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Why Does New Carpet Smell So Bad?

New carpet often looks fantastic – but it just as often smells terrible right after it’s installed. What gives?

Why does the new carpet smell so bad? Carpet is an industrially processed product and made from several chemical elements. Thus, the new carpet smell results from the volatile organic compounds (VOC), as well as the process of releasing compounds into the air, also dubbed carpet off-gassing. The foam under the rug can also cause odors after installation.

The rest of this article will cover some essential questions related to a new carpet smelling bad:

  • How to eliminate the new carpet’s bad odor
  • What causes the smell of a new carpet?
  • What are some of the best odor removal tips?

How to Eliminate the New Carpet’s Bad Odor

As we all know, a new carpet often comes with a unique, unfriendly smell. The smell can even get worse if adhesives are used to attach the carpet to the floor. Luckily, you don’t have to tolerate the bad smell because there are ways to get rid of it. Here are some essential ideas to eliminate the new carpet’s poor odor:

  • Use baking soda. This is a natural compound that effectively reduces unpleasant odor. Spray the baking soda on the new carpet and leave it for one or two days, then vacuum it. If the smell persists, repeat this process once more.
  • Air out your room. Aeration of the entire room is another way to get rid of the new carpet’s bad odor effectively. Leave the doors and windows open, then turn on the air conditioner or heater to circulate air throughout the house. Alternatively, you may use the fan rather than the HVAC unit to avoid running up your energy bill.
  • Don’t replace the odor. Never use a detergent or cleansing agent to eliminate the new carpet smell. Detergents always leave some undesirable filtrate on new carpets, but the new smell won’t be better than the initial one.
  • Vacuum. The bad smell produced by new carpet results from the chemical compounds used in the manufacture of these rugs. Vacuuming the carpet will help you eliminate not only the chemical elements but also dust particles and loose fuzz. Vacuum the new carpet once every day, even if it’s not dirty, to get rid of the bad smell.
  • Avoid the unpleasant scent. Another option to evade the new carpet’s smell is opting for a rug with the label of “Low VOC.” The volatile organic compounds (VOC) have a strong odor, and can as well lead to health problems, especially for allergic individuals. Buying a carpet with a low VOC level will help you prevent this problem.

What Causes The Smell Of A New Carpet?

Several factors can impact the smell of a new carpet.

Latex Issues

The latex used in manufacturing the modern rugs is synthetic and doesn’t cause allergic reactions as triggered by proteins in natural latex. All the materials companies use to make carpets are the same; they are mild and harmless materials found in bedding, clothing, and furniture. Most of the carpeting components are polyester, nylon, wool, and polypropylene.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

The bad smell of a new carpet comes from the VOC. Volatile means that the organic compounds used in the manufacture of modern carpeting readily evaporate at normal or room temperatures. 

The volatility of the compounds makes it easy for people to smell. VOCs can be found in the contemporary hand-made building materials such as wall coverings, sheet vinyl floor covering, adhesives, and paint and floor finishes, among others. VOCs are also what causes the unpleasant smell after painting a room.

Volatile organic compounds are available in different types, but the one used to make carpets is 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH). The 4-PCH is a byproduct of synthetic latex binders that helps to hold together carpet backing. 

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on February 27, 2020.

Even though a new carpet produces the smell of this volatile organic compound, EPA studies have confirmed that these emissions are among the least of the contributors to the overall indoor air quality concerns. 

The VOCs in carpets dissolve in a day or two after the initial installation. Proper ventilation during and after the installation of a new carpet reduces that dissolve period.

EPA Testing

Long ago, when EPA was refurbishing its headquarters in Washington DC, staff members noticed the smell of the carpet made them sick with symptoms like headaches, respiratory irritation, and malaise. The EPA then procured the help of latex and carpet manufacturers to aid in the investigation of these complaints.

According to lab tests and far-reaching review by a government agency, no links between VOC (4-PCH) and any adversarial human health effect could be proven. Therefore, EPA labels 4-PCH as an “unremarkable chemical.”

Most people believe that the smell of new carpet results from the formaldehyde used in the manufacture of the carpet. However, research done by the Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Textile Engineering, dismissed this myth. Presently, the industry has standards requirements, and all new carpets manufactured are monitored for this chemical. 

What Are Some Of The Best Odor Removal Tips?

Here are some excellent ways to remove odors:

  • Avoid using detergents. Using detergents on a new carpet is not recommended because they leave some soapy deposits, which may cause damage to the fibers of a new rug.
  • Avoid using ionizers. Ionizers produce a byproduct known as ozone, and studies have it that ozone reacts with the VOCs that a new carpet releases. So, using an ionizer can only worsen things.
  • Be patient. There is no magic trick that ultimately gets rid of the bad smell of a new carpet. Like it is with dusting stains from accidental liquid spills on the rug, patience is essential to exercise. Give it some time if you can tolerate the odor. Or maybe, you can stay away from the newly carpeted room at least until the smell fades away.

Tips for before the carpet installation

Getting rid of the new carpet smell can take time. It’s essential to plan your actions ahead of time to help you solve this problem in time. If you are yet to install the new carpet, consider these tips:

  • Buy certified goods. When you go shopping for a new carpet, ensure you pick that which has the Green Label Plus tag and Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Green Label. Carpets that are CRI approved are pre-tested for off-gassing and are safe for use.
  • Air your carpet in advance. Although this is a tricky one, it can still be achieved. If you are in contact with any contractor, ask them to air out the new carpet for no less than 2 – 3 days before the installation. This can help remove the smell before you bring the rag into your house.

Final Thoughts

No evidence proves that a new carpet smell is harmful. Nonetheless, the odors may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, so it is vital to address any complaints to help avoid the odor.

As mentioned before, ventilating your house correctly during and after installation of the new carpet reduces the chance of 4-PCH buildup within the room.

You can also use baking soda, run the vacuum over the carpet, and avoid the carpet altogether for a few days until the smell dissipates. 

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on February 27, 2020.

Whatever you do, don’t use detergents or cleaning liquids to gt rid of the smell. It will go away on its own – you just need to give it time (and maybe a bit of aeration, too).