Unlike that coveted ‘new car smell’, a new carpet odor is something that many homeowners do their best to get rid of. In most cases that new carpet smell is actually a VOC called 4-phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH). 4-PCH is a byproduct of the latex used to secure the carpet fibers to the backing. Not surprisingly, the cheaper the carpet, the more noxious the smell can be. In most cases this off-gassing of the carpet does little more than make you uncomfortable, occasionally being an eye and throat irritant for some people.
Synthetic carpets in particular are notorious for this off-gassing because they are made from nylon fibers with a polypropylene backing. Even adhesive used to install the carpet to the floor can contain chemicals that emit these VOCs. The majority of this synthetic carpet’s gasses will be released in the first 72 hours, making it important to allow for maximum ventilation during this time.
Having your carpet installer nail the floor covering down, instead of using a latex glue, will also greatly reduce the amount of VOCs released. Making this request can reduce the amount of chemicals brought into your home, making a big difference in the potency of the smell and how long it lasts.
Vacuuming your new carpet a day or two after installation can also make a difference, not to mention picking up the loose pieces and fuzz at the same time. Continue to vacuum the area every other day to get rid of the smell faster.
Many homeowners may be quick to grab a deodorizer to try to get rid of the smell. However, this will only be masking the odor. Deodorizers can also do more harm than good to your new carpet, leaving behind an unwanted residue.
The easiest way to prevent or reduce the gasses released from your carpet is to purchase low VOC carpet or eco-friendly carpets. These carpets are identified by the CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) inside a small green house.