Moldy and Dirty Carpets Part I

It’s not unusual to find Curvularia mold spores in homes, they originate from many indoor and outdoor sources, Sometimes these spores come from dirty carpets.

Have you recently experienced allergic reactions in your home? Have you noticed mold on walls or other surfaces? If so that mold you see may very well be the source of your concerns. But the problem might be in the carpet right under your feet without you ever noticing it.

Mold spores, odors, and health complaints may originate in dirty carpets that have been wet. As a mold inspector, indoor air quality testing specialist, and certified mold spore analyst, I have noticed that in homes with dirty carpets the levels of several types of mold spores are often elevated not just in the carpets, but in the air we breathe as well. Among other mold types I have noticed that Curvularia, Nigrospora, Pen / Asp, and Cladosporium are commonly elevated in some homes with dirty carpets.

Carpets that produce mold spores must have come in contact with some moisture source at one time or another. It should come as no surprise to you that one of the most common moisture sources in old, dirty, spore producing carpets ironically is carpet cleaning. Wet carpet cleaning can do more harm than good in regard to microbial growth, the reason being is not the wetting of the carpet, but the improper drying after shampooing or steaming.

On some occasions the types of mold colonies in carpet can be different from what might grow on a nearby wall. I conducted one mold inspection in Miami where I found Nigrospora mold growing on an apartment carpet near a leaky window. And during another Miami mold inspection I found a visible colony of Curvularia mold growing on carpets in a leaky water heater closet. At another property I found Spegazzinia growing visibly on a carpet. In each case the colonies were dark black obvious growths. This was unusual because Curvularia, Nigrospora, and Spegazzinia do not often form obvious large visible colonies on walls. Usually you just see the spores of these molds in the air samples and not on surface samples. But on the above carpets they were growing in the form of quite visible and heavy growths. The most unusual thing I can remember finding growing in a carpet was encountered during a mold inspection in Lake Worth where I found slime mold growing on carpets; this is unusual because slime mold almost always grows outdoors in mulch.

By no means are the molds in carpets always different from what grows on wall’s but occasionally carpets do provide a unique environment for some specific molds.

On behalf of carpet manufacturers I must state that it is not the carpets themselves that are the problem. Most carpets are composed of inorganic plastic like materials, and are a poor food source for mold. It is the dust, dirt, and moisture, in the carpets that fuels growth. Unfortunately, after several years it can be quite difficult to keep a heavily used carpet clean and dry for an extended period of time.

SOLUTIONS When it comes to solutions to moldy or dirty carpets you are left with four choices, vacuuming, professional cleaning, removal, or mold remediation of carpets. For more details on these choices please click here.

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