Smelly New Carpet

Smelly New Carpet

Town : Epsom

County: Surrey

Nature of Issue: New carpet (3-4 Weeks old), bad smell coming from the carpet. (Farm Yard or Formaldehyde)

Carpet name: Simply Natural, Clarendon

Carpet Type: Loop Pile, 100% Pure new wool cable-tec 6 ply yarn, Beige colour

Background Overview:

The owners noticed the smell of the new carpet as soon as they entered the house. (They were not present during the fitting).

After about a week, they arranged for a representative from the retailer to assess the carpet. He agreed the carpet did have a strong smell and would send a sample to the manufacturer for testing.

Not having heard from the retailer within the agreed time, the owners contacted the retailer. Although no test result was produced, the retailer agreed to replace the carpet.

A replacement carpet was subsequently fitted. The owners were present at the property at the time of fitting and noticed the same smell. But the smell did not seem as bad so they assumed that airing the room would help disperse the smell.

I was called by the owners to carry out an independent assessment of the carpet. The appointment exactly three weeks after the second carpet was fitted.


Upon questioning the owners about the brief history of the case (as above), the owners made it clear they would not accept anything other than a full refund from the retailer. They were not happy with the way they had been dealt with by the retailer.

Upon entering the room, I noticed a strong ‘New Carpet / Carpet Shop’ smell. The double glazed windows were closed and the bedroom door was closed. The owners informed me they had previously been airing the room, but they also kept the door closed so the smell would not travel into the rest of the house.

I duly carried out the tests and measurements as stated below and took photographs of the carpet, backing and underlay.

After the inspection, just before leaving the house, I was asked if it was safe to remove the carpet from the room. This was in case there was anything in the carpet that might affect their health. I replied that in my opinion, the carpet was safe, but to keep the room well ventilated should they decide to remove it.



Carpet PH: 6.46.

  • This is normal for this type of carpet.

Damp Test: Negative.

  • Tested the carpet surface, internal, backing, small section of underlay, and sub-flooring.
    • There were no signs of moisture or other contamination like mold or mildew in the carpet that could perversely increase the ‘musty’ or ‘woolly’ smell in this type of carpet.

Black Light Test: Negative.

  • Tested the carpet surface, backing, small section of underlay, and sub-flooring.
    • No signs of contamination on the carpet.

Carpet Approx size: 240cm x 230cm

Wall: Floor to ceiling 247cm (Not carpeted)


On carpet samples supplied by the owners

  • A selection of carpet samples were placed into sealed bags and left for seven days. This was to increase the smell to help testing and form a conclusion to determine the cause. The remaining sample was left to ‘air’ in room temperature as a normal new carpet would.


Cleaning tests included; De-odorise, solvent clean, alkaline/acid rinse clean. 

  • The carpets were cleaned/treated, dried, and placed into a sealed plastic bag for a further 7 days.
  • The solvent cleaned sample showed little improvement.
  • The deodorised sample showed some improvement. The product smell could also be detected possibly masking some of the original smell.
  • The alkaline/acid rinse sample showed the most improvement although there were still very slight traces of the original smell. There was also a slight cleaning product smell from the carpet.

Destructive Test:

The wool fibre was separated from the adhesive backing and both parts were placed into separate sealed bags and left for seven days.

Although there was a smell emitting from both samples, the wool fibre was by far the stronger of the two. The adhesive sample showed a very slight smell.

Room Temperature Test (after seven days):

On very close inspection (nose test), there was still a slight detectable smell from the carpet, but it seems much improved from the previous week.

Preliminary Conclusion:

There is no doubt the smell is coming from the newly installed carpet. I would suspect the smell is from the wool fibre of the carpet.

Alkaline/acid rinse cleaning, (normal light clean) has shown a marked improvement in the smell of the carpet.


There certainly was a smell coming from the carpet and considering it had been installed for three weeks, the smell seemed stronger than I would have expected. I have to weigh this against the fact that the room appeared not to have been in normal or regular use during this time. The room was empty other than a cupboard and drawer. The owners said the room had been ventilated, but it is impossible to determine how much over the three weeks. I would expect with normal everyday use, after three weeks, the smell may not have been as bad.

It would appear from testing that a light professional clean, (once completely dry), would greatly reduce the original smell.

The subject of whether there is a manufacturing fault in the carpet is inconclusive. The test to determine chemicals and substances (Gas-liquid chromatography test) in the carpet would prove cost prohibitive (at least several hundred pounds) and probably prove negative. Unfortunately, smell is something very subjective. Having said that, the fact that light cleaning reduced the smell suggests minor contaminate was removed from the wool.

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