How to Remove Mildew Smell Out of Your Rugs

Carpets, rugs and curtains capture odours like sponges. The good news is that we can remove odours quite easily, at least, most of the times. The bad news is that when the odour is the musty smell of mildew, things get slightly complicated, especially if you don’t catch mold early on and it has reached the backing of the carpet. But, there is no doubt that you do need to get rid of that smell and be efficient in doing so because the odour can be indicative of damage done to the carpet by excess moisture that has not dried out of it completely. Imagine having an expensive Oriental carpet rotting in your living room! Plus, mold can cause wheezing in people with asthma.

Take heart; there is still hope. Below are some tips to help you kick that unpleasant odour out of your house once and for all.
Damage from excess moisture on the rugs can cause mildew, a nasty odor, and potentially permanent damage if you don't take action pronto.

Damage from excess moisture on the rugs can cause mildew, a nasty odor, and potentially permanent damage if you don’t take action pronto.

Method #1: The Natural Way to Remove Mildew Smell

What you will need is some baking soda, water, and white vinegar. We have all come to know by now that baking soda is an excellent ingredient to use to remove odors, be it from smelly shoes, clothes or, in our case, carpeting.

Here’s how to apply:
  1. Sprinkle the surface of your carpet with baking soda. Ge generous. The idea is to have a really thick layer of baking soda on top of the carpet to get the job done effectively. Leave it as it for a few hours (ideally overnight or, even better, for 2 days if that’s possible). If the odour is superficial, this will be more than enough to finally breathe some freshness in the air. But, if you get the feeling that the odour comes from within the carpet, then make sure you brush the carpet with a broom so that the baking soda reaches the carpet’s fibers. Just be gentle when using the broom to prevent damaging delicate fibers.
  2. The next day or two days later (depending on how much time you were comfortable with having baking soda on your carpet and not allowing anybody to step on it), use a stiff broom to brush the top layer of baking soda. At this point, do not use the vacuum cleaner because all that powder might cause damage to it. If you have sprinkled baking soda on a rug, save yourself the extra effort and just shake it outdoors.
  3. Vacuum what’s left of the baking soda with a strong vacuum.
  4. Try your nose. Has the smell improved but is not completely gone yet? Repeat the process. Don’t worry. Baking soda won’t harm the carpet, so it is safe to use it as many times you necessary. If the odour is more stubborn than what you first thought, time to call for reinforcement.
  5. Vinegar is the next best thing to get rid of musty smells from carpet. Plus, it will kill mold spores and dust mites that might be responsible for allergic reactions or asthma attacks inside your home. Spray some white vinegar on the surface of the carpet. Alternatively, you could blot it using a soft, clean cloth. If the source of the smell is a liquid that has already set in the carpet, it is important to get right through it with generous applications of vinegar. Be careful not to saturate the carpet, though.
  6. Let the acid in the vinegar work through the bacteria that are causing the odour for 15-20 minutes. Then, blot with a clean cloth to remove as much of the vinegar as you can.
  7. Spray some clean water to rinse (or you could also blot the area) and make sure you help absorb all remaining water with a clean towel (press it on the carpet).
  8. Let the carpet air dry completely and feel free to repeat the process if you feel you would be more comfortable with one more go (i.e. the odor is lessened but not removed).

Important Notes:

Use white vinegar to get rid of moldy smell from your rug
  • It is important to find the method that finally gets the moldy odour from your carpet and then repeat the process, at least once.

  • The intensity of the odour, as well as its type, define the effort and time you will need to remove the odour. So be prepared for several applications if the odour is particularly strong.

  • Letting fresh air circulate in your home every day is a great way to combat the formation of mold and expedite the odour-removing process. Opening your windows every morning for a couple of hours and perhaps an hour or so before you go to bed will not only keep your carpets and corners mold-free but also improve your indoor air quality, which, in turns, has a positive impact on your health, too.

  • If the odor comes from a rug small enough to fit in your washing machine, then just toss it in. Add 1 cup of vinegar to the normal wash cycle to boost results.

  • Instead of blotting your carpet, you can rent or buy a steam cleaner. It will provide a deeper cleaning of your carpet while the odour-fighting solutions that you can add to the water can add an extra cleaning layer to the process.

Method #2: The Chemical Way to Remove Mildew Smell

Applying hydrogen peroxide to the affected area is an effective way to battle mildew odour. Before you go on and use it freely, first check a small area to make sure it is safe to use on your carpet, If you notice discolourations of the test-area, don’t use it. If the colours are unaffected, mix 5 parts of water with 1 part of hydrogen peroxide and spray the back of the carpet with the solution. This will help kill mold spores; hence, the source of the odour.

Another way to go around this is to use carpet foam. First, vacuum the affected area and apply carpet shampoo. Again, no time to be frugal here. Once you apply a generous amount of carpet shampoo, use a sponge to rub it into the carpet. Let the product sit for at least half an hour or until it is completely dry. Then, vacuum the carpet.

Tip: To speed the drying process, you can place your carpet on a clean (and dry) driveway and let sunlight do the rest. Just make sure the backing of the carpet is facing the sun to avoid fading of colours.

Method #3: The Professional Way to Remove Mildew Smell

Although it is definitely worth a shot to try and get rid of smells and stains from your carpet using home remedies, there is still a strong probability the nasty mildew odor won’t go away completely. In this case, you will need a professional carpet cleaner to remove mold spores effectively. The most trusted and experienced professionals will come equipped with cleaning systems and advanced technologies that allow them to perform deep-down extraction, which is the perfect medium to help get the fresh new-carpet smell back and improve the quality of the air you and your loved ones breathe inside the home.

YOUR Section: What YOU Have Told us Works!

Some time ago, we asked our readers and friends to share their success recipes. Here are some of the ideas you guys have given us!

  • Charcoal – Works beautifully! – Put some charcoal briquettes (yes, the cheap, plain ones) in an old pillow case or stockings or anything similar. The idea is not to have them touch the carpet directly (who wants black spots on their carpet?). Wrap the pillow case up with rugs (could be old sheets, a plastic tarp or even a large trunk, depending on the size of your carpet or rug). This will remove mildew smell not only from the carpet but also smelling shoes, luggage, etc.

  • Hang then Out – It is amazing how easy it, sometimes, is to get things done. Try hanging the smelly carpet or rug outside to air it out. This might be all you need!

  • Try Tea Tree Oil – a bottle of tea tree oil that you can find in most health food stores costs no more than $6, and it will go a long way. A couple of teaspoons in a cup of water will be enough. Spray the carpet with the solution (back and front) and keep everybody away until it dries completely. Do not soak it. Beware. The smell might be too intense for you. It will go away after a while, though, so be patient.

  • Good Old Febreze!” – It is a savior for me. Refreshes the carpet, removes the musty smell and leaves no nasty chemical odours afterward.

  • Fresh Air Throughout the Days” – My home has poor insulation and a concrete base. The musty smell in the rooms and dampness of the air in winter was unbearable. I found out that airing rooms and opening internal doors to let the air flow has helped remove smells. However, in the winter, it gets really bad. So, I decided to insulate my walls and get double glazing. If you can’t afford that, get a dehumidifier, at least. It was a lifesaver for my family.

Do you have any other way to remove mildew smell off your rugs? Have you tried any of the methods mentioned above? How did you feel about results? Shout out at the comments below!

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