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Does Carpet Deodorizer Actually Work?

Sometimes, you’ll spill things in your carpet that don’t smell very nice. Or maybe you live in a humid climate, and your carpet starts to get musty after a few years. Either way, a smelly carpet is a fairly common problem for homeowners.

You’ve probably seen products in the cleaning aisle at your local grocery store that claim to be able to deodorize your carpet, simply by sprinkling it on and vacuuming it up. Some common air fresheners even claim to be good at deodorizing carpets, simply by spraying them on the floor.

But do these products actually work? The short answer is … no. The long answer is a little more complicated. For more information about how to get the funk out of your flooring, keep reading!

What Do Carpet Deodorizers Do?

It depends on what kind of product you’re talking about. If you’re thinking of the air freshener type that comes in an aerosol can, it works by masking and, to a lesser extent, neutralizing the odor of the carpet. If you’re talking about the powdered variety, they claim to latch on to whatever’s causing the smell so that the vacuum can lift them off.

The problem is, spray air fresheners can only sit on the top of the carpet. If the smell is caused by something that has soaked into the carpet or carpet pad, like pet urine, there’s no way for the spray to make it all the way through to the heart of the smell.

Powder deodorizers have the same problem — they just sit on top of the carpet, momentarily masking the odor. Worse, powdered deodorizers are made of extremely fine particles that can be almost impossible to completely clean up when you’re finished. Some vacuum filters can’t even catch them, so they’re simply blown back into the air when you try to clean up.

Those fine particles also accelerate the normal wear and tear on your carpet. As you step on the carpet, the tiny particles are ground between fibers, weakening and fraying them faster than they normally would.

In either case, the fundamental problem is the same: something is causing that odor, and until you get rid of the cause, you’ll never be entirely rid of the smell.

What Should You Do Instead?

The first step to cleaning up smelly carpets is to prevent them from happening in the first place. If you see a spill or accident, clean it up immediately but putting down a towel and standing on it or stacking something heavy on top of it. The added weight will help absorb as much liquid as possible.

After that, spray the spot of the spill with warm water mixed with a little white vinegar. The acidic nature of the vinegar will help break down stains and proteins that cause smells, and the water will wick the spill out of the carpet fibers. Blot and repeat until the stain is completely invisible, then let the carpet dry.

For more persistent smells like smoke, mold, or general mustiness caused by old houses, professional cleaning is your best option. Hot water extraction cleaning — often called “steam cleaning” — works by forcing very hot water deep into your carpet, carpet backing, and carpet pad, then vacuuming it out.

Hot water extraction cleaning will remove almost any stain or residue, no matter how long or how deep it’s been in the carpet. As an added bonus, the hot water will rejuvenate the fibers themselves, returning them to their former springiness and softness.

We recommend cleaning your carpets with hot water extraction at least once a year. Yes, it can be annoying to move your furniture around, but think of it as a good excuse to do some spring cleaning and maybe rearrange your space!

Invest in Stain Resistant Carpet

Eventually, your carpet will become so worn out that no amount of cleaning will save it — when that happens, it’s time to invest in new carpet altogether. When you do, ask about carpet with a factory stain resistance coating.

This type of coating is added to each individual fiber before they’re made into a carpet, so the coating can never be washed or worn off. It will make cleaning and preventing stains much easier, extending the lifespan of your carpet by years!

At Sloane’s, we carry a wide variety of carpet styles with factory stain resistance, so the next time you need to refresh your carpet, come on by! We’re sure we can find a carpet that’s perfect for you.