Area Rugs Area Rugs
Written By : RugKnots  |  

Many proud new area rug owners have spent time researching, scouting dealers all over town, and finally discovering their truly ideal area rug... but once all is said and done, their rug unrolled and in place, a strange smell slowly begins spreading throughout their house. Panic usually sets in at this moment, but don't be afraid! Odd smells are a fairly common problem with Rugs of all different fibers and constructions, and can usually be resolved by following a few simple steps. Please remember, if your area rug continues to have problems with odor, especially if it's an aging or antique piece, take it to your local rug cleaner for diagnosis and thorough, professional cleaning. Always avoid using harsh chemicals on your rug and test any cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area of your rug first. Those disclaimers aside, we want to give you effective and minimally invasive remedies for removing funky area rug odors!

Check the video out to know more!

1. Vacuum Your Area Rug

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, regular gentle vacuuming is the best thing you can do for your wool rug’s health. Vacuuming (even without the roller brush) removes most particles from the rug’s pile, which often means removing the various smells that accompany them. Whether or not vacuuming will address the root cause of the odor, it’s always a good place to start. Odor removal is often a process of elimination, so if smells remain after vacuuming, just continue on to the following steps.

Vacuum Your Area Rug

2. Take Advantage Of Sunshine

One of the most effective methods of removing bacterial odors and mildew smells from wool area rugs is to harness the sun’s UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation disrupts the DNA of bacteria and fungi alike, killing the organisms that produce a pungent plethora of undesirable smells. Take the affected area rug outside on a dry, sunny day and rig it up so that airflow and sunlight can reach the entire rug. If possible, hang it up on a fence, a few chairs, or a sturdy clothesline. If not, laying the rug out on a tarp or an old bed sheet will do! After the area rugs are exposed to direct sunlight for a few hours, flip it over to expose the back side. This helps stave off excessive fading of the area rug’s dye while allowing UV radiation to permeate the rug fully. It may take several sessions of 4-6 hours, but direct exposure to sunlight is one of the most efficient, gentle methods of eliminating bacterial and fungal odors from area rugs, Wool Rugs or otherwise.

Take Advantage of Sunshine

3. Charcoal For Odor Absorption

If vacuuming and sun exposure fails to completely remove odors from an area rug, it's time to move on to more drastic measures. Charcoal has long been known for its ability to absorb a wide swath of odorous organic compounds, including those that may be leaving your area rug with its unique stench. Find an old pair of nylon pantyhose (or a comparably breathable material) and fill them up with additive-free charcoal briquettes. Feel free to use whatever leftover charcoal you may have lying around from last weekend’s grill session. Lay the charcoal-filled pantyhose across the top of the rug and roll it up, laying down additional rows of charcoal-hose as you roll if the area rug is particularly large. Once fully rolled, see if you can fit the area rug in a plastic garbage bag; if not, wrap it in painter’s plastic or Saran wrap.

Charcoal for Odor Absorption

Seal it as tightly as possible from the outside environment to ensure that the charcoal absorbs carpet odors, not whatever smells may be floating around the room. After a few days, unwrap the rug and let it air out overnight. The procedure may be repeated if any strange scents linger.

4. The Kitty Litter Treatment

Much like charcoal, kitty litter—or rather, the natural clay it is composed of—does a wonderful job absorbing all sorts of offensive odors. Move the rug to an out-of-the-way location where it won’t be exposed to foot traffic. Sprinkle unscented kitty litter all over the rug, but avoid grinding it down into the pile. Depending on the severity of the smell, it may take a few days for the clay to fully absorb odors, so let the rug sit in peace for a while. After a day or two, shake off as much of the kitty litter as possible and vacuum the rug a few times. Ideally, the smell will vacuum right off with the litter.

The Kitty Litter Treatment

Method Of Cleaning An Area Rug:

You probably know that area rugs can take a beating. They get foot traffic, pets, and spills on them all the time! But if you want to keep your rug looking its best for as long as possible then it's important to deep clean from time to time. Luckily, with our guide on how to do it yourself, you won't have any trouble getting those carpets back into shape again no matter what state they're currently in!

Method of cleaning an area rug:


1. Have Your Tools And Supplies Ready!

Cleaning an area rug can be a tedious and lengthy process, but luckily there are plenty of ways to make the job easier. Here's what you will need on hand for your next project:

  1. Rug shampoo or mild dish soap
  2. bucket
  3. Soft-bristle brush or sponge (optional)
  4. Water (plus optional rubber gloves).
Have your tools and supplies ready!

2. Remove Dirt And Debris

The first step is to brush the rug with a soft-bristle brush or sponge and remove any dirt, debris, hair, and other small particles that have accumulated. Be sure not to scrub too hard as you can do more harm than good if your bristles are rougher in texture.

Remove Dirt and Debris


3. Mix The Cleaning Solution:

Mixing a cleaning solution can be tricky. There are many different options, and it will depend on the type of rug or fabric that you own as to which one is best for your needs. If you need more information about what types of cleaners work best with what fabrics then we are here to help you out!

Firstly, You can use a mixture of ½ cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of water. If you have a Hand Knotted Rug then using an ammonia-free cleaner is best for the fibers in your rug because it can fade or discolor them. If this is not an issue, then you can use any type of cleaning solution that doesn’t contain bleach as harsh chemicals will damage the rug. Use a solution of water and white vinegar, but make sure that you don't use too much as it can bleach your fibers over time. This is best for areas with light stains such as chocolate or red wine because these cleaners break down the stain without leaving any harsh chemicals behind to damage your rug's fabric.

Mix the cleaning solution:


Secondly, You can mix a solution of baking soda and water. Pour a generous amount on the area rug to create a paste as you scrub it with an old toothbrush or your fingers. This is great for stains that have set in over time such as hair dye, ketchup, coffee grounds, wine, or tea.

Finally, using hydrogen peroxide will also work but be sure to spot test it first because the high concentrations can cause your rug's fibers and dyes to break down.

      • Clean a light stain with hydrogen peroxide or baking soda solution
      • Use vinegar for heavy stains such as urine, vomit, paint, tar, grease, etc.
      • Mix some ammonia in water and rub it on the stained area.
Mix the cleaning solution:


    4. Dry Out The Rug:

    Place an absorbent towel or bath mat at the end of your rug for a day and then vacuum it to remove any excess moisture. Drying your rug out will help to get rid of any bad smells. It is the most important part and one cannot miss it. Always remember to vacuum your rug before you let it air dry.

    Dry out the rug:


    Frequently Asked Questions About Area Rugs

    1. Where Can I Place Area Rugs?

    Area rugs can be placed on any hard surface. They are not just for the floor, but you can also use them as an ottoman or a coffee table and in your bedroom to cover the cold floors. You can place them in your living room, dining area, or bedroom. It is a good idea to avoid placing your rug on carpeting because the weight of the heavy furniture might damage it in time. The best placement for an area rug would be on wood floors and other hard surfaces such as tile where there are no high heel shoes that can leave scratches.

    2. What Should I Do If My Area Rug Has Been Exposed To Animal Urine?

    This is one of the most common stains that area rugs are exposed to. The first step is to blot up as much of the urine from your rug with a white cloth or paper towels and then sprinkle some baking soda on it. Let it sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing aggressively at the stain using soap and water, which should remove most of the odor if not all of it.

    3. How To Keep Your Area Rug Looking New?

    Many people have a misconception that when they purchase an area rug, it will last them for years and years with minimal care. However, this is not the case and there are some things you can do to keep your carpet looking new such as vacuuming on a regular basis, using a rug protector, and cleaning stains promptly. Always remember to clean your stain right away or it will set in and become much more difficult to remove.

    4. What Is The Best Way To Clean An Area Rug?

    This answer is highly dependent on the type of rug you have. If your carpet is a natural fiber, then spot cleaning with soap and water will work best for removing stains or dusting off the dirt. For synthetic carpets, it's important to use only mild detergents without any bleach because this can deteriorate the fabric over time.

    5. How Do You Clean An Area Rug For A Room?

    The best way to clean an area rug for a room is by vacuuming it thoroughly every month or so. To avoid having the vacuum stir up allergens in your carpet, use one of these old-fashioned attachments like a brush attachment or put on some vinyl gloves and work from inside out when you're cleaning with soap and water.

    6. How Do You Clean The Bottom Of An Area Rug?

    The bottom of an area rug is best cleaned by flipping it over and spot-cleaning the dirt with a sponge or cloth. You can flip your rug over more often to avoid it accumulating dirt and grime. It is recommended to clean your rug from all sides at least once a month.

    7. Can You Power Wash An Area Rug?

    No, you should never power wash your rug because the pressure can cause it to buckle. power washing a rug may damage the rug fibers and even shrink it. So, If you want to wash a rug try some easy and hands-on methods.

    8. How Much Does It Cost To Have An Area Rug Cleaned?

    The cost of having an area rug cleaned is determined by the size. Rug cleaning prices are typically based on square feet and will range from as low as $25 to up to $250, depending on where you live in the U.S., how close it needs to be taken in for cleaning, what types of services they offer. So, If you want to clean a rug try some easy methods or DIYs at home! You can opt for professional cleaner or cleaning services once a year!

    9. What Is The Best Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution?

    Cleaning is a process that needs to be done regularly in order for it to remain fresh. You can opt for cleaning services once a year or you could clean your rug with the best homemade carpet cleaning solution- coke and water, or baking soda and water. However, the best homemade cleaning solution is vinegar and water. These methods help to eliminate odor.

      1. Coke and water: Mix coke with warm water in a bucket, this will help remove the dirt from your rug. Pour it over the stained areas of your area rug, let it sit for about five minutes before scrubbing down any stains you might find there that need more attention.
      2. Baking soda and water: Mix excess baking soda with warm water in a bucket. Wet the rug, then pour this mixture over it and scrub down well to remove all dirt from your area rugs and deodorize your smelly carpet.
      3. Vinegar and water: Mix vinegar with warm water in a bucket or a spray bottle. Pour this mixture over the entire area rug and scrub down to remove any dirt from your area rugs, then let it dry out before putting furniture back onto the carpeted areas of your home or office so that there is no chance for mold or mildew to grow on top of these carpets because of the moisture. This method is perfect for removing pet odors or surface odors.

    10. Can A 5x7 Rug Fit In A Washing Machine?

    Yes! It can, you just need to know how to put it in the right way. Cleaning a washable carpet in a washing machine is a great way to remove stains and dirt from your carpets, but you will need to make sure that the rug can fit inside of it before deciding. If you have a huge washing machine, place your rug carefully on top or into the basket so that there is no chance of anything getting caught up inside. Set temperatures and cycles for appropriate fabrics to wash without scrubbing but with high water pressure if possible as this will help to clean the rug. If you have a small washing machine, place your rug into two smaller loads if possible and set temperatures for appropriate fabrics as well in order to create enough room and provide the right amount of water pressure during the wash cycle.

    11. How Do You Clean A High Pile Area Rug?

    You can clean a high pile area rug by using a vacuum cleaner. A high pile rug is more likely to have a lot of dirt and debris in it, so use the vacuum attachment that is designed for deep cleaning. Never place your high pile area rug into the water because this can lead to shrinking or matting. Also, make sure you thoroughly clean the small crevices with a brush before vacuuming them out.

    12. How Do You Clean An Outdoor Area Rug?

    You can clean an outdoor area rug with cold water so as to avoid shrinking the fibers or fading the colors from sun exposure. You will also want to use a mild detergent and soft brush on delicate fabrics, avoiding stains that are difficult to remove. You need to clean your outdoor areas every once in a while to eliminate odors and a musty smell. Tea tree oil is also the best way to get rid of the harsh smell.

    13. How Do You Dry A Rug After Washing It?

    When drying a rug, either hang it or place it on the clothesline. In order to speed up the process of drying, you can also use your dryer's "air only" setting and hold off from using any heated settings until after the carpet is completely dry.

    14. Do Carpets Get Dirty Faster After Cleaning?

    No! It's just a myth! Your rug will only get dirty if you allow it to. Cleaning a rug and removing odors is very essential to avoid dirt and other harmful substances from contaminating it. However, The colors will fade after a while, but you can also use rugs to add visual interest and texture to your home's decor. Rugs are not just for the floor- they can be used as furniture too! So, even if your rug gets old or fades in color, you can always reuse it elsewhere!

    If all of the above steps fail to mitigate your rug’s particular stench, please don’t hesitate to take it to experienced professionals and carpet cleaners. Some smells are just too deeply embedded for home treatment like using carpet shampoo for surface odor. If you have any questions about rugs, stinky or otherwise, please feel free to contact us here at RugKnots. We’ve been involved in the rug business for decades. So, if you have any questions or need any information about rugs then feel free to email us at or call us at (301) 660-7046

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    Kathie Camechis

    I have an Karastan area rug that is in front of a French door that comes into my kitchen from a large screened back porch.I vacuum it really well then turn it over and vacuum it .I am always shocked at how much fine dust /sand comes out due to the vibration from the vacuum.

    Judy Rao

    I bought a wool rug but sadly the backing seems to be polypropylene and the smell is terrible. I have tried baking soda and vacuuming. I have used Fabreze and also aired the room for weeks without any luck.
    The smell is still overwhelming. Any suggestions are welcome.
    Thank you,

    Linette carroll

    I have a Karastan area carpet that is my favorite rug. My dog got a fungus infection on his face from an ear infection. He rubbed his face all over the carpet. It now stinks. I have had it professionally cleaned and deodorized twice. No luck. Any suggestions?

    RugKnots Area Rugs

    That’s great! :) We’re working on updating this blog soon with more tips. Happy to hear a remedy you found worked to get rid of the odor. :)


    I used about halfs in a bowl with fresh lemon juice. It worked over a couple of days. The odor is gone. I found this tip on line. The off gassing was very strong and now I can’t smell it. Mine is a rug that I purchased from Wayfair.

    RugKnots Area Rugs

    @Kathleen Anderson
    You can definitely keep that rug; try following the tips we give in this blog, and if that doesn’t work, there’s always the option of looking up a professional cleaner. Hope you’re able to figure it out!

    Kathleen Anderson

    I have a new area rug made of wool and cotton that smells like an old fashioned permanent hair solution (sulfur?). It has made the whole second level of my house smell. At first I thought it was the shower drain in the nearby bathroom that smelled. After 2 weeks I finally smelled the rug and that is definitely where the smell is coming from. The problem is that I really like the rug.