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How to Get Mold Out of Carpet

mold assessor mold course mold remediation Apr 14, 2023
mold in carpet

 Carpet in humid climates is prone to mold, mildew, and rot. The smell alone is a clear indication that there’s something nasty growing. 


When it comes to killing mold in fabric, quick removal is essential. As it grows, it releases spores. Breathing them in can cause asthma flares, deep coughs, headaches, and fatigue. 


If you’re dealing with damaged carpets, remediation experts are here to help. Without total removal, indoor air quality will continue declining and risk your health. 


We’ve gathered the most critical information about the issue and best practices surrounding getting mold out of carpet.

Why does mold grow on carpet?

Mold requires a warm, humid environment to thrive. Indoors is perfect for it to grow because of consistent temperature and humidity. Climates with higher humidity are more prone to indoor bacteria growth.   


Bacteria are always present, and proper cleaning keeps most problems away. But if there’s been a flood or significant spill, it may get out of control. Fibers absorb the moisture and trap it, allowing it to thrive. At that point, simple cleaning won’t take care of the issue.  


Most homeowners don’t know they have a problem until it’s too late. By the time they realize what they’re dealing with, complete replacement may be the only option. 

When a carpet gets wet due to a ceiling leak or other water damage, that moisture gets easily trapped

Carpet’s complicated flooring. There’s more to it than simply rolling it out. A sub-floor and pad lurk under the surface to collect moisture. Some cheap, low-quality flooring absorbs water rather than repelling it. In these cases, spills and leaks pose a significant risk of damage. 

Carpet padding and low-quality fibers can cause mold growth

High-quality materials get treated with anti-microbial solutions at the factory. For those living in humid climates, these treatments give peace of mind. Cheaper options, on the other hand, don’t come with these safeguards. In these cases, flooring becomes a liability rather than a comfort. 

Mold thrives on porous materials, so carpet is the perfect environment 

In the right conditions, rugs provide what bacteria need to grow. Even synthetic fabrics aren’t safe. Fibers gather dirt and hold onto moisture. They simply need the humidity and a food source to thrive. 


Mold seizes the opportunity when your flooring gets wet and stays that way. Most carpets and rugs are woven onto a substrate that runs the length of the fabric. If it penetrates, it spreads rapidly to the whole room. 

What should you consider before attempting to remove mold from your carpet?

When you approach a damaged carpet, the urge to simply clean it is strong. But, once the growth has penetrated the fibers, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate it entirely. Add to that the dangers of things like black mold, and it’s a complex situation. 


Most people don’t know that several types of mildew fall into that category. The most common, S. chartarum, releases mycotoxins that aggravate allergies in some people more than others. 

Moldy carpet, especially wall to wall, is extremely difficult to clean and eradicate

Once you’ve got an infestation, removing the blight is nearly impossible. A spore may be as small as three microns, twenty times smaller than a human hair. Washing and scrubbing won’t remove them all, no matter how much carpet cleaner you use. 


You'll never fully remove the stain, even if you successfully kill the invasion. 

Most reputable resources recommend throwing away hard-to-clean items riddled with mold

Instead of spending time and money trying to clean a ruined carpet, most experts recommend you cut your losses. Especially because the damaged items will always hold the stain, replacing them is the best option. 


The other thing to consider is that the damage is already too far gone once you can see it. 

Steps to take to remove mold from your carpet

If you’re in the beginning stages of cleanup after a leak, there’s a chance you can save your carpet. A mustiness in the air is a sure sign that spores are taking hold, and timeliness is vital. 

Ventilate your space and lift the carpet to inspect the underside damage

As soon as you begin the cleanup process, check out the condition of your fabrics. Open a window and turn on a HEPA air purifier if you have access to one. Breathing in spores causes respiratory issues in most people. 


Inspect underneath the surface to see if there’s growth in the backing and carpet pad. Visible mildew indicates that you’re in trouble and should call a professional. If you’re only smelling something funky, time is of the essence. 

Put on appropriate safety gear

As we’ve mentioned, spores are tiny and easily breathed in. Use an N95 mask or respirator to protect yourself. We also recommend using rubber gloves to protect your skin from harsh chemicals needed to neutralize growth. 


Going into a space infested with decay can get into your clothes and hair too. Use a disposable coverall, like for painters, to keep yourself clean.


Experts also recommend a long sleeve shirt, pants, goggles, and waterproof boots. 

Give the area a scrub, let it dry and use a HEPA vacuum for cleanup 

Bleach is a common ingredient in mildew remediation, but the odor and effect can ruin carpets. We have some solutions if you want to use something more natural and less intense. 


Studies show that using a steam cleaner is an effective way to kill mold without harsh chemicals.


The best cleaners for mildew in your carpet live in your pantry. Start with baking soda. Simply sprinkle a healthy dose on the affected area and let it sit. After a few minutes, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove the powder. 


A solution of white vinegar and water spritzed over your rug will also remove the smell. You may also apply hydrogen peroxide for odor removal. 


Once the smell is gone, prevent mold from returning. Add one teaspoon of tea tree oil to one cup of water and spray onto the affected fabrics. Let the solution dry. The oil is a natural anti-bacterial additive and should prevent a resurgence of the spores.  

Let NIAQI’s mold remediation experts show you how mold should be properly removed

If you can’t do the removal yourself, make sure you hire an expert. And, when hiring a mold remediation specialist, look for one with the NIAQI certification. It’s a sign of quality you can trust. 


The National Indoor Air Quality Institute’s courses provide expert-level education for disaster relief experts. After three days, contractors are prepared for licensure as mold removal experts in Florida. 


Don’t count on just anyone to help when disaster strikes. Look for the NIAQI certification, and rest assured you’re in good hands.

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