How to Get Odor Out of Carpet
By Steve Gillman
Whether from mold or mildew or pets or people, odors in a
carpet can be persistent. Fortunately there are some good tricks
for getting an odor out of carpet. If those don't work, we have
some tips on what a professional might do for you. We will start
with some of the simplest remedies and move on from there.
Common Products for Carpet Odor
You can certainly try the products available in your local
supermarket. These odor-eliminating substances do work, although
the effects may be temporary. The sprays, for example, will knock
out odors for a while. The powders, which you typically sprinkle
in the carpet and later vacuum up, are likely to absorb more
of the odors.
To start out more cheaply (and probably just as effectively),
try baking soda. Just sprinkle it heavily over the carpet where
you think the odor is coming from. Work it into the fibers using
your fingers. Leave it overnight and then vacuum it out. It will
often absorb most of the smell, and if not you can repeat the
process several times for better results.
Be aware though, that if the carpet is damp the baking soda
may not come out easily with the vacuum cleaner. So wait until
the carpet is dry. You might even have problems if you live in
a climate which is very humid. In that case try the next method.
Plain white vinegar will get odor out of carpet in some cases.
Apply it carefully to the source of the smell, then sop it up
with a clean white cotton rag or white undyed paper towels. Rinse
and blot up the moisture repeatedly. You might have to do this
a couple times. If you have a shop-vac for removing the moisture
each time the process will be much quicker.
Get Odor Out Using the Sun
If it is a rug or a carpet that is easily moved, you can put
it out in the sun for a few hours. This will remove some odors.
Flip it over to get the sun's heat and disinfecting power on
both sides. You can also combine this with other methods, like
using baking soda.
If the simpler methods don't work, you may need to deep-clean
the carpet. Doing this yourself with a portable machine is not
likely to work and might even spread the substances causing the
odor. Hire a good carpet cleaner who uses a truck mount hot water
extraction unit (a steam cleaner). The water will be hotter than
anything you get from a do-it-yourself portable unit, and the
suction power will be much greater (and that is what matters
most in the case of bad smells).
Ozone generators can get odor out of carpet even when it has
been there for a long time. They are commonly used to remove
odors caused by mold and mildew, pets, fire, and water damage.
There are some units you can buy or rent yourself, but it may
be better to leave this to the professionals. The EPA says these
machines may not work when using ozone at levels which are safe
for humans and animals, but a professional carpet cleaner can
do a "shock treatment" with high levels of ozone. You
(and your pets) will have to leave during this process.
To get pet odor out of carpet you can try enzyme treatments.
For more on this, see the page Enzyme
Cleaners for Cat Urine Odor.