How To Take The Odor Out Of New Carpeting

by Michele Dawson

If you're like most homeowners, there's bound to come a time when you install new carpet, whether it's part of sprucing up or trying to get the most from your property when it's time to sell.


Regardless of your particular situation, you'll want to be sure you get the most out of your investment. And interestingly enough, you'll also want to make certain your carpet is installed in the safest manner possible.


The public has filed more than 500 complaints with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission during the past 14 years. These complaints, stemming from new-carpet installation, involve reports of watery eyes, runny nose, burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, rashes, and fatigue.


The complaints prompted the CPSC to study the chemicals that come from carpet and whether they cause health problems. At this time the studies are ongoing and no conclusions have been reached yet.


However, the Carpet and Rug Institute, the national trade association that represents manufacturers that produce 94 percent of all carpet produced in the United States, offers a series of tips to protect your indoor air quality.


  • Look for an installation contractor who follows the guidelines set forth in the Standard for Installation of Residential Carpet, CRI 105.
  • Make sure you and your contractor have a firm understanding of who will be responsible for what. For example, it may be necessary to move furniture. Find out if this will be included in the installation cost.
  • Finish other remodeling projects -- such as painting -- before the new carpet is installed.
  • Vacuum the old carpet just prior to installation to avoid airborne dust and dirt. Once the old carpet and cushion are removed, vacuum the sub-floor.
  • When the carpet is delivered, examine it thoroughly to ensure there are no defects.
  • Check your doors. New carpet may prevent your doors from swinging clear. You may need to arrange to trim them.
  • Install a carpet with CRI's Indoor Air Quality Carpet Testing Program label, indicating that the product type has been tested and meets the low "TVOC" (total volatile organic compounds) emissions criteria.
  • Ventilate with fresh air (open windows, operate a fan, and/or run the fan of the heat/air system continuously) during the removal of the old carpet and the installation of the new carpet, and for 48 to 72 hours after installation.
  • Those who consider themselves unusually sensitive or prone to allergic reactions may wish to leave the premises while the old carpet is being removed and the new carpet installed, and for 48 to 72 hours afterward.
  • If wrinkles persist, call your retailer. It may be necessary to professionally re-stretch the carpet.

Once your carpet is installed, the Carpet and Rug Institute recommends vacuuming at least twice a week. Remove loose soil while it remains on the surface so it is not worked into the carpet pile by foot traffic.


While the carpet manufacturers say vacuuming is the best method for keeping your carpet client, they also recommend that carpet be dry- or wet-extraction cleaned every 12 to 18 months.


In addition, you'll want to protect your carpet from fading by keeping it out of direct sunlight as much as possible. You should also protect high-traffic areas, perhaps by placing a small rug over the carpet.


Once your new carpet is installed, follow the manufacturers instructions for proper maintenance.

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Created: 12/21/01
03/30/04 1131