Moldy Carpets Advice
In part one of this article we discussed the problems with unclean carpets and moldy carpets. Here we discuss four possible solutions that may be implemented depending on how severely contaminated the carpet is.
This is a photo of a moldy carpet with mushrooms.
If your carpet is water damaged and growing mold colonies
do not attempt to clean it, call a remediator.
Regular Proper Vacuuming
A nurse once told me “don’t look for zebras look for horses” What that means is that the correct diagnosis or answer to a problem is most often the most obvious and common one. When it comes to dealing with only very slightly moldy carpets with slightly elevated mold spore levels this is sometimes the case. When dealing with such problematic carpets regular vacuuming is sometimes all that is needed. It is that “regular” part that gets us. Get into a routine and do not forget to vacuum on a regular basis, doing so can make a big difference.
Please heed this warning: If your carpet is truly moldy with serious mold growth, or water damaged, or even if it has been in contact with high humidity, then vacuuming will very likely be the worse thing you can do. Vacuuming such carpets will only stir up millions of spores and blow them into your face. If the carpet is truly moldy it should be removed by a professional mold remediator.
Vacuuming is best for dirty dusty carpets that may harbor some spores and dust etc. And this is best done if the vacuum manufacturer has made some attempt to install some sort of HEPA filter on the vacuum. A HEPA filter on your vacuum keeps spores and allergens from blowing back into the homes air during cleaning. Without a dirty or dusty food source, and without a moisture source, carpets cannot grow mold. This can be extremely important. If you can keep a carpet dry and clean by regularly vacuuming it with a good quality vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter it should not produce any more mold than any other surface.
A carpet that is harboring some spores, dust, dirt, and allergens, may benefit from professional cleaning. Before any other cleaning methods are employed by the professional make sure that the tech who you hire to professional clean your carpet vacuums your carpet first. Shampooing or seaming without vacuuming first may result in wet dirt and spores being pushed deep into your carpets. Make sure the techs cleaning your carpet are certified, and experienced. Persons cleaning your carpet should follow standards such as BSR-IICRC S100. These standards are put out by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification or IICRC. You can go to the IICRC website to search for carpet cleaners and mold remediators in your area. Above all the company you hire must make sure the carpet dries quickly after they steam clean or shampoo your carpet, this is of the up most importance. If a carpet is allowed to remain moist after a cleaning then microbial growth will start off from where it stopped the last time the carpet was wet. In such cases strong musty odors will be produced very quickly after wetting occurs. Often these odors alone will cause health complaints. If your carpet does smell musty very shortly after steam cleaning or shampooing it is a sign of a problem. It is a sign that existing problematic fungal or bacterial contamination in your carpet has been activated by the addition of moisture.
Removing dirt, dust, settled spores, pollen, and dust mites from carpets to the degree needed may no longer be a reasonable task after a carpet has reached a certain level of contamination. If steam cleaning or shampooing produces odors, and if vacuuming has not proved productive, it may be best to replace old carpets with new carpet. For people suffering from asthma, mold allergy, and dust mite allergy, replacing carpet with tile, linoleum, or wood may be best.
As stated above a truly moldy carpet should not be cleaned, it should be removed by a mold remediator. Such remediators can remove moldy or water damaged carpets, tack strips, and carpet padding. After the carpet is removed the floor underneath is cleaned and sanitized. During remediation of truly moldy carpets baseboards or other building materials may require removal as well. Removal by such firms can be done in such a way that the contamination is not spread throughout the entire building. This is often the course of action taken after flooding occurs.
In conclusion homeowners are often very concerned with small amounts of visible mold on a wall or in shower grout, but it is the massive amounts of unseen contamination in large carpets that may be more of a problem. If you live in a home with 2000 square foot of carpet, and that carpet is not maintained in a clean and dry manner, then you must keep our eyes and minds open to the fact that the carpet can become a 2000 square foot miniature ecosystem in your own home. It may become a breeding ground and hiding place for dust mites, dirt, and fungal organisms. When this happens it is time to vacuum, clean, or replace.