Is there a foul smell in your home that you can’t locate? If you’ve checked everywhere and still can’t find the source of the odor, you should inspect your flooring next. Due to its porous nature, wooden flooring can build up an unpleasant scent. It can be due to water damage, pet urine, spills, and more. The important thing is you know how to get smell out of wood floor before it makes your entire house stink.
To be honest, removing bad odors on wood floors is challenging, much so if it’s covering a major portion of the floor area. In some cases, you may need to contact a professional flooring service to figure out the culprit behind the scent. Depending on the findings, cleanup, repair, or localized replacements might be needed.
In this post, we dig deep into this topic to help homeowners who are dealing with the same dilemma. Read on to know how to address the problem and how to prevent it in the future.
What causes a bad smell on wood floors?
As with any bad odor in your home, there are several possible reasons why your wooden flooring stinks. Here are some of them:
1. Pet urine
Pet urine is the leading reason why wood floors smell foul. As a porous material, wood absorbs a lot of moisture, including the smelly urine of your cat or dog.
If the urine isn’t cleaned right away, it will seep through the wood. In turn, its odor will also stick to the flooring material, which will start to smell later on.
Overall, pet urine smells on wooden floors can be fixed. There are also many ways to prevent it from being a recurring problem.
2. Food spills
Food spills aren’t a new thing for households with kids. It can be anything from milk, cereal, juice, and whatnot. All the fluids from these food items can soak into the wood.
In just a few days, the organic matter on the food spills will start to decay. This will create a bad smell that can waft all over your house.
3. High humidity
Excessive humidity is the biggest enemy of wooden flooring. The moisture in the air can settle on wooden floors and make them damp. When that happens, mold and mildew will form. This will emit a musty and stuffy smell all over your home.
The worst part is that molds can spread to other areas of your house. It’s important to address this problem before it wreaks more havoc in your living space.
4. Water damage
Water damage due to leaks and flooding will soak wooden floors. Sometimes, this damage happens from underneath and you wouldn’t notice it right away.
Nevertheless, water-damaged wood floors will warp and harbor molds. When this happens, you may need to pay for a replacement or massive repair.
5. Dirt from feet or shoes
Outdoor dirt brought by shoes and feet also adds up to the foul smell on your wood floors. This can be a mixture of moisture, soil, mold spores, and other organic matter. As these substances settle on the wooden floor, they will start to develop an unpleasant odor.
6. Poor ventilation
Lastly, poor ventilation will cause various gasses and particles to linger in your home. As airborne particles settle on your floor, it may trigger a stuffy odor.
Overall, a lack of ventilation can make your entire house smell bad. It also exposes you to a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
How to get smell out of wood floor
Removing an unpleasant smell from wooden floors can be challenging due to their porous nature. Still, the following methods may help:
Method 1: Use a wood floor cleaner
The safest way to remove the bad odor from your floors is to use a cleaner made specifically for the type of wood used. While multi-purpose cleaners from stores may work, they might ruin the color and seal of the wood.
Instead, ask your flooring service provider about the ideal cleaner you can use. They can also provide it to you, so you no longer have to do the guesswork.
Moreover, you should follow the instructions of the cleaner to prevent damage to your floor. This is also important to ensure that the cleaner will be effective in removing odors.
Overall, you can use commercial wood floor cleaners once a week on floor areas with high foot traffic. For other areas with lower foot traffic, once or twice a month would be enough.
Method 2: Use an enzymatic cleaner
If the cause of the smell on your wooden flooring is pet urine, the best solution is an enzymatic cleaner. Unlike soap-based cleaners, enzymatic types have live enzymes that feed on the proteins left by animal urine. This way, the root cause of the smell will be removed efficiently.
You should also know that the enzymes on these cleaners remain dormant until they are mixed with water. So to activate it, mix a part of the cleaner into tap water, not too cold and not warm.
Saturate the spot on your floor where the smell is coming from using the diluted solution. Let this soak overnight for at least 8 hours. Remember to apply the diluted enzymatic cleaner right after you mix it because the enzymes have a short shelf life and they need to find food immediately.
Also, since enzymes are light-sensitive, you should turn off the lights as you let the solution soak on your floors.
Aside from that, you should never use a mop to apply the enzymatic cleaner. If you do, the enzymes will just feed on the organic matter on your mop and just stick to it. Instead, apply it by spraying it all over your floor.
Lastly, there’s no need to rinse your floor after the enzymes have dried up. Simply wipe it with a dry and clean cloth and it’s all done. Allowing the enzymes to linger on the wooden floor will also enhance its odor-removing characteristics.
Method 3: Use baking soda
If you don’t have an enzymatic cleaner or wood floor cleaner handy, an easy alternative is a baking soda mixture. You can simply sprinkle it on the areas of your wood floors that smell. Leave it overnight then vacuum clean it in the morning. Overall, this method works for sources of smell that are only superficial.
For deep-seated odors, you can mix baking soda with one cup of water and one-third cup of white vinegar. Spray this on the affected floor areas and let it soak for 15 minutes.
After that, rinse your wooden floor with a damp cloth. Make sure that you rinse the cloth as well after a few wipes to remove collected dirt.
However, you should only use baking soda sparingly as this can damage wooden floor seals. Also, you should test it on a hidden part of your flooring to see if there will be adverse reactions or fading color.
Method 4: Use a vinegar solution
Vinegar has been proven to be an effective odor buster. To use it on your smelly wood floor, you should mix it in equal parts of water. You can also use more water if you’re worried that vinegar may damage your floor seal.
After mixing vinegar and water, mop it all over your floor. Let this sit for 5 to 10 minutes before mopping using clean water.
If vinegar and water alone aren’t enough to remove the smell, you can add a few drops of grapeseed oil into the mix. Again test this mixture on a small spot on your wood floor before applying it all over.
Method 5: Use a hydrogen peroxide solution
Lastly, you can use hydrogen peroxide to remove odors from your wood floor. This is safe for most wood floors, but then again, you should do the courtesy of testing in on a small spot first.
You must dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of water. This way, it will be unlikely to cause damage to your floor’s seal or stain.
Next, transfer the solution to a spray bottle then spritz it all over your floor. Let this sit for 10 to 20 minutes before wiping with a clean microfiber cloth. If possible, just blot the floor instead of rubbing it vigorously.
If all else fails: hire a flooring specialist
If any of the methods above don’t work, it’s best to call a flooring specialist. It’s possible that the source of the smell is way beyond the surface of your wood floor.
During your appointment, the flooring specialist can check for signs of mold, mildew, water damage, and so on. They also have tools to detect water damage behind wood surfaces without having to remove any of the planks.
Depending on the findings of the specialist, you may need to have your floors repaired or have some parts replaced.
While this service costs a fee, it’s a small sacrifice compared to the comfort you’ll enjoy later on. Besides, some causes of foul smell in wood floors are due to potential damage or molds. Being proactive can save you from a more expensive repair.
How to prevent wood floors from getting smelly
You don’t have to skip the beauty of wooden flooring just because it has the risk of developing a bad smell. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent bad odors from forming. Here are some that you should observe:
1. Get a robot vacuum
A robot vacuum will keep your floors clean while you’re away. You can also program it to clean a specific part of your home in a set time. This is a good way to keep up with spills and dirt accumulation. You can also get a robot vacuum with a mop attachment for better cleaning.
Still, you should remember that robot vacuums are only complementary solutions. You still need to clean your wood floors manually to avoid bad odors.
2. Run an air purifier
An air purifier can help remove airborne particles in the air before it settles on the floor. This helps prevent odor-causing bacteria from growing on your floor.
Aside from that, air purifiers can be equipped with odor-neutralizing filters. This can remove malodors all over your home.
3. Use a dehumidifier
Wood floors are susceptible to trapped moisture if humidity levels aren’t controlled. If your place experiences high humidity levels, you should use a programmable dehumidifier to balance it.
Basically, this device will allow you to set a target humidity level. The dehumidifier will keep removing moisture from the air until this target is reached. It will restart once humidity levels are higher than your target again.
4. Observe proper ventilation
If you can’t afford a dehumidifier, make sure that your home has proper ventilation. This is to prevent moisture from getting trapped and being absorbed by your wood floor.
Consider opening windows and internal doors to allow air to circulate. You can also use a ceiling fan to ventilate your floors. An exhaust fan will be a good addition, too.
5. Take your shoes off before entering
You should also take your outdoor shoes off before entering your house. This is to prevent dirt from spreading on your floor and forming a bad smell.
Moreover, you can assign ’indoor shoes’ if you don’t want to walk around barefoot or with slippers. Aside from preventing bad smells on your floor, it will also make cleaning much easier. You’re going to thank yourself in the end.
6. Potty train your house pet
Dogs and cats will pee all over the house if not potty-trained.
For dogs, it’s important to train them to pee and defecate outdoors. You should also schedule their potty trips, so the dog will get used to it.
For cats, you should get a litterbox and train your cat to use it. This way, the urine won’t be soaked on your wood floors and emit a foul smell.
7. Seal your wood flooring
Getting your wood floor sealed will prevent moisture from seeping through it. This is done by applying a polymer-based coating on your floor to act as a protective layer.
Overall, the polymer coating will repel fluids and dirt. It will also make your floors last longer, especially in areas with high foot traffic.
A local flooring service provider can do this for you. While it’s an added expense, it’s still cheaper than a flooring replacement.
8. Have your floors inspected
Lastly, you should get your wood floors inspected at least once a year. This is much so if your place experiences sudden temperature and humidity changes.
Annual inspections will help spot problems before it causes damage to your floor. It’s also a good way to prevent mold buildup and detect water damage early.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do wooden floors hold odors?
A: Wooden floors can harbor various odors, especially if it’s not sealed or maintained well. Also, very old wood floors can succumb to rotting, which will emit a stuffy odor. In this case, the only solution is to have your flooring replaced professionally. Nevertheless, most wood flooring can last for decades if cared for properly.
Q: Why do wood floors smell like urine?
A: The urine smell from your wooden floor might be due to your pet’s pee. If you don’t have a pet animal at home, the age, finishing material, and chemical treatment of the wood might be the reason behind the odor. If the urine smell is getting intense, we suggest that you hire a professional flooring service for in-depth inspection.
Q: Why does my wood floor smell after mopping?
A: If your floor smells after mopping, the mop is usually the culprit. It’s important to replace the water in the bucket several times as you go about the cleaning process. This is to prevent the dirt from accumulating in the water and forming a bad smell. Also, you should keep your mop dry when not in use to prevent the proliferation of odor-causing bacteria.
Q: Can dirty floors make your house smell?
A: Dirty flooring can make your house smell. It can be the urine that is soaked on wooden flooring, dirty carpets, dander on the floor, and more. If you leave all this dirt sitting around, your home will start to develop a slew of foul odors.
Q: Why does my wood floor smell like a wet dog?
A: If you have a pet at home and your floor smell like a wet dog, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, if you don’t have pets, you may want to get the underside of your flooring checked for a potential rodent infestation. Rats and mice tend to produce scents similar to that of a wet dog.
Knowing how to get smell out of wood floor will keep your house fresh. This will also help extend the life of your wood floor. The good news is that there are many easy ways and household items that you can use.
However, if the bad smell isn’t going away and seems to be worsening, you shouldn’t hesitate to call a professional flooring service. They can perform an in-depth check to see what’s wrong with your floors.