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  • Do Carpets Smell Worse After a Cleaning?

    February 17, 2023

    When you have your carpet professionally cleaned, it should look, feel, and smell better and cleaner than it did before. Unfortunately, you may find that, even if the carpet looks and feels better, it smells as bad or worse than it did before cleaning. Having dry carpet cleaning done may help to prevent this.

    Why Your Carpet May Smell Worse After Cleaning and How Dry Carpet Cleaning Can Help

    Generally speaking, odor is caused by molecules consisting of several chemicals which, when combined, cause a reaction that you perceive as odor. Your carpet consists of porous fibers that can absorb the molecules. This may cause the carpet to produce a persistent, low-level odor that gets stronger when something activates the molecules, such as a reaction with water.

    What Causes Carpet Odors in the First Place?

    Carpet odors have many possible causes, but if your carpet consistently smells bad, one of these causes is likely the culprit. Dry carpet cleaning may be able to neutralize these odors.


    Tobacco smoke contains a lot of strong-smelling chemicals. If you smoke in the house, the carpet is likely to absorb the odors, especially if the room is poorly ventilated. If you do not smoke but your home’s previous owners did, you may inherit someone else’s problem.

    It is not only tobacco smoke that can cause your carpet to smell. If there was ever a house fire in your home, the carpet may have absorbed the smoke even if it wasn’t directly affected by the fire itself.

    Pet Stains

    pet odor

    Bringing a dog or cat into your home means accepting that your pet will probably urinate, defecate, or vomit on your floor at some point. These fluids can sink down through the carpet into the padding underneath, where the odors may linger.

    Food Spills

    Your carpet may absorb any food or drink that you spill on it. Even if this doesn’t cause a smell at first, it may develop a smell later as the food goes bad. For example, spilled milk that gets absorbed into the carpet can go sour, producing a distinctively unpleasant odor.

    Mold or Mildew

    Fungal spores that can produce mold or mildew are present throughout your home. Fortunately, they usually remain inactive unless exposed to water. Then the mold spores can start to proliferate, feeding on organic materials in the carpet’s backing. Byproducts from fungal growth can produce a musty odor.

    The goal of either dry carpet cleaning or traditional carpet cleaning is to eliminate these odors.

    What Causes Worse Carpet Smells After Cleaning?

    After having your carpet traditionally cleaned, you may find that the smells get worse instead of better. Sometimes there is a bad smell right away, and sometimes it takes time to develop. There are a couple of reasons why this can occur.

    Poor Ventilation

    Traditional carpet cleaning requires the use of chemicals that have a strong smell that may be irritating or unpleasant to you. If the room does not have proper ventilation, it takes longer for the smell to dissipate. If you can open doors or windows, or use a fan in the room, it may help to resolve the problem more quickly.

    Improper Cleaning Technique

    Sometimes the person that you hire to clean your carpets in the traditional way uses more of the detergent or cleaning agent than is necessary. This can happen when the carpet cleaner is inexperienced. Whatever the reason for it, it can cause that unpleasant chemical odor to linger longer than it is supposed to, even if your room has proper ventilation.

    If the cleaner cannot remove all the detergent after using too much, it can leave a residue behind on your carpet. This residue may attract more dirt and cause it to stick to your carpet. If the dirt contains odor-producing molecules, which is often the case, you may notice your carpet developing a smell again even weeks or months after cleaning.

    Excess Water and Mold Growth

    Another problem that can occur when the carpet cleaner is inexperienced or the cleaning company is of low quality is that the cleaner may either apply too much water or is unable to extract all the water from the deep levels of the carpet and padding. As you might imagine, this is usually not an issue with dry carpet cleaning.

    A cleaner who is not able to extract all the water from the deep levels of the carpet probably isn’t removing all the odor molecules either. The water may activate the molecules, resulting in smells that are more strongly present immediately after cleaning.

    By their very nature, your carpet and padding do not allow air to circulate very easily. Therefore, excess water in your carpet may become trapped there, unable to evaporate. The trapped, excess water may activate fungal spores in your carpet and promote the growth of mold or mildew. It takes time for this process to occur, so in this case, you may not notice the smell for days or weeks after the cleaning.

    How Does Dry Carpet Cleaning Help Prevent Odors?

    While this method is not completely dry, it does use 90% less water than traditional carpet cleaning methods. Because your carpets don’t get completely soaked, they usually dry completely in an hour or less. No excess water remains behind to promote mold growth, which not only prevents odors but also avoids certain health complaints related to inhaling mold spores.

    The dry method of carpet cleaning also does not use any detergents or soaps. This means no harsh chemicals to give off strong smells immediately after cleaning and no residue to collect dirt that produces smells later.

    What Other Benefits Dry Carpet Cleaning Has To Offer

    Because dry carpet cleaning does not involve any harsh, synthetic chemicals, it is better for the environment than traditional carpet cleaning. We use a carbonated solution that penetrates deep into your carpet and lifts the dirt and odors up where they can then be extracted from the carpet more easily. The materials we use are all-natural and 100% biodegradable. Contact us for more information about our process or to schedule an appointment.

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