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The Home Depot

What Causes a Musty Carpet Smell?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Carpeting > What Causes a Musty Carpet Smell?
What Causes a Musty Carpet Smell?

Carpets can enhance the beauty of your home’s décor. But they also need to be cleaned and brushed regularly to ensure that they remain hygienic. Due to the fibers present on carpets, they can easily attract and hold dust as well as moisture. Over a period of time, this moisture can lead to mildew which has a musty smell. This is the primary cause of odors in carpets. Water spills, leakages, or flooding can cause damage to the carpet. If the water damage is minimal then it is possible to clean the carpet, provided you act quickly. Waiting too long will only make the task difficult.

  1. Due to the fibers present on carpets, they can easily attract and hold dust as well as moisture. Over a period of time, this moisture can lead to mildew which has a musty smell.

    1.Better to be Safe

    If flooding has occurred then it might be impossible to salvage the carpet and replacing it might be the only solution possible. There are no specific rules or regulations pertaining to carpeting inside homes, but if you are part of some local housing association, then you might have to check with them before replacing your carpeting to see if your choice meets their specifications.


    The other causes of carpet odor are dirt and food that becomes trapped in the carpet. Some simple cleaning techniques and precautions can help you clean a carpet and keep it odor free.

  2. 2.Removing Musty Smell from Carpets

    Just cleaning the carpet is not enough since it is important to ensure that the padding beneath it is clean and dry as well. The carpet might seem clean when you look at it but you will be able to smell the odor. The first thing you should do is to let in some fresh air by improving the ventilation in that particular room. You can open the windows and doors, allowing the odor to go out. The next thing to do is check the padding below the carpet for presence of any mildew. If the whole pad is not damaged, you can replace only the portion that is.


    If the carpet is dry, you can vacuum it first so that all the loose soil is removed before it is cleaned. You will have to prepare a cleaning solution to effectively treat the carpet. This can be made with one cup of vinegar mixed with half a cup of water. Then take a sponge and dip it in this solution before scrubbing the musty carpet with it. You can first test to see if the solution will impact the carpet’s color by applying a little bit of the solution on an unnoticeable corner or part of the carpet first. How about a part where you have a mat or where the couch is placed?


    Once you are done cleaning the portion of the carpet with mildew on it, you can use a fan to blow those sections dry. After this, the carpet may still be damp and to dry and this is where you can employ the services of a vacuum cleaner if this is the situation. The next step is to spray foam over the areas that are damaged and to rub these exact locations with a sponge. After the foam dries into the carpet, you can vacuum over it and it will be clean and fresh once again.

  3. Need help from a Cleaning Pro? Request a Service

  4. 3.Some Tips

    Clean the carpet as soon as you start to notice the odor. Postponing the task will only worsen the odor and make it harder for you to clean the carpet. It will also undermine your quality of life and could be a source of embarrassment if a family member of friend stops by. You should not vacuum a wet carpet with a regular vacuum cleaner. If you must vacuum when it is wet, you will have to use a vacuum cleaner that can be used on wet surfaces. Steam cleaners are a fantastic choice and are available to rent. If a large area of carpeting needs to be cleaned you might be better off using a sponge mop since it will save you time and effort.


    Always conduct a color test on a small patch before you clean the entire carpet because the dyes used in carpets might have a tendency to fade. If none of these simple solutions help in eliminating the odor, then you might have a bigger problem on hand. In this case, you might want to call in the professionals and seek their opinion before you end up damaging your carpet beyond repair and at the least, simply wasting your time.

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