How to Get Rid of Musty Smells in Carpet

by Jay | Updated on June 25th, 2023

Every so often, you might encounter a musty smell emanating from your carpet, an unpleasant sign of hidden mildew. Thriving in cool and damp environments, mildew not only causes a distasteful scent but can also lead to potential health issues. If you’re grappling with this problem, here’s a guide on how to eradicate the musty smell from your carpet effectively and prevent its recurrence.

Pinpointing the Root of the Mildew

Before setting out to freshen up your carpet, it’s crucial to identify the source of the mildew. In certain situations, the culprit might be unavoidable, like a bathroom carpet exposed to frequent condensation from baths or showers. However, in most cases, the cause lies beneath the carpet, and it’s essential to address it to prevent further mildew growth.

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

Several factors could contribute to the mildew problem. If your carpet lies in your home’s basement or ground floor, it could be due to water seepage from the home’s foundation or flooring. Similarly, leaking pipes within your floor or walls can create dampness conducive to mildew.

If you aren’t comfortable diagnosing or fixing these problems, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to assess the situation and make the necessary repairs.

Bear in mind that if mold appears on your carpet, replacing the carpet might be the only viable solution due to the health risks associated with mold exposure.

Freshening Up Musty Carpets with White Vinegar

Having addressed the source of the mildew, it’s time to tackle the unpleasant odor clinging to your carpet. A simple, effective solution is white vinegar, a versatile cleaner that is typically safe for most carpets. However, remember to spot-test any cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area before general application.

To create your cleaning mix, combine one part white vinegar with three parts warm water in a large bowl. If the smell of vinegar isn’t to your liking, feel free to add a few drops of essential oil to the mixture.

Transfer this solution to a spray bottle and lightly mist it over your musty carpet. Let the solution dry for a minimum of 15 minutes before vacuuming. Repeat this process daily until you’ve successfully banished the musty smell.

Using Baking Soda to Neutralize Mildew Odors

If vinegar doesn’t do the trick, or you prefer an alternative, consider using baking soda. This pantry staple is an effective cleaner and odor-neutralizer. Sprinkle the baking soda liberally over your musty carpet and let it sit for at least two hours.

After the wait, vacuum your carpet thoroughly to remove all the baking soda. If the odor persists, feel free to repeat this process, possibly leaving the baking soda on for a longer duration.

Resorting to a Professional Carpet Cleaner

When all else fails, enlisting the help of a professional carpet cleaner could be your best bet. While this service could be quite expensive depending on the size of your carpet, it often provides the most thorough deep cleaning, effectively removing both the mildew and its accompanying odor.

When hiring a professional, ensure that they offer a guarantee for their cleaning service and carry insurance. This safeguard protects you if any damage occurs to your carpet during the cleaning process.

Dealing with a musty carpet can be an unwelcome nuisance, particularly in older homes. While common household items like white vinegar and baking soda often work wonders to alleviate mildew and odors, there are instances when you might need to call in the pros. Regardless of the approach you choose, remember that the goal is not just to banish the musty smell, but also to address its root cause and prevent its recurrence.


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."