How to Get the Smell out of a Wool Rug

Clean Kitchen with Oriental Rug on Floor.

Removing Smells from a Wool Rug.

How to Remove Bad Smells from a Wool Rugs

There are many benefits to owning a wool rug. Wool is long lasting, resilient and it is a renewable resource. There are also many, beautiful styles and designs to choose from.

When I was growing up, my parents had a couple of large wool area rugs in our household. I remember playing with my plastic horses on those rugs (oh boy, that was a long time ago.)

One of the pitfalls of a wool rug is that they can sometimes have a strong, bad smell. Even a brand new woolen rug can be unrolled, laid down and the odor will knock your socks off!

If your rug is brand new, it should not have a foul odor. Bring it back to the store for replacement or get your money back.

Why Do Wool Rugs Smell?

Below are some of the reasons a wool rug will smell.

  • Over the years there has been a large amount of low quality, hand-tufted rugs appearing on the market.
  • If your rug has a latex coating or adhesive on the backside, the latex can deteriorate, be defective or is low quality, and it can cause a smell that may not come out. This is especially true of new rugs – the odor can be built in and never come out.
  • Wool rugs should not be allowed to remain wet, moisture odors will happen when water leaks and spills have gone unnoticed; it could also lead to bacteria odors.
  • Walking on a wool rug with wet dirty shoes.

Rugs that are not cleaned properly, pet stains, food spills can all contribute to a wool carpet smelling badly. Smells can range anywhere from mild to oppressive.

So how can we remedy these stinky rugs of yours? Keep scrolling down on down the page. The odor removal remedies listed below are basic and meant to be used on dry rugs.

The Magic of Mother Nature

Sometimes old fashioned remedies are still the best solution for odor control. And in this case it’s good old Mother Nature coming through again!

  • Vacuum the rug so it’s nice and clean.
  • Bring the rug outdoors on a sunny day and let it absorb those awesome rays of sunshine. If there are any odorous bacteria smells this should help.
  • Allow it to stay outside but bring it in before the air begins to chill so it doesn’t get damp. You may need to do this a few times but plain old sunshine will work wonders in removing the odors.

Because you don’t want the face of your rug to fade, only keep it face up in the sun for a couple of hours then flip it over for the rest of the afternoon.

If your rug is wet, do not leave it in the sun; keep it in the warm shade so it does not shrink.

Never bring the rug outside when it is humid as the wool will absorb the moisture and this can increase your odor problem.

Charcoal Isn’t Just for Grilling a Great Steak!

Not only is charcoal used for cooking a delicious steak on the barbecue, as my husband does, it’s also a pretty good odor buster.

  1. Take a pair of pantyhose and cut the legs off, get as high as possible to the crotch area. Fill each with additive free charcoal briquettes, leave enough room for tying. If you don’t have nylons, you can use some old knee high socks. The nice thing about nylons is the length and the amount of charcoal you can fit inside. Be sure the nylons don’t have any holes in them.
  2. Tie the top of the nylons tightly to prevent the charcoal from spilling out.
  3. Place the charcoal on top of the rug near the edge and begin rolling it up. Depending on the size of your rug, after a couple of rolls, you might want to add the other charcoal filled nylon.
  4. Leave the rug rolled up somewhere where it will not be in the way. Let sit for the next day or two.
  5. Unroll the rug, remove the charcoal and vacuum as usual.
  6. If it still smells, repeat the process and be sure to use new charcoal briquettes each time.

When you’ve finished with this process you can reuse the charcoal briquettes on the barbecue. Is that not awesome or what? I love recycling.

The Miracle of Cat Litter

Cat litter is a very versatile product. It absorbs both moisture and odors. The many brands of cat litter on the market are incredibly useful, even if you don’t own a cat!

My daughter has two boys in the house and a downstairs bathroom dedicated just for them. She keeps kitty litter in a container on the bathroom floor and it always smells so fresh in there.

If possible, move the rug to a room like a clean garage floor, where you can close the door and limit the traffic that comes and goes, including the car.

Caution: Walking on the cat litter will crush the litter and push it deeply into the wool, so be careful.

  1. Vacuum rug to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Generously sprinkle a fair amount of unscented cat litter over the rug.
  3. Let this sit on the carpet for a day or two.
  4. Take it outside to shake off the cat litter, or if that is not possible, shake the cat litter off inside a large garbage bag then vacuum the cat litter up completely.
  5. Repeat the process if necessary.

You can also follow the steps as listed for charcoal above.

Borax and Baking Soda

Oh My. The two B’s of odor removal – borax and baking soda. They work wonders together and make stinky rugs smell fresh again.

Mix together 1 cup borax and 1 cup baking soda. The recipe can be adjusted depending on the size of your rug.

  1. Vacuum the rug completely to remove all dirt.
  2. Sprinkle your dry woolen rug with the borax and baking soda mixture. Use a fair amount to completely cover the rug, but not enough to make a snow angel.
  3. Keep everyone off the rug.
  4. Again, let the rug set for a day or two, then shake out the rug outside and vacuum the powder up.
  5. Repeat as often as necessary to keep your wool rug free from odors.

Although all of the odor removal methods above are safe for wool carpets/rugs, and if you rug is expensive or fragile, you may want to consider having a professional take a look at it.

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