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How to Get Milk Smell Out of Carpet

The kid plays on the floor
February 24, 2022

You know what they say; it’s no use crying over spilled milk. Well, if that milk happens to land on your expensive carpet, that’s definitely a reason to be upset. It’s also a matter of urgency. The sooner you act, the smaller the chance of the milk setting in the fabric and you to have to seek professional help. But what if you are dealing with an old stain? Don’t worry, you can still fix that. In the paragraphs that follow, we will tell you how to get the milk smell out of the carpet and forget the accident ever happened.

But first, let’s answer the question:

Why Does Spilt Milk Leave Such a Bad Odour?

If you have pets, you must have thought that no odour could outrival pet urine. However, the smell from food stains, and especially milk stains, is no different. As milk hits your carpet, the bacteria present in the fibres have a small feast. They begin to feed off the milk which causes them to multiply, which results in bacterial overgrowth. As they break lactose down, the chemical reaction gives this unpleasant odour you don’t know how to get rid of.

Can Milk Leave a Stain Too?

Yes, certainly. The bacteria we talked about feed on the existing lactose, which is natural sugar, turning it into lactic acid. Over time, the area turns yellow and becomes such a pain to glance at.

One of the reasons milk is so challenging to clean is the presence of protein - it gets trapped inside the pores and fibres of the material. Hence, it is vital that you take care of the problem as soon as possible so as not to let it get any worse.

It goes without saying, before you deal with the bad smell, you need to make sure there is no milk product left on your carpet because if there is, you cannot get rid of the unpleasant smell in the first place.

How to Get Sour Milk Out of Carpet or Any Other Type of Milk Stain for That Matter

Woman cleaning carpet at home

There are several cleaning methods that you can attempt to remove milk stains. We offer you some of the tried-and-tested ones that won’t damage your carpet fibres as long as you do everything right. You need some mild dish soap or other washing up liquid, enzyme cleaner, washing powder detergent, hydrogen peroxide, paper towel, spray bottle, and more. Let's get started.

Put some enzyme cleaner to the test

For this one, you are going to need an enzyme cleaner, which you can make on your own or buy from the local supermarket. If you don’t have a bottle handy, there is no time for some DIY action right now, so you might want to stick with option number two.

What is an enzyme cleaner? This is a concoction of ingredients like brown sugar, citrus rinds, baker’s yeast, and water. It can break down food, faeces and other organic material into smaller particles, and then the beneficial bacteria it contains eats away those molecules. This usually helps to lift off organic stains. That being said, enzyme cleaners often don’t remove the smell left behind.

Regardless of how you obtained that enzyme cleaner, you need to follow these simple steps in order to tackle the sour milk stain you’ve got:

  • The first step is to blot as much of the excess milk as possible using a clean cloth, sponge, or paper towels. Lay it over the stain and let it rest for a few seconds, then remove it and add more paper towels over the remaining milk.
  • The second step on how to clean milk out of carpet is to saturate the stain with the enzymatic cleaner and give it some time to work its magic. Don’t let it dry completely, though, or you will have to apply more of the cleaner after that. A dwell time of 3 to 5 minutes is enough to do the trick. Next, gently scrub the surface with a sponge or a soft-bristled brush. Wipe down with a dry cloth.

Reach for the hydrogen peroxide bottle

As you know, hydrogen peroxide works great on some stains and you could give it a go and clean spilled milk from your carpet with it. All you need is a slightly damp cloth and 3% hydrogen peroxide. Sprinkle the peroxide over the stain - don’t pour it over, go with a few drops instead. As soon as you do that, the foam will begin to form on the surface. Wait for it to subside and blot up. Hydrogen peroxide is efficient for persistent stains, so it doesn’t matter how old your stain is, it may still be able to produce great results.

Opt for rubbing alcohol to remove milk stains

You’ve heard the rule that “like dissolves like”, so an alcohol solvent should be able to act on an oil-based stain. In case you are wondering, the molecules of oil and alcohol are similar in polarities, so they can bind together instead of repelling each other. Make chemistry work to your advantage. Here is how to go about it.

As always, you want to start by dabbing the milk stain with a paper towel, a dry towel, or a washcloth until you get most of it out. Sprinkle some rubbing alcohol over it and pat it gently with a clean cloth. This should do the trick.

Include the vacuum in your carpet cleaning strategy

Now, you may also be interested to know how to get dried milk out of the carpet. First, you can try to carefully scrape some of it with a dull knife. Then, you want to pass the vacuum cleaner over it and see if you can pick the rest of the substance off.

There is more on how to clean dried milk out of your carpet. Proceed by mixing some mild dishwashing soap with two cups of warm water and applying small amounts of it onto the stain. Run a soft-bristled toothbrush over it carefully. Don’t apply much pressure. Now take a clean cloth, soak it into the solution and rinse off the excess water. Gently rub it against the stained area to remove the soapy solution. Repeat as necessary. When there is no stain left, dry with a clean towel.

Keep in mind that it may not be possible to get all of the stain off on your first try. The cleaning process is laborious and time-consuming, so you need to summon your patience.

Clean spilt milk with powdered laundry detergent

If everything else fails, you may resort to laundry detergent. But just so you know, it works best for fresh and moist stains. Add a bit of the powder to the stain, just enough so it can cover it. Let it do its thing and come back after a few minutes to brush with a toothbrush. Using a damp sponge, rinse the product off the carpet. Pat dry with a clean towel.

If you have a steam cleaner, consider passing it over the affected area and let everything dry.

A word of caution when removing milk stains

  • Never use harsh chemicals while carpet cleaning, as this, will ruin the delicate fabric. If you can't get rid of the remaining milk, consider asking for help.
  • When cleaning, be sure to stick with cold water or luke-warm water. Heat can make otherwise removable stains into ones that are impossible to eliminate. Not only that, it can facilitate the stain's extension to adjacent regions. Cold water is your best bet.
  • This one is a no-brainer but still, don’t use bleach on your fabrics. It will lead to discolouration. Wear protective gloves whenever you are handling cleaning products and detergent.
  • Before you use any cleaner on the spilt milk, test it on a small area of the carpet. Choose a spot in the corner or under the sofa so that if something goes wrong, it will remain out of sight.
  • If none of the above steps manages to remove milk from the carpet, it’s recommended you call in a professional carpet cleaner in London.

How to Get Old Milk Smell Out of Carpet

A flat lay arrangement of cleaning equipment

Now that you took care of the milk from your carpet, it’s time to get rid of the odour. You will need to prepare a damp cloth, dry washcloths, sponges, washing up liquid, protective gloves, baking soda, vinegar (any type will do), paper towels, warm water, cold water, coffee, and spray bottle, to name a few.

Below, we offer several different techniques for an odour-free carpet in case one of them doesn’t work for you or in case you don’t have some of the above supplies. Here are a few tips to abide by.

How to get rid of milk smell in carpet with vinegar solution

Vinegar serves not only as a condiment to our dishes but also as a safe cleaner around the house. Moreover, it is pretty good at removing bad odours. So, your first line of defence against those nasty odours from the spilled milk could be good old vinegar.

There are two ways to go about it.

  1. The first one is to dilute it with equal parts of water and sprinkle a bit of the mixture directly onto the stain. There is no need to rinse it. You can try blotting it after a few minutes. There will be some vinegar smell near the affected area of the carpet for a few days straight but as the carpet dries, it will disappear. When it does, so will the milk odour.
  2. The second method is to fill a bowl with vinegar and place it near the stain. Now, this one is a little challenging since it carries the risk of your family spilling the bowl. That’s why you should implement it only if the milk stain is located in a corner or in a place where no one goes. If you have kids or pets, it’s best not to risk it. Also, don’t forget that the room will have a slight vinegar smell while the bowl is there.

How to get sour milk smell out of the carpet with baking soda overnight

Baking soda, or bicarb soda, is an essential household ingredient that we always have lying in the pantry. It works wonders on bad scents. All you have to do is put some baking soda on the dried milk stain, making sure to cover the entire area well. Leave it on the carpet overnight. By the next morning, you will have a fresh-smelling carpet. If that's not the case, you can repeat the process.

So, what do you do with those baking soda leftovers? Grab the vacuum and run it over the spot to suction all the powder so it doesn’t get the chance to spread through your entire house via foot traffic.

How to remove milk smell from carpet with fresh unused coffee grounds

Nobody can deny the wonderful aroma of coffee and you probably wouldn’t mind replacing the smell of milk spilled on the carpet with a better scent. When going for it, use some fresh unused coffee grounds directly on the dry stain and let it sit for several hours. Make sure the carpet is dry. You don’t want to end up with another stain. After the time is up, vacuum the coffee.

How to get milk smell out of carpet using activated charcoal crystals

The sour milk smell can also disappear with odour crystals. They are sold online and in many stores. Charcoal acts like a filter that can trap bad odours, absorb moisture, and purify water. Get your hands on charcoal crystals if you can. Place them over the milk smell and cover them with a towel. When you notice the bad smell is gone, you can remove them.

Combine the carpet cleaning techniques

For best results, you can pair some of these steps. For instance, mix two cups of warm water with dish soap or detergent, soak a clean cloth in it and dab it onto the targeted area. While it’s still wet, add some baking soda to the milk smells. Let it work overnight. In the morning, loosen the soda with your fingers or gently scrape with a spoon and then vacuum the remaining part. After that, add some vinegar to the stain and let it dry on its own.

How to Get Milk Out of Carpet in Car

Cleaning seat inside the car

If you spill milk in your car, you can use pretty much the same techniques as above. Of course, before you proceed with the cleaning part, you should dab the surface with a paper towel so that the liquid can transfer from the carpet fibres to the paper. Once it’s all dry, sprinkle fresh baking soda to remove the odour. It will also aid in cleaning milk stains. Scrub the targeted area with a brush and suction the powder with a handheld vacuum.

The next step is to apply some carpet cleaner on the surface. Now, grab a dry cloth and pat it onto the affected area. And that’s it. If it’s been a few hours since you noticed the spilt milk on the carpet, as the last step you may want to spray the fabric with an odour neutraliser. If you don't have the tools or you still can't get rid of the stains, you can call us for a professional car upholstery cleaning.

Spilled Milk on Carpet Removal: FAQ


How does baking soda get milk out of carpet?

Baking soda acts by neutralising the milk compounds and in addition to that absorbs most of the smell.

How long does it take for milk smell to go away?

Once you take appropriate measures, it's going to take 3-4 days for the smell to go away.

How do you get spilled milk out of your car?

The fastest way to do it is to mix one part vinegar with four parts water. Transfer the solution into a spray bottle and spray the targeted area. Let it soak for several hours. Go back to the stain and blot the spot with a towel. When you are finished, leave the windows open.

What dissolves dried milk?

If you have a dried milk situation, you should scrape it with a dull knife or a spoon and vacuum it. There is no need to dissolve it to get rid of it.


There are many approaches you can take to clean milk from your carpet and later get rid of the sour smell it gives off. Most of the supplies you need already sit in your house.

If that still doesn’t solve your problem, you can always book our professional carpet cleaning service. Not only are we equipped with products and machines that aren’t available to the public, but we also know the science behind stain removal and that’s key to a successful outcome and an odour-free carpet.

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