I've just purchased (and moved into) a new house. (New to me; the house was built in 1994). I noticed when I did my initial viewing was that a single spot in the living room seemed to have the smell of stinky feet. I just wrote it off as an unfortunate personal problem with the previous owner, but even after having the carpets cleaned and moving my stuff in, the smell is still there.

Any ideas how I can go about finding the source of the smell and getting rid of it?

  • 1
    What's under the living room: Basement, crawl space? Can you smell it from that spot underneath? Any drain pipes going near there?
    – Niall C.
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:23
  • Does it smell like sewage? Is it constant, or does it come and go?
    – Steven
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:52
  • @Niall: The house is built on a crawlspace. The smell is only on the first floor and it's only in the general vicinity of the living room. Not sure about drain pipes. Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:54
  • @Steven: The smell seems to be more or less constant, though it's one of those things that you only smell for a few seconds before your nose becomes accustomed to it. It's more like feet than sewage. Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:55
  • can you pull up the carpet? Is there a stain underneath? Could it be animal urine? Dead animal in the crawlspace? Or maybe it really is just the carpet...someone stood there a lot barefoot?
    – DA01
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


I had an apartment once with a smell like that. It was kind of a mix between stinky feet and wet hay (much worse when wet like after cleaning). That turned out to be the cheap carpet padding they had used. Like you said, you would get used to it fast, but notice every time you walked into the room.

I had to have them replace the padding.


I had a similar case in my place. I moved in and found the carpets badly stained (but no smell). I had them steam cleaned and thats when the rotten smell started. At first I figured it was because they were wet, but even several weeks later, they still smelled.

I was able to eliminate the smell using Arm & Hammer's Carpet Odor Eliminator which is a baking-powder like product that you sprinkle on your carpet, let sit, and then vacuum up. It took two or three applications, but afterwards the smell was eliminated.

  • Did you use that particular product? Most of the reviews seem to complain about the perfume being overpoweringly strong. I'd really like to just get RID of the smell; does this do that permanently or does this just cover it up? Commented May 7, 2012 at 17:22
  • It wasn't this exact one - there are a variety of them and this is just the first one that came up in Google. I do recall it having a flower-like smell that went away in little time.
    – Steven
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 18:16
  • I've used the same product. You sprinkle it on, let it sit, and then vacuum it up. The odor doesn't linger, but it is present. You can also try using baking or washing soda directly, which I think is the active ingredient in the A&H powder.
    – Amanda
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:53
  • 2
    @Adam According to the material data safety sheet, that product is literally just baking soda and a bit of perfume. So if you don't want the perfume, just buy straight-up baking soda. Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 22:41

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