If you notice unpleasant odors coming from your carpet, using baking soda or vinegar is NOT the ideal solution. While baking soda effectively neutralizes odors, applying it to the carpet and subsequently vacuuming can potentially harm your vacuum cleaner.
Although baking soda and vinegar are frequently recommended for various purposes on the internet, I advise against using them for addressing smelly carpets. For detailed information on why baking soda may not be suitable, you can refer to this post.
So, how can we effectively eliminate unpleasant smells from carpets? The approach depends on the specific odor. I aim to discuss all the methods for deodorizing carpets, ranging from combating mildew smells to neutralizing pet odors.
How To Neutralize Odors In Carpet
As covered above, baking soda is not a good carpet cleaner and will do damage to your vacuum cleaner, so I’ll go over better ways to clean your carpets.
To remove odors from carpets without using baking soda, you can follow these steps:
- Identify the source: Determine the cause of the odor, such as pet accidents, spills, mildew, or general stale odors. This will help you address the specific issue effectively.
- Vacuum thoroughly: Start by vacuuming the carpet thoroughly to remove any loose dirt, debris, and surface odor-causing particles. Use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter if possible, as it can trap smaller particles and allergens.
- Spot clean stains: Treat any visible stains on the carpet using a suitable carpet spot remover* or a mild detergent mixed with water. Follow the product instructions and blot the stain gently, rather than rubbing it, to prevent spreading.
- Use an odor-neutralizing spray: Look for odor-neutralizing sprays* designed specifically for carpets. These sprays work by encapsulating odor molecules and neutralizing them. Follow the instructions on the product and apply it evenly over the carpet.
- Allow for ventilation: Open windows or use fans to increase airflow in the room. Proper ventilation helps in dissipating odors and increases the deodorizing process. You can often rent large carpet blowers from the home centers and let them blow over the carpets after cleaning them.
- Use carpet fresheners: Look for carpet fresheners* specifically designed to eliminate odors. These products often come in powder form and can be sprinkled over the carpet. Follow the instructions provided, allow the freshener to sit for the recommended time, and then vacuum thoroughly. These are a far better option than using baking soda, and often do less damage to vacuum cleaners.
- Professional carpet cleaning: If the odor persists despite your efforts, consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning service. They have specialized equipment and cleaning solutions that can effectively remove deep-seated odors from the carpet fibers.
Remember, it’s crucial to test any cleaning or deodorizing product on a small, inconspicuous area of the carpet before applying it to the entire surface to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.
How To Neutralize Smoke Odor From Carpet
Cigarette smoke odors are some of the hardest odors to get rid of from carpets. It’s so bad that I highly suggest considering getting new carpets or putting in something else like LVP flooring.
If new flooring is not possible, give these steps a try.
- Vacuum the floor thoroughly to remove any loose debris that still clings on to the smoke odor.
- Rent a carpet cleaner and thoroughly clean the floors.
- Open windows and turn on fans to vent the carpet out as it dries.
Please keep in mind, smoke odor gets everywhere, so you may need to clean or paint the walls with odor blocking primer. Any furniture in the room will also have absorbed the smell and needs to be cleaned too. It can take months, or even years, for the smoke odor to go away completely.
How To Neutralize Mildew Smell From Carpet
When it comes to mildew smells and odors, you must pay attention to any wet areas to make sure you don’t have a leak somewhere.
Mold and mildew grows in wet areas, and you could have a leak under the carpet causing the smell. The odor won’t go away until you fix the leak.
Here are the steps to take to get rid of mildew odors from your carpet.
- Vacuum the floor thoroughly, so you have a good starting point.
- Use a carpet odor eliminator* on the carpet.
- Open windows and turn on fans to let the room air out and dry out.
Don’t use vinegar to clean the carpets, you’ll only end up making things worse.
You want dry solutions for removing mildew smells, and vinegar is the worst, along with baking soda.
How To Remove Pet Odor From Carpets
When it comes to pet odors, it’s usually wet dog smell and pet urine smells that are trapped in the carpet.
The good news is that it’s easy to remove pet odors from your carpet following the steps below.
- Vacuum the floor thoroughly, get all the pet hair and dirt out of the carpet.
- Use a carpet powder made for pet odors*.
- If the smell still exists, rent a carpet cleaner to thoroughly clean the carpet.
Once again, avoid baking soda and vinegar, as the internet’s love for these cleaners is misplaced, and they’re not that great. If you want a natural or eco-friendly cleaner, then there are many options out there, and they all work vastly better than baking soda or vinegar.
Why No Baking Soda Or Vinegar?
The internet loves baking soda and vinegar, especially when combining them, but they’re not great cleaners.
There exist far better natural cleaners that actually, well, clean!
Let me explain why vinegar and baking soda are not great cleaners.
- Baking soda damages vacuum cleaners, and your vacuum cleaner doesn’t absorb it all, so the odors stay around and worsen it.
- Vinegar is fine for hard surfaces, but it’s bad for soft materials like carpets and will damage the fibers of your carpet because it’s an ACID. Constant cleaning with vinegar on your carpets will eat away at the threads that hold it in place.
- Combining both vinegar and baking soda only creates salt water, they neutralize each other and all the fizzing you see is not doing any cleaning.
The reason why vinegar and baking soda are always the go-to is that most people already have it and if you actually try using it you quickly learn how bad they are at cleaning. Sure, it may get a few things, but so would a wet rag, which is what most people use when they combine both.
Another problem I have with it is that it gets people in the mindset to combine chemicals, which can be deadly if you combine the wrong things. It’s better to buy the cleaner made for the job and not repeat the same crazy phrases people on the internet can’t stop saying that don’t actually work.