Finding mold on your carpet or on virtually any other fabric is a huge annoyance to any home owner. Finding mold on a bathroom wall is irritating enough, but at least there you can just spray and pray. What do you do with a carpet?
Well, relax. It’s true that finding mold on a carpet does complicate some aspects of the cleaning process, but it does make some others significantly simpler. It is still a pain to deal with – mold always is – but often time it is not an impossible mission.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the step-by-step process of dealing with mold in our carpets specifically, and you can replicate the same process with basically any other fabric, including your clothes.
1. Determine The Exact Severity Of The Mold Infestation
- With fabrics you have the advantage of being able to see how far into the fabric the mold has gotten. With walls, you never know how far into the surface the mold has spread its roots until you start digging. On the other hand, fabrics go “beyond repair” much faster than a regular bathroom tile, so catching the contamination early is vital.
- So, simply examine the carpet from both sides. If the mold infestation has grown through a significant portion of the carpet’s back side, you might as well stop reading here and throw away your carpet. At the very least, if the mold has reached the back of the carpet but you are still overly optimistic, you should call a professional mold cleaner.
2. Ventilate The Room With The Carpet
- The increased air flow will reduce the humidity in the room and help dry the carpet. More importantly, however, it will help get rid of most of the airborne mold spores and prevent the further spread of mold throughout the rest of the room and your home.
3. Check The HVAC System For Any Mold Contaminations
- If the mold on your carpet hasn’t appeared after a recent leak on the carpet or a flooding of the room / house, then there is a high chance that the initial mold contamination is actually in your air conditioning system. You’d still want to clean your carpet, of course, but you need to make sure that this is the only problem – if there is mold in your HVAC system, then your home is literally sprayed with mold spores on a daily basis.
While you are at it, check the rest of the room as well, even if the air conditioner is clean. If there is mold on the carpet, there might be more under or behind the furniture that’s around it.
4. Take The Carpet Outside Of Your Home If Possible
- Now that the initial investigations are complete, it is time to start dealing with the problem. The further away from your home – or anyone else’s – the better. This is done for several different reasons:
- When mold is being cleaned off of any surface it starts to rapidly release its spores into the air. This is a simple defense mechanism, designed to continue the life of the mold infestation by helping it spread elsewhere. This is why you don’t really want to be inside your home when cleaning mold, so if the mold is on a removeable object like a carpet – that’s one of the silver linings. If you can’t move the carpet outside, isolate the room as well as possible. Duct tape and plastic sheets can help you isolate any air vents that lead into the rest of the house, as well as any doors and windows. Keep the outgoing windows open for ventilation and put a fan on them to further help getting rid of the airborne mold spores.
- Additionally, the natural elements that are outside can greatly help you battle mold, especially on something like a carpet. In fact, you might consider sunning the carpet for 24 - 48 hours if you are not in a hurry. The wind will dry the carpet off, preventing its spread and the direct sunlight is downright deadly for mold, as it can’t survive ultraviolet light. After 24 – 48 hours you can proceed with the actual cleaning of the mold – don’t be as optimistic to think that a little sun will always solve the problem. Sometimes it will, if the problem isn’t that severe, but not often.
5. Get Yourself Some Body Protection
- Do not skip this part. Cleaning mold is not something we should take lightly, regardless of whether it is releasing mycotoxins in the air or not. Inhaling or injecting mold can have some very serious effects to the health of even an otherwise healthy person. Plus, most mold cleaners aren’t exactly harmless too and you probably don’t want them finding their way into your eyes, for example. So, prepare some items for yourself:
- Eye goggles. This will protect your eyes both from the mold and from the cleaning solution you are using against it.
- Rubber or latex gloves. This is mainly intended to protect the skin of your hands from the cleaning solution. Some mold cleaners will simply irritate your skin, which a lot of people tend to ignore and misguidedly view as “a sign of masculinity”, while other mold cleaners are downright dangerous for the bare skin.
- A dust filter mask or at least some face protection like a bandana. This is very important to protect you both from inhaling large quantities of mold spores, as well as against the toxic fumes of the cleaning solutions. Ignoring this item can lead to severe respiratory problems. There are even plenty of cases of people losing consciousness from fumes while cleaning mold and falling face down in the mold / cleaner mix.
- Consider a full-body suit as well. This is not so much for your protection – the mold won’t shoot bullets at you – as it is for the protection of your clothes and to help prevent the further spread of mold into your house through said clothes.
- As an additional note – after you are done cleaning the mold, you should not only throw your clothes into the washing machine, but take a shower yourself too. This is not just for your convenience, this is to prevent the spread of any mold spores that might have attached to you and your clothes.
6. Remove The Remaining Moisture From The Carpet With Baking Soda
- Sprinkle the carpet with baking soda, leave it like that overnight and then vacuum it up on the next morning. This won’t deal with all the mold but it will deal with a lot of it and dry the carpet completely.
7. Start Scrubbing With Whatever Commercial Or Homemade Cleaning Solution You Have Chosen
- When it comes to choosing a cleaning solution for carpet mold, you should obviously look for ones that won’t harm the carpet itself. This makes things such as bleach and ammonia an obviously bad choice. You might want color-safe bleach, but we’d advise you to first use it on a corner of the carpet to see how it reacts with the fabric. See our mold remover guide for suitable products.
- Instead, something like distilled white vinegar can be a great choice against mold in your carpet – it is very effective against all types of mold and it will spare your carpet. It won’t spare your nose, however, since vinegar has a very strong odor that is hard to get rid of, but it is not impossible and it is usually worth the effective work vinegar can do.
- Commercial mold cleaners can be very effective too, as long as they specifically say that they are carpet-friendly and fabric-friendly. A lot of commercial mold cleaners use a bleach formula and will completely destroy the carpet together with the mold.
If you find a suitable commercial product you might also want to see if it includes an “encapsulate” treatment or a “mold barrier” – these are designed to leave a clear barrier in the carpet’s fabrics which prevents the growth of future mold. And that’s clearly nice.
- If none of these options is to your taste, you can test a carpet cleaning product as well. If it doesn’t work you can just dry off the carpet again (remember – dry it off completely!) and try with some of our previous suggestions.
Whichever option you choose, apply it and scrub away. It will take several consecutive applications, but if the infestation hasn’t reached the back of the carpet and the cleaning solution is good enough, you’ll get there.
8. Once All The Scrubbing Fun Is Over, Dry The Carpet Off Completely Again
- Don’t bring a semi-wet carpet into a poorly ventilated house. You’ll only be inviting the reappearance of mold. Dry the fabric off completely and then bring it back home.
And there you have it. As you can see, depending on the severity of the condition, cleaning mold from your carpet can range from a mild annoyance, to a completely impossible situation. We sincerely hope for the first scenario and we wish you luck!