Tips on Removing Stubborn Odors from Fabric and Furniture




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Even though our sense of smell might not be as developed when compared to other creatures on the planet, there is still something about a strong, foul odor that is enough to set your teeth on edge. For the most part, when we smell strong odors, it is one way of knowing that something isn’t as clean as it should be or maybe even that something is hazardous to us. 

Getting help from a professional might be the best way to solve the problem of removing stubborn odors. If you want to know how the tips for removing stubborn odors, the first step is knowing what causes them.


Where do odors come from?

Even though our sense of smell is one of the least developed of our five senses, when we smell strong odors, it is usually for a good reason. One of the biggest sources of bad odors is the presence of rot or decay. Bacteria and organisms such as mold or fungus break down organic material to digest them using enzymes and other chemical compounds such as enzymes, lysosomes, or mycotoxins. 

These digestive compounds are very effective at breaking down cellulose, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The resulting byproducts of these processes are methane, butyric acid, sulfur, and putrescine. Suppose you have smelled the result of rotting flesh from either meat that has gone bad in your fridge, or even a rodent that has died in the wall of your house. 

In that case, you know how powerful and repellent a scent like that can be. A decaying vegetable matter that is breaking down also results in some strong smells, especially in contact with moisture, which helps facilitate the decaying process, and is even vital to the propagation of bacterial and fungal reproduction. In areas that are drier, smells might not be as strong because of the slower spread of the organisms that are breaking down the material.

It just isn’t decaying organic matter that causes strong odors. Other noxious smells can come from smoke, such as tobacco smoke, exhaust smoke, or even the off-gassing of various types of glue, varnishes, or chemicals used in carpeting or furniture. Pet odor is more closely related to organic decay since dander, glandular discharge, and even saliva can cause odors as these organic components break down. The same thing occurs with human waste, garbage, and other organic compounds.

Flooding introduces a lot of organic material into areas such as carpets, basements, and even wallboard that can create smells for the same reason.


What can I do to get rid of the smell?

Woman Next to a Stinky Carpet Covering Her Nose. Removing Stubborn Odors

Odor removal most often begins with removing as much of the source of the smell as possible. Decaying plant or animal matter should be disposed of, and the area should let the air out. A lot of residues might remain that continue to cause bad odors, in which case cleaning solutions can be used to break down and neutralize anything that remains. Some fabrics, such as couch cushions, carpets, and upholstery, are especially difficult to remove odor. 

The same properties that make walking on carpet or sitting on a couch comfortable are the same porous fabrics, such as foam rubber, that will retain decaying matter or other filth and continue to produce the stench. Couch cushions are huge culprits for holding onto bad odors. They are a catch-all in our homes for spills, food, sweat, pet dander, and even smoke. 

Washing couch cushion covers (according to manufacturer recommendations), dry cleaning, or even steam cleaning couch cushions will reduce the odors emanating from your couch. Unlike our clothes, bathrooms, or kitchens, couches are cleaned less frequently than most items in our homes. Most couches will be thrown out and replaced before they will even be cleaned.


How to clean up

woman vacuums the gray sofa with a washing vacuum cleaner.

A vacuum cleaner is a great way to remove particulate dust, debris, and other material that carries odor. Vacuum cleaners are also effective at removing pet dander, mold spores, and other particles, especially if the vacuum is outfitted with a HEPA filter. Once the dry particles are removed, steam cleaning is a good way to continue breaking down the material and neutralizing the process of decay by incorporating heat, steam, and even cleaners into the affected area. 

Also, sorts of different cleaners can be used in the steam cleaning process. Here are a few:

  • A cup of vinegar in the cleaning reservoir helps to break down and neutralize the odor. Though vinegar has a strong odor, it loses that scent when it dries out. Acetic acid helps to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi that produce bad smells.
  • A cup of baking soda will dissolve into a steam-cleaning reservoir and can even be sprinkled onto smelly areas such as carpets, furniture, and other surfaces. Allow the baking soda to neutralize the compounds on dry surfaces, and later vacuum the area thoroughly.
  • Multipurpose cleaners are great for gently cleaning walls, carpets, and other surfaces that have gotten smelly from being in proximity and even casual contact with the source of the odor.
  • Air fresheners do more to mask the odors than actually remediate them, but they are effective in making an area livable until the source of the odor can be cleaned or removed. Spray disinfectants are more effective in that they actively kill the organisms that are causing the odors by facilitating decay.
  • Enzymic cleaners are really good at introducing organic materials called enzymes that are specialized in breaking down odor-causing substances such as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Once introduced to an area, the enzymes break these particles down into inert substances, and when they dry out, they stop smelling.
  • Enzyme cleaners have been developed to specialize in pet urine and feces, degreasers, and all sorts of different organic materials, and unlike the enzymes that are causing a lot of the bad odor, these have been picked to neutralize odors. They might be a little expensive, however, and require several applications.
  • Simply cutting out sections of stinky carpet, replacing stinky furniture, or throwing out damaged fabric, might be your last resort in removing the source of the smell. It might be best to consult a professional before taking such drastic action.


Call the professionals in removing stubborn odors

If you dream of walking into an immaculate house without the hassle, TLC Cleaning is ready to help. Whether it is deep cleaning, moving in or moving out, removing stubborn odors, or taking the burden of cleanup off your shoulders, contact us to see how we can help. 

Our trained staff of professional cleaners is ready to tackle any cleaning job. We understand the right cleaners to use with different fabrics and which will be more effective in getting the job done. With the tools, the cleaners, and the know-how, we make it look a lot easier than it really is.

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