What Causes Carpet To Smell Worse After Cleaning

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Why Does My Carpet Smell After Cleaning 

You might be frustrated because you just had your carpet cleaned and are now wondering why does my carpet smell worse after cleaning? After all of the work that goes into the cleaning process, possibly even days of carpet cleaning, now there is a very unpleasant odor present in your home. 

scrubbing the carpet with spray cleaner

Together, you and I are going to take a look at what might be causing those carpet odors, and what type of cleaning solutions you may consider using to get rid of that gross wet carpet smell. You are not going to want to miss out on this! 

Major Cause of Foul Smells

There are a few different reasons why your carpet smells after a deep cleaning. Dirty carpets are especially difficult to get truly clean and remove the nasty odor.

Those carpet fibers can often hang on to that disgusting smell, even after they have been thoroughly shampooed, or you used a rug doctor on them.

Let’s jump into the common reasons why your carpets may smell after being shampooed, beginning with one of the primary main reasons. 

Excess Moisture

Excess moisture is the most likely reason you have that mildew smell after deep cleaning your carpets. One of the ways you can tell if this is the reason for your smell is if you see or feel excess water still in your carpets even after they have been cleaned. 

What happens when too much water is used in the carpet cleaning process is that the carpet backing soaks in the extra moisture, resulting in extra damp carpets that smell bad. 

Carpet Padding

When too much water is used in the cleaning process, or not enough of the water is removed after cleaning, it can soak into the layer beneath your carpet, into the actual carpet padding itself. 

The padding layer under carpet is usually made from polyurethane foam, so when it absorbs moisture, it becomes stinky, and can be difficult to dry out. This is why it is important to suck up any water used to clean the carpet, and allow the carpet to completely dry before walking across it. 

Water-Damaged Carpet

Another reason why your carpet might have excess moisture and smell gross is from water damage. Water damage usually results from significant events such as rainwater flooding, dishwasher leaking, or even a sewage flood. Water damage is caused by the carpet’s padding soaking in too much water, and ultimately damaging the mat. 

Of course, water damage could also be caused by a small spill, or even using way too much water during the carpet cleaning process. 

No matter what the cause of excess moisture is in the carpet, it is important that you are careful to clean the carpet thoroughly and remove as much moisture as possible to prevent bacteria growth from the excess moisture. 

scrubbing brush on the carpet

How to Remove Access Moisture

There are several different things you can do to remove the extra moisture from your carpet after cleaning. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out. 

Don’t Walk on the Carpet

If your carpet is still wet, it’s important that you don’t walk on the carpet too much. If you walk on it while it is still wet, this will push the water further into the carpet padding, making it more difficult for the carpet and the padding to dry out. 

Open the Windows

If you are able, it’s a good idea to open the windows so that your carpet gets more air circulation. This will help the carpet dry out faster. 

Run Fans

Running fans on the wet carpet is another great way to help the carpet dry faster, and circulate the air. Keep in mind, the carpet is wet, so only run fans if you can safely do so without them getting close to the water. 

Turn on a Dehumidifier

If you have a place where you could safely turn on a dehumidifier, this will also help to remove the extra moisture from the air. 

Suck Up Access Water

You can also use a rug doctor or another type of carpet cleaner to suck up the water from the carpet to help remove any access moisture. 

High Humidity

Another cause of the smell could be high humidity levels. This is especially true if your room is humid and closed up. This could easily cause your carpet to have a musty smell after cleaning it. 

To help decrease the humidity, consider running a dehumidifier, turning on fans if safe to do so, or opening windows. 

cleaning a stain on the carpet

Carpet Stains 

Persistent stains on your carpet could be another source of the sour smell in your carpet. Occasionally food spills or even old stains can still smell bad when cleaned. Perhaps the stubborn stains were not cleaned thoroughly when they happened, and still contain some bacteria that stink when they get damp. 

This could be especially true if the stains were caused by a pet, in current or previous years. The wet dog smell stinks and might be caused by getting pet stains wet again. 

The best bet to remove the bad carpet smell from stains is to thoroughly clean the stains. You can use a carpet cleaner solution, or even use peroxide, vinegar, or baking soda to help treat the stains and remove the foul smell. 

Still Dirty Carpets

Another cause of why your carpets might still smell even after they have been cleaned is that they were not cleaned thoroughly and are in fact still dirty. Carpets should be cleaned with a cleaning solution and thoroughly scrubbed. 

One of the best ways to do this is to shampoo the carpets using a specific carpet cleaning machine, such as a rug doctor. You can rent these machines, or even buy them from hardware stores, home goods stores, or even some chain grocery stores. Make sure to check out the options near you to see what your best bets are. 

How to Remove the Smell after Cleaning

Now that you know some of the common causes of bad-smelling carpets after cleaning, there are several different things you can to do help your carpet dry thoroughly and other remedies to help remove the bad smell in general. Let’s take a look first at the drying process of a carpet after it has been deep cleaned. 

The Drying Process

It’s important that you make sure there is plenty of air circulation to speed up the drying process of your clean carpet. If you have ceiling fans, make sure that those are turned on at their highest speed. You can also set up some floor fans if you can safely do so. 

Another great thing you can do to speed up the dry time is to open windows so that the fresh air circulates throughout the clean carpet. This will also help your carpet not stink as much. 

Some suggest running space heaters to help the carpet dry out, however, this is not generally a good idea and can be very dangerous on some occasions. You are going to be much better off turning on ceiling fans, opening the windows, and running a dehumidifier if you can safely do so. 

When the airflow is circulating through rooms where you have cleaned the carpet the dry time should be only a few hours to a day at the most.

wet carpet cleaner

Baking Soda

Another solution you can use to help get rid of smelly carpet is to use baking soda. Baking soda helps to neutralize the odors and make your carpet not smell any longer. 

To use baking soda to remove the smell from your carpet, you will want to sprinkle it very lightly on your damp carpet, then let it set there until the carpet is completely dry. At this point, you can use a shop vac or wet-dry vacuum to vacuum it up from the carpet. 

A word of caution, while you can also use a regular household vacuum to suck up the baking soda, some newer vacuums have a permanent filter in them. When baking soda is sucked into the filter it can often plug the filters of newer sweepers, resulting in a ruined vacuum. This is why I would suggest using a shop vac to remove the dried baking soda from your carpet. 


Borax is another option that you can also use to help neutralize foul smells. This can be used in the same manner as baking soda. It can be sprinkled very lightly across the surface of your stinky carpet, then after it has dried, use a shop vac to suck up the borax powder. 

Cup of White Vinegar

White vinegar can be placed in containers around the room with the bad-smelling carpet and left overnight. The vinegar can help to neutralize the bad smell in the room. 

Another option is to mix one cup of white vinegar, with one cup water, and use this as a cleaning solution to scrub any stains on your carpet. This is especially useful if your carpet has a stain that stinks.

Kitty Litter

Most types of kitty litter are also great smell neutralizers. The best way to use kitty litter to neutralize a smell in your carpet is to put kitty litter in containers around the room and let it sit for a day or two. The kitty litter will absorb the smells over time.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Using hydrogen peroxide is another great way to remove unpleasant smells from your carpet after cleaning. You can mix a little bit of hydrogen peroxide with some water, then use a spray bottle, to spray the carpet that smells bad. 

Hydrogen peroxide also makes a great stain remover. To use it as a stain remover, you will want to mix approximately two parts of hydrogen peroxide with one part of Dawn dish soap. This mixture can be combined and used to scrub stains from the carpet.

wet vacuum cleaner

Health Risks

If you experience a musty odor to your carpet after it has been cleaned, this is a sign, that there could be mold growth underneath your carpet, which could result in health problems or allergic reactions to the mold. It’s important that you take care of getting the carpet properly cleaned and remove any odors.

Especially if your carpet smells because of excess moisture, you’ll want to be sure to thoroughly dry the carpet and the carpet pad, so that it does not become a breeding ground for unwanted bacteria. 

What Can You Do?

Above we have listed several options to help remove the smell from your carpet. If you have tried these options, and it still smells bad, you might want to consider renting shampooers such as Rug Doctor machines, or other professional-grade equipment to clean the carpet once more.

When you clean the carpet a second time, it’s important to use less water and allow the carpet shampooer to suck up any remaining dirt, and excess water. You also want to be sure that you’re using the proper carpet shampoo solution so that the carpet is properly cleaned.

Professional Cleaner

As a last resort, you can always hire professional carpet cleaners, to come in and give your carpet high-end treatments. A professional carpet cleaning service often has special equipment and knows how to treat difficult situations.

Before hiring professional cleaning in your area, make sure to thoroughly check out the professional carpet cleaner, so that you are sure they are reputable, and will do a good job. A professional carpet cleaning service often costs quite a bit of money, so you will want to be sure to do the research ahead of time so that they are a reputable company and can help your situation.

Clean Carpets

The perfect environment of events can cause your carpet to smell bad even after cleaning it. There are several different steps you can take to help treat carpet that smells bad after cleaning.

I hope that this has been helpful to you and that you are able to find a solution to help your carpet dry quickly after it has been cleaned, as well as you have learned some tips and tricks to help remove any unwanted odors.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

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About the author

Hi! My name is Faith, I am the creator behind My Sweet and Saucy. I have so many different things that I enjoy doing, and this is my space to share them all with you. I really hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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