The look and feel of carpeting beneath the feet are often more appealing for homeowners than cold tile or laminate flooring. However, keeping carpet clean and smell-free can be challenging—especially for those living in a humid climate or have pets or children.
But life happens, and there are many reasonably simple options to help clean carpeting and rugs to eradicate wet, musty smells. We’re going to offer you step-by-step instructions for getting rid of the wet carpet smell.
Method 1: Boost air circulation in the home
Poor air circulation often leads to greater humidity levels in the home, which can result in wet carpet smell.
EnergyStar recommends homeowners maintain humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent to avoid the development of mold and mildew and improve air quality in the home.
Whether you have experienced a leak, a plumbing issue, or have recently shampooed, here are some ways to manage humidity and get the smell out.
- Windows that open
Steps to take:
- Open up the windows when possible prevents stagnant air that causes foul odors in carpeting.
- Install fans in any rooms with damp carpeting due to spills or flooding to promote faster drying. Place the fan as close to the wet zone or the sources of smells.
- Invest in one or two dehumidifiers and allow them to operate routinely. Many models automatically sense high humidity levels and will self-cycle as needed. You’ll need to dispose of the water collection bucket when it fills up. It’s a routine task, but for fresh smelling carpets, I’d happily oblige.
Method 2: Clean carpets with hydrogen peroxide & soap
This easy and inexpensive combination is excellent for getting rid of smells in carpeting. After combining ingredients, put the solution in a carpet cleaner that you purchase or rent for a day or two.
Before using this mixture altogether, test it on a small portion of the carpet to check if it discolors the carpet.
- Carpet cleaning machine
- 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
- Dye-free soap
- Hot water
Steps to take:
- Get your carpet cleaning machine, ready to roll according to the instructions. They can be a bit finicky for new users, so it’s essential to follow any guidelines and tips for using the machine carefully.
- Heat approximately 6 cups of water up in a large container or bottle.
- Once the water is warm, mix in about one tablespoon of a mild soap that is free of dyes and harsh chemicals. Natural Castille soap is an ideal choice that is safe for pets and family members.
- Mix in 4 tablespoons of a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to the water and soap mix. Be sure never to use a mixture higher than 3%, as it could potentially cause darker carpeting and rugs to fade.
- Add the solution to the cleaning machine, and use as directed. You’ll want to focus on rooms that have the most pungent odors, but while you have things rolling, do all carpeted areas for a uniform look and a fresh, clean smell.
Note—If you need spot treatments, you can put the mixture in a spray bottle instead of a bulky carpet cleaner.
Method 3: How to get rid of carpet odor with baking soda
Deodorizing carpets with baking soda is one of the most inexpensive and traditional methods. Baking soda is highly absorbent and can help dry out any excess moisture in addition to eliminating wet smelling carpet. Those who desire a pleasant smell post-cleaning can even add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda.
- Baking soda – Some brands like Arm & Hammer have products for this purpose. It’s a bit more costly, but you might want to consider it if you have pets.
- Broom or sponge
- Vacuum cleaner
- Small mixing bowls
- Essential oil (optional)
Steps to take:
- Pour baking soda in a mixing bowl (between one to two cups). If you’re using essential oils, add about ten drops for every cup of baking soda and mix well.
- Sprinkle the mixture liberally on the carpet or rugs that are emitting moisture smells.
- Use a broom or sponge to spread it across the carpet gently.
- Allow the deodorizer to sit for at least a half-hour, but for tough odors, you can let it sit overnight.
- Extract baking soda residue with a vacuum cleaner. Go over the area in different directions, so all the residue is picked up.
- Great essential oil choices include soothing lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus scents. Avoid using essential oils if you have pets or children.
Avoid using cheap bagless vacuum cleaners for baking soda extraction as these machines don’t have poor filtration, and baking soda will seep through the exhaust. If you want to go cheap, opt for a bagged upright vacuum or a high-end cordless vacuum like a
Method 4: Eliminating wet odors in carpet with vinegar
Another excellent natural cleaner for just about any area of the home, including carpeting, is vinegar. Due to its characteristics as an antibacterial and antimicrobial solution allows it to remove mold, mildew, stains while neutralizing wet carpet smells.
- White vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Stiff bristle brush
- Portable fans
Steps to take:
- Mix two cups of water or more, adding one ounce of white vinegar for every cup used.
- Add the solution to the spray bottle, being sure to mix the ingredients well.
- Spray the solution evenly across rooms that have wet carpet smell. Take time to use your mixture to go ahead and remove any stains with the bristled brush. Avoid scrubbing vigorously.
- Placing fans around the moist areas increases drying time and helps remove the smells in the home.
- Allow carpeting to fully dry, and then vacuum the space.
Method 5: Traditional carpet shampooing
If natural methods are not sufficient, you might want to use traditional carpet shampoo in a machine. There are solutions designed specifically for odors that have a strong smell.
- Carpet shampoo machine
- Carpet Shampoo
Steps to take:
- Follow the shampoo’s directions for adding ample water and the carpet shampoo.
- Use the shampoo machine anywhere carpet odors linger.
- Allow the carpet to completely dry, and using fans will speed up the process.
Some brands have solutions specifically for removing odors. Add those items to your checklist if you go with this method.
How do I stop my wet carpet from smelling?
I’ve outlined five different methods for removing the carpet odor above. If there is a lingering odor, you have to detect the source of water. It might be a leaking pipe inside the kitchen or bathroom. Whatever it is, it is critical to find the source to eliminate mold and mildew buildup causing the stench.
If you’re familiar with your home’s plumbing, you can DIY it. However, it’s a tricky task that might require a professional to do right.
Once that part is addressed. You can now focus on the carpet.
Here some tips to remove mildew odor from carpet:
- Dry the carpet: Remove furniture on the carpet in preparation for the next step. Any fittings on the carpet will hamper airflow, so it’s best to move it to another room.
- Vacuum: Once you’ve removed the furniture. You’ll notice some dust buildup in some areas. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean these spots.
- Ventilate the area: Open the windows or doors to allow air to circulate in the room. Stagnant air increases the likely hood of foul odor buildup on carpets.
- Dehumidify: To speed up the drying process, invest in a dehumidifier to absorb excess moisture.
Some household items that can absorb odor:
Another method of eliminating the musky smell is placing these items in an open container around the area to absorb odor.
- Baking soda: Take advantage of baking soda’s odor-absorbing properties by placing open boxes of it overnight around the room.
- Charcoal: More than just a grilling staple, charcoal porous attributes enable it to absorb odor molecules. You can use charcoal briquettes (for barbequing) or activated charcoal.
- Pet litter: Like baking soda, pet litter has odor-absorbing characteristics that make it ideal for this task. Avoid using it if you have cats as they’ll see it as an extra place to relieve themselves.
- Vinegar: Another option is using vinegar, similar to the other three options above, it can absorb odor molecules.