Nobody enjoys the sour, foul smell a carpet gives off after cleaning. A smelly carpet after cleaning can be due to several factors, including over-wetting it, water damage, and pet odor and urine. These primary causes give off different kinds of foul odor, which can be annoying and frustrating to an owner.

Smelly Carpet After Cleaning

To get rid of these odors, certain processes can be done. Read on below to find out which process is necessary to have the nice smell of your carpet back!

Wet Dog Smell?

Most carpet cleaning is done by using water, and the typical reason why your carpet smells like a wet dog after the process is that too much water is left in the carpet. This is common when the person doing the cleaning (aka you) does not have the necessary equipment or is not well aware of the cleaning process.

A process known as Hot Water Extraction is considered the standard method for carpet cleaning. This method uses a considerable amount of water and solution, which will be extracted using a powerful vacuum.

smelly carpet after cleaning

Too Much Water Left?

I’m sure you have tried washing laundry, then immediately throwing them into the dryer without taking them out of the washer. Only to realize your clothes now smell musty. The reason for this is microbial growth. Remember that microorganisms thrive in wet areas.

The same is true with carpets. Too much water left in the carpet will result in it smelling like a wet dog, even after cleaning! Overwet carpets can be due to the following:

  • Operator error – The cleaning process was done by a non-professional carpet cleaner. During cleaning, either they move too fast or turn up the water pressure too high.
  • Old and weak or modern and cheap equipment – Using such equipment during the extraction phase does not do the job right and is not effective in getting out as much water as expected. This is also common in rental machines. Although, you might get lucky and clean your carpet cheaply if you know what you’re doing. 

That is why hiring a professional carpet cleaner with quality machines is more advisable instead of doing the cleaning yourself using cheap equipment — especially when it comes to stubborn stains such as coffee stains, and whatnot. If you really want to DIY the cleaning of your carpets and on how to disinfect carpet after vomit, try using baking soda as a deodorizer or a homemade dry carpet shampoo to keep them from becoming permanent stains.

Musty Smell?

How to get mold smell out of carpet? It usually starts with a carpet inspection. If the carpet pad is damaged or soggy, it needs to be replaced. In many cases, however, replacement is not necessary and certain things can still be done to save the carpet. Cleaning will be done on both the face and backing of the carpet using an antimicrobial solution. After cleaning, carpet repairs and stretching work are necessary to reinstall it.

Pet Odor and Urine?

Smelly carpets can also be caused by pet odor and urine. Typically, standard carpet cleaning services by professional companies can remove general and pet odors. Otherwise, there is a range of pet urine removal options that carpet cleaning companies offer.

Drying Your Carpet After Cleaning

To prevent microbial growth that causes musty smell, drying should always be at the top of the list after carpet cleaning. The drying process usually takes half a day, but it can vary from carpet to carpet. There are several ways to dry carpets after cleaning, particularly if you do it yourself.

  1. Use fans and carpet grooming (for professional carpet cleaning services).
  2. Open up your windows to improve airflow and speed drying (considering the weather is nice).
  3. Turn on the fan on your HVAC system. During summer, use your AC unit; if it is winter, use the heater. Just the fan mode can work well, too, as long as air is being circulated.
  4. Use your own fans to help move air around.


Why does my carpet smell after cleaning?

There are various reasons why a carpet smell after cleaning, but the biggest reason should be that the backing underneath got wet and has not been thoroughly dried, thereby causing mildew smell in carpets until it is properly dried. You can also use space heaters to help dry the carpet faster.

Should I vacuum before carpet cleaning?

Of course! Make it a habit to vacuum your carpet thoroughly before cleaning it with a steam washer. Are carpet stains permanent? Most are not, so by doing this, you are removing loose dirt particles, stains, and any debris that may be stuck in the carpet.

Bottom Line

Carpet cleaning should be followed by thorough drying. If you have a smelly carpet after cleaning, you should check whether you are over wetting it or use inferior cleaning equipment. How to get rid of smell in the carpet, whether musty, wet dog, or pet urine as a few of the worst stains? Well, it is probably best to avail of the services of a professional carpet cleaner.


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