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How to Remove Mildew Smell Out of Your Rugs

Carpets and area rugs are made of sponge-like materials which makes it very easy for them to retain smells. The good news is that most odours can be removed with proper care. The bad news is that when the odour is the musty smell of mildew, things get slightly complicated, especially if you don’t catch the mould early on and it has reached the backing of the rug. When mould starts to form on your rug, it’s crucial to get rid of it as soon as possible as it can be indicative of damage done to the rug by excess moisture that has not dried out of it completely. Plus, mould can cause wheezing in people with asthma.

Don’t worry if you’ve noticed mildew forming on one of your rugs; there is still hope. Although we always advise to get your area rugs cleaned by a professional rug cleaner, below are some tips to help you kick that unpleasant odour out of your rug and your house using effective do-it-yourself (DIY) methods. Please note that we do often see do-it-yourself rug cleaning methods do more damage than good, and so we are putting together this guide to help those who still choose a DIY rug cleaning method in an effort to minimize damage.

Method #1: The Natural Way to Remove Mildew Smell

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent ingredient to use to remove odours, be it from smelly shoes, clothes or, in this case, area rugs.

Here’s how to apply baking soda:
  1. Sprinkle the surface of your rug with baking soda. Be generous. The idea is to have a really thick layer of baking soda on top of the rug to get the job done effectively. Leave it as is for a few hours (ideally overnight or, even better, for two days if possible) without allowing anyone to step on it. If the odour is superficial, this will be more than enough to make your rug smell fresh.
  2. If you get the feeling that the odour is coming from within the rug after you’ve left baking soda on it for two days, brush the rug with a stiff broom or a handheld brush so that the baking soda reaches the carpet’s fibres. Be gentle when using the broom to prevent damaging its delicate fibres.
  3. At this point in the process, do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean off the baking soda because the powder might cause damage to it. Instead, save yourself the extra effort and just shake your rug outdoors.
  4. Once you’ve shaken off the excess baking soda, vacuum what’s left of the powder with a strong vacuum.
  5. If the smell has improved but is not completely gone, repeat the process. Don’t worry. Baking soda won’t harm the rug, so it is safe to use it as many times as necessary. If the odour is more stubborn than what you first thought, it’s time to call the professionals at Love Your Rug to schedule a free rug pickup anywhere in Southern Ontario and Ottawa.
baking soda


Here’s how to apply vinegar:
  1. After baking soda, vinegar is the next best thing to get rid of musty smells from your rug. Another great benefit of vinegar is that it will kill mould spores and dust mites that might be responsible for allergic reactions or asthma attacks inside your home. Spray some white vinegar on the surface of the rug. Alternatively, you could blot it using a soft, clean cloth. If the source of the smell is a liquid that has already set in the carpet, it is important to get right through it with generous applications of vinegar. Be careful not to saturate the carpet, though.
  2. Let the acid in the vinegar work through the bacteria that are causing the odour for 15-20 minutes. Then, blot with a clean cloth to remove as much of the vinegar as you can.
  3. Spray some clean water to rinse the vinegar out of the rug then press a clean, dry towel on the wet spots to absorb all remaining water.
  4. Let the rug air dry completely and repeat the process if the odour is lessened but not removed.
vinegar as a cleaning solution

Important Notes:

  • It is important to find the method that finally gets the mouldy odour from your carpet and then repeat the process, at least once.
  • The intensity of the odour, as well as its type, will determine the effort and time you will need to remove the odour. So be prepared for several applications if the odour is particularly strong.
  • Let fresh air circulate in your home every day to combat the formation of mould and expedite the odour-removing process. Open your windows every morning for a couple of hours and then again before going to bed to keep your rugs mould-free. Fresh air will improve your indoor air quality which will also positively impact your health.

Method #2: The Chemical Way to Remove Mildew Smell

Applying hydrogen peroxide to your rug is another effective way to battle mildew odour. Before you use it on your entire rug, check a small area to make sure it is safe. If you notice discolourations of the test-area, don’t use it. If the colours are unaffected, mix five parts of water with one part of hydrogen peroxide and spray the back of the carpet with the solution. This will help kill mould spores; which are the source of the odour.

Another way to go to remove odours from your rug is to use carpet foam. First, vacuum the affected area and apply carpet shampoo. Once you apply a generous amount of carpet shampoo, use a sponge to rub it into the carpet. Let the product sit for at least half an hour or until it is completely dry. Then, vacuum the carpet.

Tip: To speed up the drying process, you can place your carpet on a clean (and dry) driveway and let the sunlight do the rest. Just make sure the backing of the carpet is facing the sun to avoid fading of colours.

spraying cleaning product on rug

Method #3: The Professional Way to Remove Mildew Smell

There is still a strong probability the nasty mildew odour won’t go away completely without professional help. You will most likely need a team of rug cleaning experts to remove mould spores effectively and prevent them from coming back. The most trusted and experienced professionals will come equipped with cleaning systems and advanced technologies that allow them to perform deep-down extraction, which is the perfect way to help get the fresh new-carpet smell back and improve the quality of the air you and your loved ones breathe inside your home.

Check out our extensive area rug cleaning process below and schedule your rug cleaning pickup at no additional cost anywhere in the GTA, Southern Ontario or Ottawa today.

The area rug cleaning experts at Love Your Rug will take amazing care of your rug. We have perfected a nine-step rug cleaning process that will remove any stain or smell, even mildew.

First, Love Your Rug’s lab technicians will perform an inspection to examine the details of the material, size and origin of the rug. Once the team knows what kind of rug they are working with they will run the rug through a state of the art computer controlled dusting machine which will ensure dust particles are removed.

Next, your rug will be pre-treated with a safe and eco-friendly solution before it’s carefully machine washed. Our area rug technicians will additionally manually wash your rug with powerful pressure washers then rinse it with fresh water.

Once your rug has been thoroughly cleaned, your rug will be put into our centrifuge machine where all the remaining water and moisture will be drained.

After the water has been drained in the machine, we send the rug to our enclosed, climate-controlled drying room where it will be properly dried.

Lastly, we do one final inspection to ensure the rug is in flawless condition before we package it up and send it back to you. Contact Love Your Rug today to learn more about our rug cleaning process or see our prices and fill out our online form to schedule a pickup today. Your area rug is in great hands when you choose Love Your Rug!

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