Use pantry ingredients to neutralize that funky underfoot stench.
Raise your hand if you ever had childhood dreams of deodorizing your carpet. No? Well, of course you didn’t. Just like you never dreamt about vigorously cleaning your toilet bowl or climbing a dangerously high ladder to get the leaves out of the gutters. But alas, adulthood. Dad’s not gonna clean your gutters forever, even if you still are on that family plan for your cell phone.
While deodorizing your carpet isn’t the most glamorous task you’ll take on all week, it might be the one that pays off the most. Just think of inviting friends over without fearing potential social alienation resulting from musty, mildewed carpet odor. You could blame it on the cat, or take matters into your own hands.
So, whether it’s dog pee assaulting your olfactory each time you open the bedroom door or a strange sweat smell emanating from that area in front of the television (but, hey, great job doing those home workouts!), we’re here for it. We’ve got hacks for seven of your stinkiest carpet scents using ingredients you probably already own.
First thing’s first: Determine who or what is causing your carpet smell. Do a little light sleuthing to figure out why your carpet stinks to begin with, then follow our tips to eliminate the odor.
Homes that smell like an ashtray are such a turn off. If you’ve unfortunately inherited a house with bowling alley or a dive bar vibes, fear not. There’s a simple solution for fumigating the smoke smell from your carpet without having to tear the place apart.
Blergh, mildew. If that’s your problem, you’re likely hip to the situation already if you’ve been suffering from curious respiratory problems. If you live someplace with lots of humidity, you’re no stranger to the ‘dew. Let’s turn that ‘dew into a dew-not.
For stubborn odors like bacteria and mold, may we recommend a shot of vodka? (Not for you, for the carpet!) The alcohol will actually break up the odor-causing compounds.
You know what we’re talking about. It’s that subterranean scent that wafts around in your lower level, inducing dread when you’ve got to fetch the toolbox or descend for laundry day. Thankfully, there’s the onion fix. That’s right. When a raw onion smells better than your basement, you know you’ve got issues.
We’re not here to pass judgment about the smell in your carpet, we know those puppy ninja pees behind the chair all too well.
Don’t have baking soda handy? If you can act quickly, club soda is a great solution because its aerated carbonation lifts stains up and out of carpet fibers.
We’ve learned the hard way. Carpets can also take on the smell of their sweaty human owners and pets — especially in favorite lounge areas like in front of the television and at the foot of that great bay window.
Note: If you’re totally stumped as to why your carpet smells, baking soda is a general cure-all. Follow instructions for “How To Deodorize Smoke Smells” and/or “How To Deodorize Bacteria + Mold Smells” and try them on for size. A little baking soda (or vodka!) will help immensely in your odor neutralizing journey. (Even if just you end up drunk enough to notice the smell, we’ll call it a win. But try to get some of the vodka on the carpet, seriously.)
Carpet deodorizers generally come in either powder, spray or shampoo form. They all come with various fragrances, antibacterial properties and specific directions for unique types of carpet (so be sure to read and follow the directions!).
Powders work best when you’re trying to de-funk the entire carpet, versus just spot cleaning. Baking soda is typically the main ingredient in any type of powdered deodorizer, so why not cut to the chase and just use straight up baking soda? Check your pantry, you probably already have some! Baking soda absorbs and neutralizes odors, making it the absolute MVP carpet cleaner. Powders are super easy: Simply sprinkle them on, let them sit and work their magic, then vacuum them up.
Sprays are usually used for spot cleaning. (We’re looking at you, pets!) Sprays require a bit more work, often some scrubbing or patting with a rag is involved. Sprays work by drawing whenever stain is causing the offensive smell up and out of the carpet.
Carpet shampoo is the most labor intensive, whether you’re applying it with a spray-foam canister, a carpet cleaning machine or a wet vac. Shampoo neutralizes stinky smells while simultaneously removing dirt and debris.
Once you’ve deodorized, follow these general rules of thumb for keeping carpets smelling fresh so you don’t find yourself in another stinky situation:
Now that you know how to tackle your carpet’s worst enemies, get crackin’. From baking soda to club soda and all the ingredients in between, those offensive carpet odors are a thing of the past.