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Why Does My Carpet Smell After Cleaning?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

why does my carpet smell after cleaning

Have you recently cleaned your carpets but now have to contend with a bad odour coming from them and don’t know where it's coming from?

It happens a lot, unfortunately. The main reason why your carpets smell after cleaning them is because they haven’t been cleaned properly. You may have over-wetted them or didn’t manage to get all of the contaminants and now all of that dirt and grease is stinking your home out.

There are other reasons as well though. In this blog post, we will look at the most common reasons for carpet stinking after being cleaned as well as how to identify what each smell means and how to treat it.

Your carpet wasn't cleaned properly

The most common cause of bad odours coming from your carpet after cleaning it is that it wasn’t cleaned properly, and now all of that bacteria inside the dirt and grease has been activated making your carpets stink.

This is often done by rental carpet cleaning machines such as the rug doctor. People often rent these machines, improperly clean their carpets and then have to contend with dirty, smelly carpets until they can get a professional to do the job instead.

It could be your carpet cleaner

Sometimes people get confused thinking that their carpets smell but it’s actually the carpet cleaning machine itself which is causing that foul odour. Once you clean it, the smell should go away pretty fast.

We used to encounter this a lot before upgrading to a truck-mounted carpet cleaner. We would finish the job but the customer would query where that smell was coming from.

It lingers for a while too. A bad smell from your carpet cleaner can stay in the air for around 1 hour, then it tends to disappear as fresh air finds its way into your home.

Thankfully getting rid of this kind of smell is easy. Simply remove the carpet cleaner from your home and then rinse out your carpet cleaner after finishing cleaning your carpets.

Your carpet was over-wetted during the cleaning process

Another common reason why your carpets might stink is that you over-wetted them during the cleaning and now it smells of damp.

Again, we can blame rental carpet cleaners for this. They simply don’t have enough vacuum power to bring the water that is pumped into your carpets back out again, leaving you with a damp smelly carpet.

If you want to prevent this from happening to your carpet, read our ‘How to avoid over-wetting carpets when cleaning’ guide for an in-depth breakdown on how to properly clean and dry carpet.

Why does my carpet smell like a dog after cleaning?

why does dog smell like carpet

Carpet that you could describe as stinking of dog can be for a number of reasons;

  • Mould and mildew build-up

  • Pet stains

  • Over-wetting carpet

  • Old stains

  • Cigarette smoke on the carpet

  • Finally it could of course just be a dog smell!

Thankfully the way that you resolve these bad smells Is with the same solution, enzyme cleaner and a lot of it. For a full guide, check out 'How to get wet dog smell out of carpet.'

Steam Cleaners Are The Best Way To Remove Bad Smells

You should consider buying a steam cleaner if you own carpets & upholstery and plan on saving money by maintaining them yourself.

You can buy a very reasonably priced one which works wonders. We highly recommend purchasing:

Karcher SC2 Steam Cleaner - £132 (£27 per month for 5 months)

Benefits of using a steam cleaner:

  • No need for chemicals in many cases

  • Removes bad odours easily

  • Disinfects as well as cleans

  • Excellent for removing spot stains

  • Using heat breaks down biological stains fast

  • Kills mould instantly

There are so many benefits to owning a steam cleaner when you have carpets and upholstery, it really is a no brainer!

If the bad smell is due to the carpets being over-wetted then you will need to dry the carpet out as fast as possible to get rid of that horrible smell. Then you will need to release the carpets to ensure all of the dirt and staining has gone.

Why does my carpet smell like feet after shampoo cleaning?

Carpets smelling like feet after being cleaned is normally due to the carpet underlay being wet. This is the padding underneath the carpet and it will need more time to dry out.

It is possible that your carpets can get damaged if the underlay is soaking so if the smell persists for more than 48 hours, it’s time to get them checked out and dried as soon as possible.

Why does my carpet still smell like pee even after cleaning?

Pee (urine) stains are a nightmare to get out and if it was a big accident, you won’t be able to simply clean the area over with a carpet shampoo nozzle.

In order to get the pee stain out fully, you will need to use a water claw attachment. This will draw out all of the urine using the full vacuum power of your carpet cleaner.

You will need a commercial carpet cleaning machine to use the water claw so it’s always cheaper to hire a professional to remove pee stains.

What does mould in a carpet smell like?

If you suspect that the smell in your carpets is due to mould, you could be right if it smells musty or damp. Mould in carpet can also be described as smelling like rotten vegetables or compost.

You can’t always guarantee that mould in carpet will go away. It’s better to contact a mould remediation company who can assess the damage and tell you whether or not the mould can be removed, or if you have to buy new carpets.

Will bad carpet smells go away on their own?

Many of the bad carpet smells that you will be exposed to will go away on their own once they’ve dried, but the reason for those bad smells won’t go away without cleaning and may come back anytime your carpets get wet.

Those smells are due to bacteria and potentially viruses infesting your carpets. They Don’t go away just because the smell goes, bacteria can be reactivated at any time so it’s best to deep clean your carpets if the smell is really bad when wet.

How long does it take for a carpet to stop smelling?

A smelly carpet will stop smelling either once it has been deep cleaned and the bacteria is removed, or once your carpets dry and the bacteria lies dormant but ready to reappear at any time.


Thank you for reading our blog on why carpets may smell even after cleaning. Remember, the important thing to remember is that the smell is a symptom of a problem rather than the problem itself.

Once you have identified what the smell is, you will be able to remove it effectively and in most cases, without professional help.

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