Things You'll Need
A freshly installed carpet may bring with it a strong odor, due to numerous chemicals used in the manufacturing process. Some carpet-backing materials, adhesives and pads contain volatile chemicals that "off gas" or turn into fumes when exposed to air. These chemicals, considered volatile organic compounds or VOCs, contribute to asthma and allergy-like symptoms such as respiratory issues for those with sensitivities. While these chemicals eventually dissipate on their own, speed up the process with fresh air and natural odor removers to keep your home's air as clean as possible.
Open all the windows in the room in which the new carpet was installed, as well as the windows in adjacent rooms.
Turn on all ceiling fans in the carpeted room and nearby areas. Place box fans in the windows of the carpeted room, positioned to draw air out of the space. Plug them in and turn them on for one day up to several days. A box fan in an adjacent room, drawing in fresh air, helps freshen the air in the home during this process.
Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet at least once a week, allowing it to sit for 30 minutes or longer. The baking soda helps absorb new-carpet odors that linger. It may take months for all of the chemical odors to dissipate completely.
Remove the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner, using a vacuum setting appropriate for the height of the carpet fibers. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, if possible, to help keep the odors from filtering back out into the air.
Place bowls of vinegar in the room when the carpet chemical odors smell strong. Leave the bowls overnight to help remove the unpleasant smells, keeping the bowls out of the reach of pets and small children.
Ask your carpet installer to vacuum the new carpet with a HEPA filter and clean it with a hot-water extraction immediately after installation to remove some of the harsh, strong-smelling chemicals.
Ask to have the carpet aired out in advance in a warehouse prior to installation to help cut down on the concentration of chemicals entering your home.
If possible, avoid the freshly carpeted room -- or your entire home -- for at least several days after installation. Close doors that lead to other areas of the house while leaving the windows open to the carpeted room while you are home. Close the windows if you leave the home or at night if they are on a first-floor point of access from outside.
If anyone in your home suffers from asthma, allergies or headaches from strong odors, select carpeting, adhesives and backings that do not emit volatile organic compounds. Specialty retailers carry health-friendly carpet materials.
Keep pets and infants away from any areas that smell strongly of carpet-based chemicals, as the chemicals may be harmful to them.
- Mercola: GreenSpace: Carpeting Presents Complex Health Issues
- Ecology Center: Ask the EcoTeam: My New Carpet is Off-Gassing!
- First Choice Carpet Cleaners: How to Remove Carpet Odor
- Earth Easy: Non-Toxic Home Cleaning
- Gaiam: 6 Ways to Sidestep New Carpet Smell (and Toxins)
- Healthy House Institute: Green Label Testing Program -- Carpet Selection Criteria from the Carpet and Rug Institute
- Everyday Health: Off-Gassing: Indoor Pollutants and Allergies
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.