Smelly Carpet after Cleaning? What to Do

You’ve recently washed your dirty carpet and despite being able to restore its original look, you’ve created a new problem. You just can’t stand the smell emanating from the floor covering and you are wondering why this happens every time you clean your carpet. 

Improper cleaning, presence of bacteria, old stubborn stains and improper drying are the main reasons for a smelly carpet after cleaning. Odors in a carpet can be neutralized using vinegar, baking soda or by dehumidifying your home. Mold inspection and treatment may also be the solution to the problem.

Smelly Carpet After Cleaning – Here’s Why

There are multiple reasons why your carpet always has a bad odor after you clean it. We discuss each of these below:

1. Improper Carpet Cleaning Methods

Whichever carpet cleaning method you’re using, you need to follow the proper procedure to ensure that you don’t leave behind too much water heading into the drying process. For instance, if you use excessive detergent solution and fail to thoroughly rinse it out, chances are high that you’ll end up with a smelly carpet.

Sometimes, the method you may be using leaves behind too much residual water, such as cleaning with shampoo and water. This is in sharp contrast to superior cleaning methods like hot water extraction method (steam cleaning) whereby most of the leftover water is usually extracted out of the carpet fibers before proceeding to the drying stage.

Finally, if you’re hiring your carpet cleaning services, remember that the most affordable services are bound to compromise on service quality. As such, your smelly carpet may be due to contracting the services of cheap cleaners that don’t use superior carpet cleaning methods or don’t observe the proper carpet drying processes.

2. Presence of Old, Stubborn Stains

Typically, the bad smell of old stains that have already seeped deep into your carpet’s underlay will be revived every time you wash the floor covering. Which is why you need to invest in professional carpet stain removal services for persistent, old stains. 

The ammonia and bacteria in the dry old urine in your carpet gets reactivated when the carpet is shampooed. Water also dilute and help the urine to spread across your entire carpet. This is the main reason why your carpet smells like urine after cleaning.

Unlike other stains in your carpet, pet urine odor can only be tackled with products formulated for neutralizing urine odors, break down the ammonia and kill the bacteria. You can spot treat the affected area or hire professional cleaners.

Cigarette smoke can also get reactivated when a carpet is cleaned. The smoke from tobacco tends to seep into carpeting fabric quite easily. Overtime, you’ll notice a very unbearable smell emanating from your carpeting, especially if you regularly smoke inside the house. 

3. Improper Drying Methods

This is arguably the single most common cause of bad carpet odors worldwide. The underlay of your carpet is usually sealed off from direct sunlight or air access, which means that this section dries at a slower pace. 

Failure to take the necessary measures to ensure that your carpet’s underlay properly dries up will leave you with a smelly floor covering. The leftover moisture presents a suitable habitat for mildew and mold fungi, which are responsible for the musky smell coming from your poorly-dried carpet. 

Mold causes respiratory allergens thus dangerous to human and pet’s health. Mold under carpet should be inspected and treated immediately. This should be through the help of professional carpet cleaners.

4. Germs and bacterial

Germs including bacterial and virus are common on dirty carpets. Usually, cleaning alone will not combat these disease-causing pathogens. Bacterial is known to produce a lot of smell and will typically make your carpet smelly after cleaning.

Apart from regular cleaning or vacuuming, you should also consider disinfecting your carpet at least once per month. This is not only to deal with the bad smell, but also make your floor safe.

How to Neutralize Odors in Carpet

A smelly carpet in your living room is usually very uncomfortable, and can be rather embarrassing if you have visitors coming to the house. What’s more, the odor could be a pointer towards mildew and mold infestations, which could pose a health risk to the occupants of the house. Which is why you should get rid of the smell (and the cause) as soon as you notice it. 

Here’s a guideline on how to deodorize your carpet after cleaning:

Deodorize with Vinegar

Vinegar is not only great for removal of stains from carpets, but also for getting rid of carpet odors after cleaning. When using vinegar as a carpet deodorant, follow the procedure detailed below:

  • Create a vinegar solution by mixing white vinegar with warm water in a ratio of 1:1.
  • Apply the solution atop the carpet to kill off mold and mildew fungi, while also absorbing smells. 
  • Air dry the carpet. You can speed up the process by placing fans or air mover systems above the carpet.

Deodorize using Baking Soda

Just like vinegar, baking soda works by absorbing the odor from the carpet. If your carpet wasn’t properly dried after cleaning, simply sprinkle some baking soda over it and let it sit there until the carpet or rug dries up completely. You can then suck up the baking soda from the floor using a vacuum cleaner.

De-humidify the room

By absorbing the humidity from the air, you’ll be able to speed up the drying process for your carpet (and consequently stop the wet carpet smell), including the hard-to-dry carpet padding/underlay. You can achieve this by installing a dehumidifier in the room, or a pace heater. 

Remember, humidity doesn’t just slow down the drying process. It also promotes mold and mildew growth, which comes with an unbearable smell.

The methods discussed above are some of the most effective way to get rid of carpet odors after cleaning. However, if none of them works for you, you can try alternative methods like the ones highlighted below:

  • Spreading kitty litter over the carpet to soak up the odor.
  • Applying borax onto the smelly caret to absorb the smell.

How to dry carpet after cleaning

One way of preventing a smelly carpet is to thoroughly dry it right after cleaning. Wall-to-wall carpets are typically hard to remove and you have to clean and dry them is on the spot. Some of the most effective carpet drying methods to use include the following.

1. Use of dry towels

Repeatedly soak out leftover moisture out of the wet carpet by spreading dry towels over the wet spots and pressing down on them. For maximum efficacy, step over the towels you’ve spread to absorb water much faster. 

2. Vacuum cleaning

For this method, avoid using your regular vacuum cleaner and instead hire one that’s certified for wet vacuuming. The vacuum cleaner will suck up the excess moisture from your carpet’s padding, leaving it fully dry and without any odor.

Final Thought

Unending bad smell from a carpet even after cleaning can signify something serious such as mold and mildew. Further, your carpet could be rotting underneath without your knowledge. You may end up removing a part to assess what is going on underneath your carpet.

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