Sandra asked, “How can I get rid of a horrible smell in my carpet? A big storm went through and knocked out our power for a couple of days. I took all the meat out of the deep freeze, but didn’t even think about it defrosting until it was too late. In the middle of the night, the water ran out of the freezer and onto the floor. The deep freeze is in the laundry room, so there was no problem cleaning the floor there. However, the laundry room sits next to my closet wall, and the water ran under the wall into the closet carpet. I have steam cleaned the carpet, put baking soda on it and let it set overnight. The smell is better, but it still stinks! Any suggestions?”
Carpet seems to capture odors and hold onto them for dear life. These odors can be removed, and the time and effort will depend largely on the type and intensity of the odor. If the odor is strong, be prepared to repeat the odor removal process several times. Persistence is key. When possible, adding fresh air always helps to expedite the process. Choose a method below, Surface Odors or Deep Odors, and follow the steps to become odor-free.
This method works well for general carpet odors and anything that has landed on the carpet, such as a food spill, and is now causing an odor.
You Will Need:
- Baking Soda
- White vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Soft cloths
Steps to Remove the Odor:
- Baking soda is well known for removing odors. It’s easy to use and effective for removing odors from carpeting.
- Sprinkle the area liberally with baking soda. For odors that go beyond the surface, brush the area lightly with a broom to work the baking soda down into the fibers.
- Sprinkle an additional layer of baking soda on top of the carpet. Thin layers of baking soda will not work as effectively. Do not be afraid to use enough to get rid of the odor.
- Allow the baking soda to set at least overnight on the affected area. Two days is even better, if possible. If you need to walk on the area during this time, cover it with a sheet or blanket and tape the edges of the sheet in place if needed.
- After 1-2 days have passed, sweep the top layer of baking soda into the dustpan with a stiff broom. If the baking soda was placed on a rug, it can be shaken off outdoors.
- Vacuum the remaining baking soda from the carpet with a strong vacuum. Do not vacuum the top layer first, as this can damage the vacuum.
- Baking soda does not damage the carpeting, so the process can be repeated as often as necessary.
- If the odor is not removed, use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. It can be sprayed over the surface or blotted on with a soft cloth.
- Allow the vinegar to set on the carpet for 15 minutes or so. The acid in the vinegar can work through the odor-causing bacteria in the carpet.
- Blot with a clean cloth to remove.
- Rinse by spraying and/or blotting the area with clean water.
- Press with a clean cloth to absorb any remaining water.
- Allow to air dry completely.
- Repeat as necessary until the odor is removed.
This method is for odors that are caused by liquids, which have soaked through the carpet and into the carpet padding.
You Will Need:
- A cleaning solution (choose one):
- Pet enzyme digester, such as Nature’s Miracle or Kids ‘N’ Pets
- Isopropyl alcohol
- A towel
- A fan
Steps to Remove the Odor:
- Locate the source of the odor.
- Select a cleaning product from the list above. (Many thanks to Brandon who originally posted the idea for using alcohol and to all the commenters below who have let us know how well it works!) It is better to use isopropyl alcohol than rubbing alcohol as rubbing alcohol contains other chemicals and dyes that could stain the carpet.
- Test your selected cleaning product on a small hidden area of the carpet to look for any adverse reaction, such as a lightening of the carpet color. Wait for the test area to dry before verifying the results.
- If the test goes well, pour the cleaning product onto the area. It is necessary for you to pour on as much cleaner as there was problem-causing liquid so that the cleaner can reach equally as deep into the padding.
- Wait about 15 minutes, then use a towel to soak up as much liquid as possible.
- Point a fan on the area to help it dry more quickly.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- Hydrogen peroxide can also be applied to odor-filled areas. Check a small area first to ensure there is no damage to the color of the carpet.
- If the rug is small enough that it can be placed in the washing machine, it may be fastest and easiest to wash it as normal. Adding a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle will offer additional odor-fighting power.
- Steam cleaners can be rented at most grocery and department stores and can be used to clean the carpets more deeply than blotting. There are also odor-fighting cleaning solutions that can be added to the water for extra cleaning.