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How To Kill Mold and Mildew in Carpets (6 Different Ways)


No matter how much you clean the different rooms in your house, the place still smells old and musty. You might be looking in the wrong place to solve the problem. Your real problem could be mildew in the carpets.

We’re going to look at what causes mildew in your carpets and how to get rid of it.

What are Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both types of fungus. They grow as little spores, and they can only grow in damp or wet areas.

There are a lot of areas in your home that are high-risk areas for mold growth. Carpets, unfortunately, are one of those areas.

Since carpets can suck up and hold so much moisture, they’re begging for mold growth if you don’t act fast.

Any time there’s a spill on the carpet, you need to take extra care to completely dry the area.

Read More About Getting Rid of Mold in Your House:

How Do Mold and Mildew Get in a Carpet?

Mold and mildew will get in your carpets in the same way they get on any surface in your home. They feed off moisture.

If your home has high humidity and improper airflow, this could lead to mildew.

Homes with water damage or water leaks will also experience mold and mildew. If that water damage affects a floor that has carpet, you could also find mold in your carpet.

Mold and mildew can also grow in areas where your pet had an accident.

Signs of Mold or Mildew in Carpets

The smell is usually the biggest sign that you have fungus in your carpets. A lot of people will explain the smell as old or musty.

You might have gone nose-blind to the smell. You’ll realize the smell after returning from a vacation for a few days. Alternatively, guests of your house might pick up on the smell and point it out.

If you notice a part of your carpet is black, green, brown, or white and you don’t remember spilling something there, it might be mold. You might also see a little fuzzy section of carpeting – that’s mold.

If parts of your carpet are damp for extended periods of time without explanation, that’s another sign. The moisture is a breeding ground for mold and could be a sign of a water leak from your plumbing.

Benefits of Removing Mold and Mildew

A lot of people already know what mold can do to you. Toxic mold can lead to disasters when ingested or breathed in.

Mildew will lead to more mild symptoms, but they’re definitely annoying. The most common symptoms are infection, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and asthma.

Do I Need a Pro?

If the area of the mold infestation is larger than 10 square feet, then you’ll need to bring in an expert.

Pull back your moldy piece of carpet and look underneath it. If the baseboard is moldy too, that might be a sign of some water damage.

How to Kill Mold And Mildew in Your Carpet

Now let’s get to the fun stuff. You know that there’s mold or mildew in your carpet and you want to get rid of it.

For each of these solutions, make sure that the airflow in your room is appropriate. The last thing you want is to get sick from using products to kill the mold or mildew in your carpet. Keep the chemicals away from your eyes and mouth, and use a mask and rubber gloves to keep yourself safe.

You have a few options here (as long as the area is small enough to kill on your own).

Before You Get Started – Vacuum The Carpet

No matter which method you’re going to use, the first step is always to vacuum the area. You want to make sure nothing gets in the way of killing the mold.

By vacuuming, you’re ensuring that it’s only you, the carpet, and the soon-to-be-dead mold.

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

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One of the most notable duos in the DIY cleaning world is baking soda and vinegar. It works great in this application, too.

The reason these guys work so well together is because they create a chemical reaction that makes a lot of bubbles and energy.

The funny thing is vinegar alone can be used to kill mold on a non-porous surface, and baking soda can be used to kill mold on a leather car seat. Together, they can kill mold in carpets.

Make a 1 to 1 ratio of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Take it to your moldy carpet and spray away.

If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, you can put some drops of essential oils to try to mask the smell. Citrus fruit scents work pretty well here.

Let the water and vinegar mixture sit there for about five minutes before patting it with paper towels. You don’t want to completely dry it that way the baking soda can do its part.

Next, sprinkle baking soda on the area you just sprayed. You want to put a thin layer that completely covers the sprayed area.

Let the baking soda sit overnight and vacuum it up the next day.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

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Another effective method of killing mold and mildew in carpets is hydrogen peroxide. The smell is a little less harsh than vinegar, and it’s a little easier to apply.

You want to make up a mixture of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and stir it around.

For some types of carpets, hydrogen peroxide can stain. Do yourself a favor and spray a little piece of your carpet as a test. You might opt to move your couch a little and spray a piece of carpet that’s usually hidden by a couch in case things go south.

For this step, you’ll want to spray the moldy carpet. Let it sit for around 5 minutes, then pat it completely dry.

Use Anti-Mildew Chemicals

If your mold is a little too stubborn and you don’t want to call the pros, you can try using anti-mildew or anti-mold chemicals from the store.

These are heavy-duty solutions to your mildew problems.

Make sure you read the label and make sure that it’s safe to use on carpets. These chemicals might stain your carpets if you choose the wrong ones.

The process is the same as the other solutions listed above: spray the bottle across the affected bit of carpet. Let it sit for a few minutes and then dry it with a paper towel.

Some chemicals might have different instructions depending on the brand and chemicals used. Always read the instructions on the bottle just to be safe.

Use a Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaners seem like the magical solution to a lot of carpet problems. In the case of mold, it’s no different.

The high temperatures are hot enough to kill mold, and the brushes scrub the spores away. Most steam cleaners also use a carpet shampoo to help the process.

If you want to make your own carpet shampoo, you can!

  • 2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose liquid cleaner
  • 1 scoop of OxiClean
  • 1 teaspoon of fabric softener
  • 1 gallon of hot water

Natural Mold Killer

If you’re looking for a natural mold killer, you have two popular options.

Tea Tree Oil

One option you can try is tea tree oil. It has a hundred uses, and killing mold happens to be one of them.

Combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake it and spray the affected carpet.

Don’t pat this solution dry. Let it sit for as long as it takes to dry naturally.

The other bonus of this method is it smells a lot better than the other options, it’s a natural solution, and it’s non-toxic.

Use the Sun

You can also use the sun to kill the mold for you. Recall that mold and mildew love dark and damp places.

By putting your affected carpet outside and in direct sunlight, you are giving mold an environment that it hates. It will die off after some time, and then you just have to run a vacuum over the carpet before bringing it back inside.

It’s about time the sun does something for us besides burning us!

Additional Tip for Keeping Mildew Away

There is an additional tip for keeping your carpets mildew-free in the future.

If you are always fighting mildew and mold, it can be thanks to poor air circulation mixed with high humidity. This might be solved by using a dehumidifier or opening your windows.

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