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How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell in Carpet: A Step-by-Step Guide

Mildew is a nasty thing to have to deal with. Not only is it an unsightly problem to have, but it also leaves behind a nasty smell that is borderline intolerable. One of the worst places for this problem to occur is on your carpet. If you have a carpet that has taken on that nasty mildew smell, here is what you need to know to get rid of it.

Importance of Addressing the Issue

Mildew may not sound like a big deal at first. Sure, it smells bad and looks terrible, but it can't be a major problem, right? That line of thinking is actually wrong. Mildew is a bacteria, which is a corrosive, dangerous substance if left unchecked. While it is true that most molds are not harmful to humans, the kind that can get into your carpet can still leave you with serious problems.

First of all, you must think of mildew as a precursor to worse mold types to come. Second of all, mildew spreads by sending spores out into the air. If you are walking on a carpet that is afflicted with the mildew smell, then there is a strong chance you are kicking up mold spores and inhaling them. This can make you sick. You must understand that mildew is no joke, yet different from mold, and should be addressed immediately. Even though.

Understanding the Causes of Mildew Smell in Carpets

If you will get rid of the mildew smell in your carpet, then you need to understand where the smell comes from. Finding the source of the smell will help you get rid of the smell.

Moisture and Humidity

Mildew thrives when it has three things working together in conjunction: moisture, humidity, and nutrients. Because your carpet is relatively absorbent, whenever you walk in from outside, especially when the weather is rainy, the carpet will absorb any moisture you bring in. Mildew thrives on moisture and nutrients, both of which a wet carpet supplies.

Lack of ventilation

If there is one thing that can actively prevent mold growth, it would be proper ventilation. This is because proper ventilation does not allow for mildew growth. When an area is adequately ventilated, there is a dryness to the environment that mildew simply cannot survive in.

Water damage or leaks

If your carpet rests above the plumbing, or if there is a leak from the ceiling or a wall in a room with plumbing in it, that will supply all the moisture that mildew needs to grow and thrive. Leaks are there number one cause of water damage in the United States.



Steps to Remove Mildew Smell in Carpets

Vacuuming the carpet

One of the first things you can do is vacuum your carpet. This will get any further particulates that mildew could use for nutrients off of the carpet.

Applying baking soda to neutralize odor

After you have vacuumed, you want to apply baking soda to your carpet. This will neutralize the odor in the carpet. You do not want to think that your job is done once you have added the baking soda. This step merely makes the area odor-free while you finish the clean-up job.

Using vinegar to clean and deodorize the carpet

A mixture of white vinegar with water (at a 70/30 ratio of water to vinegar) is a good, affordable way to kill mildew and deodorize your carpet. Vinegar is great for killing odors. However, it is understandable if you decide to use something a little stronger to kill the mildew growth and ensure that the mildew does not come back.

Applying a commercial carpet cleaner or deodorizer

There are commercially available carpet cleaners on the market that are designed specifically to deodorize your carpet. Not only will they kill the mildew smell, but they will also get rid of the mildew that caused it in the first place.

Using a steam cleaner to deep clean the carpet

Suppose you really want to get aggressive with removing the mildew in your carpet. In that case, utilizing a steam cleaner is a great, often chemical-free, way to kill the mold before allowing you to rehabilitate the smell of the carpet.

Tips to Prevent Mildew Smell in Carpets

Proper ventilation

Proper ventilation is required if you want to keep mildew from developing on your carpet. Run a ceiling fan, or use box fans. So long as you keep good air circulating in your home, you should be able to prevent mildew growth.

Reducing humidity

Humidity is one of the chief causes of mildew, so to combat that problem, you can always use your air conditioner, and/or a dehumidifier in conjunction with improved ventilation, which will keep things difficult for mold to grow.

Promptly addressing water damage or leaks

It does not matter if you run a dehumidifier or have good ventilation. If your carpet is regularly exposed to moisture, the mildew will return. Any leaks, no matter how small they seem, must be addressed, or the mildew will become a constant thorn in your side.

Additional Resources and Recommendations

Professional carpet cleaning services

Having a professional touch can make all the difference between having the job done right the first time or devoting time to trial and error. A professional will have all the right tools and cleaning solutions to ensure a thoroughly cleaned carpet.

Products or tools to eliminate mildew smell in carpets

Numerous commercially available tools and cleaners are available on the market for those looking to solve the problem on their own. This approach has benefits because when you are done with the carpet, you can use the tools and cleaners again later if needed in other areas.

When to replace a carpet that has a persistent mildew smell.

Damage Control 911 would remove the carpet if it were flooded, but very small areas of mildew on the bottom of the carpet and padding can be corrected in-house. Suppose an entire room of carpet is flooded and saturated. In that case, you should replace it or have a professional inspect it, and possibly test the air quality in it to ensure it's safe to do it yourself, and inform you if the carpet needs replacement.

  • Tiffany Ellis

    Tiffany Ellis is a writer for Damage Control 911 and has been in the water damage and mold remediation industry since 2007.

  • Jim Corkern

    Jim is a water damage and structural drying technician. He's been in the water damage restoration industry for 15 years.

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