How to get rid of new-carpet smell???

silly_meFebruary 8, 2007

I posted over at decorating, but thought i'd try here too.

just had new carpet installed and the smell is making me crazy ! i've got the windows open (too bad since it's 15 degrees) and a fan running, but is there anything else i can do?

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What you are breathing in, is the volatile organic compounds, chemicals used in manufacture, being released into the air, known as outgassing. BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), formaldehyde, Teflon, 4-phenylcyclohexine (4-PC), are just some of the nasties that you are probably breathing in.

You do not want to cover up the smell, but eliminate it as fast as possible. You are doing the right thing. It has been said that using a water extraction cleaning method will help speed up the process.

Do not run out and buy one of those "ionic air cleaners"! It will only make the problem worse. These devices create ozone and oxidation with certain coumpounds found in carpets will create aldehydes and ketones in the air.

Carpet manufacturers recommend removing birds from the house for a few days after new carpet has been laid down.

If you are sensitive to the odors, as they can cause breathing problems in some people, next time look for the green and white CRI "green label" on your carpets and furniture. Of course, sometimes the problem comes from the glue used to put down the carpets. Check for adhesives with low VOC emmisions that have the CRI green label.

I only have jute rugs in my home. I am very sensitive to the carpet chemicals. I figured out over the years, or rather the decades, a connection to my breathing problems and whether or not the restaurant I was working in was carpeted or not. At first I thought it was the pesticides that restaurants use or maybe the brand of cleaning chemicals, but there was a direct correlation between whether there was carpeting or not.

I have two friends who developed breathing problems after the places where they worked decided to switch from tile floors to carpeting. Another developed breathing problems when the apartment where he lived came in and changed out his old carpeting for new carpet.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 4:20AM
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Wow, I was going to say it's not a cleaning issue but an outgassing issue and it might be helpful if you could let us know what sort of carpet it is. But Bud has done an awesome job of explaining it.

I was told of a case where carpet was being installed in a public building and whoever organised such things took all the correct steps in finding out what would be used and making sure it would be alright to have it done during working hours. Unfortunately it was decided at the last minute to use a stronger glue on the stairs and the building had to be evacuated.

Bud, where could I find out more about what you said about ionic air cleaners?

Silly Me, hope it's much better soon.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 6:18AM
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thanks for the input. another forum recommended alternating high heat w/ opened windows to speed up the off-gassing. i'll try that today.

guess i just have to be patient with airing it out. i've only ever put down carpet once before and didn't have this problem.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 8:38AM
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Now I'm curious. It must have been a different type of carpet. I've heard of the high heat followed by opening the windows technique being used in commercial buildings. Good luck.

We chose wool carpet with no formaldehyde. That seemed to be the best thing we could find at the time. Interesting smell that reminded me not of sheep but camels lingered for a while.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 1:34AM
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Supposedly plants are good at cleaning up the gases from new carpeting. I too had new carpet put in recently in our new home and the toxic smell was driving me crazy. I finally brought in a number of large houseplants and the smell disappeared in a couple days, but it may have just been a coincidence.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:28AM
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So funny that you mentioned plants. I'd also remembered reading that they're great for taking impurities out of the air, and just a couple days ago I put a bunch of them in the room.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 5:12PM
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Posted by macbirch: Bud, where could I find out more about what you said about ionic air cleaners?

I've posted before, in these forums about the danger of ionic air cleaners.

I've done a lot of reading so I can't give you just one website that covers everything.

Try Google using various combinations of search terms for 'ionic', 'aldehydes', 'carpet'. ' formaldehyde', 'green label' ect.

I like to start with governement websites when I do a search:

Qutoe from EPA site:

For example, in a laboratory experiment that mixed ozone with chemicals from new carpet, ozone reduced many of these chemicals, including those which can produce new carpet odor. However, in the process, the reaction produced a variety of aldehydes, and the total concentration of organic chemicals in the air increased rather than decreased after the introduction of ozone (Weschler, et. al., 1992b). In addition to aldehydes, ozone may also increase indoor concentrations of formic acid (Zhang and Lioy, 1994), both of which can irritate the lungs if produced in sufficient amounts. Some of the potential by-products produced by ozoneƂs reactions with other chemicals are themselves very reactive and capable of producing irritating and corrosive by-products (Weschler and Shields, 1996, 1997a, 1997b). Given the complexity of the chemical reactions that occur, additional research is needed to more completely understand the complex interactions of indoor chemicals in the presence of ozone.

Here is one website to check:

Another, a bit more techie:


Lots more info out there if you look..........

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 2:59PM
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Bud, I didn't even know I should be looking until I saw your comment. I mean you just assume that an air cleaner will clean the air, at least somewhat, certainly not create new problems. Thanks so much for the info.

Re plants, I read that in a few places. Based on NASA research if I remember correctly. Then I managed to buy a book about it but my library is piled all over the floor at the moment due to redecorating. Some plants are supposed to be better than others but the only one I can remember is spider plant.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 1:16AM
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I just bought a house that was freshly painted and carpeted about 5-6 weeks ago. The strong new carpet smell is still there! I've just spent my first night in the house and am worried that I've bought a toxic house! Shouldn't new carpet smell be gone by now? I'm sure the former owners used a cheap carpet -- should I replace it? Could it be something other than the carpet? Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 7:23AM
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The best plants to get rid of new carpet toxins are Golden Pothos, they are available at any home or garden store. They are unique because they are very good at respirating VOC's and getting them out of the air. There is a great book on plants and air quality called "How to Grow Fresh Air", it is a great break down of the benefits of house plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Grow Fresh Air

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 9:25AM
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I don't have new carpet smell but I do have new couch smell! I'm wondering if charcoal can remove the smell? They sell a gel type charcoal at WM in the laundry accessories (not detergent) aisle. This is really burning my eyes and causing headaches for both my husband and me. BTW, dh is a carpet installer. I guess he's used to it (30 years) but I worry about the VOCs he's inhaled all these years :(

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 12:39AM
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