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How To Clean Mold & Mildew from Carpet

It may not seem like the typical carpet stain, but mold and mildew are sneaky, persistent staining agents. They can result from unknown leaks, contact with a moldy or mildewed surface, unusually high humidity, water damage and other causes. Mold and mildew, in addition to being unsightly, are unhealthy, and should be removed promptly and thoroughly. Persistent, cyclical or wide-spread stains may require the attention of a professional, or even disposal of the carpet. Hopefully, those extreme measures won't be necessary after the application of the following cleaning techniques.

Keep in mind that carpets come in a wide variety of materials, and unusual carpet pigments or materials such as leather, suede or exotic synthetics may not react favorably with cleaning solutions. You may also wish to consider the backing material of your carpet or rug, and whether or not it will react to the cleaning solution. Any stain remedy should be tested in an inconspicuous area. Mold and mildew can extend deep into the carpet, so it may be necessary to examine and treat the back of the carpet and the floor surface as well as the surface stain.

When at all possible, clean the affected carpet or rug outdoors to help prevent spreading the mold/mildew spores throughout your house. Vacuum any loose stain residue, discarding the vacuum bag afterwards. In a clean bucket or basin, mix 1/2 cup of borax and 1 gallon of warm water. Use a scrub brush to work the diluted borax into the area affected by the mold/mildew. Appearance is still a concern, and you can choose a brush that will be appropriate for the surface of your carpet, however keep in mind that in the case of mold and mildew, health is the main priority. Borax has anti-fungal properties and will hopefully help the treated areas resist future mold/mildew growth. Rinse the area and dry well. In the case of mold and mildew, completely drying the carpet is an essential step to remove mold-friendly moisture. You may wish to use additional tools such as hairdryers and fans to assist in the drying process.

To address small, isolated stains, mix 1 TB salt, 1 TB vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil in a shallow dish.  Apply with a clean rag directly to the spot, and work in a circular rubbing motion to dislodge the mold and mildew. The abrasive salt and anti-fungal properties of the vinegar and tea tree oil will help alleviate the stain and prevent further growth. Following removal, rinse well with water and dry thoroughly as above.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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