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How to Get a Musty Smell Out of Carpet

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Knowing how to get a musty smell out of carpet can be very handy for your health and home!

Woman cleaning carpet using a spray bottle, with text "How to get a musty smell out of carpet".

Have you ever noticed a funky smell from carpets? Carpets have become such an everyday part of our home life that we forget they need tender, loving care to keep them at their best.

Sometimes, the mildew smell it gives off can become too noticeable and unpleasant to ignore – and this means it’s time for you to take action. 

If you’re wondering how to get a musty smell out of your carpet, keep reading. We’ll let you know the causes of those funky odors, how to prevent them, and, more importantly, several methods you can try to get rid of them immediately. 

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What Causes Musty Odor in Carpets?

One of the most common causes of carpet odors is excess moisture. 

The fibers of your carpet can easily capture and trap many things, including smoke and odors. They soak up accidental liquid spills, pet waste, and even above-ground moisture, such as those coming from leaks or floods. 

A gray carpet on a wooden floor.

When you live in an area with high humidity, your carpet also tends to absorb moisture from the air. When all these things worm their way and settle under your carpet, leaving them there will give mold or mildew the chance to grow.   

Unfortunately, these household fungi spell trouble for your family’s health. Mold and mildew are fungi that thrive in damp environments but differ in appearance. 

Mold and mildew can be found anywhere where moisture and oxygen are present. Mold is fuzzy and can be in various colors. Meanwhile, mildew appears as powdery or downy spots, usually white or gray.

When mold grows indoors, however, it can cause health problems since it produces allergens and irritants, resulting in sensitive individuals experiencing adverse reactions.

Similarly, prolonged exposure to mold or mildew can cause you or your family to experience flu-like symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Additionally, both emit a smell ranging from an earthy, musty odor to that of wet socks or rotten wood, making your house smell unpleasant thanks to your carpet.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions to Get Musty Smells Out of Carpet

Fortunately, there are several cleaning methods that you can use to get the mildew smell out of your carpet and rugs. Here’s how homemade cleaners can come to your rescue when you’re dealing with this unpleasant-smelling problem: 

Deodorize with Baking Soda

One of the easiest ways to effectively deodorize a musty-smelling carpet is using baking soda. This household staple is cheap, all-natural, and has long been used for its cleaning power and ability to neutralize odors, including those on carpets.   

For this method, you will need:

Baking soda in a jar with a spoon to get rid of  musty smell from carpets.

Here’s how to tackle any musty smells from your carpet using baking soda:

  1. Remove all types of furniture that are currently on the carpet. For this method to work, you’ll want to be able to access the entirety of it. 
  2. Vacuum the carpet to get rid of any existing dirt or particles.
  3. Apply a generous amount of baking soda on the carpet. 
  4. Make sure to press the baking soda deep into the fibers of your carpet with your fingers. 
  5. Let it sit for a few hours, or even overnight, to allow the sodium bicarbonate to work on absorbing the odors and even kill any existing mold in your carpet.
  6. After it’s done, vacuum the baking soda off the carpet. 
  7. If you notice that the odor persists, repeat the cleaning process until it’s gone.

Use White Vinegar

No homemade cleaner is complete without vinegar. It’s a wonderful alternative to bleach, considering it has no harsh chemicals and can fight bacteria, tackle stains, and effectively kill mold

To use the vinegar method, you will need one containing 5 to 6% acetic acid. This will give your vinegar enough acidity to tackle musty smells caused by mold and mildew effectively.

You will need the following:

A bottle of vinegar, spray bottle, a glass of water and a bucket on a wooden table.

Here’s how to get rid of musty mildew smells with this method:

  1. Be sure to test the vinegar on an inconspicuous part of your carpet first to ensure the acid won’t damage or alter the colors of your fabric. To do this, pour some vinegar on a small area and wait a few minutes. If no changes occur, the vinegar is safe to use on the rest of the carpet. 
  2. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water. 
  3. Place the mixture inside a spray bottle.
  4. Spray the vinegar over the smelly and affected areas of your carpet. Make sure not to spray your carpet too much, as getting it too wet may exacerbate the mildew problem.  
  5. Dry the carpet. Once done, this should leave you with a fresh-smelling carpet. 

If you’re dealing with an extra-strong smell, you may opt to do the following:

  1. After spraying vinegar and water all over the carpet, sprinkle baking soda right after. 
  2. Wait for a few hours or overnight if possible. The longer the vinegar and baking soda are given time to work, the more effective they will be. 
  3. Vacuum the carpet to get rid of any baking soda residue. 
A woman vacuuming a carpet in a living room, seeking to eliminate the stubborn musty smell.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide

If you like your homemade cleaning solution a little tougher, hydrogen peroxide should do the trick. It’s a wonderful cleaning supply that can effectively kill mold and mildew, among other things. 

To use this method to get the mildew smell out of carpet fibers, you will need:

Bottle of hydrogen peroxide on a table, used to get a musty smell out of carpet.

Here are the simple steps on how to get rid of the musty smell from your carpet using hydrogen peroxide:

  1. Mix 5 parts of water with 1 part of hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Place the mixture inside a spray bottle. 
  3. Apply the solution by spraying it over the smelly areas of your carpet, ensuring that it does not oversaturate. 
  4. Be sure to spray the areas under or at the back of the carpet if the carpet isn’t fixed to your floor.
  5. Let the carpet air dry. 

Commercial Cleaning Products to Eliminate Moldy Smell

If you need something stronger, commercially available products to tackle the problem head-on are up for the task. 

You can buy professional strength carpet cleaner and deodorizer to eliminate the smell while leaving behind a nice, fresh smell for you to enjoy. Or, if you have pets that often have “accidents” on the carpet, feel free to get products meant to eliminate urine and other pet smells.

Follow the instructions on the label to clean the carpet, and you’ll have clean-smelling carpets before long.


When should you consider getting professional carpet cleaners?

If you find that the smell persists despite these DIY solutions, or if the unpleasant odor keeps coming back, then it’s time to call the professionals to do the job for you. These guys have the equipment, supplies, and expertise to remove the odor and its source. They may even do water damage restoration if needed!

How do you get rid of musty smell in a room without a window?

Use a dehumidifier! These nifty machines are handy for removing moisture from the air. You can use them if you want to keep your carpet dry but have no open windows in your room or to speed up your carpets’ drying process. 

How often should you deep clean a carpet?

Experts say it’s best to deep clean your carpet every 6 to 12 months. Doing so will eliminate any accumulated dirt and debris and deep-seated spills and stains, microbes, and allergens that can adversely affect your health. 

Try These Remedies to Remove Musty Smells From Your Carpet

There’s no time to waste when you notice your carpets emitting unpleasant smells. By utilizing these DIY solutions, buying commercially available products, or getting professional cleaning, you’ll be able to deal with the source of the problem efficiently and effectively.

A woman cleaning a carpet to remove a musty smell using a bottle of cleaning solution.

Knowing the tips and tricks on how to get a musty smell out of the carpet will ensure you can restore your carpet to its fresher, cleaner state, and your home will smell fresh again. 

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