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How to Get Odor Out of Carpet

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Whether from mold or mildew or pets or people, odors in a carpet can be persistent. Fortunately there are some good tricks for getting an odor out of carpet. If those don't work, we have some tips on what a professional might do for you. We will start with some of the simplest remedies and move on from there.

Common Products for Carpet Odor

You can certainly try the products available in your local supermarket. These odor-eliminating substances do work, although the effects may be temporary. The sprays, for example, will knock out odors for a while. The powders, which you typically sprinkle in the carpet and later vacuum up, are likely to absorb more of the odors.

Baking Soda

To start out more cheaply (and probably just as effectively), try baking soda. Just sprinkle it heavily over the carpet where you think the odor is coming from. Work it into the fibers using your fingers. Leave it overnight and then vacuum it out. It will often absorb most of the smell, and if not you can repeat the process several times for better results.

The following video looks at natural substances that can be used for odor removal:

Be aware though, that if the carpet is damp the baking soda may not come out easily with the vacuum cleaner. So wait until the carpet is dry. You might even have problems if you live in a climate which is very humid. In that case try the next method.

Vinegar

Plain white vinegar will get odor out of carpet in some cases. Apply it carefully to the source of the smell, then sop it up with a clean white cotton rag or white undyed paper towels. Rinse and blot up the moisture repeatedly. You might have to do this a couple times. If you have a shop-vac for removing the moisture each time the process will be much quicker.

Get Odor Out Using the Sun

If it is a rug or a carpet that is easily moved, you can put it out in the sun for a few hours. This will remove some odors. Flip it over to get the sun's heat and disinfecting power on both sides. You can also combine this with other methods, like using baking soda.

Professional Help

If the simpler methods don't work, you may need to deep-clean the carpet. Doing this yourself with a portable machine is not likely to work and might even spread the substances causing the odor. Hire a good carpet cleaner who uses a truck mount hot water extraction unit (a steam cleaner). The water will be hotter than anything you get from a do-it-yourself portable unit, and the suction power will be much greater (and that is what matters most in the case of bad smells).

Ozone Machines

Ozone generators can get odor out of carpet even when it has been there for a long time. They are commonly used to remove odors caused by mold and mildew, pets, fire, and water damage. There are some units you can buy or rent yourself, but it may be better to leave this to the professionals. The EPA says these machines may not work when using ozone at levels which are safe for humans and animals, but a professional carpet cleaner can do a "shock treatment" with high levels of ozone. You (and your pets) will have to leave during this process.

Enzyme Treatments

To get pet odor out of carpet you can try enzyme treatments. For more on this, see the page Enzyme Cleaners for Cat Urine Odor.

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