How to Deodorize Subflooring

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Things You'll Need

  • Tools to remove top flooring

  • Mop

  • Soapy water

  • Clean rinsing water

  • Bleach

  • Fan (optional)

  • Oil-based paint that seals in odor

  • Paint roller and pan

  • Mineral spirits

Could the odor in your home come from the subflooring?

Strong odors in a home are embarrassing when friends and family visit. Even clean, vacuumed and deodorized homes, sometimes, have strong odors. If the smell is in the subflooring under carpet, the odor lingers or returns right after cleaning. The odor is absorbed in the subfloor surface. Spills, animal urine, water damage and fire damage all cause strong odors in a home. Getting rid of odors in subflooring takes some time, but removing odors permanently is possible. Try these simple methods for removing strong odors from subflooring, but plan two or three days for this project.


Step 1

Remove all of the furniture in the room that needs the subflooring deodorized. Remove the top layer of finished flooring. If the top layer is carpet, it pulls up easily. If the top layer is linoleum, it takes a little bit more work, but it's worth it.

Step 2

Sweep off any debris. Mop the subflooring with soapy, warm water. Dump the mop bucket, and refill it with cold water. Mop over the floor with cold water. Repeat the mopping and rinsing process several times. Make sure you change the water between every mop or rinse process. Let the floor dry completely.


Step 3

Mix one part bleach with three parts water in the bucket. Clean the subfloor with the mixed solution and let the floor dry thoroughly. This helps remove any smells from mold or mildew, and it disinfects the floor. Make sure you have good ventilation in the room you are cleaning. Open windows, or pull air into the room using a fan.

Step 4

Paint the floor with an oil-based paint that seals in stains and odors. Follow the directions on the paint can, and let it dry completely. Paint a second layer of paint on the floor. Use mineral spirits for cleaning up any unwanted dips of paint.


Step 5

Let the paint dry for at least 48 hours before putting the carpet or linoleum back in place or putting down a new finished flooring. Put the furniture back in place, and enjoy an odor-free room.


If the smell is from water damage, the floor in that area needs replacing. Replace the wood from floor joist to floor joist. Many times the subfloor swells or the wood is rotten, so replacing it looks better and makes it safer.