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15 Ways to Get Your Carpet Smelling Fresh Again

You’ve spent countless hours trying to scrub and vacuum your carpet, but nothing seems to get that odor out of it. Indeed, nobody likes a gross carpet, but constant cleaning gets old quickly – is it possible to keep it fresh for the long run? 

The answer is a resounding yes! Here are 15 different tips to make your carpet smell clean and fresh for the long run. 

Let’s check out these methods below.

1. Baking Soda and Essential Oils

Baking soda is one of the best tools to use to clean your carpet. Not only does it remove foul odors and old, dingy stains from the surface, but it’s also abrasive. The abrasive nature of baking soda scrapes out whatever’s causing the problem.

Essential oils make this combo a potent one. They smell fantastic, with a scent that sticks around for days on end. After all, the goal is to keep your carpet fresh for a long time, not just a day or two.

Start by mixing four tablespoons of baking soda with 10 to 20 drops of essential oils. Try your favorite scents to figure out the perfect combination. Don’t add too many oils, or it could end up being a bit too strong smelling.

Sprinkle the mixture all over your carpet. Once you’ve coated the carpet evenly, you can let it sit for about 2 to 4 hours. Some people even prefer to leave it overnight to a deep clean. Vacuum the solution up in the morning, and voilà! Your carpets will smell fantastic and have that new shine that you’ve been missing.

2. Try a Room Diffuser

While oil diffusers aren’t directly used on carpets, they blanket the room in a fantastic scent. This aroma soaks up in the carpets, just as old, stale odors do. 

Instead of letting the old odors win, these diffusers coat the fibers of your carpet with a fresh, unforgettable scent. This is probably the quickest and least labor-intensive method on the list!

Room diffusers are relatively cheap, so you should try to use them as soon as you move into an apartment or house. 

Consistent usage over the years will prevent unwanted carpet smells from showing up. After all, preventatives are always better than having to tackle an active problem.

3. Scrub Your Carpet by Hand

This is undoubtedly the least exciting way to freshen up your carpet. That being said, it’s sometimes the last resort that we all eventually have to rely on. 

To start, get yourself a nice sponge and use a little bit of dish soap to start scrubbing down the rough patches.

Don’t use too much soap, as this can dry up and make your carpet sticky and gross. Try only a drop or two in a full bowl of warm water. 

Dip the sponge, scrub the spots clean, and continue the process throughout the carpet. 

In dire situations, don’t shy away from scrubbing the entire carpet from end to end.

On a side note, some people prefer to do a second coat using just water to remove excess soap from the carpet. This isn’t necessary, but it’ll clean up your home even more! 

4. Steam Vacuum

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment or a house with a landlord, you’ve at least heard of steam vacuums. These semi-expensive gadgets work wonders on dirty carpets. 

The main reason that it works so well is that the steam loosens the dirt and grime that clings onto the carpet fibers. Once the debris is loosened up, the vacuum pulls it up. Your carpet will be left looking, smelling, and feeling almost as good as new! 

Just make sure that you don’t overdo it, as this could leave behind too much moisture on the carpet.

5. Make a Cinnamon and Baking Soda Scrub

To start with this method, take a ½ cup of baking soda and mix it with a teaspoon of cinnamon. 

We all know how strong cinnamon smells, so don’t add more than you need. 

Sprinkle the mixture onto any areas of your rug or carpet that need a little bit of TLC.

After about 30 minutes to an hour, vacuum the solution up. While it’s not as potent as steam vacuuming, it’s a powerhouse for carpets that feel ‘crusty’ or stale. 

As mentioned previously, baking soda is an abrasive substance that rips out debris. And the cinnamon acts as a deodorizer to keep the carpet smelling fresh much longer.

6. Use White Vinegar to Tackle the Problem

White vinegar is one of the most underrated solutions to take on carpet problems. Not only does it strip away bad odors in seconds, but it also kills the bacteria and mold that could be the root of the problem. 

Freshening up your carpet one time with white vinegar could keep it in top condition for a month or more!

Take a half-gallon of white vinegar and sprinkle it over your carpet. DO NOT just pour it all over the place uncontrollably. Vinegar is potent, so too much could make your house smell more like salt and vinegar chips rather than a home!

If you’re worried about leaving a gross, unpleasant scent around, try mixing ten drops of your favorite essential oil to the vinegar. This will take away the edge and mix in a floral, sweet smell. Once you’ve poured the solution (carefully) over your carpet, immediately go over it with your vacuum.

7. Combine Baking Soda with Dish Soap

Yes, this is yet another way to keep your carpet smelling fresh using baking soda. The availability, roughness, and cleansing properties of this substance are simply too good to pass up. 

To use this method, mix two or three drops of dish soap into a spray bottle. Spray this solution all over your entire carpet.

Next, sprinkle baking soda lightly over the whole area. 

Finally, vacuum all of it up for a seemingly unbeatable combo. 

Many of us homeowners love this cheap, effective method for carpets. It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll have these ingredients at home, so why not give it a try?

8. Try Carpet Deodorizers

Carpet deodorizers have been around for decades, and they’ve almost always been a reliable solution. 

Some people lean away from them because a) they already have natural ingredients at home, or b) they prefer to avoid unknown chemicals. However, there are quite a few all-natural carpet deodorizers these days.

Always make sure that you follow the instructions on the container. It usually requires you to sprinkle the powder all over your carpet. Let it sit overnight and go over the surface with a vacuum the following morning. 

Take note that you might need a steam vacuum for certain carpet deodorizers.

9. Freshen Up Your Carpet with Lemon

Using lemon to clean and freshen up surfaces has been an age-old secret. For centuries, people have used these easily accessible citrus fruits to get the job done. 

Squeeze a lemon into a bowl, mix it with equal parts of water, and lightly sprinkle the liquid over your carpet. Feel free to put it in a spray bottle for an even coat.

In truth, you don’t need to do much else other than that. However, some people prefer to vacuum a few hours later to remove any possible stickiness that lemons can cause. 

Usually, the water dilutes it down to the point where you don’t have to worry about this happening, though.

For a bonus tip, try to use a steam vacuum afterward to release the undeniably delicious aromas of steamed lemon juice throughout your house!

10. Tea Tree Oil 

Tea tree oil is such a potent ingredient that it’s used in all sorts of modern and ancient medications alike. It does an excellent job of removing excess moisture, releasing trapped debris, and remove foul odors from a carpet or rug.

To start, mix 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with 1 cup of water. Spray this solution throughout your carpet, leaving a steady coat. 

Much like the lemon method, you don’t have to vacuum this solution up. However, it’s always a good idea to vacuum frequently anyways, so why not?

11. Use Hydrogen Peroxide for a Deep Clean

Hydrogen peroxide works over time, so leaving it to sit on your carpet will shred right through the grime. Don’t worry, though; your carpet won’t be harmed at all. It’ll be shiny, fresh, and even fluffy as it once was!

To start, mix 1/3 of a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a gallon of warm water. 

Put in four to five drops of dish soap and stir the solution together. 

For the best results, place it in a spray bottle. Spray it on a small area, let it fizz, and watch as the carpet cleans and freshens right in front of your eyes. 

Rub the area with an abrasive sponge or brush, then vacuum over it.

Note: This shouldn’t be done all at once. Try to tackle a small patch at a time. Otherwise, the soap will dry up, leaving a gross texture behind. 

When it’s done correctly, few solutions come close to the freshness of this method.

12. Ammonia for Pet Odors

If you have pets, then you know how quickly they can stink up the carpet and furniture around your home. Fortunately, using ammonia is a fast way to strip away the odor. Pet dander, hair, urine, and other problems will be a thing of the past!

All you have to do is mix a teaspoon of ammonia with 1 cup of water. Make sure that you heat the water before mixing it. Spray it on the area, let it sit for 3 minutes, and scrub it down.

Just like the previous method, you shouldn’t try to take on the whole carpet at once with ammonia. Do it in batches for the best results.

13. Try Out a Stovetop Simmer

Stovetop simmers freshen up your carpet in the same way that an oil diffuser does. The smell soaks into the fabric without needing to be directly applied to it. While it’s not the best method for old carpets, this will certainly prevent bad smells from returning to newer carpets and rugs.

There are dozens of stovetop simmer recipes across the internet. For example, you can boil a gallon of water with cinnamon sticks, lemons, and mint. This is one of the most popular freshness combinations to brighten up your home.

14. Use Commercial Fabric Sprays

Fabric sprays are another common solution to keep your carpet smelling as fresh as can be. The level of freshness depends on the length you allow the spray to sit. The longer the wait time, the fresher you can expect the carpet to be.

If you have pets or children, make sure that they’re blocked from the area until you’ve scrubbed it down and vacuumed it up. These deep cleans are key to a long-lasting fresh scent in any rug or carpet.

15. Melt Wax and Candles

The final bit of advice to make your carpet smell fresh again to use wax melts and candles. 

Position them on a low-sitting coffee table or desk for the best impact. If you have wax that melts, it releases incredible scents into the air, soaking right up into the fabric of your carpet.

Always keep an eye on your candles and wax melts. Also, don’t ever leave either of them directly on the ground. As they melt, the scent will eventually make its way to the carpet over time.

Popular Preventative Measures to Renew Your Carpet

If you can stop the problem before it begins, you never have to worry about fighting bad odors in the first place. There’s no doubt that any rug or carpet will eventually need a bit of cleaning with various solutions, but why not stop it in its tracks as long as you can?

Dozens of popular preventatives are available to ensure that your carpet’s condition will be as good as it possibly can be.

Here are the best ways to prevent your carpet from smelling, looking, and feeling gross:

  • If you haven’t already, enforce the no-shoe rule in your household. It might be hard to get accustomed to at first, but you’ll notice results almost instantly. Even if you don’t see dirt on your shoe, there are thousands of different types of bacteria living on the bottom of them. So take off your shoes before you walk on the carpet! You’ll save yourself a lot of cleaning time in the long run. 
  • Consider buying an area rug. These rugs are different than normal rugs, as they often cover an entire room. Using one of these will increase the lifespan of your carpet, as all of the walking, spills, and other accidents won’t damage it directly. Replacing an area rug is also much less strenuous and expensive than replacing a whole carpet.
  • Avoid eating or drinking on the carpet. Many homeowners start with this rule, but it eventually takes a backseat to convenience. You might feel as if you never spill or drop crumbs, but the opposite is quite inevitable. Small crumbs fall off of your plate and out of your bowl without you noticing it. Avoid unwanted odors and insects by keeping the meals off of your carpet.
  • Any source of water that goes into the fibers of your carpet can start to harbor mold. The only thing mold needs to thrive and grow is water, darkness, and warmth. And unfortunately, the carpet provides all of those! Be careful not to get any excess water on your carpet when you’re coming in from a swim, the rain, or even after showering.
  • Pets are a huge cause of dirty carpets. If you have pets, you should vacuum and use the freshening techniques listed above much more frequently than you’re used to. The dead skin cells are food for bacteria, along with the foul-smelling hair that tends to build up without us noticing.

Using these preventative measures will allow you to enjoy the comfort of your home without being embarrassed about the carpet. And as a bonus, you won’t need to rely on the freshening methods listed above, as your carpet will already look and smell squeaky clean. 

After a few weeks of practicing these new rules, you’ll notice differences quickly.

What Should You Avoid When Cleaning Your Carpet?

Knowing what to avoid when you’re cleaning a carpet is equally as important as knowing what you should use to clean your carpet. 

Using incorrect or harmful products can ruin your carpet beyond repair, costing you an exorbitant sum of money. 

Before you start reaching for random cleaning products, let’s look through everything that you need to avoid.

One of the easiest mistakes to make when freshening or cleaning a carpet is using too much baking soda. 

We’ve gone over the numerous benefits of using baking soda to strip away the bad odors, but you should also use it sparingly. Too much baking soda can get caught in the fibers and roots of your carpet, making it almost impossible to remove.

Another common issue that people make is scrubbing their carpet too much. You might think that a deep stain needs tons of scrubbing, but it’s very easy to ruin a good carpet this way. 

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Keep in mind that carpets are generally made up of tightly-woven fibers. Scrubbing too hard or too often can loosen the fibers and shorten the lifespan quickly.

You should also be very cautious about leaving liquids on your carpet for too long. While they’re incredibly effective for loosening debris, we already saw how they cause bacteria growth when the liquid settles. 

Certain liquids containing dish soap or white vinegar might also end up smelling gross and feeling crusty on the top of your carpet when they’re there for too long.

There are certain cleaning chemicals and ingredients that should be mixed under no circumstances.

For example, mixing ammonia and bleach creates a toxic gas, as does bleach and vinegar. Experimenting with these chemicals can create a toxic environment for you and your family, and is something you should avoid at all costs. 

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Before you start mixing any solutions together, do a quick search to find out if it’s okay to use. 

Fortunately, everything on the list above is completely safe! 

Additional Issues to Avoid 

Here are a few other problems that should be avoided to ensure that your carpet stays fresh and safe:

  • Don’t sprinkle undiluted essential oils onto your carpet. It might be tempting because they smell so amazing. However, you shouldn’t use them for two reasons: they can leave an intense aroma that becomes overwhelming, and many of them are so strong that they can chew away at your carpet.
  • Avoid using a steam vacuum too often. If you steam vacuum your carpet every single day, it’ll wear down the fibers and loosen them. It can also do this if you go over one patch too frequently, even in one vacuuming session. Steam is powerful, so use it in moderation along with other methods.
  • Don’t ever use a steel or aluminum brush. These brushes are popular because they rip right through stains and food that gets stuck on a carpet, rug, or furniture. However, they can and eventually will tear apart your carpet. Some people have even ruined their carpet with a single use of a metal brush.
  • Don’t leave carpet deodorizer sitting on your carpet or rug for too long. Although the manufacturers of these products often claim that you can leave them in forever or for a few days, the resulting granules will cause problems in the future. After they’ve been sitting for a while, dust and debris can collect in them, compacting the powder down.
  • Water is never a real solution on its own. It might be tempting to try to sprinkle water on your rug without any essential oils, soap, or baking soda, but this does almost nothing at all. If anything, it’s going to create a home for bacteria. There’s no way to 100% clean out the water from the roots of your carpet when you use too much.

As you can see, there are quite a few common issues to avoid. Don’t worry, though, because you can easily steer clear of them without sacrificing the cleaning power that you need for your carpet. 

The main takeaway here is that you shouldn’t overuse any chemical or process. You should also consult a professional before concocting your own cleaning solutions.

How to Maintain a Fresh Carpet

Once you’ve cleaned your carpet and made it as fresh as it can be, you need to know how to maintain it. There’s nothing worse than freshening up an old carpet only to see it return to the old, unsightly state that it was a month later. The good news is that you can find all of the info you need right here.

Maintaining your carpet is just as powerful as the preventatives mentioned above. In combination, they’ll ensure that your carpet never smells gross or feels older than it should. 

Try out these suggestions to increase your carpet’s life:

  • Vacuum regularly to remove the light top layer of dust, debris, hair, lint, and so on. Removing this buildup is one of the most important actions that you can take to maintain your carpet’s freshness. It might feel tedious, but it’s much easier than dealing with the possible compounding issues later on.
  • Deep clean your carpet monthly to reduce the overall cleaning that you might have to do eventually. It’s always better to deal with an hour-long carpet clean once a month than it is to spend an entire weekend trying to fix a problem that never should’ve started! You can do this by referring to the methods at #11, #12, and #14 on the list above.
  • Spot clean as needed. Don’t be afraid to bust out the essential oils and warm water to do a quick scrub-down of the carpet. Even a small spill can lead to a colony of ants or bacteria from calling it home. It takes less than five minutes, and it can save you from unwanted stress and gross carpets or rugs.
  • Consider buying a self-powered vacuum. Robotic vacuums might cost a bit more than manual vacuums upfront. Still, they’re well worth the investment for many homeowners and renters. Let those little vacuums find the problem areas and scrub down every corner, so you don’t have to. While they won’t replace deep cleans, they’re still great time-savers.

Final Thoughts

The dream of having a consistently fresh carpet can easily become a reality. 

After a deep clean or two, you can follow a reliable maintenance schedule using these tips to have the fresh carpet that you’ve been looking for. 

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You shouldn’t have to dread the odor, despise the feeling, or regret the look of your home. And by using the reactive and preventative measures listed above, you don’t have to.