State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500334
Removing Mildew From Carpets
If the musty mildew odor is detected, stop its growth. Use a
dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air and, in turn, from the
carpet. As long as the moisture is low the mildew will not grow. Open
up the windows and use fans to circulate air over the carpet. If the
mildew growth is on the surface, open draperies to allow the sun to
shine on the carpet. Even artificial light will help.
If flooding occurs and the back of the carpet is not made from all
man-made fibers, dry the back of the carpet as quickly as possible.
This may require the services of a professional carpet cleaner to take
the carpet up and dry it at their plant. On smaller carpet or if only a
portion of a large one is wet, one corner of the carpet may be lifted
so fans can circulate air underneath. By attaching the hose to the
exhaust of a vacuum cleaner, it can be inserted under the carpet and
used to blow air.
Caution: Care should be taken when using electrical appliances
around a wet carpet to prevent electrical shocks. If the carpet is
dried quickly, this should prevent mildew growth.
If mildew growth has started, it will be mainly in the back. If the
back can be examined, a discolored area may indicate the growth
location. The musty odor will be evident if some moisture is still
present. If no odor can be detected, a little hot moisture from a steam
iron on the back of the carpet will quickly bring out the musty smell.
To kill the mildew once the area is determined, a rug or smaller
wall-to-wall carpet can be taken outside so the back can be exposed to
the direct rays of the sun, which will usually kill the mildew in a day
or so. Giving the affected back area a light painting of a 1/2%
solution of hydrogen peroxide (one part of fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide
to 5 parts of water) and then letting the sun shine on it, will make
the action take place at a faster rate. Cleaning with a diluted
carpet cleaning solution will wash the mildew from the surface but this
action alone will not kill the mildew.
These procedures usually will not remove the discoloration from inside
the fibers. To do this may require very destructive bleaching which can
destroy the fibers.
If the carpet is returned and used under the same conditions in which
the mildew originally grew, it can grow again. Not that the
mildew wasn't killed but, rather, new mildews spores can get on
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus,
with reference from the Georgia Extension bulletin, How to Care for
Carpets and Rugs, the Hoover Company, Nebraska Extension bulletin
Carpet Care - Cleaning and Stain Removal, the Carpet and Rug
Institute, Allied Fibers and Plastics Inc. and DuPont Clean Up
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status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and
June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This
information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial
products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or
bias against those not mentioned.
information.was reviewed as
of June 2008. For more information about the contents please
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