Once you’ve had your carpet professionally cleaned, you may ask yourself if the process is complete. Some people wonder if they need to take any follow-up steps after the pros have packed up their equipment.
Sometimes, carpet smells bad (even worse than it did) after the cleaners leave, leading some to ask why they got their carpet cleaned in the first place and others to consider if a deodorizer is necessary after carpet cleaning.
Is a Deodorizer Necessary After Carpet Cleaning?
If your carpet’s odor happens due to wet padding beneath the carpet, a deodorizer will be a quick fix while that moisture dries. But if the smell is due to a food or pet stain, a deodorizer will only mask the problem.
In most cases, the cause of the odor needs to be addressed to eliminate it. While deodorizers can undoubtedly help make your life more pleasant in the short term, you will have to continue deodorizing as long as the root cause of the odor remains in play.
Why Does My Carpet Smell Bad After Cleaning?
There are many reasons your carpet may smell bad once the cleaners leave. For one thing, “bad” is a subjective term, so there may be those in your family who find the smell of the cleaning chemicals unpleasant, but those odors will dissipate as the cleaning products dry.
A significant number of carpet odors stem from moisture, so it makes sense that after a shampoo, your carpet’s foam padding remains wet and smells bad. Some compare this to a wet dog smell.
If it’s just residual moisture, it will go away on its own. If there’s a significant amount of water– enough that it’s not going to evaporate on its own in a couple of hours– you’ll need to take more significant steps to dry it. Try pointing some fans at it. In a worst-case scenario, you may have to get something under that padding to soak up the liquid.
No matter how you do it, you can’t let the water just remain there, or you will quickly deal with mold and mildew issues, and at that point, you’re not just looking at bad smells but rather dealing with dangers to your health.
If the smell is musty or has some other non-wet-dog quality, it could be due to an organic cause, which is a polite way of saying that your pet used the carpet as its toilet. Additionally, organic stains can also come from food spillage, though that is not usually the case.
An organic stain may smell worse (or start smelling all over again) after cleaning because the cleaning got it wet and, for lack of a better word, reactivated it.
The liquid cleaner stirred up some of the molecules from the thing we’re smelling and got them flying around in the air again. While a deodorizer will mask those molecules by overpowering them in your smell receptors, the stain and its accompanying smell will still be there.
How Do You Stop Carpets Smelling After Cleaning?
Addressing the cause of the odor is the only way to do anything meaningful with a smelly carpet. As mentioned above, if it’s a wet carpet, get it dried.
But if it’s a urine stain from a cat (especially stinky) that’s started to smell again after a cleaning, it’s got to be neutralized. The uric acid in cat pee, specifically, crystallizes as it dries. When it gets wet, and those crystals dissolve, the smell comes back, and this cycle can go on for a long, long time if you let it.
Pet deodorizer products that work are the ones with enzymes that attack the biological compounds that produce smells. The enzymes find the molecules and break them down, and once the bad-smelling molecule breaks down into smaller groups of atoms, it doesn’t smell bad anymore.
How Long Does It Take Carpets to Dry After Cleaning?
Since we’ve talked about perhaps needing to wait for a damp carpet to dry to eliminate the wet dog smell, you’re probably wondering how much time we’re talking about.
Most professional carpet cleaning companies offer a typical window of between four and eight hours for a carpet to dry completely. However, this is a guideline. If you live in New Orleans, it may take longer due to high humidity.
But if your carpet is still wet after 24 hours, you’ve got a problem somewhere. Remember that water left alone will do lots of damage, from the mold or mildew mentioned above to rotting fibers. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to get it taken care of sooner rather than later.
Is Carpet Deodorizer Bad for Carpet?
This is a very broad question. There are powders, sprays, shampoos, even brand-specific products (like a cleaning powder intended for use with a Hoover vacuum cleaner). There are also home remedies and deodorizer products not designed explicitly for carpets.
If you use something that interacts poorly with your carpet, then yes, that will be bad for your carpet. And, depending on who you ask, some home cures like baking soda are either wonderful or terrible.
Your best option will be a deodorizer product recommended by your carpet installer or cleaner or a product specifically designated for use on your brand of carpet. For instance, Carpet Brand A in your living room can be deodorized safely with Carpet Brand A’s in-house deodorizer brand.
No matter what, though, keep in mind that you’ll be applying chemicals to your carpet, which means there will be some stresses put on the carpet fibers, so you may risk damaging your carpet or affecting the color of the fibers. It would be wise to test out a deodorizer on a small, out-of-the-way area of carpet before dousing the whole thing.