How To Neutralize Odors in Carpet

How to neutralize odors in carpet

Your carpets take a tremendous beating over time. Regardless of whether you have a handful of area rugs or wall to wall carpeting, they have to withstand a variety of stresses.

These include foot traffic, pets, spills, and dust. You probably don’t vacuum them as much as you should.

I know that my pets even relieve themselves on the carpets from time to time!

Because your carpets consist of fibers, there are a lot of nooks and crannies in between them. Doing this allows rugs to absorb odors with ease.

Please scroll down to learn the best methods to get rid of odor from carpets.

Getting Rid of General Odors

Baking soda on carpet

If you have general odors from accidents and spills, you can get rid of these smells with some baking soda and a vacuum.

Baking soda has been proven to absorb odors with ease. I know that I even use baking soda to remove odors from my refrigerator!

It will also work well on the carpet because it is small enough to penetrate the fibers.

Materials Needed

To get rid of general odors, you will need:

  • A single box of baking soda
  • A strong vacuum cleaner

Then, follow these steps:

Step 1: Shift the Furniture Away from the Carpet

Before you open the baking soda, remove all of the furniture from the room.

You need to be able to reach every part of the carpet. Then, vacuum the carpet thoroughly to remove pet fur, dirt, and other debris.

Do not perform any spot cleaning at this time because you need the carpet to be dry for the baking soda to absorb odors.

Step 2: Add the Baking Soda to the Carpet

Next, open the box of baking soda. Sprinkle it liberally all over the carpet. You can either pour it directly out of the box or use a sieve with mesh openings.

If you have wall to wall carpeting, you might need additional boxes of baking soda. As the baking soda falls on the carpet, use your fingers to force it into the carpet, ensuring it penetrates all of the nooks and crannies.

Arm and Hammer manufacturers a product for this purpose.

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The label says that this product will help eliminate tough odors thanks to the “Oxiclean dirt fighters.” It also helps loosen 25% more pet hair than vacuum alone, so it’s something to consider if you have pets.

Take note that this product contains fragrances, so if you don’t want to deal with any strong scents, stick to regular baking soda.

Step 3: Let the Baking Soda Sit

Once the baking soda is in place, let it sit. You can either wait for a few hours or let it sit overnight.

I usually let the baking soda sit overnight because I don’t expect any foot traffic in the area during the nighttime hours.

You want to perform this odor removal method when people don’t need to access the room. Foot traffic can disrupt the process because baking soda will stick to people’s feet and shoes.

Step 4: Vacuum the Baking Soda

Stick vacuum on carpet
Here’s a close up of the V11 Torque Drive cleaning head.

Once the baking soda has been in place for several hours, grab the vacuum and suck up the baking soda from the carpet. As you vacuum the baking soda, the odors will go with it!

Here’s a critical note about using vacuums on baking soda. Vacuums with weak suction or airflow won’t be able to pick up every bit of baking soda particle under carpet strands.

Opt for a model with stiff bristles to agitate the surface thoroughly and with enough suction to pick up fine baking soda debris.

Some may argue that a bagged vacuum would be better for this task as it is less prone to clogging as with bagless vacuums that are harder to clean.

There are a lot of nuances when it comes to the technical terms so if you want to know more please head over to my bagless vs. bagged comparison.

I’m neutral on this subject, so I don’t have a preference. The important thing is to choose a vacuum with enough airflow and agitation for the task.

Step 5: Repeat the Process

If you vacuum the baking soda and you still feel like there are odors in the room, repeat steps 2 to 4 and wait for a few hours.

Then, check again. If you think there are still odors present, you can repeat the process using more baking soda. It should be enough to remove any odors that might be left.

Then, move the furniture back, and you’re done!

Dealing with Smoke Odors

Smoke odors are notoriously tricky to remove from carpets. You need to use a different method that leverages vinegar, ammonia, and baking soda to get the smell of smoke out of your carpet.

Materials Needed

To remove the smoke scents from your carpet, you will need:

  • White Vinegar: It is proven to be effective at absorbing smoke odors without the toxic side-effects.
  • Ammonia
  • Bowls
  • Steam Cleaner
  • Baking Soda

Then, follow these steps:

Step 1: Fill the Bowls

Get two large bowls. Fill one of them with white vinegar (unscented) and the other with ammonia. Do not mix these liquids as this will create a toxic gas.

Leave both bowls in the room around the smoke-scented carpet. It will break the smell of smoke in the room and start the deodorizing process. Leave the containers out for 24 hours and then remove them.

Step 2: Baking Soda

After the vinegar and ammonia have been removed, sprinkle baking soda on the carpet. Then massage it into the fibers with your fingertips.

Keep people and pets away from the area during this time. Allow the baking soda to stay in place during the night and vacuum it up in the morning.

Step 3: Steam Clean

After the baking soda has been vacuumed, get the steam cleaner out and pour white vinegar into it. Please open the windows (if possible) to let the air circulate and avoid the vinegar scent to linger.

Then, run the steam cleaner all over the carpet. White vinegar will kill bacteria while also removing tar and resin from the carpet.

As you complete this process, turn on a few fans to vent the room. Aerating will prevent you from feeling sick and will prevent mold from growing on the wet carpet.

Leave on the fans after the steam cleaning step and let the carpet dry. The smell of smoke should be gone.

Other ingredients that absorb odor from carpet

Aside from baking soda and vinegar, here are other items you should consider to deodorize the carpet.

  1. Baking soda mixture: To enhance the odor-fighting properties of baking soda, you can add borax to the mix (1:1 ratio). Some have suggested adding spices like cinnamon, but it tends to stain light-colored carpet so I would avoid it. Leave the mixture around 30 minutes to a few hours on the carpet before vacuuming.
  2. Vodka: Not only is this a happy hour drink, but vodka also has odor-absorbing properties similar to that of vinegar. Cheap vodka would suffice. Pour into a spray bottle then mist it on the areas of the carpet with bad odor. Wait for 15 minutes, then blot dry with a paper towel. You could sprinkle baking soda to absorb the excess moisture then vacuum afterward.
  3. Store-bought cleaners: If you don’t want to deal with vacuuming baking soda, then try using specialty products for this purpose. There is a myriad of options from liquid to powder, depending on your preference. It will cost a bit more, but if you’re dealing with strong scents that may still linger, it’s worth trying.
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How to protect your carpet from odors?

There’s a famous phrase that “prevention is better than cure,” and that is very applicable to this topic.

1. Ventilate rooms

One of the best ways to prevent odor accumulation is to ventilate rooms inside your home regularly. It is simple to do, just open the windows to let the air circulate.

Doing this task regularly will eliminate any bad odor from sticking on the carpet or furniture.

2. Dehumidify

Too much humidity is bad for the carpets as it causes not only bad odors but also mold and mildew. If there is too much humidity, consider purchasing a dehumidifier to balance the moisture levels inside your home.

3. Check for leaks

If having smell carpets is a recurring theme, the culprit might be a leaky pipe. Make sure to check the piping inside your home for leaks and fix it ASAP if there are leakages as mold and mildew will form, cause bad odors, and eventually destroy the carpet.

4. Vacuum

It is essential to have a schedule for vacuuming your carpets. This step helps in preventing the accumulation of dirt, grime, and other odor inducing contaminants.

You can also use baking soda to aid help in freshening up and picking up pet hair on the carpet. There are products available for this purpose and different types of odors.

Frequently Asked Questions

A few of the frequent concerns we hear include:

How Do You Get Bad Smells out of Carpets?

We have a handful of methods that can help you can get rid of bad smells that might be present in your carpet.

For general odors, baking soda works well. We use baking soda both in our carpet and in our refrigerator.

Sometimes, you might need specialized treatment methods. Smoke smells and mold odors are notoriously hard to remove. This is where vinegar, ammonia, detergent, and more might be handy to remove these stubborn smells.

Does Vinegar Kill Odors in Carpet?

Yes! Vinegar can eliminate odors in your carpet.

Not many are aware, but vinegar can adsorb smoke smells that might be present in the room. For the best results, use straight vinegar (e.g., white vinegar) instead of vinegar that has a specialized scent.

Otherwise, the odors in your carpet will simply be replaced with the scent of the vinegar. As the vinegar dries and evaporates from your carpet, the bad smells should go with it.

What Can Absorb Bad Odors?

You have probably figured out that the fibers in your carpets can absorb bad odors!

If you want to remove these odors from your carpet, you need to use something else that will absorb these smells, removing them from the carpet.

Some options that can help you remove these odors include vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon juice, and even kitty litter!

How To Keep Carpet Smelling Fresh

Here are some practical suggestions to help preserve the freshness of the carpet. These include:
  • Try to ensure that everyone who walks on the rug takes off their shoes or sandals. A lot of dust, debris, and other particles that smell bad are tracked into the room by people’s shoes.
  • Vacuum your carpet thoroughly and regularly. Look for a vacuum with enough airflow and agitation to clean embedded dirt under the carpet strands.
  • You should invest in deep cleaning for your carpet at least twice per year. You might even want to get this done by trained professionals.