Carpet can be the difference between a stark room that is cold and uninviting and a homey space you spend all your time in. Unfortunately, carpet fibers can also be a repository for funky smells, whether from pets, cooking, smoke, or other odor sources.
While finding a quick fix in the form of an at-home cleaner idea on Pinterest or a store-bought carpet deodorizer is tempting, it’s not going to get rid of lingering odors for good. If you want to keep your home smelling fresh, you’ll need to take the proper steps to remove (and avoid) carpet smells.
Let’s have a quick journey back to fifth grade science class and ask the question “How does your sense of smell work?”
To put it simply, tiny sensory cells high up in your nose have odor receptors. The smell after a rainstorm and the smell of a poodle that was just playing in it, for example, both release odor molecules. These microscopic odor molecules are detected by your odor receptors, which send a message to your brain that identifies the corresponding smell.
There’s one catch: You have a limited number of odor receptors.
Pretty much every object or substance has a smell, with volatile, evaporating materials tending to be the most potent. The thing is, if we don’t have the proper receptors for the smell, or we don’t have enough receptors to detect the small amount of molecules coming off of a substance, then to us, it’s odorless.
This is where most animals have an advantage over humans: their noses are set up to recognize more unique scents, and to detect fainter ones than we can. Dogs, for example, have been used by humans for ages to find things that we can’t see (or smell). That doesn’t mean our noses can’t get the job done when it counts, though.
In fact, human smell is influenced by thousands of nerves working together, including ones outside of the nose. Smells that truly reek—like garbage dumpsters on a hot day—are a result of your nerve endings in your eyes, mouth, nose, and throat all working together.
What you don’t want is for your carpet to trigger the same kind of response in your olfactory senses.
Detecting the source of a smell in the home can get really complex, really fast. While dogs can follow scent trails the way we might find the source of an annoying sound, humans have a hard time following smells back to where they’re emanating from.
It’s one thing if food liquid leaks from the bottom of a garbage bag into your trash can. There’s a quick fix for that: Run some soap and hot water and scrub the inside of the trash can and the smell is eliminated. But what about a family cooking with curry all the time? Or a house full of smokers? There’s lots of debate on that.
Carpets are tricky because they consist of multiple layers. Cleaning the surface of your carpet can get rid of some of the smell, but there are still deeper layers and padding you have to think about if you want to fully eliminate an odor and make sure your home smells fresh.
Carpet smells can originate from a number of causes, but most commonly come from liquids seeping into the backing layer of the carpet. Quite often, this is a latex pad that the fibers are attached to. When liquids find a home in the padding (and in the subfloor beneath it), that’s creating an environment ripe for bacteria, allergens, mildew, and eventually strong odors that never seem to go away.
Your carpet will pick up odors if you do not clean it frequently. One of the best things you can do to protect your carpet from getting too smelly is to stick to a strict schedule of cleaning and maintaining your carpet.
The top three odors that will get stuck in your carpet are smoke, pets, and mildew/mold. Here’s how you can prevent those smells from getting stuck in your carpet and making your home smell like an ashtray, wet dog, or musty basement.
Even a little smoke can settle in your carpet and make your house smell like an ashtray until you get it professionally cleaned. It only gets worse if you have multiple smokers, or if you let the smell sit and set in your carpet. The best way to avoid the smoke smell is to encourage smokers to take it outside.
Pet-friendly flooring is only half the battle against pet odors. You also have to make sure your pet is trained to be floor-friendly. The biggest pet smells come from “accidents.” Once or twice is an accident, but if you find yourself continually cleaning up the same type of mess, the best way to protect your carpet is to train your pet. They need to know how and where they are allowed to use the restroom and understand that in the middle of your bedroom is less than ideal.
Mold and mildew create a unique musty smell, and it can be hard to remove it once you get it under your carpets. Mold and mildew both require large amounts of moisture to grow, and that moisture doesn’t just have to be a big spill that’s not cleaned up properly. In fact, if the moisture content of the air itself is high enough, you can develop issues with mold or mildew.
That means, if you want to prevent either from growing under your carpet (or even on your walls), you have to keep the humidity levels in your home under 50%. Any higher than that and your can become a breeding ground for both mold and mildew.
When you’re trying to remove odors from your carpet and deciding on which cleaner you should use, it really depends on the extent of the odor. For less offensive lingering smells, natural solutions like baking soda can work just fine and put you at no risk for damaging your carpet.
When you start to deal with stronger smells and odors, you need to be worried about more than just lifting the smell from your carpet—you need to be concerned with how you’re going to remove the cause of the smell. With stronger smells like mildew or smoke, natural products might not be potent enough.
Some professional carpet cleaners do provide green carpet cleaning services. They are more environmentally conscious and don’t use potentially harmful chemicals while still getting your carpet clean. Talk to your carpet cleaner to know exactly which options they have available and what they suggest for the odors you want to remove from your carpet.
Your adorable cavalier puppy just peed all over your new carpet. As a homeowner, this often induces a fight-or-flight response. We frantically scramble for a rag (or anything) to clean up the spill and make sure a spot doesn’t remain. This is great for carpet stain prevention, but it doesn’t address the liquids that seep into the padding and start a new lifecycle of annoying smells.
Baking soda is a common suggestion as a carpet odor neutralizer. To deodorize your carpet, simply pour a little bit of baking soda on the spot, let it sit for a few hours, and finish the job with a thorough vacuuming. Just keep in mind that kids and pets need to be kept out of the powder zone.
Other tips for deep cleaning are not as advisable. Many of these “tips” you see in social media feeds suggest mixing hydrogen peroxide and soap. If you’re unfamiliar, mixing household cleaning chemicals incorrectly can be extremely dangerous—depending on what you’re mixing, you could end up with harmful substances like chloroform or chlorine gas.
Another suggestion seen recently is to use cinnamon to help get odors out of your carpet. That’s a good way to permanently stain your carpet, especially if it is lighter in color. If you’re considering these “tips,” use extreme caution and run a test on a small portion of the carpet before blasting your whole house with your new internet-inspired cleaning solution.
Our advice? Trust a professional carpet cleaner for deep cleaning.
Many of us will try anything to save some time and money before hiring a professional cleaning company. That’s perfectly normal. So we turn to carpet deodorizers.
Carpet deodorizers can be a great way to counteract smells from pets, moisture, or a carpet that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time. Most deodorizers are available as a powder or spray, and application methods will vary. In a world of quick fixes, carpet deodorizers are definitely one of the first household quick fixes that come to mind if you need to mask a musty basement smell or wet dog before your guests arrive.
Unfortunately, sprays and powders are not likely to solve the smelly carpet problem completely. Think of carpet deodorizers like deodorant on armpits. Deodorant can be great after an afternoon run if you need to freshen up and don’t have time to shower, but is not going to make sweaty body odors disappear completely.
Every thread you read online will have a similar set of rules for keeping your home smelling great. Don’t have carpet. Don’t have pets. Don’t cook. Clean every inch of your walls and ceiling. Use carpet deodorizer.
There’s no mistaking it: Carpet can and probably will trap a lot of dust, dirt, mold, and allergens. For a long-term solution that throws all the above restrictions out the window, it’s time to rethink how carpet is constructed entirely.
Even if nothing happened in your home that would cause extra odors to stick to your carpet, it would still be recommended that you get your carpet professionally cleaned once a year.
However, if you have multiple pets, messy kids, or someone in the home that’s sensitive to certain allergens (which could easily become trapped deep in carpet fibers), you should clean your carpet more frequently. For some people, it makes sense to get your carpet professionally cleaned once every few months.
When you get your carpet cleaned, you might look at the DIY carpet cleaners you can buy or rent at the store and think that it could be cheaper to do it yourself. While there is a chance that you can save some money by doing this, you’re also risking the health of your carpet.
When you choose to do it yourself, there’s always the chance that you’ll use too many chemicals or the wrong products and damage your carpet just to save a few bucks.
The cost of using a professional cleaner is for more than just their machines. You’re also paying for their experience and knowledge of how to deal with multiple types and makes of carpet and how to get odors out of carpet. They are ready to deal with all types of stains and smells, and they know how to deodorize a carpet without damaging it.
If you’re struggling to keep your carpet and home smelling fresh, try HOME Fresh carpet. It has odor-neutralizing technology to help your home smell great every day, while still providing a soft, plush feeling. The benefits of HOME Fresh carpet include helping you get the most from your carpet without having to worry about dealing with excessive odors and smells.
With HOME Fresh carpet, you don’t have to sacrifice warm, soft comfort just to try to tackle the odors in your home. We wanted to provide a carpet that doesn’t just mask smells. HOME Fresh helps get rid of smells from cooking, smoking, and pets on the carpet completely.
What’s our secret? How do we make a comfortable, cozy, and odor-resistant carpet? It all comes from a natural, odor-neutralizing mineral that breaks odor molecules into separate compounds, effectively removing unpleasant smells that come into contact with HOME Fresh’s carpet fibers.
We also keep our carpet and padding as one unified piece. This construction allows for better airflow in the carpet, making vacuuming and cleaning much more effective in removing dirt, grime, and allergens while also making it water-resistant, which helps fight against smelly mold and mildew.
To learn more about what makes HOME Fresh awesome, see our hypoallergenic carpet blog and our in-depth HOME Fresh carpet guide. If you want to see what others have said about us, head over to our Shopper Approved page where you can find thousands of trusted reviews.
If you’re ready to see HOME Fresh samples in your home, schedule a FREE in-home estimate today. Sniffs included!
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