how to clean mold & mildew in carpet

how to clean mold & mildew in carpet

Maybe you notice the musty smell first, or your children are sneezing more than usual. Perhaps you’ve seen that greenish spot of discoloration near your basement door for months, but you’re only now questioning what caused it. 

Whatever it is, something tipped you off to the presence of mold or mildew in your home – and now you need to deal with it ASAP. The longer you wait, the more serious the problem will become, and the more you’ll pay for pricey mold remediation services.

Unfortunately, mold growing in your carpet isn’t always obvious. Most of us don’t catch it until the smell or symptoms have become noticeable, and by then, it can be difficult to remove from the carpet fibers or even the pad underneath.

We’ve got some solid DIY tips for cleaning mold and mildew from your carpet, but as always, it’s smart to contact a carpet cleaning professional if you have serious growth. Try these tactics for now, but if the mold still seems to linger, definitely reach out for expert mold remediation services. 

Signs of Carpet Mold

First, let’s talk about how you know for certain that your carpet is growing mold.

You’ll often find mold in carpeted areas near your bathroom, kitchen, or basement – wherever moisture is present on a regular basis. As water enters the carpet, moisture can cling to the woven fibers and create an ideal environment for mold growth.

According to the CDC, you need to clean up excess moisture, spills, floodwater, etc. within 24 hours to adequately prevent the spread of mold spores. Mold spreads quickly – so imagine what happens when moisture-related growth is left unchecked for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

You’ll likely realize you have mold in your carpet when:

  • You see mold or mildew actually growing on fibers.
  • There are black, blue, red, or green spots that indicate mold growth.
  • There’s a strange musty, foul, or sour smell coming from your floors.
  •  You see white discoloration that could indicate mildew growth.

Smells and visible signs aren’t the only indications of mold growth. Many actually realize they have a problem when family members begin to experience allergy-like symptoms, with no apparent cause.

Mold can cause many detrimental health effects in people, including:

  • Runny or stuffy nose.
  • Sore throat.
  • Coughing or wheezing.
  • Burning eyes.
  • Skin irritation (rashes or redness etc.)

These reactions are especially common amongst people who already suffer from allergies or asthma, as well as immuno-compromised people. 

If people in your household have been feeling ill for no explainable reason, mold could be the culprit. Do a survey of your bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and entryways to determine if spores could be hiding out in your carpet fibers.

Steps to Take as Soon as You Find Mold Growth

Step 1: Dry and Ventilate the Affected Area 

So, you’ve found the mold and/or mildew. The first thing you need to do is make the carpet an inhospitable environment for the spores. Mold is looking for a place that is dark, damp, and warm.
Open the windows and turn on the fans. Dry up any residual moisture or water, then focus on lowering the humidity in the room. Not only will this discourage the spores from spreading more, but it will also likely minimize the effects you’ve been noticing such as unpleasant odors, allergic reactions, etc.

Step 2: Apply a DIY Mold Killer to Clean

Next, you’ll want to determine what solution to apply to the affected area. There are actually many recommendations when it comes to DIY mold-killing agents, and some work better than others.

We recommend using: 

  • Baking soda on light mold problems. Sprinkle some on the moldy spot, leave overnight, then vacuum up in the morning.
  • White vinegar for light to medium mold growth. Put some in a spray bottle, then apply generously. Unlike baking soda, white vinegar doesn’t need to sit for long – just for a few minutes. After, scrub until it is absorbed, then dry the area with a hairdryer or fan.
  • Hydrogen peroxide for serious mold. Because hydrogen peroxide is a natural antifungal, you can use it on pretty much any surface to stop and even eradicate mold. Combine about 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with water in a spray bottle, apply to the area, and leave for 10 minutes. Then scrub the mixture out and dry the area.

A word of caution: don’t go mad scientist on your at-home mold removal concoctions. You shouldn’t mix things that don’t go together, both for the sake of your health and for the future of your home’s carpet.

If you’re trying these at-home treatments and the mold doesn’t seem to be leaving, try to determine what kind of mold you’re dealing with. Based on the mold’s appearance, including its color, you may be able to determine a better solution to use.

You can also purchase mold removers from your local hardware or even grocery store. However, remember that any DIY mold removal project should only be used on small-scale problems. If you’re dealing with a serious mold infestation that has spread from the floor to other parts of the house, you’re out of your league. It’s time to call a professional.

Step 3: Prevent Mold Growth From Returning 

After you’ve dealt with the mold, it’s time to prevent it from returning – because it can and will if left to its own devices. Mold often strikes in the same location twice.

If your mold growth occurred in a place that is often wet, how will you prevent mold from growing again in moist conditions?

We recommend using a dehumidifier in rooms that are often dark and damp – like most basements. Mold flourishes in rooms with more than 50 percent humidity levels on a regular basis. By installing and running a dehumidifier regularly, you can keep your levels normal and stall future mold growth.

You should also think about better ventilating the area. Keep the windows open when you can and run the AC when you can’t. Airflow can do wonders for your mold growth risk.

Lastly, you should also clean your carpets regularly – by yourself or professionally, if possible. Frequent vacuuming and steam cleaning will help keep mold at bay even in relatively wet areas. The same goes for rugs, not just your permanently installed carpet.

Be Safe When You Tackle Mold

: when you decide to address your mold problem on your own, you’re responsible for your own personal safety and protection, as well as that of your family, roommates, etc. 

Breathing in mold spores can be extremely detrimental to your health. We recommend wearing an N-95 respirator while in close contact with the spores, including while you apply your DIY treatments and scrub. 

You should also wear gloves while working on the affected area. This protects your skin from the mold itself as well as the agents you’re using to remove the growth. After cleaning the affected carpet and removing the gloves, ensure you still wash your hands thoroughly to avoid accidentally spreading spores or toxins. 

Lastly, you should also wear goggles. It might feel like overkill, but the last thing you want is to get mold, toxins, or chemicals in your eyes.

Exposure to mold spores can cause a variety of symptoms in different individuals – or none at all, depending on the circumstances. Watch yourself and others involved for signs of severe allergic reactions. Serious coughing, wheezing, headaches, or asthma attacks should be taken seriously and addressed by a medical professional. 

Act Quickly to Prevent Long-Term Effects 

It doesn’t matter how long the mold has been present – it’s immediately a problem. Not only is it unsightly and often foul-smelling, but it’s also a danger to the health of everyone living in the home.

Do what you can to handle the problem on your own. However, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help if the mold issues are outside of your comfort zone. Small mold growth can be stopped, but once it’s out of control and spreading like wildfire, you’ll need a lot more than a spray bottle with some white vinegar to handle the problem.

At Floors by the Shore, we frequently help homeowners recover from mold and mildew spread in their carpet. We’re committed to promoting healthy households in New Jersey, and that includes eradicating potentially dangerous mold spores hiding in carpet fibers.

To tackle mold, we first vacuum the area to suck up excess dirt, debris, and pet dander. Our team then uses environmentally conscious cleaning methods to deep clean your carpet. Our Hot Water and HOST Dry Extraction process effectively remove dust mites, mold, and other contaminants.

We’re well-versed in the dangers of mold, and we’ll come prepared to safely clean your carpets. Call 732-655-6155 to schedule an appointment with Floors by the Shore or reach out to our experts online. Whatever you do, don’t wait to ask for help – mold spreads quickly.