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How to Prevent Carpet From Molding: 5 Tips That Work

There’s nothing as frustrating as mold showing up on your carpet. The health risks involved, toxicity, ruining of flooring are some of the reasons why homeowners never want to hear the word mold. It is a quiet home invader.

More often than not, carpet mold can go unnoticed sometimes. The color and texture of the carpet can conceal mold growths and might continue to spread. It can also start growing beneath your carpet, and that’s even worse.

In this post, we’ll discuss these five tips to prevent your carpet from molding:

  1. Get the water out of the carpet. 
  2. Maintain proper humidity levels. 
  3. Keep the carpet clean. 
  4. Get quality carpet padding. 
  5. Opt for synthetic carpet fiber. 

How to Prevent Carpet From Molding

Preventing mold growths on the carpet is the best approach to tackling mold. It can be found everywhere and can grow on the carpet if the conditions are favorable.

Here are five ways to prevent carpet mold so that you don’t have to deal with it in the first place.

1. Get Water Out of Carpet

The first step is to remove water from the soaked carpet as fast as possible before mold starts to grow. Most carpets are salvageable if they are dried within 24-48 hours after coming in contact with water. This, of course, depends on the water source.

Overflown sinks, leaky or broken pipes, floodwater, plumbing accidents are some incidents that can lead to wet carpet. The water source can determine how easy it will be to clean and dry the soaked water.

Clean water from the water supply will not be much of a hassle to clean or dry. However, floodwater may contain sewage and other toxic substances, which can be difficult to get rid of.

Before removing water from the carpet, it’s only logical to try and fix the source of the water. It will be so much easier if there’s no water leaking anywhere. You should remove furniture, dispose of water damaged items severely and limit traffic on wet carpeting to make the process as smoothly as possible.

Once you’ve eliminated the water source and removed furniture, use the following steps to remove water from the carper:

  1. Use a wet-dry vacuum to pump out any standing water. You can either buy or rent, depending on your situation. Alternatively, you can rent a hot water extraction unit as it can also help get water out. Do not use your regular house vacuum.
  2. If only a small area is affected, place towels over the wet surface and work around it until the area is completely dry. If the towels get soaked, replace them with dry ones. You can as well sprinkle baking soda over the damp area, let it sit for a couple of hours, up to 24 hours and then vacuum it.
  3. Create airflow to help with the drying process as well as clear odor from the room. Use a dehumidifier to remove the moisture in the room. Depending on the weather, open windows to circulate fresh air. You can as well use floor drying fans to speed up the carpet drying process.
  4. Get rid of the carpet padding. The pad tends to absorb a lot of water and cannot be salvaged. The only option is to remove and replace it. If it’s heavy, cut it into small pieces.
  5. Clean and dry the sub-flooring. Use fans and blowers to blow air between carpet and padding. Make sure the floor is completely dry.
  6. Sanitize floor, walls, and other areas that may have been affected by water. Scrub the surfaces using a chemical sanitizer and water to remove and prevent odors and mold from developing. Allow them to dry completely. Clean and sanitize salvageable furniture as well. Run a piece of drying equipment to help absorb moisture from the wood.
  7. Wait until the floor is dry to install the carpeting and padding. If the wall to wall carpet is giving you a hard time, seek professional help.

2. Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

High humidity produces large amounts of moisture levels, which creates the perfect breeding ground for mold. 

Experts suggest keeping indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. Keeping the level down will not only keep mold growths at bay but also improve the comfort and reliability of your home.

Keep in mind ideal humidity levels fluctuate from room to room, depending on the season. Bedrooms, for example, need about 50 percent humidity all day-year long. 

During winter, the ideal level should be between 25 and 40 percent while during summer not higher than 60 percent.

Keep humidity levels down poses a challenge to many people. Here’s how you can make it more manageable:

  • Proper ventilation. Improving the air circulation in your house removes excess moisture that supports mold spores. Keep high-moistures areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and the bedroom very well ventilated. Open the windows, turn the vents on, and leave them on for an extended time when you feel there’s excess moisture in the room.
  • Dehumidifiers. These units not only keep your home comfortable but also remove excess moisture and humidity from the air. They run quietly and won’t cause any distraction.
  • Air conditioning. Just like dehumidifiers, they improve comfort and remove moisture from an enclosed space.
  • Weatherstripping and caulking is another way of preventing excessive humid air from entering your home. It seals air leaks around appliances, exhaust vents, windows, and doors. Also, old windows tend to collect condensation, consider replacing them with double-paned or energy-efficient ones.
  • Make some lifestyle changes. Cover pots when cooking, keep potted plants outside for a while, cover aquariums, and store firewood outside. It may seem insignificant, but these measures can help reduce moisture.
  • Fix leaks and other related issues. Repair any dripping or faucet, pipes, and joints. It can not only damage your home’s foundation but also bring humidity levels down.

3. Keep the Carpet Clean

Make a habit of cleaning your carpet regularly, especially if you have pets and kids. Carpets tend to trap dust, dirt, allergens, germs while pets have spills and accidents on the carpet from time to time. Hence, it’s essential to clean the mess as soon as possible to avoid mold and other potentially serious health risks.

Studies also show that a clean carpet is highly resistant to mold growths. Dirt contains mold spores and moisture. And when mixed with your home’s humidity levels, it creates conditions conducive to mold growth.

Here how you can properly clean and maintain your carpet:

  • Vacuum regularly. You should vacuum at least several times a week, but if you have pets, its best to do it every day. Vacuum slowly and make two slow passes over high-traffic areas. Also, invest in a good quality vacuum cleaner that will seek out dirt hidden within your carpet pile.
  • Clean spills immediately to avoid carpet damage.
  • Deep clean every six months. Vacuuming doesn’t always cut it. Deep cleaning not only improves your carpet’s look and feel but also extend its life while reducing risks of health problems. You can opt to hire professionals or do it yourself. Always pretreat stained and high-traffic areas before the deep cleaning.
  • Do not over-wet the carpet. It can damage your carpet and enable mildew growth.
  • Let the carpet dry completely. Damp carpet could replenish mold.

4. Get Quality Carpet Padding

Getting a good carpet padding does more than making your carpet comfortable to walk on. It improves the acoustics of your home, provides insulation, reduces noise, and extends the life of your carpet.

A quality carpet padding should have the following features:

  • Thick enough to provide sufficient cushioning. Keep in mind thicker doesn’t always mean better. The thickness shouldn’t be more than ½ inch. For Berber and loop pattern carpets, the thickness should be 3/8 inch or less.
  • At least 6—8 pounds per cubic foot. It provides durability and comfort.

Some carpets have a moisture barrier padding built into its surface. It helps prevent spills, pet urine, and other liquids from seeping through the padding and subfloor. Homes with large pets can significantly benefit from this padding.

It also makes it easier to clean pet urine and protect the carpet padding from water damage. Moreover, it protects plywood floors from rot due to spills. However, there’s little this barrier can do when pipe leaks and other water damage events in your home.

Water comes into the pad under the barrier from the bottom or sides, trapping it in between. The moisture will not dry and can cause mold problems. Hence, you may need to replace it.

It’s important to ensure your moisture barrier padding doesn’t have any cracks because it can make your moisture problem worse. Also, the correct installation is critical. Consider getting professional installers rather than doing it yourself.

5. Opt for Synthetic Carpet Fiber

Natural carpet materials like sisal, wool, coir, seagrass, and jute are more susceptible to mold than synthetic carpet fibers like nylon, olefin, triexta, and polyester. Also, they are known for their better durability.

Not all synthetic fibers are created equal. Each has its pros and cons. 

Nylon 

Nylon is a popular synthetic carpet fiber. Nylon carpets are popular for a reason – they have a lot of resilience and great bounce-back qualities. These carpets are easy to clean and prevent spills from soaking into the fibers and leaving stains. However, compared to other synthetic carpets, nylon is a bit pricier.

Triexta 

Trixeta is a new carpet fiber that’s making waves on the carpets and rug market. It is more durable and resilient than polyester and almost as durable as nylon. Besides, it’s very stain resistant, eco-friendly, and softer than both nylon and polyester. However, it’s relatively new; hence it doesn’t have a long track record, unlike its counterparts.

Polyester 

Polyester is another popularly used synthetic material in the carpet industry. It’s vibrant in appearance and highly stain resistant. While polyester not as durable as nylon, it doesn’t cost as much. When it comes to eco-friendliness, polyester is one of the best materials amongst synthetics. PET polyester carpets are made from recycled materials, which keeps bottles and used tires out of junkyards.

Olefin

Olefin, also known as polypropylene, resembles wool visually and in texture. That’s why it’s often used in area rugs and looped Berber carpets, as both usually use wool as a fiber base. Compared to other synthetic fibers, olefin is the least durable. Hence, its best suited for low-traffic areas around the house. 

While its highly resistant to staining, olefin attracts oil. As a result, it’s not recommended for use in kitchen and dining areas. However, it’s an excellent option for basements simply because it dries quickly when wet and has mold-resistant qualities.

How to Remove Mold From Carpet

Removing mold from the carpet, just like any other porous material, is not an easy task. In some cases, it’s even impossible to get rid of the mold completely. Mold infested wall to wall carpeting are often unsalvageable and may need to be replaced.

Also, if mold has reached the carpet padding, it can be difficult and even impossible to remove. You can opt to do it yourself or hire mold removal and remediation professionals.

If you decide to go it alone, make sure you protect yourself from breathing in the mold spores. Consider wearing old clothes that you will toss when finished cleaning. 

Here’s the step-by-step process.

Items You Might Need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Respirator mask
  • Plastic bags
  • Damp cloth
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Stiff brush
  • Antifungal sprays
  • Spray bottle
  • HEPA vacuum

Step 1: Examine the carpet

Inspect your carpet to see the extent of the mold damage. If there’s a large area of mold growth on the carpet or reached the carpet backing, you should consider getting rid of the rug.

Step 2: Ventilate the room

Open windows and doors to prevent mold spores from spreading to other areas. The airflow will also reduce the humidity that supplies moisture for mold growth. If you plan to use chemical cleaning agents, ventilation is crucial.

If possible, hang or lay the carpet up to dry outside for about two days. The direct sunlight will also help kill the mold.

Step 3: Clean Up

There are plenty of ways to remove mold from the carpet:

Method 1: Baking Soda

For light mold problems, sprinkle generous amounts of baking soda on the affected area. Leave overnight, then vacuum it in the morning.

Method 2: White Vinegar

Using a stiff brush, remove as much visible mold as you can. Use a dustpan to collect the residue and discard it in a plastic bag.

Put equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray generously on the affected areas and let it sit for 5 -10 minutes. But do not allow the vinegar solution dry. Use a stiff brush to scrub the affected surface thoroughly until all the residue is removed. Lastly, blow dry or air dry the carpet.

You’ll also want to clean the floor under the moldy area in the same manner.

You can as well use a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining spores. Do not use the vacuum before successfully removing the mold infestation. Mold spores can easily stick to the surface of the vacuum and might spread into other parts of your house next time you use the vacuum.

Method 3: Antifungal or Anti-Mold Sprays

Before buying these treatments, make sure they are safe for use on carpets. Treatments with the ‘mold barrier’ not only remove and clean away existing mold but also prevent future mold growth.

Spray enough antifungal solution on the moldy area and some of the surrounding. It’s also a good idea to saturate the floor beneath the moldy portion with the spray. Allow it to sit for about an hour.

Use a dry and clean cloth to blot the antifungal spray. Do not try to rinse the area with water or any other solution. This solution works as it dries by crushing mold spores at the roots. So let the antifungal spray do its magic.

Additionally, do not blow-dry the area or walk on it before it dries completely. Trying to speed up the drying process can potentially blow mold spores to other areas around the house. Contaminating new areas is something you don’t want.

After the carpet is dry, completely repeat the process above using a clean cloth to soak up any excess.

Once you’re done with the cleaning, either you throw away the clothes or wash them separate from regular laundry. However, the former is highly recommended. A mold spore can fall off the clothes and land on another surface in your home, creating new mold problems.

You should also dispose of the rags and rubber gloves and run the humidifier for a few days to help dry everything out. Keep checking the area regularly to ensure mold doesn’t come back. And don’t forget to check beneath and surrounding areas.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Open all doors and windows while you clean the carpet.
  • If you’re cleaning carpet after a flood, wear protective equipment to keep your skin, eyes, and nose protected. Only use electricity when it’s safe.
  • Low humidity can also cause problems. Difficulty breathing, skin feeling dry, sore eyes, and chapping of lips are some of the effects of too dry air.
  • Replace or clean your air conditioner and furnace filter regularly.
  • Ensure your gutters work correctly. If possible, keep rainwater away from your home’s foundation. The water can pool under the doorway and onto your carpet.
  • Install a vapor barrier in the crawl space. It blocks evaporation of ground moisture hence lowering humidity levels.
  • Installing moisture barrier padding in the basement is not very useful. On the contrary, it can cause serious mold issues. Basement moisture migrates through a concrete foundation; hence the barrier would be utterly useless.
  • Remove water, coffee, and other liquid spills as quickly as possible. If it doesn’t dry in a few hours, use fans to speed it up.

What Causes Mold on Carpet?

No matter how clean your carpet is, it will always contain microscopic mold spores. It only gets worse when dark mold invades the carpet. 

Moisture or dampness is the key cause of mold growth. If you can control it, you won’t have much trouble with mold. Carpets that aren’t allowed to dry completely can become habitat to mold growths and bad odor.

Humidity affects every inch of a space, creating ideal conditions for mold growth. Ventilation deficiencies can lead to condensation on the carpet and padding. Although it’s an unusual case, you cannot rule the importance of proper ventilation in the house.

Water leakage is another culprit. The slow drips anywhere in the house can have dire consequences. Water can travel through cracks in the concrete slabs and into the carpet. Leaks can also happen in obscure parts of the house; hence it can be challenging to trace the leaks.

If a flood strikes your home, there’s a good chance you will end up with a mold problem not only in the carpet but other areas as well. That dampness allows mold to thrive and multiply. In most cases, the carpet is likely not salvageable and should be thrown away.

Mold also feeds on minuscule amounts of dirt and grime buried deep in the carpet, as the environment allows them to flourish.

While it’s almost impossible to remove mold spores altogether because they feed on nearly anything, the trick is to control the elements that provide conditions for mold growth.

Dangers of Mold Growth

Carpet mold, even in small amounts, can pose numerous threats to your health and well-being. The mold spores might not look dangerous to the naked eye but can lead to the development of some severe health issues.

Mold reaction depends on the person’s age, sensitivities, allergies, and how much they are exposed to.

It ranges in severity from sneezing, watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, throat irritation to serious lung infections. Individuals with mold allergies and weak immune systems tend to have severe reactions than others. 

Exposure to certain molds can affect the skin, eyes, and organs. Moreover, if you have asthma, mold spores can trigger your symptoms, causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness.

How to Identify Mold in Carpet

Identifying mold can be a bit tricky because it might not be visible immediately. But as the pores continue to grow, some signs might become noticeable:

Musty Odor

If your home has a distinctive musty smell that gets worse with time, mold has to be lurking somewhere in the carpet. However, you might not notice it immediately if you spend most of the time in the house. But if a visitor comments about a pungent musty odor, you should take heed and check under your carpet.

While checking for mold, don’t place your nose too close to the carpet. As explained above, mold can pose serious health risks, so it’s not advisable to inhale the smell deeply, especially if you’re sensitive or have a mold allergy.

Stain

If mold reaches an advanced stage, some discoloration on the carpet might be visible. Be on the lookout for any brown, green, or black patches on the carpet.

It easy for people to mix up mold with mildew, so you have to inspect thoroughly. Usually, you can tell from appearance as mildew is always white or gray.

Often, if mold growth is visible on the top of carpeting underneath the carpet might be stained as well. This is because mold absorbs moisture and locks it in.

So you should examine both sides to see the extent of the damage. And remember: some situations may warrant you to dispose of and replace the carpet.

Allergies

When people around the house start having runny noses, difficulty breathing, feeling short of breath, or keep sneezing or coughing, you should check the house for mold. 

First, check areas in the house that are likely to have mold such basements, showers, ventilation ducts, and crawlspaces. If there are no signs of a possible mold infestation in these areas, check the underside of the carpet.

Damp/Wet Carpet

Flooding, water leaks, spills, cleaning can lead to mold growth underneath the carpet. If your carpet has been dealt with water damage for an extended time (more than 48 hours), mold may be present. 

So if you notice wet spots on your carpet, it’s essential to dry it as quickly as possible. If left unattended, the mold can spread across the carpet, and the only option would get rid of the rug.

Pro Tip: Keep a close eye on basement carpets, as they are highly likely to be affected due to high humidity levels.

Mold Testing

Using a mold-testing kit is one of the simplest and most reliable methods to detect the presence of mold on the carpet. These kits let you see how the sterile agents react with the mold spores.

These types of tests include settle-plate application, color matching testing, mold pen test, and lab test. Using a lab testing facility can be expensive, and the DIY mold test often gives accurate results as well.

Our recommendation: Use this Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test (available on Amazon). It’ll give you quick, accurate results at an affordable price. 

Final Thoughts

To recap, here are the 5 ways you can prevent carpet from molding: 

  1. Get the water out of the carpet. 
  2. Maintain proper humidity levels. 
  3. Keep the carpet clean. 
  4. Get quality carpet padding. 
  5. Opt for synthetic carpet fiber. 

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