People often ask us about carpet cleaning mold ridden carpets and unfortunately, it is usually not possible to clean moldy carpets thoroughly. Mold in carpets becomes imbedded in the carpet fibers and there is just no way to remove it.
It’s impossible to remove mold completely from a number of materials, especially fabrics, including carpets, mattresses, and couch cushions. These materials are porous, meaning they have thousands of microscopic pores, or holes, much like the pores in your skin. While you might be able to remove the mold on the surface, you won’t be able to scrub away the mold inside those pores. Even if the carpet looks clean to the naked eye, microscopic mold spores will remain in the pores. Since most types of mold reproduce rapidly, it won’t be long before your carpet appears moldy again.
Even getting carpets professionally cleaned won’t remove all traces of mold. The carpets may look clean to the naked eye initially, but at least a few microscopic mold spores will remain in the microscopic pores of the carpet fibers. When you have carpets professionally cleaned, they usually remain slightly damp for a day or two. That moisture will provide just what those remaining mold spores need to reproduce and it will probably not be long before you have a mold problem again.
In addition, having carpets professionally cleaned does not remove mold from any padding beneath the carpets. It also does not remove any mold growing on the floorboards beneath the carpet. When there is mold in carpets, there is often mold below, as well, and that must also be removed.
Since carpet cleaning mold ridden carpets is not effective, what do you do if you have moldy carpet? The carpet must be carefully pulled up, sealed in sturdy plastic garbage bags for safe disposal (to prevent spreading mold spores throughout the house when you carry the moldy carpets out), and replaced with new, mold-free carpets. If the moldy carpet is in a room that stays damp a lot, like a bathroom or laundry room, consider replacing the carpet with tile or linoleum instead, which is easier to keep dry and from which it is easier to remove mold if it ever becomes moldy in the future.
When removing moldy carpet, it’s important to check for mold beneath the carpet, as well. The padding beneath moldy carpet may be moldy and the floorboards themselves may be moldy. Moldy padding must be removed and replaced, just like moldy carpet. Moldy floorboards must be removed and replaced, too, but this must be done very carefully in order to prevent the spread of mold spores to other areas of the home and to prevent exposing yourself to mold spores that can make you sick. When removing moldy floorboards, experts recommend blocking off your work area with large sheets of heavy plastic, then setting up negative pressure in the area and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter while sawing through the moldy floorboards. Here is more on the mold remediation process, including personal protection that should be worn when removing moldy materials. It is much more involved than most people realize.
We suggest consulting with a mold remediation professional before attempting to remove and replace moldy carpets, padding or floorboards. You would also do well to consult with a professional if you have mold covering a large area in your home, if you have mold in your air ducts, or if you have any respiratory problems such as asthma that might be made worse by exposure to mold during the cleanup process. Most mold remediation professionals offer free in-home consultations, so there’s nothing to lose by making an appointment. Get a list of experienced professionals near you by following the link.