Brown Spots On Carpet After Cleaning

My carpet turned brown after professional carpet cleaning

You just had your carpet professionally and now you have brown spots on the carpet after cleaning. That’s not exactly the result you hoped for, right?

Typically there are two major causes for brown spots on the carpet after carpet cleaning

brown spots on the carpet after cleaning

Carpet pH left too high

The pH of your carpet was left too high after cleaning. This caused the carpet to turn brown, or to “brown out” as it’s called in the carpet cleaning world.

Deep stain wicked to the surface

The second case usually is that a stain wicked back up from the bottom of the carpet causing it to turn brown.

Let’s look at both as well as what you can do to fix it.

prespraying carpet with a high pH detergent

Brown Spots on Carpet After Cleaning Caused by Brown Out

Remember the pH scale that you probably haven’t thought much about since high school? It turns out that as an adult, this knowledge can come in handy.

When synthetic carpets are made, they come from the carpet mill at a pH of about 5 (remember, it’s a scale from 0-14 where 7 is considered neutral. Anything below a 7 is acidic and anything about a 7 is a base).

Carpet prefers a more acidic pH

Carpet likes to stay at it’s “happy place”, on the slightly acidic side of the pH scale. When it’s left at too high of a pH (usually 9-10+), it can turn brown. Most detergents range from a 9-13 pH. A professional will apply different products to adjust the pH depending on the soil level of the carpet.

The carpet looks dirtier after cleaning

During professional carpet cleaning, a basic solution is almost always used. High pH solutions do a great job of cleaning things. Soap, detergent, most household cleaners… high pH.

The way professional carpet cleaning is supposed to work is that a high pH detergent is applied to breakdown and release the grime and dirt. Afterwards, a low pH, acidic rinse is used to neutralize the high pH solution and rinse everything cleanly from the carpet.

The high pH wasn’t fully rinsed from your carpet

Sometimes, the high pH hasn’t been fully rinsed out of the carpet. This leaves the carpet at too high of a pH, which causes you to have brown spots on the carpet after carpet cleaning. Usually the brown spots are going to be pretty large, widespread, and may appear streaky with a brown out.

This is a common problem with low budget carpet cleaners, or those that don’t know what they are doing and rinse with only water (not with the proper slightly acidic rinse). It can even happen to the pros from time to time, too, but its rare.

The good news is that a browned out carpet is usually easy to fix.

MSS Cleaning employee rinsing carpet to avoid turning carpet brown

How to fix a browned out carpet

If your carpet has brown spots after cleaning, call back the company that you had clean your carpets. They should come back out and re-rinse the carpets with an acid rinse.

They should be able to get the remaining high pH out of the carpet, bring things back into balance, and get it looking great again.

For more extreme cases, professional browning treatment products exist as well. This is effectively a heavy duty version of a rinse. Rarely have we found this to be necessary. When you properly rinse a browned out stain with an acid rinse, it should take care of the problem.

Solving a reappearing stain on carpet

If you have a carpet stain that keeps coming back, it probably needs to be re-cleaned more thoroughly. There are other effective treatments to seal that area of carpet to keep the stain from wicking again.

Another option is to aggressively flood the area with solution and extract it via sub-surface extraction from the carpet and the carpet pad. Usually the latter is not needed. Click to read more about carpet stains that keep coming back.

Brown spots on the carpet from a stain below the surface

The other likely culprit to brown spot on carpet is that there was a stain below the carpet embedded in the carpet pad. You may have cleaned up a coffee spill, grease stain, blood stain or other brown stain at a previous point. This effectively made it disappear from the carpet.

Professional carpet cleaning uses hot water extraction to inject hot water and solution into the carpet and then suck it back out. Through this process, it’s possible to disturb a hidden stain that has previously saturated the carpet pad. As the damp carpet dries, the carpet fibers wick the stain to the surface making it now visible.


reappearing light brown stain on white carpet

Still have questions or need help with brown spots on your carpet?

If you are in or around Denver and you need your carpet professionally cleaned, please don’t hesitate to reach out or to book an appointment online.

Or Call: 1-720-233-0761

How Long Does it Take for Carpets to Dry?

Wet and soggy carpet can be concerning. Understandably, you’d prefer your carpets to be dry sooner than later. Usually after a carpet cleaning, carpets are dry in 6-10 hours. For a flood or other more extreme amounts of water, we provide detailed answers to each scenario below.

In general, the answer to how long does it take for carpets to dry has a lot to do with how wet your carpets are presently, what caused them to get wet, and what external factors are affecting dry time. 

A General Rule of Thumb for Carpet Drying

In general, you don’t want your carpets to be wet for more than 24-48 hours. This is to avoid concerns about having smelly carpet or developing microbial growth. Carpets that are over-wetted or wet for a long period of time can also develop carpet buckles or rippling.

Typically carpets are wet for one of two reasons. Either they are wet from a flood or they are wet from a professional or DIY carpet cleaning. If you’d like to jump right to your relevant section, click the link below:

How Long Does It Take For Carpets To Dry After Cleaning By A Professional

When you have your carpets professionally cleaned, you should expect your carpets to be slightly damp to the touch after the service is completed. Your carpets should never be left wet or soggy after a steam cleaning process.

Typical dry times are 6-10 hours for residential carpet. Commercial carpet typically dries in 2-6 hours. The actual dry time depends on a lot of different factors. If your carpets are still wet 24 hours after your carpet cleaning, it’s time to call back the company that did the work.

Factors That Impact Carpet Dry Time After a Professional Carpet Cleaning

The Equipment Used

There is a noticeable difference in dry times between a high end, modern truck mounted system and a weaker, budget model. Similarly, the age of the equipment matters. A modern, well maintained machine is going to extract more water than a 25 year old beat up machine.

The best carpet cleaning equipment Prochem Everest

Quality of Carpet Cleaning Workmanship

A quality carpet cleaning service with a skilled technician is going to take extra steps that a budget provider will most certainly skip. Budget carpet cleaners need to blow through a lot of jobs in a day in order to make any money.

So, they rush by not taking the time to “dry stroke” with the carpet cleaning wand during the hot water extraction phase of the carpet cleaning. This extra vacuum-only stroke is important, since it sucks up a lot more water and leads to faster dry times. A knowledgeable technician also will set the machine properly so as not to over-wet the carpet.

carpet cleaning tan carpet near a dresser

Were Speed Drying with Fans and Carpet Grooming Part of the Process?

Higher end carpet cleaning companies use specific carpet cleaning fans to help speed up dry times. These fans are moved around as carpet cleaning is completed in each area.

Carpet grooming can also speed up dry times by aligning the carpet fibers. Aligned carpet fibers will help wick moisture away from the carpet backing and pad which will speed up carpet dry time.

MSS Cleaning employee using a carpet rake to groom carpet

How Long Does It Take Carpets To Dry After DIY Carpet Cleaning

For carpet to be thoroughly cleaned, water must be injected into the carpet. Professionals have a very powerful vacuum that extracts the vast majority of this water. By comparison, DIY carpet cleaning machines have a much weaker vacuum.

However, they also spray a much weaker spray of water, meaning there is not as much water to remove. Typical dry times will depend on how “heavy” you go with the DIY equipment. 6-10 hours would be typical dry time.

How Long Does Carpet Take To Dry After A Flood

If you have experienced a flood, don’t expect the carpet to dry on its own before damage sets in. We recommend you call a local, certified water restoration company right away.

Not taking care of water damage is a recipe for a much larger bill once the carpet, padding, drywall, and other surfaces develop mold. 48-72 hours is when mold typically begins to propagate, so you want to act quickly to avoid further damage and higher costs.

Professional Water Restoration and Drying Services

After you experience a flood, we recommend you call a professional water restoration company. The company will take initial moisture readings, extract the water, and remove any unsalvageable material such as drywall.

From there, they will set up fans and dehumidifiers to remove the remaining water. Next, they will also take daily moisture readings until the moisture reaches a normal range. Expect this to take at least a few days.

If the flood water is clean and the water restoration beings on the day of the flood, it may be possible to save the carpet and the padding. However, If the flood was caused by grey or black water (such as a sewer backup), everything must be removed.

Don’t wait too long before calling a restoration service. Otherwise, much more work and a higher cost will be required to remedy the problem. Once mold is discovered, containment will need to be set up and mold mitigation will begin. This will skyrocket the price, the time it takes, and the hassle required for you, in order to get everything fixed.

What Can I do to Speed Up Carpet Drying Time?

If your carpets are only damp to the touch (not wet, like after a flood or a faulty carpet cleaning), these recommendations will help get it dried out quickly. If the carpets are truly wet, you are best off calling in a professional.

Circulate Some Air Around

During any time of the year, turn on any ceiling fans you may have, and/or set up a few box fans. If it’s warm out, open up your windows and doors. This will help the moisture escape while allowing for circulating air to carry the moisture out of your home or office.

During the Summer or in a Hot Climate

Let the air conditioning run. Keep the HVAC fan running. Air conditioning pulls moisture out of the air as it cools.

During the Winter or in a Cold Climate

Turn the heat up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your HVAC fan running full time to circulate air.

We’re Here To Help

If you have any other questions about how long does it take for carpets to dry, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d be happy to help. As always, if you need professional carpet cleaning services in Denver, give us a call or schedule an appointment.

Or Call: 1-720-233-0761

Why Does a Carpet Stain Keep Coming Back?

Causes of Reappearing Carpet Stains and How to Deal With Them

If you’re reading this, you’re already probably frustrated with that carpet spot you’ve been working on but the carpet stain keeps coming back. As a professional carpet cleaning company, we understand your frustrations. Sometimes even for the pros, as much as we hate to admit it, a carpet stain keeps coming back.

carpet stain that keeps coming back

The Carpet Pad is Often The Problem

Almost always, the answer to this problem lies not in the carpet itself, but in the carpet pad. Carpet pads are kind of like a big sponge. They are typically a porous foam material.

The structure of carpet is such that fibers are effectively glued onto a carpet backing during manufacture. This leaves plenty of porous holes where liquid (or oil or grease) can seep through.

When a substance penetrates through the carpet fibers and the backing and then into the carpet pad, the “big sponge” traps the substance in it, and beneath it.

Usually this problem is more common when there is a large amount of something spilled. For example dog urine, dropping a full cup of coffee, a plate of greasy chicken wings, and so on.

Wicking From the Carpet Pad

When an effort is made to clean up whatever caused the spill, there may be initial success in getting the spot to lift. However, as it dries, the carpet fibers wick the staining substance back into them. Soon, what looked like a successful spot clean up, is back to looking terrible.

What’s the Solution to Carpet Spots That Keep Coming Back?

Once again, the answer lies in the carpet pad. If you can’t get the spilled substance out of the carpet pad, the spot is never going to go away. Most of the time, if you have a spot that keeps coming back, it’s time to call in the pros.

Three Professional Options

The answer to the problem lies deeper than your home spot cleaner is going to be able to clean. There are three professional level options to deal with reappearing spots and stains.

Professional Carpet Cleaning to Remove a Spot That Keeps Coming Back

Carpet cleaning reoccurring spots is typically where we start. Sometimes a good thorough cleaning will provide enough “oomph” to get the spot out. We can then apply a product called an encapsulant that will seal any remaining stain from coming back up through the carpet backing into the fibers.

Sealing in the Spot

For something that doesn’t have an odor, sealing in the spot with an encapsulant after cleaning can be a viable option. On rare occasions, we do get called back to a customer’s property when the stain reappears the next day, however.

carpet cleaning dirty stairs in Denver
Using a flood extractor to remove stubborn reappearing carpet stains wicking up from the carpet pad

Carpet Flooding to Solve a Reappearing Spot

I know what you’re thinking… I don’t mean an actual flood. What we refer to as “flooding” means that we take a bucket of solution and apply it to the stain. This has to be specific to what we’re trying to remove.

Pet urine carpet cleaning, for example, requires a different solution than a spilled tray of greasy chicken wings. The idea here is that we want to fully saturate the spot with something that will break it down.

For the chicken wing example, that’s probably a powerful citrus-based degreaser. For pet urine, it’s going to be a pet specific product that neutralizes odors and eliminates color.

Break Out The Flood Extractor

Once this solution has gone to work for an adequate period of time, we use a flood water extractor (just like we’d use on soaked carpet) to extract the water, cleaning solution, and whatever is left of the stain.

Carpet Pad Replacement

For the worst carpet stains that keep coming back no matter what you try, we usually opt to replace a piece of the carpet pad. For this carpet repair to be done, we’ll first pull back the carpet and clean it while it’s not pressed against the pad.

Next, we’ll cut out the affected area. Sometimes it’s also necessary to seal the subfloor with a special paint. Normally subfloor sealing is only needed for things like pet urine removal, with cat urine being the number one perpetrator.

Finally, we replace the piece of padding we cut out with a similar piece with the same density and thickness and we reinstall the carpet. Lastly, we stretch the carpet back into place.

Before, during and after carpet cleaning and carpet pad replacement to treat difficult carpet stains that keep coming back


Another potential cause of a carpet stain coming back is residue that has been left in the carpet. There are many kinds of residue. For example, a low cost, low quality carpet cleaning company may only rinse the carpet with water, leaving behind a soapy residue that attracts soil.

Another case may be if you used over the counter carpet cleaning spray and didn’t thoroughly rinse it.

A more fringe case, but one we still run into, is where people read online that using WD-40 on their carpets is a good idea. Yes, it is a solvent. It will break down some spots, like removing slime from carpet. However it leaves mineral oil behind in your carpet that turns into a dirt magnet.

This can make it look like the stain reappeared and make you feel like the stain keeps coming back when it’s actually a “fresh” stain attaching to residue left in the carpet.

carpet cleaning traffic lanes in a bedroom

Traffic Patterns: The Reappearing Stain May Not Be a Stain at All

It’s always a disappointment to customers when we have to inform them that what appears to be a stain is actually permanent damage to their carpet caused by wear and tear. Worn out carpet can often have the appearance of looking “dirty”.

Traffic lanes are the places in your home or business that get walked on over and over. Hallways, turns around a couch in the living room, or the spot your feet land when you sit down in your favorite arm chair to watch TV every night for 5-10 years.

Traffic Patterns May Be Dirty As Well

These spots may actually be dirty as well, and will clean up to some extent, however the only cure to create new looking carpet in these spots is to either patch the carpet (which can be tricky trying to patch new carpet into old carpet), or replace the whole carpet to achieve a uniform look.

Sometimes during a professional carpet cleaning (or even a DIY carpet cleaning), when the carpet is wet, it will look like the problem has been solved. Once it dries, though, there are those pesky traffic lanes again.

Need Help Getting Rid of Spots That Keep Coming Back?

If you are in or around Denver and need professional assistance getting rid of those stubborn reappearing carpet stains, give us a call. We’ve tackled just about every kind of stain you can think of. Even those rare stains that can’t be removed can be patched with a different piece of carpet. Regardless of your carpet cleaning or carpet repair needs, trust the pros at MSS Cleaning.

Or Call: 1-720-233-0761

Nylon vs Polyester Carpet – Which is Best?

Nylon and Polyester Carpet Comparison

When buying new carpet, there are plenty of choices. Almost all carpets sold these days are synthetic carpet. Choosing between Nylon vs. polyester carpet, two of the most commonly chosen carpet fibers, can be tough.

There are plenty of other choices too. Wool, Triexta (PTT), Olefin and even some more exotic and natural fibers like Silk and Cotton exist. However, in this article, we will examine the pros and cons of Nylon vs. Polyester carpet. This is simply due to their popularity and general availability, as well as their generally modest cost.

Polyester Carpet


Polyester carpet has come a long way from it’s early days. Approximately 25% of carpet sold is polyester. It can be a quality carpet choice that provides many years of useful life.

While generally it’s not considered to be as durable as nylon carpet, modern, higher end polyesters do just fine. A cousin to polyester is Triexta (PTT). Triexta is a close contender to nylon in terms of durability and crush resistance. It’s also derived from corn, so it can be a more eco-friendly option.

Lower Cost

Perhaps the biggest benefit of polyester carpet is that it’s generally less expensive than nylon carpet. This is primarily because it’s often made from recycled materials. Those old plastic Coke bottles you threw away could be beneath your feet right now!

Stain Resistant and Minimally Absorbent

Polyester carpet is also typically solution dyed. Solution dyeing makes it quite stain resistant and also mostly non-absorbent. Polyester fibers are hydrophobic, meaning the fiber repels liquid on its own.

It’s typically further treated with stain resisting properties too. These characteristics help explain why polyester carpet is a popular choice for commercial carpet applications.

It’s also a popular choice for rentals, apartments, and less expensive new-build homes. We don’t mean to downplay, however, the quality, softness and general durability of higher end polyester carpets.

Polyester carpet in cream color
orange and white patterned nylon carpet

Nylon Carpet


Nylon is the most popular synthetic fiber carpet on the market today for residential carpets. Nearly 50% of carpet is nylon fiber. It’s also popular for some commercial carpet applications.

Nylon tends to be more expensive than polyester, but it’s also regarded are more durable and longer lasting.

There have been many generations of nylon carpet. Each iteration has improved stain resistance, appearance, reflectiveness of light and so on. The most modern generations of nylon carpet look great, feel great and offer significant long term durability.

Higher Cost but Higher Durability and Resilience

Nylon carpet does cost more versus polyester carpet but it’s generally considered to be more durable and longer lasting. It also reflects light and can be shaped different ways to make soil less visible. Nylon can be dyed for nice color and patterns. It also cleans up well.

Generally Good Stain Resistance

On the whole, nylon carpet cleans up easily and is resistant to many stains. Some stains, however, pose an issue. During the construction of nylon carpet, acid dyes are used to provide color and pigment.

This is an effective process that results in a great appearance. However, there is a downside. Liquids like coffee, tea, wine, sodas and things like Koolaid are also acid dyes.

In earlier iterations of nylon carpet, this made stains harder to remove. The current iterations come with an acid dye resistor. This fills any open dye sites and dramatically improves the stain resistance of the carpet.

Applying a carpet protector to nylon carpets to keep up their stain resistance.

Nylon vs. Polyester Carpet Summary

As you can see, there are pros and cons with choosing either nylon or polyester carpet. Neither is going to be a bad choice in their current iterations.

Nylon carpet outperforms polyester carpet on durability. Polyester outperforms nylon on stain resistance and its generally less expensive as well. Both offer a nice looking appearance and they both are soft and comfortable to the touch.

Either carpet can be made from recycled fibers and they are both generally recyclable at the end of their life. The specifics of whether each nylon carpet or polyester carpet can be recyclable should be asked of the salesperson. With all the variations of carpet types and brands available, its best to ask questions in the carpet store.

There are a wide variety of options in both carpet types. You should go to the carpet store to settle the nylon vs. polyester carpet debate for yourself.

We recommend that you go experience some carpet types at a store. Discuss the options with a salesperson. Feel and look at each carpet type. Then you will know which is best for you.

The good news is there are certainly fewer “bad” options than there used to be.


We Clean Both Nylon and Polyester Carpet

If you live in or around Denver, CO, give us a call. We professionally clean all carpet types including polyester and nylon and we’d love to help you with yours.

It doesn’t have to be a nylon or polyester carpet. We also can help with wool carpet, triexta, olefin, or anything else you can throw at us. Let us know, we’d love to chat with you about your project.

Or Call: 1-720-233-0761

What Caused my Carpet to Buckle?

Carpet Buckling and Ripples

Carpet buckling is a common problem that you’ve probably seen before. There are a number of factors that contribute to carpet developing buckling or ripples. This article will explore some of the common causes for carpet wrinkling of all sorts. We’ll also look at what you can do about it.

What caused my carpet to buckle

Poor Installation Leading to Carpet Buckling

Here in Denver, improperly installed wall to wall carpet seems to be far too common. Improper carpet installation can often leave the carpet loose and improperly stretched. The result is carpet rippling and buckling.

We see this a lot in new home builds. Subcontractors are rushing to finish jobs and they speed through a carpet installation using the improper tools. Often, this means they skip using a power stretcher. This is necessary to properly tension the carpet, but takes more time.

Proper carpet installation requires using a power stretcher to pull the carpet tight. Only then should a knee-kicker be used to place the carpet onto tack strips to hold the carpet securely against the wall.  

Initially the installation may look fine, but over time with other stressed placed on the carpet, carpet buckling or rippling starts to occur.


Improper Carpet Cleaning

Unfortunately there are plenty of inexperienced carpet cleaning companies, or those using beat up old equipment. These companies may apply too much water to a carpet. Or they may not properly extract the water.

Carpet buckling occurs soon after the cleaning. Similarly, when someone rents a DIY carpet cleaner and drowns their carpet, carpet ripples can occur.

Any time over-wetting of the carpet takes place, expect to see carpet ripples or buckles. The good news? Normally this is a temporary condition that can be fixed with proper drying.

Certain carpets are also more susceptible to buckling or wrinkling. Usually old carpets that have stretched out over time or carpets that have been improperly installed are more likely to buckle when the are hit with steam cleaning (AKA hot water extraction).

Typically if your carpet buckles after carpet cleaning, its best to wait 24-48 hours and 99 times out of 100 it will go back to it’s normal appearance.

Here’s the caveat: if the carpet was left drenched and is still not dry the next day, call your carpet cleaning company (or a different one). You’ll want to discuss why it is still wet as well as options to get it dried out quickly.

Carpet Damage or Delamination

It’s not incredibly common with modern carpet mills manufacturing carpet, but warranties exist for a reason. If your new(ish) carpet is buckling, there is a chance that there is a manufacturing defect.

Typical carpet has a primary and secondary backing. When delamination occurs, the backings can separate. This is due to the latex adhesive that holds everything together breaking down. The result? You guessed it… carpet rippling or buckling.

Overwetting the carpet (think a flooded basement) or manufacturing defects can cause delamination. Normally, if you suspect that there is a manufacturing defect, you’ll need to contact the retailer and/or an independent certified carpet inspector to check things out.

Another consideration is delamination due to solutions applied to the carpet that have caused damage. Acetone, for example, is frequently applied to carpet, though it really shouldn’t be.

Unless it’s quickly rinsed out of carpet, acetone and other harsh chemicals can cause the carpet to delaminate. This often leads to buckling, wrinkling, or ripples in the carpet.

tan carpet buckling

Dragging Something Heavy Across the Carpet

Whenever possible, it’s best to lift and move heavy furniture, not drag it. Dragging heavy items over carpet can easily cause the carpet to buckle. It can also pull the carpet off of the tack strips that attach it to the wall.

Another consideration is that when you drag anything over a carpet, it can snag and pull a carpet run. We’ve even been called to offices where people drag filing cabinets and desks over commercial carpet. This resulted in permanent “burned in” lines drawn all over the office, leaving the occupants with no choice but to replace the entire carpet.

To avoid these issue, get plenty of help with moving heavy furniture.


humidity sweat on person's face

Humidity and Seasonal Changes can Create Carpet Rippling

While we don’t see this much in Denver, due to our arid climate, in more humid environments, seasonal changes can bring with it rippling carpets. As we discussed in bullet point number 2, too much moisture in carpet can cause it to buckle and wrinkle.

High humidity can inject too much water into the carpet, causing it to relax. As the humidity lessens, the carpet will likely return to its normal shape again. If it doesn’t, a dehumidifier can be a good choice to fix the problem.

In the world of carpet cleaning, when carpet is too wet, fans and dehumidifiers are used to reduce the humidity. In the case of moisture related carpet buckling, this can be an effective fix.

Your Carpet is Old and Worn Out

Carpets have a useful life. Once that useful life is exceeded, all bets are off. Sometimes a carpet with a 10 year useful life that is properly maintained and professionally cleaned at proper intervals can last 20 years. Other times, it’s ready to be ripped and replaced at 10.

The older a carpet is, the more likely it is that it’s going to buckle. Over longer periods of time, the latex and backing in carpets can begin to relax, allowing the carpet to ripple. Depending on the age and condition of the carpet, sometimes it makes more sense to replace the carpet instead of trying to salvage it. A professional opinion will help make the decision for you.

What to do When Your Carpet Buckles?

Typically when you have bumps, wrinkles and ripples in your carpet, its time to call the professionals to stretch the carpet. Stretching the carpet properly, using a power stretcher along with the right know-how, should eliminate your issues.

A professional is going to use the right tools to properly tension the carpet, cut off the excess, reattach the carpet to the tack strips, and tuck away the excess material. Done right, your carpet buckling and ripples will be gone.

Or Call: 1-720-233-0761

Smelly Carpet After Cleaning

Cleaning smelly carpet in Denver
Woven carpet design

Smelly Carpet After Cleaning

Why Does My Carpet Smell Worse After Carpet Cleaning?

You just had your carpet cleaned (or cleaned it yourself) and now you have a smelly carpet after cleaning. Wasn’t the idea to make the carpet smell better, not worse? Let’s explore the likely causes of the smelly carpet issue and come up with a plan. If your carpet smells worse after cleaning, there’s clearly something wrong.

The Primary Causes of Smelly Carpet After Cleaning Are:

  • Over-Wetting the Carpet (Musty Smell)

  • Water Damage (Moldy Smell)

  • Pet Odor and Urine (Urine Smell)


infant with dog lying on smelly carpet

Cleaned Carpet Now Smells Like Wet Dog

There are a few possible reasons your carpet now smells like a wet dog. Firstly, most carpet cleaning uses water. The gold standard method for cleaning carpets is a process called Hot Water Extraction.

In this method, a significant amount of water and solution is applied to the carpet. It’s then extracted with a powerful vacuum.

The best variant of this type of cleaning uses a truck mounted carpet cleaning. This is because it has superior power, water heating abilities, and stronger vacuum.

The typical issue is that too much water has been left in the carpet by someone that doesn’t know what they are doing. Now the carpet to smell like wet dog.

Too Much Water Left in the Carpet

Have you ever washed a cycle of laundry but forgot to take it out of the washer and throw it into the dryer? Upon discovering your mistake you realize that the clothes now smell musty.

What you’re smelling could be microbial growth. Similarly, carpets that are left soaked for a long period of time will make the carpets smell like a wet dog.

This is one reason why you want to hire a professional with quality equipment to clean your carpets. You don’t want to, instead, try and save a few bucks hiring the discount hack with the 30 year old truck. Or the rental machine on the shelf at the store.

Old or Weak Machines Don’t Suck Up Enough Water

For homes, it’s not uncommon for a professional carpet cleaner to apply as much as 25-50 gallons of water. In a normal situation, the vacuum in the truck mounted machine extracts 90-95% of this water back out, leading to quick dry times.

But, either due to operator error (usually moving too fast or turning up the water pressure too high), inferior beat up old equipment, or modern cheap equipment, that extraction phase doesn’t get out as much water as it should. This over-wetting is also common with the rental machines people rent from the grocery or hardware stores.

Obviously we’re biased, but you should always get your carpets cleaned by a professional vs. a do it yourself option to avoid these issues.

Drying Carpet After Cleaning

In addition to extracting the water during a carpet cleaning, you also want to get some air moving. Drying carpet after carpet cleaning should always be a focal point to keep things from smelling musty.

Use Fans and Carpet Grooming to Help Dry Carpet

We use high speed fans that we move room to room to help with airflow while we are cleaning customer’s carpets. We also use what’s called a carpet rake to groom the carpet. This tool lifts all the carpet fibers up and aligns them vertically again. Doing so allows for faster drying.

Other Ways to Improve Carpet Drying

Beyond using professional fans and carpet grooming equipment, there are plenty of other things you can do to help things dry out.

  1. Open up the windows in your home (assuming it’s a nice day with a comfortable outdoor temperature). The airflow will speed drying
  2. Run the fan on your HVAC system. If it’s summer time and you have an AC unit, feel free to use that, or heat in the winter. Otherwise, just the fan mode works well too. The idea is to circulate air and few things circulate air through your house as well as your HVAC system.
  3. Use your own fans – box fans or otherwise – to help move air around on the especially damp areas.



high speed air mover fan pointed up carpeted stairs to speed drying time after carpet cleaning
carpet grooming speeds carpet drying after cleaning

Water Damage Causing Microbial Growth

Typically when we get called to a home to investigate a complaint that a carpet smells musty or moldy it’s because… well, it’s moldy. We don’t like to use the word “mold” since technically that can take many forms. Instead, we prefer to use the phrase “suspected microbial growth” so as not to overgeneralize.

You Can’t Just Clean Moldy Carpet

All too often, someone will call asking if we can clean their water damaged carpet. When we get to the point in the conversation where we ask about any particular issues, the caller will say “well, I had some water leak into my basement a week ago and I just want to get the musty smell out”.

Unfortunately, in most of these circumstances, a more aggressive approach is going to be needed than just a simple carpet cleaning service.

Getting The Musty Smell Out of Carpet

Removing the musty smell from carpet typically starts with a visual inspection of the underside of the carpet and carpet pad. Soggy or damaged carpet pad typically needs to be replaced. In many cases, however, the carpet can usually be saved. The carpet is cleaned both on the backing and the face of the carpet and an anti-microbial solution such as Microban is applied.

Next, carpet repair and carpet stretching work is needed to reinstall the carpet. Then, you’re good as new. Failing to replace the pad when the carpet has been soaked is almost always going to be a mistake you don’t want to make and will lead to having a smelly carpet after cleaning.

Does Carpet Cleaning Cause Mold?

The short answer is that proper carpet cleaning does not cause mold. Proper carpet cleaning, performed by the vast majority of companies, does not cause mold. However, If your carpet is still wet the day after you have it professionally cleaned, typically this is an indication that the company you hired did something wrong.

To over-wet your carpet to that extent, either they have a weak machine, the user was rushing and wasn’t “dry stroking” the carpet to get the most water out of it, or you have a high pile carpet or extra thick carpet pad. Even so, this is probably not an issue as mold takes more than a day to propagate.

We’d recommend that you call the company back to extract any remaining water and set up fans or dehumidifiers if necessary.

Your Carpet Shouldn’t Smell Musty After Cleaning

Things should never get to the point where your carpet smells musty after cleaning. It’s generally a myth that carpet cleaning can cause mold. It’s feasible, but it would indicate complete negligence or incompetence. No reputable company that actually knows what they are doing would over wet things to the point that mold occurred.

Pet urine showing through on the underside of carpet and carpet pad responsible for pet odor in home

Pet Urine or Other Pet Odors in Carpet After Cleaning

Another leading cause of having smelly carpets after cleaning is pet urine or other pet odors. While standard carpet cleaning should do a good job of removing pet dander and general odors, removing pet urine from carpet requires more than just a basic carpet cleaning. We offer a variety of pet urine removal options based on the severity of the problem.

You should be aware that a basic carpet cleaning will not fix a pet urine issue. In some cases, the odor may actually initially get worse after a carpet cleaning since the urea and urine salts have been reactivated with hot water!

Proper Pet Urine Assessment and Treatment is Vital

Cleaning pet urine requires special products and techniques beyond basic carpet cleaning. We may flood areas with a special solution and extract it with a certain tool. Or, we may have to replace a portion of carpet pad. It may even involve sealing the subfloor.

If your carpet smells like pet urine after a carpet cleaning, it’s probably best to call a professional carpet cleaning company.

Still Have Questions About Your Carpet Smelling Bad After Cleaning?

In summary, if your carpet is smelly after cleaning, or just smelly in general, it’s probably best to hire a professional carpet cleaning company. MSS Cleaning comprises a team of experts that can handle all kinds of smelly carpet issues. Give us a call or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.