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How To Remove Mold From Carpet With Vinegar

How To Remove Mold From Carpet With Vinegar

Unpleasant and stubborn, mold and mildew are some of the most common household problems across the country. If you’re a homeowner or renter, chances are you’ve dealt with these fungal issues at some point or another. There’s a lot of debate on what products work best against mold, whether natural or chemical cleaners are more effective and what methods work best for removing these pesky infestations.

One of the most commonly debated mold solutions is vinegar. If you’re considering vinegar as your preferred cleaning method to deal with a mold infestation, this handy guide can teach you everything you need to know.

What Kills Mold and Mildew in Carpet?

Because mold and mildew are both forms of fungus, they need to be treated with a fungicide. There are plenty of chemical cleaners on the market that contain fungicides, but some natural remedies have fungicidal properties that can also get the job done. Thanks to its gentle yet effective nature, vinegar is one of the most commonly used natural cleaners on carpets and rugs. Paired with the fizzing power of baking soda, it can make quick work of smaller-scale mold colonies and mildew outbreaks alike. Along with this, other household mold removers include hydrogen peroxide, lemon, tea tree oil and other essential oils.

It’s also important to dehydrate mold when trying to kill it, as moisture is one of the key things it thrives on. Many fungicidal solutions involve water, so once a solution is applied, it is crucially important to thoroughly dry the carpet afterward so the dampness doesn’t encourage more mold growth. Fans and air conditioners can help dry out an area.

Does Vinegar Kill Mold?

Vinegar is mildly acidic — just acidic enough, in fact, to kill mold spores and smaller mold colonies. Distilled white vinegar is best for the task, as it’s able to kill over 80% of known mold types and may even help prevent future outbreaks. However, vinegar isn’t necessarily ideal for huge jobs or larger mold colonies, so it’s important to know when to get help from a professional. If your mold or mildew outbreak covers more than 20 square feet of surface area or has begun to rot away the surface it’s growing on, call your local mold remediation companies.

Is Bleach or Vinegar Better To Kill Mold on Carpets?

Both vinegar and bleach are capable of killing mold at the surface, but vinegar is often considered the better agent for the job. Bleach is a harsh chemical, and mold spores are living organisms; the mold can actually react to bleach by running from it, delving deeper into porous surfaces for cover. When this happens, the mold spores can continue growing once the bleach is gone. Vinegar, on the other hand, is the natural product of fermentation. Unlike bleach, it’s much more mild and doesn’t register to mold spores as a threat. Therefore, you can use vinegar to effectively kill mold on the surface before it retreats.

Will Vinegar Damage My Carpet?

If not used correctly, vinegar can damage your carpets. Undiluted vinegar shouldn’t be used straight on carpets, as it may affect the fibers of the material. Furthermore, vinegar shouldn’t be used on especially delicate fabrics — silk, wool or other natural materials are very sensitive and may take heavy damage from vinegar.

For smaller mold patches, a solution of one part distilled white vinegar and one part cool water often can do the trick. If your mold outbreak is a little more severe, you can adjust this ratio by adding more vinegar and less water to make it stronger. Either way, try to dilute the vinegar with at least a little water to keep your carpets looking their best.

So How Do I Remove Mold With Vinegar?

Using vinegar to clean mold out of carpets isn’t a difficult process, but it does take time. There are two ways to go about using a vinegar treatment: with or without baking soda. Vinegar alone is a milder solution with a slightly shorter process, so it’s more well suited to very small mold and mildew outbreaks. The addition of baking soda is preferred for more severe cases, as the combination of the two products creates a much stronger cleaning solution. Both are safe to use on most types of carpet.

When treating mildew or mold, there are a few tools you should have on hand. You should also take care to wear some personal protection, both from the mold and the acidity of your cleaner. For any vinegar treatment, be sure to use the following:

  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • A breathable face mask (such as a cloth bandana or disposable surgical mask)
  • Spray bottle with a mist option
  • Scrubbing brush or clean sponge
  • A spoon or wooden paint stirrer
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags

A shop vac and fan are optional but effective tools as well.

Once you’ve gathered the necessary equipment, it’s a good idea to start by testing a small part of the carpet to see how it reacts to a vinegar treatment. Simply choose a discreet section of the carpet and follow your chosen procedure according to the directions. Doing so gives you an idea of how vinegar will affect your carpet — whether it may damage the material, alter the color or texture, effectively remove odors or make any other significant changes. If you’re comfortable with the results, you can proceed to treat the mold outbreak.

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Follow these steps if you are not using baking soda:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and cool water. Set your spray bottle to the mist setting.

  2. Spray the entire mold-covered area liberally. Your carpet should be fairly damp with cleaner when you’re done.

  3. Let your carpet soak for about an hour.

  4. Using paper towels, blot the soaked area to get up as much mold and cleaner as possible.

  5. Use a scrubbing brush or clean sponge to scrub the affected carpet. Continue blotting as you go to soak up as much as you can.

  6. Allow the area to dry overnight. If possible, use a fan facing an open window to circulate the air through the room.

If you are using baking soda, go ahead with the first three steps above. Then, after you have allowed the vinegar to soak into the carpet, using cool water and baking soda to make a thick, spreadable paste. A good ratio is about 1/2 cup baking soda and 3 tablespoons of water.

With a spoon or wooden paint stirrer, generously apply this paste to your damp carpets. Allow it to soak for another hour. Then, when you are scrubbing the carpet clean, also blot with paper towels or use a shop vac to remove the paste.

The smell of vinegar should dissipate overnight. In fact, both of these cleaning methods should remove unwanted odors from your carpet. Once you’re finished with the cleaning process and are certain your mold outbreak has been taken care of, you can use your normal carpet cleaning methods to thoroughly clean and remove any excess solution from your carpets.

Are There Ways to Condition My Carpet After Mold Removal?

If you do find that your carpets are a little dry or not as soft as they were when you’re finished cleaning them, you can follow up with a homemade conditioning treatment. You have a variety of options to choose from, including:

  • Fabric softener. Outside of laundry, fabric softener is great for reviving worn-out carpeting. This gentle conditioner can help smooth out the frayed ends of the material, leaving it plush and comfortable again. When your carpets have been thoroughly cleaned, create a solution of 1 gallon of warm water and half a cup of your favorite fabric softener. Fill a spray bottle with this mixture and generously dampen the carpet; allow the solution to set for 2-5 minutes. Use a carpet cleaner or towels to soak up the mixture, rinse and allow your carpets to air dry.
     
  • Baking soda. Not only does baking soda work well in the cleaning process, but this universal substance can be used to absorb excess moisture odors. Following your vinegar treatment, sprinkle your carpets generously with baking soda. Allow it to sit for around 45 minutes, then vacuum to remove the baking soda.

  • Carpet rakes. A carpet rake is exactly what it sounds like — a rake with metal or plastic teeth that can be used to revitalize carpeting. When your floors are dry, simply drag the rake against the grain of the carpeting. Be sure to use light strokes, and remember that you may need to rake your carpets more than once for the fullest, fluffiest results. These rakes should not be used on woven carpeting.

  • Hair dryers. If you’re unable to find a carpet rake, you can achieve a similarly fluffy effect with a hair dryer and comb. Once your carpets are clean, mist any problem areas with warm water, then gently blow dry on low heat. As you blow dry, use a comb (or even your fingers) to gently fluff matted carpeting.

  • Steam cleaners. When all else fails, steam cleaners are a fairly safe bet when it comes to breathing life into dry carpets. Use your machine as per manufacturer directions after the entire cleaning process is finished. You may need to go over your floors more than once for especially stubborn fabric.

Depending on how dry your carpets are after a vinegar treatment, you may want to consider using more than one conditioning treatment. Generally speaking, these methods are safe to combine as long as you’ve extracted as much vinegar (and mold) as possible from your carpets first. If you’re planning to go over your floors more than once, it’s a good idea to use wet methods together. For example, try doing a fabric softening treatment first, then using the steam cleaner while your carpets are still damp. If you’re going to blow dry and fluff, try to do this in one go. The more concentrated heat you use on the material back to back, the greater your risk of drying out the fabric.

What Do I Do After I’ve Used Vinegar for Cleaning Carpets?

It’s easy for fungus to spread, so you need to be vigilant in keeping the affected area sealed off and sanitizing or disposing of any cleaning equipment once you’re done. Depending on the intensity of your mold problem, you may need to repeat this procedure more than once to fully get rid of the mold. If you’ve performed a vinegar treatment multiple times and are still battling mold, it may be time to call in a professional.

When it comes to mold and mildew, the absolute best treatment is prevention. Take note of where and how the outbreak was growing before and throughout the cleaning process; check the surrounding area for insight as to what initially caused the outbreak, such as a leaky roof, holes in the wall or a damaged water line. If possible, consider having an inspector come out to help you assess the room and build a plan for making repairs as necessary.

In the future, try to keep problematic areas well ventilated and as dry as possible. Keep a fan circulating frequently throughout the day, seal up any exposed windows and patch up any areas of your home that may be leaking. Be sure to move furniture elsewhere in the room to check behind and underneath it, even if the mold outbreak isn’t connected to it — there may be smaller mold colonies growing in other places that you’ve missed, or you may find other signs of moisture or damage that could lead to another outbreak in the future. Establish a regular cleaning routine for rooms at risk of a mold outbreak to keep everything sanitary and aerated as well as possible.

Mold and mildew are stubborn, pesky household issues that can be difficult to get rid of, but vinegar can take care of more minor fungal problems if the right steps are taken. Whatever solution you choose, it’s important to understand that handling an outbreak requires time, patience and care.

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