How To Get Rid Of Disgusting Carpet Smells

There’s nothing nicer than the feel of a new carpet under your toes, but what if you’ve got an old carpet and have nasty carpet smells? In this post, we talk about carpet smells, their causes, and how to eliminate them.

Types of carpet smells

coffee spilt on carpet


If your carpet smells like stinky feet, it could be due to trapped moisture in the fibers and underlay. This may be caused by wet carpet which has not dried properly. Trapped moisture might be causing mold and mildew to form, which, if left untreated, may cause a health risk. Moisture might be caused by:

  • Water damage
  • Flooding.
  • Leaky pipes.
  • An inexperienced carpet cleaner who left the carpet or underlay damp, causing a wet carpet smell.


When pets and children have accidents, the bacteria and ammonia in the pee break down, causing a foul smell. Untreated pet urine can permeate into the spongy underlay and, if it is allowed to sit over time, will start to smell overpowering.

Food spillages

Juice, soda, and coffee are acidic and may decay your carpet.
When spilled and left, milk leaves an unbearably unpleasant smell as the bacteria start to decay. It’s one of the most challenging carpet smells to get rid of.

Clean up any food and drink spillages as soon as possible to prevent them from soaking into the underlay.

Cigarette smell

If someone has been smoking in the home, it can seep into the carpet’s fibers and cling on, which can make your carpet smell of cigarettes for years to come. You can contact a commercial cleaning service to clean the carpets. However, if the person continues to smoke in the home, the smell will still cling to the carpet fibers.


If there was a fire in the home, the chances of smoke getting trapped within the carpet fibers are pretty high. The smell of smoke is difficult to remove as it gets ingrained into the fibers.

Old smelly carpet

Sometimes your older carpet smells like dust; the older the carpet gets, the more the fibers and backing break down. When this happens, particles and dust are released into the air, causing that familiar, old, dusty smell.

The older the carpet gets, the worse these issues become and can cause a problem for anyone suffering from allergies.

Getting rid of an old antique carpet might not be an option, in which case you may consider contacting a carpet restoration company to see if they can help you. Often, the only way to deal with this issue is to replace the carpet with a new one.

Wet dog carpet smells

If you have a carpet that smells like dog, it could be that the carpet was wet and has not dried off properly.

Often wool carpets can give off a wet dog type smell when they get wet.

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How to neutralize carpet smells.

 tabby kitten on white carpet

How nasty is the stain?
Before you attempt to start any form of carpet odor removal, you’ll need to establish what type of stain you are dealing with.

  1. Surface odors

    Surface odors are often caused by something you may have spilled or dropped. These carpet smells are sitting on the surface of your carpet. If you clean spills up in time, you can prevent them from becoming deep odors.
    Spills may include:
    ☛ Urine.
    ☛ Food and drink spillages.

    To get rid of surface odors:

    ✔︎ Remove the original spillage.
    ✔︎ Blot up any excess liquid until the area is almost dry.
    ✔︎ Sprinkle some baking soda over the affected area.
    ✔︎ Using a soft brush, work the baking soda into the carpet; the more you rub, the better it will remove any odor.
    ✔︎ Add a top layer of baking soda.
    ✔︎ Allow it to sit for 1-2 days if you can.
    ✔︎ Remove the excess powder with a dustpan and brush.
    ✔︎ Vacuum up the remaining powder.

    If the odor is still there, you can try using equal parts water and white vinegar solution in a spray bottle on the stain. The vinegar will kill potential mildew spores from forming and absorb any odors.

    ✔︎ Spray the affected area.
    ✔︎ Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
    ✔︎ Use a paper towel to blot out the excess liquid.
    ✔︎ Use a damp cloth to blot the affected area.
    ✔︎ Use a paper towel to blot out the excess water.
    If the smell is still there, you can repeat this step as many times as necessary.

    carpet smells

  2. Deep odors

    Deep odors are the type of smells that have ingrained themselves into the fibers of your carpet. They often cover the whole of the carpet rather than just one area and are a lot more challenging to remove these can be caused by:

    ☛ Cigarette smoke.
    ☛ Water damage.
    ☛ Excess moisture.
    ☛ House fire.

    In most of these cases, you will probably find that the source is too problematic to fix at home, and I would advise that you seek help from a professional carpet cleaning service. They should be able to help you rectify the problem and offer a deep cleaning service.

    If you’d like to try to solve the problem yourself before calling in the professionals, you can try using:
    ✔︎ vinegar, water, and Isopropyl alcohol, or carpet shampoo in a carpet steamer.
    ✔︎ Use as directed on the machine throughout the affected area.
    ✔︎ Allow the area to air dry thoroughly before replacing any furniture.

    cigarette butt

How to keep carpet smelling fresh

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a great believer in opening the windows and changing the air. Fresh air is vital if you have pets and kids!

You can do a few things to keep your carpet smells to a minimum.

  • Clean up any spills immediately. Spills on a carpet will soon become deep odors if they absorb into the carpet fibers. Clean up any spillages as soon as they happen and before anyone stands on them.
  • Allow your carpet to dry thoroughly. If your carpet is wet, you should allow it to dry thoroughly before placing any furniture back on top of it. You can speed up the drying process with a fan, heater, or dehumidifier. You must make sure the underlay of your carpet is thoroughly dry; otherwise, you may find that this leads to mold and carpet mildew problems.
  • Blot away any liquid spills. Anyone with kids and pets will know how many drink and pee spillages our carpets are subjected to. It is crucial to get as much of the liquid up as is possible before it has a chance to seep into your carpet and underlay. Blot as much excess liquid as possible with paper towels. Do not rub at the spillage, as this will only push the fluid further into the carpet’s fibers. Dab at the stain until the paper towel is almost dry, then clean the carpet’s surface by wiping with a damp cloth. Spread a thin, even layer of baking soda and allow it to sit for 2-12 hours. Sweep up the remainder with a dustpan and brush, then vacuum the rest.
  • Don’t mask smells. The temptation to shake some powder over your carpets while dancing around like a cleaning commercial may be too great to resist when your carpet smells like feet, but believe me, this is not how to get bad smells out of carpet. You need to find the source of the problem, especially if it’s a damp, mildew carpet smell. Masking the smell with sprays, powders, or air fresheners will not neutralize odors in a carpet; it will worsen the problem. Contact a professional who is an expert at removing odors from carpet.
  • Do not step on wet carpet as this will push the liquid through the carpet fibers and into the underlay, eventually turning into mildew in the carpet.

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Now you’ve read how to get smells out of carpet, why not read how to get urine out of a mattress.


My carpet smells like mildew; how do I get rid of wet carpet smell?

If your carpet has mold or mildew, it may be tough to get rid of the mildew smell the carpet without calling a professional cleaner. You may find that the problem is due to mildew underneath your carpet and in the underlay. It’s best to do some investigation to find the source of the smell then treat it accordingly.

My carpet smells when humid. What could be causing this?

Lingering dampness may cause carpet smells when the room is humid. If the room is particularly muggy, you may find that the carpet is never thoroughly drying out. You could try using a dehumidifier and ensure you ventilate the area well, especially after showering or bathing.

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