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You’ve just had your flooring professionally cleaned and you come home with the hopes that you don’t have to think about it for the next couple of months, at least. Alas, a nasty smelling surprise awaits you and it has no intention of going away?
Unfortunately, similar situations can happen to anyone and at any time. Wet carpet smell can build up because of various reasons and the bad part is that it can be extremely hard to get rid of it.
Thankfully, hard does not mean impossible. That’s why SmartVacuums.co.uk has gathered the most effective methods of removing wet carpet smell, along with the explanation of why it really happens after cleaning was done.
What Are The Reasons For The Bad Wet Carpet Smell?
Before we jump right into the DIY cleaning solutions, let’s see what are the possible reasons for a funky wet carpet smell:
Bad carpet machine
Most carpets are cleaned by applying the “Hot Water Extraction Method”, often referred to as “Steam cleaning”. Truth is, these two differ by far.
While the extraction cleaning machine injects a solution of hot water and special carpet detergents into the carpet fibres, and extracts the liquid right after, along with all the dirt, steamers will only vaporise and spray without retracting any of the liquid.
Hot water extraction is an extremely effective method, which can remove over 97% of the most difficult stains and clean up built-up dust, germs and even bacteria.
There are two possible scenarios. Either you have hired a professional company to clean your carpet, or you’ve tried to do it yourself.
In the first case, you’ve decided that it’s better to rent a carpet machine and handle the cleaning on your own, there is one big problem.
Chances are you are not a certified technician and you probably don’t know the difference between a good quality carpet cleaning machine, and a mediocre one.
If the machine is not good, there is a chance that it wouldn’t be able to suck the water properly out of the carpet fibres, leaving it wet and dirty.
Most carpets have an underlay that soaks up liquids pretty quickly, thus creating the perfect environment for the development of mould and mildew, which are the main causes for this awful smell.
Case number two is that you’ve decided to trust a professional company to clean your dirty carpet, but you have forgotten to carefully read the reviews online. This leads to a shady man with a half-broken carpet machine knocking at your door.
The results are either the same as if you’ve tried to clean the carpet on your own, or even worse. That’s why you should stick to reputable experts.
According to Dmitri Kara from Fantastic Cleaners, their team of reputable carpet cleaning experts could provide an industrial fan to aid airflow in the property for the exact same reason - to avoid the unpleasant damp smell in both carpets and upholstery.
An Inexperienced Person Cleaning The Carpet
In this case, again it doesn’t matter if you have tried cleaning the carpet by yourself, or you’ve hired someone who only pretends to have the needed skills for the job.
Someone, who is not aware of how to operate the machine and how different types of carpet should be cleaned, will most likely put either too much water or detergent. In any case, the result will be a sad, wet, dirty carpet.
Poor Drying Conditions
Let’s say that you’ve actually had your carpet cleaned properly, either by you or a certified technician. Yet, the smell has appeared. Well, this leads us to our third option. The carpet didn’t have the chance to dry properly.
Even though the machine can suck up most of the injected water and detergent, there is still a lot of it left in the carpet. So, it’s really important to have proper drying conditions.
No matter how well your carpeting has been treated, the whole process does not stop when the machine stops. The procedure ends when everything is completely dry.
If not, your rug is at risk of developing mould and mildew, leading not only to a bad smell but also permanent damage to the carpet.
The Bad Smell Was There All Along
Think carefully whether this nasty odour appeared way before the carpet was cleaned. There is a big chance that your house suffered a flood before you moved in, damaging the floor and the carpet, leaving it with a bad smell that only amplified after more water was injected.
Consider age. Maybe the carpet is just really old, and the underlay has started to fall apart, leading again to mould problems.
Take a good look at your skirting boards and grip rods to see if there are any mould problems, which also might have become more serious after the deep clean.
Lift up a corner of your carpet to check if it’s black, green, grey or white, and if the answer is yes, then you are in need of a new carpet.
Read Here: Best Wet and Dry Vacuum Guide
DIY Methods Of Removing Wet Carpet Smell
Okay, you have identified the reason, but the problem still stands. Don’t worry, because we have gathered just the techniques you need to get rid of this nasty wet smell.
Dry the carpet. Before trying any of the methods below, make sure that you have done your best to properly dry the carpet. Open up every window and door in your house or flat.
Choose a good a dehumidifier in the room and leave it until all of the moisture is absorbed. You can also rent, buy or use your own fans, and turn them on, directly facing the carpet. However, if thinking of ironing, proceed with extreme delicacy.
Baking soda. There is a reason why bicarb always ends up being used in DIY cleaning methods. It has amazing odour absorbing abilities, which is why so many people choose to leave a bowl of it in their fridge.
For removing the wet carpet smell, just sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the smelly area and leave it there overnight to absorb the odour. After that, just vacuum the carpet.
White Vinegar. This is another classic solution in many natural home remedies for cleaning not only carpets, but also appliances, clothes, and many other household items.
The acidic nature of white vinegar is the reason why this magical liquid overpowers and absorbs almost any smell, including wet carpet odour.
You can make a solution of equal parts of lukewarm water and white vinegar, then, put it in a spray bottle, and apply the mixture evenly over the carpet.
You can also place bowls filled with pure white vinegar on the floor, leaving them overnight. Make sure that no one trips on them, spilling the vinegar on the carpet.
Kitty litter. Silicone kitty litter is usually made for absorbing the strong smell of cat faeces, so it’s also strong enough to deal with the persistent wet carpet smell. Don’t pour it directly on the carpet like the baking soda.
Just put it in bowls or dishes around the room and leave it overnight, so the substance can completely absorb the smell.
If you have cats, make sure that they don’t go into the room, as there is a big chance that they would confuse the plates for their own toilet.
What Not To Do When You Have A Wet Carpet
If you have used the services of a professional company, you should have also received instructions on how to proceed after the cleaning has been completed.
If that is not the case, here is a short list of things you should NEVER do if you have a wet carpet in the process of drying.
Stepping on your carpet if it’s still wet. Before the cleaning begins, grab everything you could possibly need from the room in question and leave it.
The pressure from your body will further insert the water into the fibres, slowing down the drying process and possibly damaging the carpet. Not to mention all of the dirt you will be carrying around with your shoes over the freshly cleaned carpeting.
Putting furniture on the floor. The reasons for not doing this are similar to those of the no-stepping rule. The weight of the furniture will damage the carpet by leaving dents.
It will also create a perfect environment for the development of mould and mildew in the space between the carpet and the piece of furniture. Just wait until your rug is completely dry.
Using your house vacuum to clean the carpet while it’s still wet. Putting aside the possible damage to the vacuum and the carpet, there is also a big risk of electrocution.
So, if you value your life and the life of your carpet and vacuum, never try this. You will need a special wet vacuuming model that has the ability to soak up moisture, without causing any damage.
What If The Smell Is Still There
Sometimes, you try your best, go for every possible method, but the smell is still there and it has no intention of going away.
Most of the times, this is either because of the carpet is already too old and it’s trying to die in peace, or the damage has not been dealt with in time, causing permanent damage. In both cases, the only way out is a new carpet.
Still, if you are not confident in your own judgement, you can always find a certified carpet technician to give you a final diagnosis. Just make sure that the person has good reviews and does not work for a company that sells carpets!
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.