Deodorizing a Carpet Naturally Like a Pro (No Harsh Chemicals!)


Interested in deodorizing your carpet like a pro, toxin-free? There’s nothing quite like stepping into your home after a long day, only to be greeted by the fresh, inviting scent of a clean space. Sounds dreamy, right? Luckily, getting that aromatic oasis without the use of harsh chemicals or synthetic fragrances is easy! Ditch those stubborn odors and embrace fresh, scented carpets in a completely non-toxic way – with just pure, natural goodness safe for babies and pets.

We’re diving deep into the art of deodorizing your carpet naturally as if you’ve hired a pro—minus the hefty price tag and unnecessary chemical aftermath. From combating pet mishaps to banishing that lingering stale scent, this guide will cover it all. 

Deodorizing a carpet

Why you should deodorize carpets often

Carpets, being one of the largest surfaces in our homes, are prone to trapping various odors over time. Let’s break down why giving them a regular deodorizing boost is a pretty smart move:

Better air quality

Carpets are magnets for stuff like dust, allergens, and odors. Over time, these trapped particles can degrade indoor air quality, leading to respiratory issues and allergies. By giving your carpets a regular deodorizing session, you’re helping kick those nasties to the curb and making the air more breathable for everyone.

No more funky smells

From your pup’s favorite spot to that accidental coffee spill, our carpets see it all. A quick deodorizing spruce-up can help neutralize those stubborn odors.

Keep your carpet looking new

Ever noticed your carpet looking a bit worn out? Those trapped odors and particles aren’t just stinking up the place; they’re also wearing down your carpet. By regularly freshening up with some deodorizing action, you’re giving your carpet a fighting chance to stay plush and comfy for much longer.

Boost your home’s overall cleanliness

There’s something satisfying about walking into a clean-smelling home, right? Making carpet deodorizing a regular part of your cleaning routine keeps your space feeling fresh, tidy, and ready for whatever the day throws at you.

Lift your mood

A fresh-smelling home can do wonders for your mood. Stepping into a space with clean, deodorized carpets can help shake off the day’s stresses, boost your mood, and create a comforting atmosphere perfect for kicking back or getting stuff done.

The best natural deodorizers to use for stubborn carpet odors

To ditch carpet odors naturally, there are several different deodorizers available. However, not all of them work equally well to neutralize different types of odors. Knowing which natural deodorizer to use for the stubborn smell you’re working with is the first step in finally ditching that stink in your carpet.

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Let’s begin with an overview of the best natural deodorizers and their unique strengths:

  • Pure baking soda
    Excellent for acidic and basic odors like pet odors, mildew, and general stale scents. Use pure baking soda, and avoid ones with added ingredients for a more non-toxic formula.
  • Activated Charcoal
    Particularly useful for strong or persistent odors like smoke, pet accidents, and chemical smells. Look for one specifically designed for odors and air purification.
  • White vinegar
    Especially great for organic odors like those from pet accidents, food spills, or biological sources. 
  • Borax
    Neutralizes a variety of odors like pet accidents, mildew, and general mustiness, and has antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. 
  • Enzyme Cleaner
    For pet-related odors specifically, enzyme cleaners are a natural option that breaks down organic materials like urine, feces, and vomit. Look for enzyme cleaners specifically designed for pet messes and are listed as safe for pets and children.

Step 1: Match the right natural deodorizer to your carpet odor

Pet odors

Tackling pet accidents, dander, fur oils, saliva, and pet body odors.

Best deodorizers to use for pet odors:

  1. Enzyme cleaner
  2. White Vinegar
  3. Activated Charcoal
  4. Baking Soda

Best essential oils that are safe for pets:

  • Lavender
  • Cedarwood
  • Patchouli
  • Citrus
  • Rosemary
  • Vanilla

Old carpet odors

Freshen up old carpet odors naturally.

Best deodorizers to use for old carpet odors:

  1. White vinegar 
  2. Activated charcoal
  3. Baking soda

Essential oils with deodorizing properties:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus

Food and cooking odors

Absorbing and neutralizing food-related smells from your carpet.

Best deodorizers to use for cooking odors:

  1. Baking soda
  2. White vinegar

Best essential oils to mask food smells:

  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint

Mold and mildew odors

Remove earthy, damp, stale odors from your carpet naturally.

Best deodorizers to use for mold and mildew odors:

  1. White vinegar
  2. Borax
  3. Baking soda

Best essential oils with antifungal properties:

  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Clove

Smoke odors

Combat smoke smells in your carpet from cigarettes, cooking smoke, and fireplaces.

Best deodorizers to use for smoke odors:

  1. Activated charcoal
  2. Baking soda
  3. White vinegar

Essential oils with antimicrobial properties:

  • Tea tree
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Orange

Spill and stain odors

Neutralize odors and stains from spills like coffee, wine, or juice.

Best deodorizers to use for carpet spills:

  1. White vinegar
  2. Borax
  3. Baking soda

Best essential oils to mask scents:

  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Orange
  • Thyme

General stale or musty odors

Tackling general musty or stale odors in carpets naturally.

Best deodorizers to use for stale or musty carpets:

  1. Activated charcoal
  2. White vinegar
  3. Baking soda

Essential oils with antimicrobial properties:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Orange
  • Peppermint

Biological odors

Get rid of organic odors like pet accidents, body and sweat odors, and more from your carpets.

Best deodorizers to use for organic odors:

  1. White vinegar 
  2. Baking soda

Essential oils with antibacterial properties:

  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus

Chemical odors

Eliminate synthetic and chemical smells like spills, cleaning agents, paints, and more.

Best deodorizers to use for organic odors:

  1. Fresh air ventilation
  2. Activated charcoal
  3. Baking soda

It’s generally best not to use essential oils when trying to get rid of chemical odors.

Step 2: Prepare carpets for deodorizing

Remove any loose debris

Before deodorizing, vacuum the carpet thoroughly to remove loose dirt, dust, and debris. Use a high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter for the best results.

Spot clean any stains

Treat any visible stains before deodorizing. Use a stain remover or mix a cup of water with a few drops of a mild detergent and water. Mild detergents can be non-toxic dish soap, baby shampoo, castile soap, or mild carpet cleaner. 

Try your solution on a little hidden spot of the carpet to be sure it won’t mess with the color or cause any damage. Blot the stain rather than rubbing to prevent it from spreading. 

After treating the stain, dab the area with clean water to remove any residual detergent. Blot the area with a dry cloth to absorb as much excess moisture as you can.

Step 3: Prepare a deodorizing solution with added scents (optional)

Depending on the natural deodorizer you’ve chosen, there are a few different methods to amplify its effectiveness and add scents:

Powdered carpet deodorizers

For Baking Soda, Activated Charcoal, Cornstarch, Borax, and More: Add several drops of your preferred essential oil(s) into a bowl or container with the deodorizer of choice. Stir or shake well to ensure oils are well incorporated.

Carpet deodorizing sprays

Using White Vinegar: You can mask the scent of white vinegar or boost its properties by mixing it with water and essential oils. Combine equal parts white vinegar and water with a few drops of essential oil(s) in a spray bottle or container. Shake very well before use to blend the ingredients and create a refreshing scented carpet spray.

Step 4: Apply the deodorizer 

Applying baking soda, activated charcoal, and Borax

Sprinkle baking soda, activated charcoal, or Borax generously over the desired area. For best results, work it into the carpet fibers using a soft-bristle brush or broom before allowing it to sit. By gently working the powder into the carpet fibers, you help distribute it more evenly and deeper where odors may be trapped.

After working the chosen deodorizer into the carpet, you should then allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes to several hours, depending on how strong the odor is. You can leave it overnight for deeper cleaning and deodorizing effects.

Once it’s had time to sit and work its magic, you can vacuum the carpet thoroughly to remove any powder along with the trapped odors and residues, leaving your carpet refreshed and deodorized!

White Vinegar

If you haven’t already, create a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Liberally spray the white vinegar solution over the affected areas of the carpet. Feel free to brush the solution deeper into the carpet fibers for better results.

Allow the white vinegar solution to penetrate the carpet fibers for 15-30 minutes, depending on how stubborn the odor is. While applying, you may notice a mild vinegar scent; this fades away as the carpet dries.

After 15-30 minute of contact time, use clean towels or cloths to blot and absorb excess moisture and solution from the carpet. Utilizing a wet/dry vacuum can help in extracting any excess liquid but it’s not needed.

Allow for proper ventilation in the treated area to expedite drying and help get rid of any residual vinegar scent. Once the carpet is completely dry, vacuum the carpet.

Step 5: Evaluate and repeat if needed

If that carpet odor is still lingering but has improved, you may need to repeat the deodorizing process once more. 

Step 6: Prevent future odors

To keep those carpet odors at bay, it’s all about staying ahead with your cleaning game. Here’s a short guide to keeping your carpets smelling fresh and clean long term:

  • Vacuum often
  • Deodorize every 3-6 months
  • Spot clean spills promptly. If you have a spill or a pet stain on your carpet, blot the area immediately with some white vinegar, club soda, or other mild detergent.
  • Make sure to air out your carpeted rooms often.
  • Keep humidity levels in check.
  • Enforce clean habits, like not allowing shoes on the carpet, keeping food or dirty paws away from carpeted areas, etc.

Still struggling?

If all else fails, you may need to explore alternative methods. Address the root cause of the smell, experiment with a more suitable deodorizer tailored to the specific odor, or hey, maybe it’s time to call in a pro. A professional will have specialized equipment, like a steam cleaner, that can really target those stubborn odors (or you can often rent these yourself).

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Will vacuuming fine powder like baking soda ruin my vacuum? 

Vacuuming baking soda can potentially cause some wear and tear on your vacuum cleaner, depending on the type of vacuum you have and how much baking soda is involved. 

Baking soda can clog the filters of certain vacuum cleaners, which reduces their efficiency and potentially causes the vacuum to overheat.

Here’s how to protect your vacuum:

  • Allow the baking soda to sit for the recommended time to absorb odors before vacuuming. When baking soda absorbs moisture and odors from the carpet or surface, it becomes less powdery and is less likely to become airborne or get deeply embedded within the vacuum.
  • Check and clean or replace the vacuum filters more frequently to prevent potential clogging and maintain optimal performance.
  • Consider using a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a vacuum specifically designed for handling fine particles if you often use baking soda or other powders for cleaning.

Can I use herbs and spices for added scents instead?

Yes, you can use herbs and spices to add natural scents to your carpet deodorizer instead of essential oils, or not scent your deodorizer at all! Herbs like lavender, rosemary, mint, or even cinnamon sticks and cloves can be dried and ground into a fine powder or used in their natural form. Just keep in mind that while herbs and spices offer a nice aroma, they may not have the same longevity or intensity as essential oils. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to find the scent profile that you love best!

Can I use lemon juice?

While lemon juice has natural deodorizing properties and can help freshen up certain areas, it may not be the most effective solution for tackling stubborn odors deeply embedded in a carpet

Is steam cleaning an effective method for naturally deodorizing carpets?

Yep, steam cleaning is an effective way to naturally freshen up your carpets, too. The hot steam helps help kill odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew trapped within the carpet. Plus, steam helps lift and pull up all the dirt, debris, and residue that’s making that carpet smell!

Are there specific natural deodorizers that are best for households with pets or allergies?

If you’ve got pets or allergies at home, the best go-to natural deodorizers that are pet-friendly and allergy-friendly are baking soda, white vinegar, and activated charcoal.

How frequently should I deodorize my carpets to maintain a fresh scent and prevent odors from returning?

The average recommended frequency for deodorizing carpets typically falls between every 3 to 6 months for most. This strikes a great balance for general maintenance. However, if you have pets, allergies, or other specific factors contributing to strong odors, you may need to do it more often to maintain that fresh clean carpet.

What precautions should I take when using natural ingredients to deodorize my carpets, especially around pets and children?

Absolutely! If you’re thinking of sprinkling some baking soda or even a few drops of essential oils on your carpets to freshen things up around your pets and kiddos, just keep a few things in mind. First off, give a tiny spot a test to make sure it plays nice with your carpet. While you’re at it, maybe distract the pets and keep the little ones out of the room until you’re done. Crack a window or two for some fresh air, sprinkle or spray evenly, and always store those ingredients in a spot where curious hands or paws can’t reach. If you’re ever in doubt, chat with a vet or pediatrician. 


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