Carpet Smells Like Stinky Feet? Here’s What To Do

Nothing is quite as refreshing as stepping into a home with a freshly vacuumed carpet...unless that carpet smells like sweaty feet. The smell of foot odor is gross, which is why having a carpet that stinks like it tends to be a major problem for both homeowners and guests alike. Worried about what you should do? Don't be. After doing a little research, we were able to find a quick and easy cure for this carpet ailment.

Bad cleaning can cause carpet odors, but that's not all. If you notice your carpet odor worsening after a deep clean, you probably have a rotten carpet underlay in need of being replaced. However, if you are just dealing with a foul-smelling carpet, you can use a product like baking soda or carpet deodorizer to make things smell better.

If you've ever had a whiff of a foul-smelling carpet, you probably will want to fix this issue as soon as humanly possible. To find out what you can do, keep reading. We've got the answers to all your carpet odor questions.

Why Does My Carpet Smell Like Stinky Feet?

Male feet on carpet

Before you can figure out how to curb the carpet smell, you need to be able to figure out why your carpet is so stinky. Thankfully, this is an odor that can be traced back to one of several main causes:

  • Your carpet may be in need of cleaning. We're not just talking about vacuuming, but actual steam cleaning or dry cleaning.
  • Your carpet was improperly cleaned and only a portion of the carpet's filth was removed. This often happens with equipment malfunctions.
  • Your carpet has mold near the underlay or grip rods. This can happen with aging underlay, a flood you weren't aware of, or sheer bad luck. 

How Can You Tell If The Smell Is Cleaning-Related?

A man using a vacuum to clean the carpet thoroughly

Most of the time, people may notice a funny footy smell after a deep cleaning routine from a professional company. This could potentially be a sign that your cleaners didn't get all the debris out of your carpet. Most of the time, this can be remedied by running a fan, opening up all the windows, and letting the room air out. 

How Long Should A Carpet Smell After Cleaning?

Spacious white themed living room with carpet covered floor and a fireplace with white tiled mantel

A carpet really shouldn't smell for long after it's been professionally cleaned. If you notice the smell lingering for more than two to three hours, you probably have a bigger issue on your hands. Should this be the case, it's best to call your cleaners and explain what's going on.

If there was an issue with their cleaning equipment, they might come and fix it. Otherwise, you might have a deeper issue that could be related to your carpet. 

Does Cold Air Dry Carpets?

If you're wondering how to dry out a carpet faster, cold air won't help. What really matters is the humidity levels in the air. Warm, low-humidity air will dry out a carpet faster than just having cold air. In fact, it's usually better to dry it in warm air instead of cold altogether. 

Addressing A Foul-Smelling Carpet Underlay

Let's say that it's not a cleaning issue, and you're beginning to suspect a bad carpet underlay. The obvious fix here, if you want it to be permanent, is that you will need to replace the carpet underlay. This is a measure that you will need to do professionally in many cases. However, there may still be fixes you can use to reduce the smell in some cases.

Drying out your underlay is the easiest way to reduce the smell, followed up by using carpet deodorizers. Using these solutions can delay the inevitable.

How Do You Dry Carpet Underlay?

Let's say that there is a carpet underlay that you know is wet or mildewy. You may need to dry it out in order to reduce the odor. This is what you will need to do in order to do this:

  1. First, turn on the air conditioner. Then remove the carpet from the top, exposing the underlay. This is a move that is best done with some needle-nose pliers to grip the carpet as you remove it from the tack. 
  2. Peel up the underlay and use a water vacuum or towel to dab up as much moisture from the flooring as possible. Press on the carpet padding to force out water from the spongy interior. 
  3. Drop a bunch of baking soda on the carpet underlay to help absorb the water.
  4. Create an air pocket using the carpet, and then run a dehumidifier under the carpet. 
  5. Leave the dehumidifier on until the underlay is dry to the touch. Then, finish by vacuuming up the remaining baking soda.

How Can You Deodorize Your Stinky Carpet?

The easiest way to make your carpet stop smelling like feet is to apply a deodorizing powder to it, using a broom to work it deep inside the carpet. The deodorizer will absorb the smell and also help dry things out. In some cases, it might even prevent additional mold from growing. Thankfully, there are plenty of good carpet deodorizers to choose from (more on that later). 

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Carpet Underlay?

Man removing carpet underlay from a wooden floor

Had a nasty flood? Can't just dry the underlay? After a certain point, your underlay may be too damaged to continue being used. It may need to be replaced. If you want to keep the carpet but switch out the underlay, you will still need to pay a fairly large sum of money for each room. Most places will charge $3.75 per square foot just to install a new carpet underlay. 

If you want to install a new carpet along with the padding, then you should expect to pay between $7 to $9 per square foot on average. In some cases, carpet replacement may be the only way to get rid of the foul odor. 

What Is The Best Carpet Odor Eliminator?

The best carpet odor eliminator, Carpet Smells Like Stinky Feet? Here's What To Do

Carpet odors can often be tamed, if not completely removed, by the right odor eliminator. This list of easy to use odor eliminators will help you remove that stink as soon as possible. 

Baking Soda

Baking soda is the go-to for almost any cleaning endeavor, from cleaning mold from shower grout to cleaning a shower curtain. To use this, work the baking soda into the carpet, let it rest, then use a vacuum to suck it back up. In some cases, you might even want to leave the baking soda to rest there. 

Click here to get baking soda from Amazon.

Cat Litter

Counterintuitive as it may be, cat litter can be a great tool for getting rid of carpet odors. Just fill a small jar with cat litter and leave it out in the room where the odor is. (Ideally, keep it out of sight.) The litter will absorb the smell. Make sure to replace it every three weeks, and you'll be golden. 

Click here to get cat litter from Amazon.

Natural Powdered Carpet Deodorizer

Of course, if you want to go for a more commercial route, it's often better to go with a natural solution, such as the one provided by Good Natured. When choosing organic deodorizers, choose one that is environmentally-friendly, pet-safe, and certified non-toxic. This one below has a nice lemon scent, too.

Click here to get this powdered carpet deodorant from Amazon.

Quick Drying Carpet Odor Eliminator Foam

If you're not a fan of having to vacuum up powder you just put down, then you might want to try an odor eliminator foam instead. Foams are fairly easy to use. Most of them will just require you to spray it on the offending carpet, and then let it dry. If the room with the smelly carpet is a smaller one, it's definitely an option to consider. 

Click here to get this odor eliminator foam from Amazon.

In Closing

A blue themed room with a blue carpet, blue walls and a blue chair with throw pillows on it, Carpet Smells Like Stinky Feet? Here's What To Do

A foul-smelling carpet can put a damper on anyone's day, but that doesn't mean you have to live with it. The vast majority of carpet odors can be eliminated fairly easily. It's just about knowing what to do. In most cases, just drying out the carpet's underlay or giving your carpet a secondary cleaning session will do the trick. If you need odor cures in a pinch, using the right deodorizer will be more than enough. 

Of course, there is a slight chance that you may need to replace the carpet underlay. Should this happen, you will need to call up a carpet installer and find a carpet underlay that suits your home. Thankfully, this is a "once in a blue moon" type of situation and shouldn't be the immediate go-to fix. 

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