
- Essential oil based on your preference (e.g., lemon, lime, grapefruit, lavender oil, etc.)
- Finely ground dried herbs (optional)
- Cornmeal (optional)
The cleaning procedure is pretty similar to the above 2 solutions. But if you want to add cornmeal to the cleaning mixture, here are a fews steps to do it as:
Step 1: Mix 1 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of borax, and 1/4 cup of cornmeal. Cornmeal used here will prevent clumps and distribute the cleaning mix equally when you use a shaker top.
Step 2: Add 10 to 15 drops of essential oil to the mixture. Then stir them well to break up clumps.
Step 3: Put the whole mixture into a clean jar. You can use either a shaker top or a cheesecloth top for this jar.
Step 4: Sprinkle the mixture on your carpet/rug and let it sit there for at least 30 minutes, or overnight, which is much better.
Step 5: After a certain time, you can now vacuum the cleaning agents up.
Here is a clearer instruction of how to add cornmeal into baking soda, borax, and essential oil to deodorize your carpet.
If you do not have cornmeal on hand, you can apply the following way.
Step 1: Mix baking soda and borax with the ratio of 1:1 and place them in a bowl. Do not forget to use a whisk to stir them well.
Step 2: Add around 15 to 20 drops of essential oil to the mixture. You can mix some dried herbs if desired, then stir again with a whisk.
Step 3: Put the mixture to a shaker, then spread a generous amount of the combination on your carpet. Allow it to sit there for at least 1 hour.
Step 4: Use a damp cloth to wipe off the cleaning agents and vacuum thoroughly to clean the lingering powder on the carpet.
There is nothing to worry about if you do not have cornmeal. The combination of baking soda, borax, and essential oil is good enough.
Refresh Your Carpeted Floor With Some Liquid Solutions
The following section is about 3 magical deodorizing carpet agents: Enzyme cleaner, White vinegar, and Alcohol. Yes, you did not hear it wrong; you can also use alcohol to clean your carpet. Does it sound ridiculous? Keep reading to know.
Do you know that you can use your favorite drink – club soda as a carpet deodorizer? Pet stains, food/drink spills can be treated this way. So you will need:
- A bottle of club soda
- A light blotting motion
And simply, there are only 2 steps to make your carpet look good again as:
Step 1: Pour a little bit of club soda on the affected area
Step 2: Use a light blotting motion to plot this area until you can remove all the stains. Do not rub as it might damage your carpet.
Though enzyme cleaner is a new technology for cleaning stuff, their popularity is getting higher in customer choice. So when it comes to carpet treatment, I have to mention this excellent solution.
So how does it work to make them become one of the good carpet cleaners? Enzyme cleaners use good bacteria to kill other bacteria, clear stains, and bring freshness back to your carpet.
The strong disinfectant in enzyme cleaner can eliminate the pungent smell of pets’ pee, poo, or vomit, making it a good solution for cat or dog parents.
Several brands of enzyme cleaner are available in any store. So everything you need in this case is:
- A spray bottle of enzyme cleaner
- A blotting motion
- Orange and lemon peels (optional)
- Brown sugar (optional)
- Water (optional)
And here are 4 main stages that you can implement easily.
Step 1: Spray the enzyme cleaner on the stains or affected area.
Step 2: Blot the liquid by a blotting motion. And do not rub the surface.
Step 3: Leave the cleaning agents on your carpet for at least 30 minutes.
Step 4: Once it is dry, you can re-spray the enzyme cleaner until your carpet is totally clean.
If you want to add a nice scent, you can apply this ratio:
- 2.5 cups of orange and lemon peels
- 7/8 cups brown sugar
- 4 cups of water
- 2 liters of enzyme cleaner
And apply the same steps as above to clean and deodorize the carpeted floor.
However, please also note that some enzyme cleaner brands will have specific instructions, so follow the guide to implement the cleaning process.
White vinegar is a natural mushy-smell killer that is not only affordable but also effective. Really, you do not need any strong chemicals to get rid of the mold and mildew smells.
Thanks to its strong scent, white vinegar can become your good friend to treat the carpet well regarding moldy or bad smell.
If you live in a damp condition, buy a bottle of white vinegar now, so whenever you start to sense some weird scent from your carpeted floor, let the white vinegar do its work.
Besides white vinegar’s impact on smell, if your carpet has a dark color, do not worry; white vinegar can discolor your lovely carpet. It also restores the previous color, removes stains, and makes your carpet look like it was the first time you had bought them.
To turn white vinegar into an excellent solution for your carpet, you will need:
- Warm water
- White vinegar
- Baking powder (optional)
- And a spray bottle
There are 2 short steps to deodorize carpet with white vinegar as below:
Step 1: Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of warm water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. If desired, you can add baking soda as well to increase the efficiency. Shake well before spraying.
Step 2: Spray the mixture on the whole carpet. Leave it to dry naturally by air. And the weird smell can be removed after 10 to 15 minutes.
Alcohol sounds too general, right? In reality, vodka is a brilliant carpet hack that not everyone knows. This cheap alcohol can help you remove the stubborn stains on the carpet or basically on any other fabric surface.
However, ensure that you buy the non-flavored vodka to clean and deodorize your carpet; otherwise, the sugar and additives will reduce the cleaning efficiency. Use vodka to remove the bacteria, mold, mildew and sweat smell on your carpet.
Similarly, you will prepare:
- A bottle of non-flavored vodka (based on how large the stained area is to determine the amount of vodka)
- A soft white cloth
- A spray bottle
- Paper towels
- Essential oil (tea tree, lemon, lavender, etc.) (optional)
- Distilled water (optional)
- And a vacuum
There are 2 scenarios in using vodka to treat the carpet, one is for the small stained area, and one is for the larger affected area.
With small and less-thick stained areas on carpet, you will do:
Step 1: Blot a soft white cloth with vodka and place a wet cloth on stained spots for about 1 minute. Do not rub the surface with this cloth.
Step 2: Repeat step 1 until you find the affected areas are looking better and less smelly.
With large and deep stained areas (or long-term), you will do:
Step 1: Pour the alcohol into a spray bottle.
Step 2: Spray a large amount of vodka on the carpet, particularly on the stains, and wait for around 20 minutes.
Step 3: Use a soft cloth or paper towels to blot out the alcohol.
Step 4: Vacuum the entire carpet.
Wanna know how white vinegar, baking soda, and vodka can blow the stains and smell away from your carpet? Here is your answer.
If you want to mix your vodka with some essential oil to make your carpet smell amazing again, you can implement this ratio:
- 1/2 cup of vodka
- 1/2 cup of distilled water
- 10 drops of tea tree oil
- 25 drops of lemon oil
- And 25 drops of lavender oil
And you will do:
Step 1: Mix vodka and distilled water as the ratio.
Step 2: Drop essential oil into the liquid mixture.
Step 3: Pour all of them into a spray and spray on your carpet or on the affected only.
Step 4: Let the mixture soak into your carpet until it is dry by air. This cleaning recipe will remove the odor after 1 to 2 hours.
Hydrogen peroxide can be another good deodorizing solution like vinegar. It can get rid of mold, mildew stains on the carpet. And if you add some essential oil into hydrogen peroxide, you can enhance the refreshing smell of your item as well.
You will have to buy:
- 1 bottle of hydrogen peroxide
- Liquid dish soap
- Essential oils (based on your preference)
- Spray bottle
Now, just do some quick steps like:
Step 1: Mix 4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap, and 5 drops of essential oil into a spray bottle.
Step 2: Spray the mixture on the carpeted floor. However, a dark-colored carpet would not be ideal for this solution as hydro peroxide can bleach the color of the fiber. So if you want to use this, test it on a small area.
Step 3: Wait until it is dry and vacuum the carpet again.
And Deep-Clean Your Carpet By Specialized Solutions
The final group of deodorizing carpet treatments is the laundry detergent and carpet shampoo cleaner that you can buy in many supermarkets or cleaning-house stores. Let’s see how they work.
In general, carpets or rugs are made of fabric, which can be washed with laundry detergent to clear out all stains and smells.
The hydrogen peroxide in these products can act as the stain remover and make the carpet smell nicer. Therefore, laundry detergent is a great choice, whether the causing problems are from your dogs or a spilled food or drink on the carpet.
First, you have to get some stuff like:
- Laundry detergent
- And a wet/dry vacuum
This step-by-step instruction in using laundry detergent as carpet cleaner agents is also easy with 5 steps:
Step 1: Check the water tank in your wet-dry vacuum is not empty, as you will need to use this water afterward. If it is empty, fill it up.
Step 2: Vacuum the affected area or the whole carpet to clean all the dirt, dust, or any solid.
Step 3: Make the stained areas or the whole carpet slightly wet. This step will allow the fiber to loosen and soften so you can remove the stains easily.
Step 4: Sprinkle laundry detergent on the stained spots or the whole carpet.
Step 5: Use the vacuum to clean the whole carpet until the stains, smells are gone and set the dry function to remove the excess water from the carpet. Make sure your machine is not overheated during working.
If you have a steam cleaner, it would be easier for you as you do not have to do step 3 like a wet and dry vacuum. You can mix laundry detergent directly with water into the water tank of your steam cleaner. The ratio is 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent for 1 quart of water.
Carpet Shampoo Cleaner
The final option, though it might not be as cheap as the above solutions, is carpet shampoo cleaner. And to use this specialized cleaning product, you will need a professional carpet cleaner machine.
Using carpet shampoo cleaner is for deep cleaning your carpet, thereby consuming more time. There are various carpet shampoos on the market; some are specified for pet owners, some are for general cleaning, so based on what you need to make a purchase decision.
As they are specialized products and machines, they have specific directions and cautions. So make sure you understand their characteristics and function before using them. You can test a small and inconspicuous area before cleaning the entire carpet.
Before deodorizing, there are 3 things you have to have on hand as:
- Carpet cleaning machine
- Carpet shampoo
- Warm water
- Fan or air conditioner (optional)
Though there are many brands and models of carpet cleaning machines, the standard cleaning process of using carpet shampoo cleaner with most machines will be:
Step 1: Fill the tank with a certain amount of water and shampoo according to the directions. The water temperature should be below 140 F degrees.
Step 2: Plug the machine into the outlet and turn the device on.
Step 3: Move backward and press the button to spread the solution on your carpet and release the button while moving forward so the machine can suck the water up. Keep moving like that to clean one area a few times and move to another place until you clean the entire carpet.
Step 4: Clean the machine by emptying the tank and rinse with clean water to remove all the dirt, dust, or suds that stick in the machine during the cleaning process.
Make sure the room is well-ventilated by opening the window and letting the air circulate well, making the carpet dry faster. The average time to allow the carpet to dry is from 6 to 8 hours at the ideal temperature of around 68 F degrees (20 C degrees).
So choose a hot summer day to clean your carpet. But if the weather outside is not too good to help your carpet dry fast, use a fan as this is also an amazing way to prevent the mushy smell.
Or if you do mind the electricity bill, turn the air conditioner on. However, this one is the last option as it takes longer to make the carpet dry thoroughly.
Do not let the bulky look of this machine fool you. Trust me! The instructions are very simple.
Some Avoidance In Carpet Cleaning That You Should Know
Here are 4 heads-up that you must not ignore in cleaning carpet if you want perfect and pleasant-smelling living areas all the time.
- Take A Little Test Before Cleaning: Not all solutions are suitable for your carpet, especially if they are expensive carpets. Some carpet colors are vinegar intolerant, so if you use this product to get rid of the smell, you might end up with discolored carpets.
Therefore, before you clean the whole ones, you should try a small amount of the cleaning agent on an inconspicuous area to see how it works on your carpet.
- Do Not Use Dark Color Cloth: Low-quality colored fabric can bleed its dye and affect your carpet once you place it on the surface. That’s why the necessary material that I mentioned above is white cloth or paper towel.
- Do Not Rub Cloth On Your Carpet: When you accidentally spill a whole Coca can on the floor, you would be freaking out, and you might grab any cloth, rubbing it on the affected surface to clean.
However, it is not an ideal way as you can spread the stains larger. And you also make your carpet less soft. So remember, do not rub but use a cloth and dab on the area instead.
- Do Not Use Excessive Water To Clean: As I explained, carpet is really good at absorbing and trapping water/moisture.
Therefore, if you use too much water, your carpet will take longer to dry completely. And during this time, the mold or mildew can grow and make your cleaned carpet worse.
What Can You Do To Prevent Smelly Carpets?
After you learn how to make your carpet stay fresh, you also need to know how to maintain cleanliness and nice smelling carpet. With some basic and simple tips that you can do every day at ease, you will never be concerned about the odor floor anymore.
- Keep The Air Circulating Well In The House: Wet areas always result in mold or mildew growth. So if possible, open your window to allow fresh air to circulate in your house. You can either use a fan or air conditioner for good ventilation.
- Maintain The Regular Cleaning Routine: Cleaning your house and vacuuming your carpet frequently are essential to eliminate dirt, germs, bacteria, and odor as well.
- Never Postpone Carpet Clean: After you spill some food or drink, like red wine, you must clean it immediately to limit the chance of stubborn stains or bacteria appearing. The longer you wait to clean it, the harder you can remove the stain entirely afterward.
- Do Not Wear Shoes In Your House, If Possible: You can change it with house-slippers so you can limit the dirt from the outside when wearing shoes.
- Invest In A Dehumidifier: High humidity is also a root problem of dampness, and the mushy smell is unavoidable. So if you have a dehumidifier at home, you can maintain a good humidity level in your house from 30% to 60% (3).
- Do Not Eat or Drink On The Carpeted Floor, If Possible: This way to prevent any food or drink spill that you might cause. But if you still want to eat or drink on the carpet, you can use a plastic sheet to cover the floor for easier cleaning.
- Keep Old Towels Near The Door, If You Are A Pet Owner: So every time your pet gets into the house after playing outside, you can use these towels to clean their paws first.
Finally, if you still have other worries about your carpet and how to goodbye the odor from it, I hope these following short answers will help you solve your problem.
Make Your Own Carpet Deodorizer At Home
In fact, some solutions that I just showed you are also excellent cleaning ingredients for many surfaces, including carpet. Why don’t you make a big batch of it and use it later?
So have you tried all of these agents to make your carpet look new with a super fresh scent? If you have a better idea to deal with carpet odor, would you please tell me what it is in the comment section?
Also, I’d love to hear your feedback, then you and I can discuss more regarding this matter. Thank you for reading.
- Acaai.org. 2018, Dust Allergies. [Online]. Available at:<https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/dust-allergies/>.
- En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Borax – Wikipedia. [Online]. Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borax>.
- Nationalasthma.org.au. 2016. Indoor Humidity and Your Family’s Health [Online]. Available at <https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/news/2016/indoor-humidity>.