Carpets and rugs are a wonderful addition to your home. They provide comfort for your feet and make rooms look bigger and ultimately more beautiful. But while these fixtures can be a very stylish and functional addition to any home, they can also be dangerous as they can be prone to mold growth.
Taking care of an area rug is much easier compared to carpet maintenance. And when we say carpet, we mean the wall-to-wall carpeting that most people have covering their entire homes. Rugs are easier to clean and maintain since they don’t cover the entire room and aren’t glued to the floor. Carpets, however, may require more attention as well as professional care to clean.
Mold growth not only ruins carpets but can also be hazardous to your health. Preventing mold from growing on your carpet and/or rug is possible, but it’s important to know how mold develops to make prevention easier.
A. What You Need to Know About Carpet Mold
Here’s a primer on carpet mold.
1. How Mold Grows on Carpets
Moisture is one of the main causes of mold growth. This is why carpets placed in damp or wet areas are more prone to mold growth. Water damage and flooding can be major culprits when the carpets aren’t treated properly or dried out thoroughly.
Humidity and dirt are two major factors as well, which explains why installing rugs and carpets in areas like basements can put them at risk at growing mold quickly. Research has shown that molds in damp building materials grow in soil, and they thrive as they feed on it as their organic food source. This is why stepping on carpet and leaving bits of dirt and soil can start the process of your carpet growing molds.
2. How Mold Affects Your Health
Many types of mold and fungi can cause allergic reactions because they produce spores that can cause all sorts of health problems like fever and lung disease. Studies have indicated that sneezing, nose or throat irritation, coughing, asthma attacks, wheezing, and other respiratory symptoms have been observed in people who stayed in damp indoor places.
Additionally, a comprehensive review of the various studies that have been performed on the correlation between mold and respiratory illness has re-confirmed the theory that exposure to mold and damp areas can negatively affect your health.
3. How to Detect Mold on Carpets
There are a couple of indications that your carpet might have mold growth. When you notice any of these, have your carpet cleaned immediately:
- damp stench where your carpet is
- discolored patches of black, green, or white on your carpet
- moisture in carpet padding
B. Ways to Prevent Mold Growth on Carpet: 2 Aspects
When preventing mold, there are 2 aspects to it. First, there’s preventing it developing from regular wear and tear.
Second, there’s preventing it after a flood or some form of liquid disaster requiring quick action.
We cover both below.
i. Regular Wear and Tear Mold Prevention
1. Control Humidity
Moderating the humidity of your home is important in preventing mold growth on your carpet. Acceptable humidity levels should be between 30% to 60% in areas where there are carpets or rugs. Using a dehumidifier is the best way to control humidity and reduce moisture in the air. But if you don’t have one, simply open windows from time to time or use fans so that air flow is constant.
A few kinds of houseplants can also help control humidity by absorbing the moisture of the room. Sunlight has also been suggested as a natural and effortless way to kill mold spores, so make sure to keep your curtains open in rooms that have a tendency to be more humid.
2. Clean Your Carpet Regularly
Weekly vacuuming keeps your carpet clean and helps prevent mold growth. When handling a wet carpet, steam cleaning is the best option as it helps eliminate mold spores and toxins. For a really deep clean, consider contacting your local carpet cleaners to ensure that the steam cleaning is done properly.
3. Get Good Carpet Padding
Padding or cushions not only add softness to your carpet and protect your flooring but also helps increase your carpet’s longevity. In fact, a test revealed that carpets without cushions tend to lose more pile height than carpets that have them. High-grade carpet padding also features moisture barriers that can deter liquid from spreading and shield subfloors from mold and mildew. However, be aware that leaks and floods can still damage carpet padding, which means damaged carpets will eventually need replacing.
Carpet padding is a pricey investment, but the protection that carpet padding can provide against mold growth is worth it in the long run.
ii. Preventing Mold After Flooding
1. Get Rid of the Water as Soon as Possible
After your any of your carpets get flooded or drenched in heavy amounts of water, it’s important that you remove the water from carpet immediately. Use a wet-and-dry-vacuum to suck out any standing water. To speed up the drying process, turn on fans to circulate air and keep them running for 24 hours. Dehumidifiers can also help dry out carpets and eliminate excess moisture to alleviate mold growth.
2. Steam Clean Your Carpet
After removing the water, use steam cleaners to disinfect the carpet. Steam cleaning is highly recommended because it helps wipe out the microbes that were brought in by the floodwater and eradicates the foul stench. You can do it yourself if you have your own steam cleaner or you can contact your local carpet cleaning service. Though carpets can be saved with steam cleaning, the carpet pads will have to be replaced.
3. Clean Your Floors, Walls, and Other Surfaces
When steam cleaning your carpet, include the flooring to make sure that the surface is dry before reinstallation. In the event that it floods inside your home due to bad weather or busted pipes, it’s not only necessary to clean and dry your rug or carpet—the walls and baseboards must also be cleaned thoroughly.
However, in such cases, it is always best to consider professional water damage restoration services for this type of work to ensure that it’s done thoroughly and properly.
4. Inspect Other Pieces of Furniture
Mold can also grow in upholstered furniture and other furniture items or fixtures that can absorb moisture, so inspecting them regularly is necessary to protect against carpet mold. If any of your other furniture pieces develop mold, keep them away from your rugs or carpeting to reduce the chances of spreading the fungus. In any case, finding mold restoration professionals is still the best option to remove mold from carpet and save your upholstered furniture and carpet.
C. Carpet Types that Are Less Prone to Mold
There are many different types of carpets that you can adorn your homes with, but not all of them are mold-resistant. At the same time, there are some that are mold-resistant than others.
- Nylon – One of the most common types of materials used in carpeting is nylon, as it is naturally resistant to soil, insects, mildew, and mold. It is highly durable and lasts longer, which is why it’s usually more expensive than most.
- Acrylic – Acrylic is also resistant to moisture, stain, sun, mold growth, and mildew. Though not as resilient as nylon, acrylic is easier to maintain and is also considered the cheaper alternative of wool.
- Olefin – Because it is made from polypropylene, olefin is static and resistant to many chemicals, stains, and molds. It is often used in outdoor areas and should not be placed near high-temperature areas like garages and fireplaces.
- Polyester – This widely-used plastic fiber shares similar stain-resistant qualities as olefin and nylon but is generally cheaper than both. Durable polyester carpets are sometimes made from recycled plastic bottles and can hold its color, aside from being resistant to chemical and mold.
Using any of these mold-resistant carpets is a good, preventive way to make sure that you would be spending your money well and that your family is better protected from the dangerous effects of mold. Have them installed in basements and other areas of the house that are more prone to getting wet. This way, you won’t have to worry about dealing with anything worse than regular dirt, dust, and grime.
D. How to Keep Dirt Out of Carpeting
Even when there’s a significantly lower risk of your carpet getting moldy, you’ll definitely need to take good care of it. Certainly, there are a couple of easy ways that you can keep dirt out of your carpet aside from having it professionally cleaned by a professional every few months up to a year.
One of the most obvious ways is to remove your shoes when stepping on carpeted areas. Carpets can gather an average of 40 pounds of dirt, and you don’t want to turn your beautiful textile into a petri dish. Dirt and soil can also grate the fibers and dull the colors, while consistent friction and pressure can wear out the fabric.
For the best carpet care, spot clean stains as soon as possible and have the carpet vacuumed on a regular basis. Make sure to vacuum your carpet at least three times a week, with six passes on high foot traffic areas.
E. Shortlist of Good Vacuums for Cleaning Carpets
There are two types of vacuums you can use for carpets: the upright vacuum and the canister vacuum. Upright vacuums are more traditional, affordable, and easier to store while canister vacuums clean faster and are more powerful.
For recommended vacuums for carpet cleaning, check out our choices below:
- Kenmore Elite 31150
- Bissell 9595A CleanView Bagless Vacuum
- Miele Compact C2 Electro + Canister Vacuum
- Electrolux EL4335B Corded Ultra Flex Canister Vacuum
- Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright (NV501)
Remember, moisture is the enemy. To combat mold growth, reduce indoor humidity and avoid any keep your carpet or rug completely dry at all times. Moisture problems will definitely cause you to have a breeding ground for mold. In the event that mold growth does occur, make sure to contact a professional (you can do it yourself but it’s not always foolproof unless you really know what you’re doing) in order to have the affected area treated and to ensure that it won’t come back!