How to Get Rid of Musty Smells in Carpet

by Jay | Updated on July 26th, 2022

Musty carpet smells are often caused by mildew developing on or under the carpet. Mildew thrives in humid, colder environments where it continues to reproduce. Therefore, if a homeowner has a musty scent on their carpet, they must get rid of the mildew and stop it from happening again.

Stop the Source of the Mildew First

Before one can even think about getting rid of a musty carpeting smell, one must find the source of the problem. It could be something that can’t be avoided in certain situations, like mildew emerging in the bathroom from shower and bath condensation. But, in most other cases, there’s a source of rising mildew in the carpet that needs to be stopped, or it’ll just come back.

A close up that shows the texture of two different patterned rugs

The home’s foundation or flooring can leak if the musty carpet is in a home’s basement or ground floor. Water can get under the carpet, and as it sits there, mildew may develop.

Other triggers may be leaking pipes in the floor or walls and condensation from pipes. If a homeowner isn’t handy with home maintenance, they might want to call a professional to come and check out the problem and repair it.

If mold grows on the carpet, the only way is to get rid of the carpet. Mold is riskier than mildew and can cause health problems.

Clean Musty Carpets with White Vinegar

Once the source of the mildew problem has been found and fixed, it is time to eliminate the musty smell in the carpet. White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner that is safe on most carpets. Before anyone uses any cleaner on flooring, it should be spot tested in a small spot that is not obvious.

Mix one part white vinegar to 3 parts warm water in a large bowl. For people who don’t like the smell of vinegar, a few drops of essential oil can also be added to the cleaning mixture.

Add the cleaning solution into a spray bottle and mist it over the musty carpet. Allow the cleaner to dry for at least 15 minutes, then vacuum the carpets. Repeat this once a day until the musty smell has completely gone away.

Wash Musty Mildew Carpets with Baking Soda

Baking soda is another great cleaner for carpets, and it’s a very simple trick to remove the musty smell with this household item. First, sprinkle the baking soda over the carpets with the odor and allow it to sit for at least 2 hours to start neutralizing the odors.

After a few hours, vacuum up all the baking soda from the carpets. This cleaning process can be repeated if the smell has not completely left the room.

If a homeowner finds that the baking soda is not getting rid of the odor, leave it on for a while longer as they may not be leaving it on long enough to start working.

Last Resort for Getting Rid of a Musty Smell in Carpets: A Professional Carpet Cleaner

Professional carpet cleaners can cost quite a bit of money. The larger the area they need to clean, the more money it will cost the homeowner, which is why a professional carpet cleaner should be the last resort for musty carpets.

The cleaner can perform a deep cleaning on the carpets, which should entirely remove the smell from home. These companies have the knowledge and experience to remove the mildew and the odor first.

When looking for a carpet cleaning company, one should be sure that the company gives a guarantee for cleaning and is insured. If anything happens to the carpets, the company should be liable and pay for the damage.

No one wants musty-smelling carpet in their home, but it does happen, especially in older homes. Household items like white vinegar and baking soda can be wonderful cleaning agents for mildew and odors. Still, if they don’t work well enough for some reason, a professional cleaning company will have to be called in.


Self assessed Germaphobe, specializing in everything water, water filters, health and nutrition. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I've acquired immense amount of knowledge when it comes to natural, biology, and everything about human anatomy.