How to Get Rid of Carpet Odor From Water Damage in 4 Easy Steps

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: February 10, 2021

When you face water damage at the house, there’s so much to do. You have to identify the problem, make repairs and start the recovery process. After several days of hard work, you’re done. You heave a big sigh of relief.

That’s when it hits you. You’re wondering out loud, “I’ve done all this cleaning, and my carpet smells like mildew. How can I get rid of this awful odor?”

We understand what you’re dealing with. It’s frustrating, but it’s manageable. You need to use techniques that eliminate smells without hurting your carpet.

How to Get Rid of Water-Damaged Carpet Smell

We covered how to dry wet carpet in a previous post, so we want to expand on that with information specific to your carpets. These four techniques are all very effective for removing unpleasant carpet odors.

1. Break Out the Baking Soda

baking soda on wet carpet

Baking soda on wet carpets helps absorb moisture while it neutralizes unpleasant smells. For best results, sprinkle affected areas before you go to bed, and vacuum the next morning.

Power Tip: Spread fresh fragrance every time you vacuum by putting a cotton ball soaked in vanilla or a teaspoon of baking soda inside the vacuum’s bag.

2. Spritz Wet Carpet Smells Away With Vinegar

vinegar spray bottle

Mix half a cup of white vinegar with half a cup of water in a spray bottle. Lightly mist any carpet that stinks after getting wet. Scrub stubborn areas with the mixture, but don’t re-soak fibers.

Power Tip: Extend your vinegar mix’s freshening reach by spraying a very fine mist over upholstery and drapes.

3. Rent Carpet Cleaning Equipment

carpet cleaning machine

When we’re asked how to get rid of wet carpet odor, we sometimes suggest rental equipment for shampooing water damaged carpets. It’s heavy work, but it’s an effective way to freshen up musty fibers.

4. Use Power Products

If you’re dealing with a combination of ground-in dirt and strong odors, consider attacking both problems with specially formulated cleaning solutions. Be sure to match the product to your carpet type, and always follow label instructions.

Extra Tips and Tricks

open window house

Here are a few more ideas that make the job of getting rid of carpet odor from water damage a little easier. Several of these tips are great for keeping rooms fresh long after you’ve cleaned up a water disaster.

  • As you work on deodorizing the carpet, open as many windows as possible, and avoid running the HVAC system.
  • Set up fans and dehumidifiers to circulate fresh air through the room and control moisture.
  • Be sure to clean and thoroughly dry any baseboards adjacent to affected carpets.
  • Place uncovered bowls filled with vinegar at different levels on tables and shelves throughout the room.
  • Relocate house plants to the affected area so that they can help absorb odors and brighten the atmosphere.

Don’t Rule Out Mold

mold on carpet

If you can’t get rid of the water-damaged carpet smell, it may be caused by mold. DIY water damage cleanup can sometimes leave behind hidden damp that sets the stage for mold growth in padding and subflooring. You can pull back the carpet to visually check for mold, but it’s best to call in restoration professionals who:

  • Detect hidden moisture in subflooring with special equipment.
  • Pull up carpet and padding to reach and clean affected areas.
  • Eliminate mold growth and follow up with preventative techniques.
  • Thoroughly clean and replace padding and carpet that can be salvaged.

We always recommend professional cleanup for large areas affected by any kind of flooding. This greatly increases the chances of saving carpets and making sure mold doesn’t ruin your flooring. Restoration specialists can make most carpets look and smell like new after a water disaster.

Can Water-Damaged Carpet Be Saved?

drying wet carpet

The answer depends on several factors. For example, storm flooding and sewage backup contaminate carpets with bacteria and chemicals. This makes it unlikely that the carpets can be saved. If water damage is caused by frozen burst pipes or an on-property plumbing failure, carpets can often be cleaned and restored.

Length of time is another consideration. Cleanup delays can complicate the restoration process. A certified water damage specialist like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba is your best source for determining when wet carpets can be saved.

Will Wet Carpet Smell Go Away on Its Own?

When water soaks into a carpet, it forms a moist mixture of dust and organic compounds, including allergens and mold spores. The unhealthy accumulation makes a wet carpet smell musty. Without proper treatment, carpet fibers hold on to unpleasant odors indefinitely.

How Long Does It Take for Mold to Grow in Wet Carpets?

When airborne mold spores settle on damp surfaces, fungal growth takes hold and spreads within 24 to 48 hours. Wet carpet fiber, backing and pad create an ideal environment for this organic process.

Mold in water-damaged carpet can quickly ruin materials and contaminate floors, subflooring, adjacent walls and baseboards. Never ignore the unpleasant odors coming from a wet carpet.

Dealing with Carpet Water Damage in Chicago, IL? We Can Help

If you’re dealing with carpet odors that won’t go away, give us a call. Our teams solve the problem with state-of-the-art carpet water extraction equipment and industry expertise.

You can always count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba as your go-to water damage cleanup company.

We take care of the hard work, and we’re here for you always: 773-647-1985

Should carpet be replaced after water damage?

It depends on several factors, including how long the carpet stayed wet and the condition of its pad. If the subfloor was affected by water damage, you’ll have to pull up the carpet for repairs. Moldy carpet usually needs to be replaced as well as carpet affected by sewage water.

How do you get odors out of smoke-damaged carpets?

We recommend getting the carpet replaced. Soot particles get embedded into the fibers and its not an easy process to clean up. Soot also penetrates into the pad underneath which will have to be removed. The cleaning process can be costly. It’s best to let a certified restoration company handle smoke-damaged carpets.

How do you remove pet odors from a carpet?

Treat pet odors in a carpet by covering the affected area with baking soda. Work it into the carpet fiber, and leave overnight. The following day, thoroughly vacuum up the area. You can also buy products designed to neutralize pet urine odors in carpets.