Expert Tips: How to Clean a Stinky Carpet & When to Hire Professionals

You’ve been noticing an unpleasant smell in your living room and you’ve finally traced its source – your carpet. It’s not uncommon for carpets to become a bit stinky over time. Whether it’s the result of pet accidents, food spills, or just general wear and tear, a smelly carpet can turn your comfy living space into a less-than-pleasant environment.

Key Takeaways

  • The primary causes of a smelly carpet are moisture, dirt and debris, and bacteria. All these elements can get trapped deep in the carpet fibers, causing unpleasant smells over time.
  • Identifying the source of the odor, such as pet accidents, food and beverage spills, or accumulation of dirt and debris, is crucial in determining the most effective method for removing the odor.
  • DIY solutions for freshening up your carpet include using odor-absorbing substances like baking soda and vinegar, fragrant essential oils, and professional carpet cleaning solutions.
  • If DIY methods are not enough, commercial carpet cleaning products can be considered. These come in various forms and are designed to tackle more resilient smells and stains.
  • Persistent or increasingly bad odors may necessitate the services of professional carpet cleaners, who have advanced tools and expertise to deal with stubborn carpet odors.
  • Regular maintenance, by means of vacuuming, spot cleaning of spills, and annual deep-cleaning by professionals, can extend the lifespan of your carpet and keep it fresh-smelling.

Cleaning a stinky carpet effectively often involves deciding between DIY methods and hiring professionals. For regular maintenance and minor odors, DIY approaches like using baking soda or vinegar can be effective, as suggested by various home care blogs. However, for deeper, more persistent smells or allergens, Servi-Tek recommends professional cleaning, which can remove odors and allergens more thoroughly and extend the life of your carpet. According to The Washington Post, cleaning your carpet professionally at least once a year is essential to preserve its color and texture, especially if the carpet is under warranty. Modernize adds that industry experts suggest a thorough cleaning every 12 to 18 months, particularly for carpets that see a lot of traffic or have specific staining issues.

Why Does Carpet Smell?

Though routine vacuuming can help maintain the cleanliness of your carpet, it’s inevitable that over time, dirt and debris will get trapped deep within carpets, causing them to emit an unpleasant smell. While numerous factors contribute to this issue, the main culprits are often moisture, dirt, and bacteria.

Let’s delve deeper into these.


Moisture is a major factor that causes your carpet to smell. Perhaps you’ve spilled drinks, experienced a water leak, or your snowy boots have melted all over the carpet. When moisture seeps deep into carpet fibers, it creates an environment that’s ripe for mold and mildew to grow. These growths emit a musty smell that’s hard to ignore.

Dirt and Debris

The daily traffic of feet across your carpet results in the accumulation of dirt and debris. Moreover, food spills and pet hair contribute to this issue. These particles degrade over time, leading to unmistakable foul smells.


Carpet is like a playground for bacteria. When food, pet accidents, or any organic material lands on your carpet, it gets pushed into the fibers by foot traffic. These organic materials are a feast for bacteria. Once these bacteria do their job to break down these substances, they release gases that have an unseemly smell.

Understand, that these are normal occurrences in the lifespan of any carpet, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Proper and regular cleaning plays a vital role in maintaining the freshness of carpets and prolonging their life span.

In the next section, we’ll walk you through how to clean stinky carpet – shedding light on DIY methods and when to call professional carpet cleaners.

Identifying the Source of the Odor

Before you start tackling the unpleasant smell, it’s crucial to identify the root of the odor. Odors can originate from a range of sources. By identifying them you’ll know which cleaning method will be the most effective for your situation.

Pet Accidents

One common source of bad odors in carpets is our beloved pets. They may have accidents, especially puppies or older pets. Not only does this leave a urine or feces smell, but it can also attract bacteria. This bacterial growth will add to the funk unless dealt with properly.

Food and Beverage Spills

Another common culprit behind smelly carpets is food and beverage spills. Maybe you’ve spilled coffee, soda, or dropped some food. These spills can seep deep into your carpet fibers, creating a festering ground for mold and bacteria.


Moisture is a silent enemy. Leaks, spills, or high humidity can all contribute to excess moisture in your carpet. This damp environment is perfect for mold and mildew growth, which can add a musty smell to your space that is tough to remove.

Dirt and Debris

Over time, your carpet picks up a variety of dirt and debris. This accumulation isn’t always visible on the surface, but it can significantly contribute to foul odors. From dust and dander to bits of food and pollen, your carpet could be holding onto more grime than you’d think.

It’s essential to consider that a smell could be coming from more than one of these sources. The most effective cleaning plan will tackle all possibilities. After all, to fully rid your carpet of any foul stench, you have to attack the problem at the source. Recognizing these sources is your first step. The following section will dive into different methods for eliminating these odors.

DIY Ways to Freshen Up Your Carpet

Let’s dive into some effective DIY measures that help eliminate odors and bring life back to your carpet.

1. Baking Soda: This household item has some fantastic smell-absorbing properties.

Sprinkle a passionate amount of baking soda all over your stinky carpet. Just make sure it’s dry. Let it sit for a few hours, or overnight if you can. The baking soda will work its magic by absorbing the unpleasant odors. Your next step’s simple – vacuum it up. Do remember to clean or replace your vacuum filter to prevent odor-renegade in your room once you’re done.

2. Vinegar: It’s a potent natural cleaner with antibacterial properties.

If you’re dealing with a substantial smell, it’s time to break out the vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with one part vinegar and one part water. Spray the solution lightly across the carpet. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell; it’ll dissipate as the carpet dries, taking the other odors with it.

3. Essential Oils: They not only eliminate bad smells but also add a pleasant scent.

Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with baking soda and sprinkle it on your carpet. Wait a while, then vacuum. You’ll marvel at how fresh and fragrant your carpet becomes.

4. Professional Carpet Cleaning Solution: While not strictly DIY, it’s a simple and effective solution you shouldn’t ignore.

  • Use it as per the instructions.
  • Avoid using too much liquid as it can soak into the carpet pad, leading to fungal growth.

Apart from the above, regular vacuuming and spot cleaning of spills can go a long way in maintaining your carpet’s freshness. But remember, if these methods don’t work or the unpleasant odor returns, it may be time to hire a professional cleaning service or consider replacing your carpet.

Using Carpet Cleaning Products

So, you’ve tried the DIY methods with baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils but those stubborn carpet odors persist. Don’t worry – there’s still a lot to savor in your old carpets if you’re willing to reach out to the next level of cleaning. It’s time to look at commercial carpet cleaning solutions that pack a stronger punch.

These carpet cleaners differ from your homemade mixtures and come in several forms like powders, shampoos, sprays, and liquids. Each product typically has usage instructions on the back of the packaging. However, it’s crucial to make sure your carpet’s material is compatible with these cleaning products as some chemicals could potentially damage certain fibers.

If you’re dealing with a multitude of stains or a carpet that hasn’t seen a good clean in ages, consider a carpet shampoo. Carpet shampoos are designed to handle tougher stains that simple spot treatment can’t get out.

For lighter jobs, or maintenance cleaning, a carpet spray works amazingly. It’s as simple as spraying the product, letting it sit and then scrubbing lightly with a soft brush.

If you’re keen on a product that also helps to protect your carpet, consider a carpet cleaning powder. These powders often contain protectants that help prevent future spills from setting in.

You should, however, be mindful of the dry time when using these products. It can range anywhere from 2 hours up to 24 hours. You’ll want to plan accordingly so as not to disrupt your usual household activities.

Once you’ve cleaned your carpet with any of these products, you must take care of vacuuming your carpet regularly. It’ll help to keep it fresh and extend the effects of the deep cleaning you’ve just done.

Remember, using carpet cleaning products is not a one-time solution. Similar to the DIY methods, it should become a part of your regular carpet maintenance schedule.

And lastly, if odors continue to persist or become more noticeable after using these products – take it as a clear sign. It might be time to call in the professionals or consider a carpet replacement.

Hiring Professional Carpet Cleaners

If your carpet’s scent continues to offend, perhaps it’s time to call in the professionals. Professional carpet cleaners are equipped with advanced tools and techniques that can banish persistent odors. They also have the expertise to handle various carpet materials without causing damage.

Professional carpet cleaners typically offer a range of service options, from deep-cleaning treatments to more straightforward methods designed to tackle lighter odors. Depending on the severity of the odor, cleaners may suggest a single deep-clean or a series of regular cleanings.

Moreover, when investing in professional cleanings, always keep an eye out for service providers who use environment-friendly cleaning solutions. This provides you with peace of mind that your carpet cleaning does not contribute to environmental harm. Also, these cleaning solutions are often safer around kids and pets, reducing potential health risks.

One noteworthy advantage to hiring professional cleaners is their expertise in dealing with stubborn spots and stains. With advanced equipment and top-quality cleaning agents, they can efficiently remove blemish that you’ve been dealing with for ages. They also handle every part of the process for you, from moving furniture out of the way to disposing of cleaning waste.

Annual FrequencyBenefit
1-2 TimesMaintains Freshness
2-3 TimesRemoves Deep-Set Stains

One might argue the costs associated with professional services. However, the return in terms of improved living conditions and time saved can’t be overlooked. Most companies will offer an estimate free of charge, allowing you to budget accordingly. Plus, many providers offer packages that include multiple cleanings at a discounted rate, an ideal option if your carpet is frequently exposed to odors and stains.

Bringing in the professionals doesn’t mean you should quit using your commercial carpet cleaning products or abandon your DIY methods. Instead, view it as a part of your integrated carpet care plan. Frequented areas or those subjected to heavy soiling might need professional cleanings more often. Having a tailored cleaning routine means your carpet will look better, smell fresh, and last longer.


So, you’ve seen how professional carpet cleaners can be your secret weapon against stubborn carpet odors. They’ve got the expertise and tools to tackle any stinky situation. Plus, they offer eco-friendly solutions that are tough on stains but gentle on your carpet. Remember, integrating professional cleanings into your carpet care routine can significantly improve your carpet’s freshness and longevity. It’s not just about dealing with the stink, but also maintaining your carpet’s appearance over the long haul. So why not give it a shot? Look into discounted packages for multiple cleanings and make professional carpet cleaning a regular part of your home maintenance. After all, a fresh, clean carpet is more than just a pleasure to walk on – it’s a breath of fresh air for your entire home.

Why should one hire professional carpet cleaners?

Professional carpet cleaners have extensive expertise and access to advanced tools that homeowners lack. They offer deep-cleaning treatments and eco-friendly solutions that can effectively remove stubborn odors and tough stains. As routine maintenance, professional cleanings can also improve the carpet’s appearance and longevity.

Do professional carpet cleaners use commercial products?

Yes, professional carpet cleaners use commercial products, but they also have access to industrial-grade tools and eco-friendly resolutions that aren’t available in stores. These products and tools are designed to tackle tough stains and deep-set odors more effectively than traditional consumer-grade products.

How often should professional carpet cleaning be done?

Ideally, professional carpet cleaning should be included in your regular maintenance routine to keep your carpets fresh and stain-free. The exact frequency will depend on the carpet’s wear and tear, but a good rule of thumb is to arrange professional cleanings one to two times per year.

Can professional carpet cleaning extend the carpet’s lifespan?

Yes. Regular professional cleanings can help preserve the appearance and quality of your carpet, thus extending its lifespan. Professionals can efficiently deal with stubborn stains and odors that could otherwise lead to permanent damage.

Are there any cost-effective options for professional carpet cleaning?

Yes, some professional carpet cleaning companies offer packages that provide discounts for multiple cleanings. This can be a cost-effective option, especially for households with high-traffic areas or pets that may require more frequent cleanings.