There are two time honored tricks for getting odors out of carpets or just about anything that have been around long before anyone knew how they actually worked. One of them is vinegar of course, which can be slightly malodorous on its own, but the other is baking soda, which generally has no smell of its own at all.
In chemistry classes across America, students are told about that properties of acids and bases. Many of them build make-shift volcanoes for science fair projects out of the combination of these two substances. Little do these students know that they’re actually deodorizing the surrounding area.
What’s interesting about these two methods of odor removal is that they work in roughly the same way. While baking soda is a base, vinegar is a potent acid, and the effect that both have is to neutralize the pH levels in the immediate environment.
The name for the chemical that we commonly call baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which has a lower pH level than either neutral or acidic substances. Since most odors are themselves of a higher pH level, meaning bad odors tend to be acidic, the baking soda lowers the pH neutralizing the substance that causes the odor, and causing the odor to vanish.
But not all odors are able to be neutralized by applying a base. There are many odors that themselves have a pH above 7, meaning they themselves are bases. In this instance, employing an acid to do the trick works in place of a base, and the most common household acid is, of course, vinegar. Boiling vinegar in a water solution will neutralize all the odors that are caused by malodorous bases. When the mixture is boiled, vinegar molecules attach themselves to the escaping water vapors that then bond with the source of the bad smell. In the process, not only is the bad smell neutralized, but the smell of the vinegar is itself neutralized.
The pH neutralization technique described above is effective against many forms of foul smelling odors, and is the foundation more sophisticated modern odor removal techniques, such as those employed by carpet cleaners.
In San Diego, carpet cleaning service providers explain that most of the high powered chemicals that are used to remove odors are basically extremely potent variations of the stuff anyone can find in their kitchen cupboard. They neutralize the odors in the exact same way, they just have more sophisticated ways of distributing the chemicals that neutralize the odors and they work on more different kinds of odors.