As carpets age, they not only become discolored —they can also become quite smelly. Years of pet danger, moisture, and food spills can add up to leave your carpet smelling more like a trash can than a piece of home decor. Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of those odors. Here's how to start.
1. Use baking soda when you vacuum.
This is a good tip to start with since it only takes a few minutes to implement. The next time you plan on vacuuming, go through the home a few hours beforehand, and sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the carpet. Use a soft brush to work it into the carpet fibers. The baking soda will absorb any moisture and neutralize any odors in the carpet. Vacuum it all up, making sure you go over the carpet a few times with the vacuum cleaner.
2. Carpet shampoo with vinegar.
If the carpet is still stinky after using baking soda, your next step is to use a carpet shampooer. You can rent these from many rental companies if you don't want to buy one yourself. Fill it up with water as instructed in the manual, but add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the water pouch, too. This will help neutralize any odors in the carpet. Shampoo the entire carpet as normal, going over the carpet an extra time with suction (without ejecting any water). The room may smell like vinegar at first, but the smell will dissipate in a few hours.
After shampooing the carpet, make sure you open the windows and turn on the fans to air the place out. Otherwise, your carpets might mold—which will only create more odors.
3. Install a dehumidifier.
Nothing is worse for stinky carpets than humidity. If the home is too humid, bacteria in the carpet will replicate, making odors worse. Mold may also start growing—perhaps in the carpet pad where you are unable to see it. Install a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from your air and to fight future carpet odors. If a whole-home dehumidifier is too large an expense, there are portable ones available for about $100 that will do the trick.
If the measures above fail to solve your stinky carpet troubles, perhaps it is time to have the carpet professionally cleaned—or to replace it with fresh, new carpet. Contact local carpet cleaning services for help.