If you have stumbled across mold in your house, it is crucial to get rid of it as soon as you discover it. But you may wonder how to get mold out of carpet effectively enough so that it doesn’t cause harm to your health.
Unfortunately, while people clean green or black mold from their showers and tiles almost immediately when they see it, carpets – despite often being one of the largest pieces of furnishings in our homes – are one of the last places to be routinely cleaned.
Unkept carpets can harbor mold spores, bacteria, and allergens from dirt, and debris that carry health risks.
There are various ways to get mold out of carpet, with some being more effective than others. Common natural solutions include vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil. However, these are better used to inhibit, rather than kill, the mold.
Bleach is another option that can banish mold but it comes with an added risk of discoloration of the carpet.
We will explore all these options and more in this article along with discussing the preventative measures you can take to keep you and your family safe from mold and mold spores in the future.
Why Does Mold Grow on Carpet?
Mold is a type of fungus that forms and spreads on various kinds of damp or decaying surfaces by releasing spores.
For mold to grow and develop, the spores need moisture. This is why you will often find mold in your house in places like a wet basement floor or a bathroom that is not properly ventilated.
As carpets are extremely susceptible to trapping moisture, you will find that mold grows on carpets as well. Once a carpet gets wet or damp due to reasons like a leaky ceiling, basement flood, humidity, or a plumbing issue, moisture is trapped in its dense fibers and in the many nooks and crannies of the weaves of the carpet.
Many times, carpets have the backing of the weaves attached to them. This backing can also lock in moisture under the carpet if something wet gets under it.
The dampness stays in the carpet unless you actively dry it using fans, a dehumidifier, or other drying methods. Once it stays wet for some time, mold will start to form.
What makes it especially difficult to spot and treat mold on carpets is that a carpet can extend to some places in our household that we do not regularly look at or can reach.
For instance, there might be carpet under a piece of heavy furniture or in a closet. If one of these locations gets damp or wet and mold forms on the carpet, you may not notice it for quite some time until it has had a lot of time to grow and spread.
How Does Mold Grow on Carpet?
Mold spores are tiny structures that exist in the air from where they can fall and grow in moist areas. These particles can travel through doors, windows, cooling and heating systems, and even though your pets or clothes.
Once they find an environment that is conducive to their growth, such as a wet carpet, they combine with the dust particles in your house resulting in the perfect conditions for mold growth.
As mentioned above, places such as poorly ventilated bathrooms, which can foster a lot of humidity and moist conditions, are one of the most common areas for mold to settle in.
Often, we can smell the musty air before we even see the mold growth, which is a great cue that you need to act quickly and find ways on how to get mold out of carpet.
How to Spot Signs of Mold on Your Carpet
According to the University of Central Florida, mold spores can be as tiny as three microns. That means they are able to get into the tiniest of spaces on surfaces that are soft, such as carpeting. It also means that simply scrubbing the surface will not remove the spores.
So, how can you recognize when mold is growing in your house?
You will often find mold in rugs and carpeted areas near your bathroom, basement, or kitchen. Wherever there is an increased chance of moisture on a regular basis, mold will commonly be found.
Mold grows often in the form of black, red, blue, or green spots. You can see it growing on the fibers of the carpet, sometimes followed by a foul or sour odor. You may also see white discoloration on surfaces indicating mildew growth.
Apart from the visible signs, if you and your family members start experiencing allergy-like symptoms without any apparent cause, it may be a sign that there is mold in your household.
The Dangers of Having Mold and Mildew in the Carpet
When left untreated, mold can have detrimental effects on your health. According to the EPA, molds release allergens, which are substances that can cause allergic reactions, and other toxic substances, such as Mycotoxins.
Touching or inhaling these toxic substances can result in symptoms such as skin, eye, and throat irritation as well as coughing, and a runny or stuffy nose.
Allergic reactions to mold are fairly common and can be delayed or immediate.
In more severe instances, constant exposure to dangerous mold can result in a weakened immune system that can then lead to chronic illnesses such as asthma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people with mold sensitivity can experience upper respiratory symptoms, exacerbated asthma symptoms, and eye irritation due to mold exposure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also reported in multiple studies to have found a correlation between the presence of respiratory signs and mold in addition to increasingly severe asthma symptoms.
All of this makes mold’s presence especially problematic in households with children. Simply walking on a carpet with mold can cause allergic reactions and send mold spores in the air. Since children often play on the floor and touch it, they are at a greater risk of experiencing harmful health effects.
But the problems caused by mold go beyond human health as well. Our pets can also get exposed to mold which can lead to respiratory issues. Mold spores can also get trapped on their skin or coat, putting them at risk of contracting an illness or an allergy.
In addition to negative health implications, mold can cause damage to the surfaces it grows on. If it ends up getting trapped under your carpet, it not only destroys the carpet but also damages the floor and baseboards underneath.
Are All Types of Molds Bad for Our Health?
Mold spores exist in our homes at least in some capacity. They are everywhere and are not harmful at low levels. It starts to become a problem when too many mold spores accumulate in one place and you don’t do anything to get rid of them.
You cannot differentiate which type of mold is dangerous just by looking at it through the naked eye. Due to this, it is vital that you remove any kind of mold that you see from your home or workplace as soon as you notice it to avoid coming in contact with any dangerous compounds.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to Get Mold Out of Carpet
Step 1: Ventilate the Room
Before you begin cleaning the mold off your carpet, the first thing you should do is make sure that the carpet is out of the damp environment.
You should open the windows and turn on any fans to allow for ample ventilation to occur. This will discourage the mold spores from growing and spreading. It will likely also minimize the unpleasant smells that happen as a result of mold growth.
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Step 2: Lift Up the Area of the Carpet with Mold on It
If the mold is on the backing of the carpet, you would need to replace it. However, you can also remove the backing from the carpet by cutting it out. Simply leave a border of roughly 12 inches around and add in a replacement. If this technique does not work out, you will need to replace the carpet altogether.
Step 3: Apply a DIY Solution to Kill the Mold
Now, you have to choose what solution to use in order to get rid of mold in your carpet. There are a number of DIY methods that can be employed that work as mold-killing agents.
If the mold problem is light, baking soda is a great option to opt for. All you need to do is simply sprinkle some on the affected spot, leave it overnight and then vacuum it off in the morning.
If you find that the mold has grown slightly from light to medium, white vinegar is a solid option. You can put some vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it generously to the moldy area.
Unlike baking soda, vinegar does not need to be left overnight. Rather, you only have to leave it on the carpet for a few minutes and scrub it off once it is absorbed. You should then dry the area thoroughly.
Hydrogen peroxide is another homemade option for when the spread of the mold gets serious. Since hydrogen peroxide is a natural antifungal, you can utilize it on pretty much any surface to inhibit or even completely eliminate mold.
To make a hydrogen peroxide solution for your mold, mix 3% hydrogen peroxide with water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and apply to the area, leaving it on for about 10 minutes. Scrub the mixture off and dry the area.
Step 4: Open the Windows or Use a Dehumidifier or Fan
The carpet will still be wet from your DIY cleaner. Therefore, open the windows or bring in a dehumidifier or fan to dry out the carpet.
Ideally, you should also use a vacuum to catch any remnants of mold that may or may not be left off on the carpet. Make sure to use a HEPA filter. If your vacuum does not have one, use a broom and dustpan instead.
Have a garbage or dust bag ready to catch all the particles of mold immediately since you don’t want them spreading to other areas of your house.
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Prevention Tactics to Stop Mold Growth in Your Carpeting
When thinking about how to get mold out of carpet, one of the best methods to go for is actually preventing mold growth, in the first place. Having a weekly cleaning regimen in place can help you combat mold growth much more effectively rather than fighting to keep your home healthy once the mold has formed.
Below are a few steps to prevent mold from forming in your carpets that you can take to stay one step ahead of mold:
- Reduce indoor humidity – Since mold thrives in moist and humid environments, you should take steps to reduce those conditions inside your house. A dehumidifier is a great appliance that will help control moisture indoors, depriving the mold spores of the optimal environment to grow. A range of 30% to 60% is a good choice of humidity for interiors.
- Install carpets carefully – You should avoid installing carpeting in areas that are hard to reach, clean, and spot mold in. Parts of your house that are exposed to frequent moisture – such as bathrooms and kitchens – should also be avoided. These areas can quickly turn into a breeding ground for mold and bacterial growth due to the high humidity that results from water use. If you do have rugs in high-moisture environments, clean them regularly.
- Choose high-quality carpet padding – When installing carpet, do your homework and make sure there is moisture-resistant padding. Carpets that are padded are slightly more expensive than other types of padding. However, they are worth the splurge since they can be quite helpful in preventing the growth of mold.
- Avoid standing water – Carpets that are exposed to standing water will be ruined pretty quickly. If the presence of standing water happens as a result of a leak or a spill, all carpeting exposed must be cleaned and dried immediately. You should make sure to clean the top and bottom surfaces of the carpet along with its padding, and the floor underneath as well. This would shorten the period of time your carpet was exposed to the water, thereby saving it from any harmful allergen growth. If large flooding occurs or your carpeting has been exposed to standing water for an extended period of time, you will likely have to replace it.
- Clean smartly – One of the best ways how to get mold out of carpet is by cleaning it regularly. However, you should approach the cleaning intelligently. That means you should rely on dry forms of cleaning, whenever possible. If water or any other forms of moisture comes in with the carpet during cleaning, dry it off as soon as you can afterward.
- Provide ample ventilation – Keep your home ventilated properly by frequently opening windows along with letting in plenty of sunlight. This is a simple and effective method to keep mold at bay.
Home Maintenance to Stop Mold from Growing in the Carpet
To avoid mold in the carpet, there are additional steps you can take as part of your home maintenance routine. Here are a few of them:
- Replace the air filter in your house every 3-4 months. Also make sure it filters out allergens, such as dust and mold.
- Vacuum your carpets regularly to avoid any mold spores from settling in and turning into mold.
- Be careful when painting the outside of your home. Often, when builders paint the outdoor area of a house, they fail to use good quality paint which results in water entering the house. Invest in good quality painting services and hire a professional to do it.
- Take proactive steps in roof maintenance. This means checking around your roof after storms that can cause damage to make sure there are no leaks or issues. You should also make sure that the shingles are in place and the gutters are not clogged. There is a possibility of water getting into the home if the gutters back up or the shingles are missing.
When to Call a Professional Cleaning Service to Get Mold Out of the Carpet
This article told you how to get mold out of carpet and keep it away for good. However, if you have tried the methods listed above and still haven’t gotten rid of the mold, it may be your cue to call for professional help.
It is also important to remember that if the area of mold is larger than 10 square feet or if you are already experiencing allergy symptoms or other health issues, call for a professional diagnosis of the problem.
Often, the water can be coming from somewhere inside the walls that you may not be aware of. An expert can do a thermal imaging inspection to find the source of water and help you get rid of its damaging effects i.e., mold.
The Bottom Line
Knowing how to get mold out of carpet can help you nip the problem in the bud and tackle the issue before it spreads to other parts of the house and gets dangerous enough to cause various illnesses.
It’s a health hazard that should not be toyed with or put off. Rather, it is better to get it taken care of as soon as you notice its presence.
As mentioned earlier, mold, especially if it’s black in color, can be dangerous to your health in addition to the damage and odors it can give birth to in your house.
So, whether you are tackling immediate stains or old spots that are stubborn, it is imperative to be proactive in your dealing with the mold – either by yourself or by hiring a professional cleaning service.