We get a lot of questions about cleaning mold from carpet. Carpet mold often grows after carpets have gotten wet; this may occur as a result of flooding in a home, or as a result of a broken water pipe, or after a leak in the roof, or even after a window has been inadvertently left open during a rain storm. Carpet mold is also common in bathrooms, where warm, moist air creates an ideal climate for mold growth; that’s why we recommend against carpeting bathrooms. Unfortunately, cleaning mold from carpet is often impossible. Most of the time, the carpet must be removed and replaced.
Carpet fibers are porous, meaning they are permeable or penetrable. Essentially, the fibers are full of very tiny holes. Mold grows in these tiny holes and it’s usually impossible to completely remove it. Even if you successfully remove all the visible mold from the carpet, some microscopic mold spores will remain in the tiny pores of the carpet fibers. Most types of mold grow rapidly, so all it will take is a few warm days and a little moisture; then mold will begin to grow and spread across your carpet again.
Since cleaning mold from carpet is generally impossible, if you have moldy carpet, you will need to remove it and replace it. When removing moldy carpet, you should wear protective gear, including disposable gloves, hair and shoe covers, and an N-95 respirator mask (available at most hardware and home improvement stores). Seal the moldy carpet in heavy plastic trash bags before carrying it through the house so that mold spores aren’t spread to other areas of the home.
If you have mold growing on your carpet, there is often, though not always, mold growing on the padding beneath the carpet and even on the floorboards beneath that. Make sure you check carefully for mold beneath the carpet before installing new carpet. If the floorboards appear moldy, they will need to be removed and replaced, as well.
If you’re dealing with moldy carpet in a bathroom or other area of the home that is frequently warm and moist, consider replacing the carpet with tile or linoleum, which will be easier to keep dry and from which it will be easier to remove mold in the event of a future problem.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends calling in a mold remediation professional if you have mold covering a large surface area, if you have mold in your heating and air conditioning ducts, or if mold appears after your home has been flooded with water that might be contaminated with sewage or other hazardous substances. In addition, if you have any health problems, especially respiratory problems, immune system disorders, or environmental allergies, you should talk with your doctor before attempting to clean up mold on your own. Cleaning up mold exposes you to mold spores that can cause illness and may make your health problems worse.
We actually suggest all homeowners consult with a mold remediation professional, even if you plan to handle the mold cleanup yourself, because you can benefit from some expert advice before beginning the job. Most mold remediation professionals offer free consultations in your home, so you have nothing to lose. An experienced professional will make sure you’ve located all the mold in your home, advise you about the work that needs to be done, and provide helpful safety tips, all at no cost to you. Follow this link to find mold remediation professionals offering free in-home consultations in your area.
Sources: EPA Mold Guidelines