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How to Get Rid of a New Rug’s Smell

How to Get Rid of a New Rug’s Smell

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There may be times you find the perfect rug, unroll it, and then you’re greeted by a wave of objectionable smells. New area rug odor doesn’t happen with every purchase, but it’s not uncommon. It will go away on its own over time, but if you’re ready to clear the air, you can breathe easy with these tips. Here’s how to naturally eliminate the odor of a new rug.

Disclaimer: Always follow your rug manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

FAQs About New Rug Smell

Why Do New Rugs Smell?

A new rug’s odor comes from chemicals used in the rug’s manufacturing. These chemicals are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they get released into the air through “offgassing.” This is not as terrifying or toxic as it sounds. Almost everything in your house, from carpet and linoleum to paint and finished hardwood, emits VOCs for a short period after installation. Rugs actually emit fewer VOCs than other household furnishings.

But the process of offgassing creates unpleasant aromas — often chemical odors from synthetic fibers. Natural rugs such as sheepskin or seagrass can also give off an obnoxious barnyard smell when you first open them. While these odors aren’t dangerous, they can cause mild headaches or nausea, and may trigger allergies.

A few things contribute to new rug smell:

  • Manufacturing
  • Material
  • Packaging
  • Stain-resistant, flame-retardant, and other protective treatments

How Do I Get the Smell Out of My New Rug?

The good news is that most new rug odors dissipate over a few days or weeks. Leave your new rug in a well-ventilated space, and use the space as little as possible for at least 72 hours. Here are a few other easy ways to hurry this process along:

  1. Turn up the heat.
  2. Open your doors and windows.
  3. Frequently vacuum over the first few days.

Keep reading to learn more about odor removal for your specific type of rug. If you’re looking for a new rug, opt for natural fibers and look for natural dyes to help minimize VOCs.

Chemical Smells in Synthetic Rugs

Why Synthetic Rugs Smell:

From fade-resistant colors to sturdy durability, synthetic rugs have a lot to offer. But for materials such as polypropylene and polyester, that includes more VOCs. Even mixed materials such as a wool and nylon blend still have VOCs from dye, backing, or protective treatments. That shouldn’t make you nervous, but it does mean higher potential for odor.

Synthetic latex backing is one of the biggest culprits in new rug smell, affecting both natural and man-made materials. Though it strengthens your rug and keeps it from slipping, synthetic latex contains high levels of VOCs. This can be malodorous and irritating to people with allergies. You can buy latex-free rugs on Overstock.com.

How to Get the Chemical Smell Out of a New Rug:

There are a few ways to reduce odor and prevent fumes from escaping. In a small space, consider a portable air filter to help with new rug odor removal. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to give your new rug a quick once-over. These filters remove toxins and irritants from your home, minimizing that new rug smell and improving your indoor air quality.

If you prefer to avoid buying additional products, simply take your new synthetic rug outside. Leave it unrolled in a garage or on the porch so that most of the smell will dissipate outside and not in your indoor space. Want a quicker option? Cross-ventilation can whisk away unpleasant odors, so open those windows and place a fan where it can blow across your new rug. If you have an extra fan to set in the window, then face it outward to blow the chemicals outdoors.

Mold and Mildew Smells in Natural Rugs

Why Natural Rugs Smell:

If your new area rug smells musty, you’re not alone. Many natural rugs such as cotton are flat-woven, eliminating the need for a latex backing (and VOCs). But even though natural rugs are lower on VOCs, they create their own aromas. This includes rugs with mixed materials.

It’s completely normal for new wool rugs to smell. Since they’re made from animal fiber, these rugs frequently come with a musty scent that fades over time. Sheepskin and cowhide rugs may also present a strong pungency on unpackaging. Plant-based sisal, jute, and seagrass rugs typically start out with a mild, straw-like aroma, making them easy to introduce to your home.

How to Get the Musty Smell Out of a New Rug:

You can easily reduce or remove natural rug smells with a few sprays from your carpet deodorizer. In severe cases, sheepskin rugs can be machine washed on a gentle cycle. Both sheepskin and cowhide respond well to dry-cleaning if you don’t want to wait for the smell to dissipate on its own. Humidity may cause any natural rug to develop a musty odor, so consider a rug pad to absorb excess moisture and keep your natural rug ventilated. Avoid spills or placing your rug in humid areas.

Universal Solutions for New Rug Odor Removal

Some rugs respond better to chemicals, and others to physical cleaning such as shaking or vacuuming. But simple solutions like a day outside help reduce all types of new rug odor. Outdoor breezes help cut down on humidity and allow VOCs to dissipate, so lay your rug on the driveway or patio to let it air out. Hang your rug face-down on a clothesline or porch railing to prevent fading, and let strong sunlight bake away any stray aromas. If you’re stuck indoors, try wrapping your rug around a bag of charcoal briquettes. You can also sprinkle it with baking soda. All these products absorb odors, leaving your new rug smelling fresher when you vacuum them away.

Rug odor is often related to the type of material. Check out our Guide to the Best Rug Materials to choose the best area rug for your home. Is your rug’s odor stain-related? See our guide on How to Get Stains Out of Carpet and Rugs for every type of stain and solution.