Any number of common remedies can remove an oily fish smell from carpet spills. Dried coffee grounds, cat litter, baking soda and even activated charcoal are all effective at safely removing or neutralizing the fishy smell.
Clean Up Spills First
When fish oil or spills from fish dishes get into the carpet, clean the spill immediately to help with odor removal.
- Mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part spring water in a spray bottle.
- Saturate the area where the spill occurred on the carpet.
- Let the vinegar and water mixture sit for about 15 minutes.
- Blot up the excess moisture with a clean cloth or paper towels.
All chefs and people who fish know that, along with adding flavor to fish, lemons eliminate the nasty fish odor on your hands or on utensils. Test this method first on an inconspicuous part of the carpet to avoid color fading, but after testing that it works, pour a bit of lemon juice from a concentrate or a real lemon directly onto the smelly part of the carpet. Let it sit for about 15 minutes or so, and then blot up the excess moisture.
Baking Soda, Coffee Grounds or Activated Charcoal
Pour a liberal amount of your chosen product, baking soda, dried coffee grounds -- used and then dried or new -- or activated charcoal directly onto the cleaned, but still smelly area of the carpet. Allow the treatment to sit on the carpet at least 24 hours before vacuuming. To add a pleasant scent to the room, simmer the peel of one orange, a stick of cinnamon and a teaspoon of whole cloves in water, or add a few bowls of vinegar to the room to freshen the stale air.
You can pick up activated charcoal in bulk form online, or from a health food store or vitamin outlet.
Cat Litter Rescue
Sprinkle cat litter atop a fish oil spill on the carpet to suck up the oils and remove the odor quickly.
- Let the cat litter sit on the stain until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Don't vacuum the cat litter up, or you'll end up with that smell in your vacuum cleaner -- sweep the debris into a dustpan and dispose of it in an outside trash can.
- Sprinkle the spot with baking soda, and let it sit overnight before vacuuming.
Commercial Carpet Deodorizers
Once you've cleaned the area with mild detergent and warm water and let it dry, sprinkle a fragrant commercial carpet deodorizer directly onto the area of the carpet with the fish smell. Work the deodorizer into the carpet, and let it sit until the next time you vacuum. These fragrances essentially mask the odor until the baking soda in the product absorbs the smells.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.