How To Get Rid Of Smelly Carpet Odor The Nontoxic Way

cleaning interior design Jul 10, 2018

by editorial team


When kids are little and catch the flu, they just want to stay in bed and sleep. That is, until their stomach says otherwise.

The race to the bathroom is a tense moment, hoping kids don't yack all over the carpet. Sometimes a few seconds more would have saved a lot of clean up time.

So, we reach under the kitchen sink to find our best carpet cleaning agent. But it’s filled with chemicals that we don’t want to expose our children or our family to.

Why does a carpet easily smell?

Carpeting and the padding under it absorb smells because they are porous materials: They absorb humidity, liquids, and smells of all types. Since you can’t just throw the carpet and padding into the washing machine, the odors and liquids that seep into carpet don’t come out easily. 

Carpet odors

Carpets can hold odors from smoke, food, pet urine, puke, and other strong smells. When there is humidity or mold in carpeting, the odor will emit a musty smell. Carpet that smells musty most likely has higher amounts of mold in it and may need to be replaced.   

How to remove bad smells from carpets?

The most effective way to remove bad smells from carpet is to replace it with nontoxic hard surface flooring, which allows for smells and spills to be fully wiped from the surface.

If you’re looking to keep your carpeting, however, and remove odors from it while avoiding harmful chemical cleaners, you can try the following methods:

  • Baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda onto the carpet, let it sit for an hour, and then vacuum it. Don’t walk on the carpet until the baking soda has been vacuumed, so that the baking soda remains on the top surface of carpeting and does not become embedded into the carpet and become part of the problem.
  • White vinegar. Pour white vinegar onto a soft absorbent cloth, such as cotton, and blot onto the carpet in areas where the odor is coming from. White vinegar is known for removing odors from clothing and other porous surfaces and may do the trick in removing carpet odors, too.
  • Steam cleaner. Steam cleaners are known for killing bacteria that may be causing odors and lifting stains. Use as little water as possible on carpeting and be sure that the carpet and padding underneath dry fully and as quickly as possible in order to avoid mold growth.


In a carpet’s lifetime, there are endless opportunities for odors from spilled food, ill children, pets urinating, and may other sources. The most effective way to remove odors is to remove the source. Sometimes this means ripping out the carpeting and installing nontoxic hard surface flooring. If you’re looking to keep your current carpet, try nontoxic cleaners—such as baking soda, white vinegar, or straight hot water in a steam cleaner—to remove the odors.

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