Help! Carpet Smells Like Stinky Feet After Cleaning!

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Does your carpet smell terrible after you've just cleaned it? Are you wondering if it's the carpet itself or the under padding beneath it? If you've struggled with this issue with your carpet, you come to the right place. We've researched why this may occur and how to treat the carpet when it does.

There are several reasons why your carpet may smell bad after you've cleaned it. The most common reason is that the carpet materials are wet and produce foul smells from stains, spills, and odors.

Also, if too much water has been applied to the carpet during the cleaning, this can cause it to smell bad afterward, at least until it dries.

There are other reasons that can contribute to your carpet smelling bad. But ultimately, it's the wetness of the carpet fibers and ground-in dirt and spills that are causing the carpet or padding beneath it to emit bad odors. Continue reading to learn how to prevent this from happening and discover ways to get rid of these odors.

Woman cleaning her carpet using a vacuum, Help! Carpet Smells Like Stinky Feet After Cleaning!

Ways to Prevent Overwetting The Carpet During Cleaning

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when shampooing your carpet is applying too much water. Another mistake is not applying a good deodorant after the cleaning. Let's look at more specific reasons:

  • The carpet cleaning machine used was not powerful enough to remove all of the moisture from the carpet fibers.
  • You left the cleaner machine in one spot on the carpet for too long, causing it to become oversaturated with shampoo and water. Be sure to keep the machine moving to prevent this.
  • The drying conditions in the room or home were poor, preventing the carpet fibers from drying completely. This is often caused by insufficient air circulation or high humidity levels.

If you've never cleaned your carpet before, be sure to follow the carpet cleaner instructions closely. And if you feel qualms about performing this task yourself for the first time, it may be best to have a professional carpet cleaner perform this task for you at least once. This will allow you to see the techniques they use and gain insight into the entire process.

Woman feeling her brown carpet

Ways To Remove Bad Odors Afte The Cleaning

The good news is that you don't have to suffer through bad odors while your carpet dries. There are ways to speed up the drying process and neutralize the odors. Let's take a look.

  • Before cleaning the carpet, make sure that there is proper air circulation in your home. If your home is too humid, it can take the carpet longer to dry, leading to odors. Speed up the carpet drying time by using large towels to absorb extra moisture.
  • Grab a box of baking soda and sprinkle it on the entire carpet, especially in areas that seem to be more saturated. Allow the baking soda to sit anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes [or until the carpet dries] before vacuuming it.
  • Grab a few mixing bowls from the kitchen and fill them with one or two cups of white vinegar. Set the cups around the room to absorb the foul odors.
  • Purchase a couple of bags of kitty litter and place them in bowls or shallow boxes around the room. Kitty litter works wonders when it comes to absorbing odors and neutralizing them.
  • Fill a plastic spray bottle with equal amounts of water and distilled white vinegar. Next, spray the carpet liberally with vinegar to help neutralize and deodorize it. Note that the carpet will smell like vinegar for about 15 or 30 minutes, but the smell will dissipate once it dries.
  • If you don't have any dry baking soda, consider using vodka [yes, vodka] to help dry the carpet and get rid of the bad odors. The alcohol in the vodka will help kill any bacteria or mold that may be causing the odors in the carpet. You can also use it for spot cleaning.

If the smell lingers after the carpet has completely dried, the chances are that the issue is with the carpet padding beneath it. The best and only way to mitigate this issue is to replace the padding. In which case, it's usually best to replace the carpet.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $0.20 to $0.80 per square foot for carpet padding, and you can install it yourself to save money. When removing the padding, be sure to check the subfloor beneath it, especially if it is made of wood.

Ensure that the wood is in good condition and isn't rotting or damaged before replacing the padding.

How long should carpet smell after cleaning?

A newly cleaned beige carpet and a huge sleeper sofa near the wall

Generally, your carpet shouldn't smell bad after it's been cleaned. However, if you notice any foul odor is emitting from the carpet, the chances are that the carpet was oversaturated during the cleaning. Allow the carpet to dry for about 24 hours.

Usually, odors will dissipate within 24 to 48 hours after a carpet cleaning. If the odors persist, try using a neutralizer that contains antimicrobial cleaning agents or a germicide.

Find this germicide on Amazon.

Can I put baking soda on a wet carpet?

Newly cleaned gray carpet with a square sofa on the side

Yes, you can sprinkle baking soda on a wet carpet. Doing this will help deodorize the carpet and prevent it from emitting foul odors.

However, be sure not to overuse this method by sprinkling several boxes on the carpet. If you do, you'll find that your carpet will begin to feel sandy when you walk on it, even after it's been vacuumed.

Though you can vacuum up the baking soda, it will become increasingly difficult if you apply it in large amounts. So be sure to apply the baking soda liberally, but don't oversaturate it. Consider using one or two boxes to deodorize the carpet for a typical 10x10 ft bedroom.

Let the baking soda sit on the carpet anywhere from 10 to 24 hours so that it can soak up any remaining moisture and remove any foul odors. After this time, be sure to vacuum the carpet to remove the baking soda thoroughly. You may also want to install a space heater in the room to help the carpet dry faster.

How to make carpet smell nice?

You can use several products to make your carpet smell nice. However, the best thing to consider first is whether or not the carpet is clean.

If the carpet hasn't been steam cleaned, you may want to start with either getting it professionally cleaned or steam cleaning it yourself. This can help remove any dirt, bacteria, or spilled stains that may be causing the carpet to emit bad odors.

Deodorizing Powder

There are several brands of deodorizing powder that you can purchase. This powder usually contains baking soda or another neutralizing ingredient that quickly absorbs odors and removes them from the carpet.

It's also fairly easy to use these products. You'll need to sprinkle the powder on the carpet and let it sit for anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes before vacuuming it up.

Check out this carpet deodorizer on Amazon.

Carpet Spray

You can also use carpet sprays to remove stains and spills. These are especially helpful if you have small pets that urinate on the carpet, causing them to emit bad odors.

These sprays will typically require a bit more work during the application process, as you often need to pat or scrub the solution into the carpet with a rag. Afterward, wipe the solution up with another cleaning cloth or paper towel and let it dry.

Find this carpet spray on Amazon.

How long does it take to deodorize a carpet?

A woman using a vacuum for cleaning her living room carpet

Deodorizing a carpet can be done in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. You can also leave deodorizers on your carpet for up to 24 to 48 hours. The amount of time it takes to neutralize the smell depends on the source of the odor, and in many cases, its age.

Wrapping Things Up

Woman cleaning her carpet using a vacuum

If your carpet smells bad after being cleaned, the chances are that it was oversaturated with water or that the carpet itself or padding beneath is filthy. The carpet and padding may even need to be replaced in some cases.

However, you can apply deodorizing agents, powders, and sprays to neutralize the foul odors and refresh the carpet.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

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