Whether you’ve just moved into a freshly carpeted apartment, or whether you’ve bought a new bathroom rug for the family house, it doesn’t really matter. Why? Because in both cases you weren’t ready for it.
You weren’t prepared for that unpleasant smell coming from your new carpet. And, now, many questions arise, questions like “Is it harmful?”, or “How long will it be like this?”, and “What should I do?”, and so on.
Here you will learn how to get rid of the new carpet smell (or reduce it as much as possible) and why does your carpet stink in the first place.
Why does your new carpet smell weird?
“This way you know it’s new”, they say. But… if the carpet is new, then why does it smell like a farmyard, or like a sheep, or maybe even like a fish?
People can get insanely creative when they describe the odour of their new carpet.
Anyway, here is what is going on.
As an industrially processed product, the carpet is manufactured using multiple chemical ingredients. That new carpet odour is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOC), and the process of these compounds being released into the air is called carpet off-gassing.
- More often than not, the carpet is glued to the floor using adhesives which also release VOCs.
- Тhe foam under the carpeting is another violator of your sense of smell. It can also contribute to the overall bad smell right after the carpet has been installed.
For people with sensitivities, these “off-gas” fumes can worsen their symptoms but the majority of rug lovers are describing the scent of a new carpet as nothing more than an unpleasant odour. In the meantime, others tend to enjoy the smell of their investment. After all, carpets don’t come cheap, right?
If your rug is not brand new and started to smell bad right after you've cleaned it, check our post on what to do if you are experiencing a smelly carpet after cleaning.
What is off-gassing and how long does it take?
Almost any brand new carpet does give off some VOC’s fumes that leave a musty scent, especially the ones made from synthetic fibres.
New woollen carpets will also come with a weak wool smell which can get stronger if the material is wet or damp.
Offgassing is at its peak in the first 24-48 hours after the carpet has been installed. Depending on the room temperature, the process could take from 4 or 5 days to up to a few weeks.
So, there is no definitive answer to the question how long does it take to get rid of new carpet smell. However, remember the following - the higher the temperature, the quicker will the off-gassing fade.
Keep in mind that off-gassing occurs through the entire life of a carpet, but you shouldn’t worry because you won’t be able to tell the difference after the initial “peak” period is over.
Before you freak out...
According to Carpet and Rug Institute, the carpet is one of the lowest emitters of VOCs compared to other household items present in the home. So, no need to rip your wall-to-wall carpet off the floor just yet.
How to accelerate the off-gassing effect
You can achieve this using heat. To speed up the off-gassing, turn the heat up in the room where the new carpet is installed and just leave the area. Come back later only to open and close all doors and windows and air out the space for a few minutes. Doing the above 2-3 times per day should be sufficient to speed up the off-gassing process.
However, there are certain drawbacks. You will probably receive a juicy electricity bill at the end of the month and you will need a lot of free time to maintain the air circulation during the course of a couple of days.
A Few Simple Ways to Get Rid of New Carpet Odor
As previously discussed in the blog post, the unpleasant odor will gradually fade away with time, but for the most impatient of you, here are some tips on how to get rid of new carpet fumes (almost) naturally and freshen the room:
- Use nails rather than glue to secure the rug in place. Often adhesives release off-gas fumes (VOCs) in the air, too.
- Pour baking soda onto the carpet and leave it overnight. Vacuum the carpet using a cleaner with HEPA filters on the next day.
- Vacuum the carpet frequently. Vacuuming often when the item is new may reduce the smell. Do this every day or every other day.
- For the DIY carpet steam cleaner owners, add some vinegar to the water to eliminate the odor.
- Cut onion or apples in half and place the halves in small bowls. They will absorb the new carpet odor. If you are using onions, pour some water in the bowls.
- Place large potted plants inside the newly carpeted room. Consider plants like Golden Pothos, Spider Plant, Aloe Vera, etc. Crack a window to get more fresh air.
- Ensure proper air circulation by airing out the room. Ventilate the space by opening all windows and doors.
- Use fans to speed up the odor removal process. Alternatively, turn on air conditioning or heating system.
- If the smell persists, arrange a carpet cleaning service on site. Hot water extraction is an effective solution against bad odours and may resolve your issue.
Professional hot water extraction carpet and rug cleaning (Steam cleaning)
The hot water extraction cleaning method, also known as steam cleaning, is great for removing stains of almost any origin, including sweat, coffee, wine, fruit, chocolate, and more.
It also does a great job of eliminating unpleasant smells from carpets and upholsteries. This highly efficient method can be applied to almost any type of carpet or rug on the market, including:
- Visco-elastic, latex foam, or flexible polyurethane carpets;
- Wool, polyester, or cotton rugs;
- Nonwoven fibre pad carpeting.
The deal with latex and 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH) in carpets
For quite some time natural latex has been linked with the allergic reactions caused by the proteins found in it. To solve this issue, carpet manufacturers have turned to synthetic latex and implemented it in their production process.
Wool, nylon, polypropylene and polyester make up the majority of materials found in carpet. There is no evidence that these components can be harmful to health and they can be often found in furniture, bedding and clothing.
4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH) is a by-product of the synthetic latex binders used to hold the carpet backing together. Its volatile organic compound nature surely poses an important question: can 4-pch cause irritation or headaches? Actually, there is a research done on this matter, prompted by a situation at the Washington DC headquarters, where a few employees complained about the carpet odour. After some laboratory testing, the scientists concluded that there is no connection between 4-PCH and any kind of adverse effects on human health.
Additional information and more odour removal tips
Do not use detergents
The usage of detergents on new carpets is not advisable. Detergents tend to leave soapy residue which can damage the fibres of your freshly bought item.
Avoid using ionizers
An ionizer produces ozone as a byproduct and studies (1, 2 ) show that ozone reacts with VOCs released by the carpet. In other words, using an ionizer will make things worse. Stay away from it, at least until the peak off-gassing period is over.
There is no magic trick which will absolutely remove the new carpet odour immediately. As with cleaning stains from spilt milk, patience is key. Just give it a little time. If the smell is something you can’t stand, if possible, simply stay out of the freshly carpeted room until the smell fades away.
If you're passionate about DIY and you want to clean your rug by yourself, read our helpful post on the topic. It'll walk you through how to clean a carpet without a machine and prolong the life of the fibres.
What can you do before carpet installation?
Eliminating new carpet odour can be a bit time-consuming. Planning your actions beforehand, however, will help you resolve the issue in a timely manner.
If the carpet is yet to be installed, consider the following:
- Buy certified goods. Consider buying a carpet that has Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Green Label and Green Label Plus tags on it. CRI approved carpets have been tested for off-gassing and should be a safe choice.
- Air the carpet beforehand. While this one is tricky, it is achievable. If you are working with a contractor, simply ask him to air out the carpet for at least 2-3 days before installing it.
- Have your carpet installed around the seasons. This way it will be easier for you to ventilate the house.
There you have it, your guide to removing new carpet odour at home! In case you are still being bothered by some nasty odour coming from your new carpet, why don’t you let the professional carpet cleaners from Fantastic Services eliminate it for you?
No matter of the cleaning method, remember to always do a small spot test on hidden part of your carpet. Depending on the size, nature, and age of the stain, some of them might be impossible to remove. We cannot take responsibility if any of the above-mentioned methods do not work on your carpets. Read our full disclaimer here.
Header image source: depositphotos / by syda_productions
Posted in Carpet Cleaning Tips
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