How to Eliminate Carpet Odors after Water Damage

We all hope that it won’t happen to us, but every year, thousands of homes and apartments across the country have to deal with the after effects of flooding. This might be because of flooding in the immediate area from heavy rainfall or overflowing rivers, or it could be due to a burst pipe in the home. Whatever the case, the situation ends up the same – you’ll find that your carpet gets a musty, mildew smell from the water damage. How do you get rid of it?

Make Sure the Cause of the Problem Is Fixed

Before you try to eliminate carpet odors after water damage, you need to make sure the cause of the problem is fixed. This is particularly true if you were dealing with a leaking or burst pipe rather than a natural inundation of water due to flooding. Once you’re sure the issue is fixed, it’s time to go to work.

Pull Up the Carpet

The next step is to pull up the carpet. You’ll need to remove the baseboards from the base of the walls, and pull the carpet off the tack strip at the edges of the room. Be careful – it’s sharp. With the carpet and padding up, make sure the underlying floor is dry and free of standing water or mold. Air dry the carpet and padding outdoors in the sunshine if possible.

Drying the Room

If you cannot dry the carpet and padding outdoors, you’ll need to do it indoors. Use dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air, and fans to keep air blowing across the floor and drying the carpet.

If the water inundation wasn’t large enough to soak the entire room, you’re in luck. You can use a floor fan and a dehumidifier to dry things out without pulling up the carpet.

Removing the Odor

Once everything is dry, you can apply baking soda to the affected areas. Let it sit for at least 24 hours and then vacuum it up. Make sure that the carpet is dry before putting down baking soda, or it will absorb the water and stick to your carpet fibers.

You can also use white vinegar to eliminate the carpet odors after water damage. Spritz the affected area with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, and allow it to dry (apply only to dry carpeting). An enzyme remover, such as a pet urine odor remover, may also be able to eliminate the musty, mildew/mold smell from your carpeting.

If you are still experiencing an odor from your carpet, and it has been completely dried, you may need to hire a professional carpet cleaner. High-powered, commercial steam cleaners can often get deep-down odors and odor causing agents out of your carpet.

With these steps, mild to moderate water damage should be repairable. However, if you’ve experienced serious inundation and mold has started growing, replacing the carpet may be the only option available.