How to Make a Rug Smell Better

carpet in a multi colors

A rug can undoubtedly tie a room together, but when it starts to smell, it can be quite the opposite of cozy. We’ve all been there – you walk into your living room or bedroom and notice that something doesn’t smell quite right, and then it hits you, it’s your rug! Don’t worry, you don’t have to live with that lingering odor any longer.


Table of Contents

Understanding Rug Odors

Dealing with rug odors can be frustrating, but first, you need to understand the sources and relationship with different rug materials.

Sources of Rug Smell

Rug odors can come from various sources, some of which include:

  • Pets: Accidents happen, and pet urine can be one of the main culprits causing unpleasant smells in your rug.
  • Spills: Food and beverages, especially those with strong odors, can leave lingering smells on your rug.
  • Moisture: Dampness can cause musty or mildew odors, which is particularly problematic if your rug is placed in a high-moisture area like a bathroom.
  • Smoke: Rug fibers can trap smoke from cigarettes or fires, retaining the smell long after the source has been extinguished.


Types of Rug Material

Different rug materials can affect odor retention and the ease of cleaning. Here are some common rug materials and their characteristics:

  • Wool: Wool rugs are naturally odor-resistant, which makes them a popular choice for many households. However, they can still trap odors, and cleaning them may require professional help.
  • Synthetic: Rugs made from nylon, polyester, and other synthetic fibers are generally easier to clean but may not be as odor-resistant as wool. Be mindful of the cleaning products you use, as some can damage synthetic fibers.
  • Cotton: Cotton rugs are relatively easy to clean and maintain, but they may harbor odors more quickly compared to wool. Regular washing is recommended to keep them fresh.


How to Deodorize Rugs

dog laying on a carpet

Regular Vacuuming

One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your rugs smelling nice is by vacuuming them regularly. Vacuuming not only removes dirt and debris but also helps to eliminate any unpleasant odors trapped within the rug fibers. To ensure the best results, follow these simple steps:

  • Vacuum your rugs at least once a week or more frequently if you have pets or heavy foot traffic.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush roll, as it will lift and agitate the rug fibers, allowing for better dirt and odor removal.
  • Pay extra attention to high-traffic areas, such as entryways and hallways, as these tend to collect more dirt and odors.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a powerful and natural deodorizing agent, making it an excellent choice for combating rug odors. Here’s how to deodorize your rugs with baking soda:

  1. Gather your materials: You will need a box of baking soda, a vacuum cleaner, and a soft brush (such as a clean, dry scrub brush or an old toothbrush).
  2. Sprinkle the baking soda: Lightly sprinkle an even layer of baking soda across the entire surface of the rug. Be generous but not excessive, as you want enough baking soda to neutralize the odor without creating an overwhelming mess.
  3. Work it in: Using the soft brush, gently work the baking soda into the rug fibers.
  4. Let it sit: Allow the baking soda to sit for at least 30 minutes, but preferably several hours or even overnight. This will give the baking soda ample time to absorb the odor-causing particles.
  5. Vacuum it up: Thoroughly vacuum the rug to remove all the baking soda, ensuring to work in multiple directions to collect as much of the powder as possible.

Incorporating these techniques into your regular rug care routine will ensure that your rugs remain fresh-smelling and inviting for you and your guests.


Advanced Rug Deodorizing Methods

Deep Cleaning

To give your rug a thorough, deep clean, start by vacuuming it on both sides to remove dirt and debris. Next, use a mild detergent and warm water to gently scrub the rug with a soft brush. Be sure to test the detergent on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first to make sure it won’t damage the fibers. Rinse the rug thoroughly with water, and use a squeegee or a clean towel to remove excess water. Finally, let your rug dry completely by laying it flat, either outdoors or in a well-ventilated room.


Use a Steam Cleaner

A steam cleaner can be highly effective in removing odors from your rug. Start by vacuuming your rug to remove any loose dirt and debris. Move the steam cleaner slowly and evenly across the rug, avoiding soaking the fibers with too much water. Allow the rug to dry completely before walking on it or moving furniture back into place.



Vinegar can help neutralize odors in your rug. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  2. Lightly mist the rug with the solution, concentrating on the areas where the odor is strongest.
  3. Let the vinegar solution dry naturally on the rug.
  4. Once dry, vacuum the rug to remove any lingering vinegar smell.

Remember, vinegar may not be suitable for all types of rugs, so always do a spot test in an inconspicuous area before using it on your entire rug.


Commercial Solutions for Rug Odors

professional rug cleaner cleaning a rug

Commercial Deodorizers

To tackle rug odors, consider using commercial deodorizers such as odor-neutralizing sprays and carpet powders. To use these products effectively:

  1. Vacuum your rug thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
  2. Spray or sprinkle the deodorizer evenly. Follow the product’s instructions for the correct amount.
  3. Let the deodorizer sit for the recommended time, usually about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Vacuum the rug again to remove any residual product.

Some options with strong customer reviews include Febreze Fabric Refresher and Arm & Hammer Carpet Odor Eliminator.


Professional Rug Cleaning Options

If your rug needs deeper cleaning or has persistent odors, you may want to consider professional rug cleaning. A thorough cleaning can address the root cause of stubborn smells and improve the overall appearance of your rug. Keep in mind that professional cleaning can come with a higher price tag – proper research and comparing services in your area will help you find the best option for your needs.

By utilizing commercial deodorizers or professional rug cleaning services, you’ll be well on your way to having a fresher-smelling rug and a more inviting home. Remember, maintaining your rug through regular cleaning and vacuuming can help prevent unpleasant odors from forming in the first place.


Maintaining a Fresh-Smelling Rug

Preventive Measures

  • Vacuum regularly: Make it a habit to vacuum your rug at least once a week.
  • Rotate your rug: To prevent uneven wear and tear, rotate your rug every few months. This helps to distribute the accumulated dirt and keep odors at bay.
  • Use rug pads: Placing a rug pad underneath your rug provides additional cushioning, and it also helps prevent dirt from settling into the rug fibers.
  • Avoid spills: Clean up spills immediately to prevent stains and odors from seeping into the rug fibers. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot the spill, then clean the area with a gentle rug cleaner.


Periodic Professional Cleaning

  • Schedule a deep cleaning: Professional rug cleaning services can give your rug a deep clean that removes embedded dirt and odors. Aim to have your rug professionally cleaned once or twice a year, depending on its usage.
  • Steam cleaning: Some professional cleaners offer steam cleaning services, which can effectively remove dirt and odors from your rug without causing damage to the fibers.
  • Dry cleaning: Dry cleaning methods use little to no water, making it a suitable option for delicate rugs that cannot withstand water-based cleaning.

Remember, a well-maintained rug not only smells better but also lasts longer and looks more beautiful.



What are some DIY methods for removing unpleasant odors from carpets?

Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up is a great option. Another option is to mix equal parts water and white vinegar, spray it onto the carpet, and let it air dry. Essential oils, such as lavender or lemon, can also be added to the vinegar solution for additional fragrance.


How can I get rid of pet smells from my rug?

To eliminate pet smells from your rug, first vacuum the area thoroughly to remove any pet hair and dander. Next, mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the affected area and gently blot with a clean cloth. Repeat the process until the odor is gone. You can also use a commercial pet odor remover for stubborn smells.


What household items can be used to deodorize my carpet?

Use a mix of water and mild dish detergent to spot, clean, and neutralize odors. Remember to patch-test a small, hidden area of your carpet first to ensure the solution won’t damage or discolor it.


How can I quickly freshen up a damp or musty carpet?

To quickly freshen a damp or musty carpet, first open windows and doors to improve ventilation. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the affected area and let it sit for several hours or overnight. Vacuum the baking soda up and repeat the process if necessary.

Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.