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How to Get Rid of Sour Smell on Carpet

Having a home that smells fresh and clean is relaxing, comforting, and part of what makes your house feel like a home. So when a sour smell intrudes and seems to be coming from your carpet, it can really ruin your day. But what’s causing that horrible odor, and how to get sour smell out of carpet without damaging or staining it further?

Why Does My Carpet Smell Sour?

The most likely reason your carpet has begun to smell sour is that something was spilled on it and either wasn’t noticed or wasn’t cleaned thoroughly enough. It was probably food to drink of some kind, and the residue has begun to decompose on your carpet. The cause of the smell is mold or mildew that grew from the spillage and is now hidden away in the fibers of your carpet.

The worst culprit for this is any dairy-based drink, and the sour milk smell is pretty distinctive. So how to get sour milk smell out of carpet? We’ve outlined a few of the best methods below.

Remedies for Getting Rid of Sour Smell on Carpets

There are various methods when it comes to how to get sour smell out of carpet, some of which are simple and use common household materials. However, where the scent is particularly ground in or has spread widely, stronger action may be required, so which of these methods to use will depend on what you have available, how long the smell has been left interested and how widespread the problem has become.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an ingredient that you will find in most kitchen cupboards. But did you know it’s also an excellent cleaning agent? The chemicals causing that sour smell are slightly alkaline in nature, and the baking soda reacts with them, turning them into neutral-smelling sodium salts and eliminating most of the odor. To use it, follow these five simple steps.

  1. Remove any dry spills and dab soap on noticeable stains
  2. Sprinkle baking soda on the impacted area
  3. Wait at least 15 minutes for the baking soda to do its work.
  4. Vacuum up the baking soda
  5. Spray one of Fresh Wave’s fantastic odor eliminators.

The baking soda will be more effective the longer you leave it. If it’s not likely to be disturbed by pets or children, leave it overnight before completing steps four and five.


Another common household item with multiple cleaning uses is vinegar, making it a cost-effective way of removing that sour smell on your carpet. As a weak acid, it’s an excellent way to neutralize the smelly residue in your carpet, and it will also kill any mildew that might be growing in the fibers of your carpet. It’s easy to use too.

First, mix one cup of distilled white vinegar with one cup of warm water in a spray bottle and shake it well. Once you’ve done that, spritz the entire carpet and let it air dry. Don’t worry about the strong vinegar scent; that will neutralize as the mixture dries. For extra cleaning power, if there’s a particularly strong odor, you can add two teaspoons of baking soda.


If you keep a bottle of vodka in the cupboard for making cocktails, you might not know that it’s also an effective cleaning agent. This is because it is a very pure spirit, with little in the way of added ingredients. So, for example, don’t use rum instead as the extra sugar in it can cause its own problems! However, rubbing alcohol is a good substitute.

To use vodka to remove odors, mix one part vodka with two parts water in a spray bottle and apply to the affected area. As well as removing the smell, it can also get rid of stains. If you have a persistent stain, change the mixture to include more of the vodka. However, you should be wary as delicate fibers might be damaged by strong alcohol.

Leave the vodka for about 15 minutes, then blot away dampness with a dry cloth or paper towels. To remove any remaining moisture, apply baking soda if needed. Once the area is dry, vacuum the carpet.

Home Carpet Shampooing

Many home vacuums now come with carpet cleaning attachments, which are particularly handy if you have kids or pets or are prone to regular spillages. Alternatively, you can purchase cleaning attachments, which will come with instructions on cleaning products to use. Once you’ve finished cleaning, help the odors to stay away with one of Fresh Wave’s odor-eliminating sprays.

Hire a Professional

If your problem is particularly widespread or has been left for a few days or more, drastic measures might be required when you’re planning how to get sour smell out of carpet. For example, if you’ve been away on vacation and not noticed a spillage when you left, you might not be able to tackle the problem yourself when you return. However, professional carpet cleaners have access to chemicals, methods and protective equipment that you don’t, so it could be worth looking up a local cleaning company and asking for a quote.

Takeaways for How to Deodorize Your Carpet

Whether using a home remedy, machinery or hired help to get the job done, removing odors on your carpet should be a top priority. If not attended to quickly, the root causes of the smell, molds or mildew, can become a major headache and damage your carpets permanently. The approaches above can be applied outside the home too. For example, you might have had a spillage in your car and need to know how to get sour milk smell out of car carpet.

Once the carpets are cleaned, lean on Fresh Wave Odor Eliminating Spray, gels, and candles to not only deodorize the impacted area but to help eliminate any lingering odors that could be occurring in your house.