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How to Remove Mold From Fabric Furniture: A Step-by-Step Guide

Mold can be a serious problem in the home, especially when it appears on fabric furniture. Not only is mold unsightly and unpleasant to smell, but it’s also a cause of major issues concerning the health of yourself, your family, and even your pets if left untreated. In most cases, you will be better off replacing fabric furniture that has developed any substantial amount of mold in it, but if you’re thorough in your work, these items can often be made safe to use again.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to identify, remove, and prevent further growth of mold on fabric furniture, so you don’t have to worry about your family’s health or safety being compromised by these pesky fungi!

Table of Contents:

Flood Damaged Furniture

If the furniture that you want to attempt to clean has been in flood waters or has been damaged by sewage,  it is not salvageable and should be discarded immediately due to the amount of bacteria, fungi, and hazardous chemicals that exist in flood water.

Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will usually replace furniture and it’s not worth the time, effort, or the high risk of health hazard to keep flood damaged fabric furniture. Wooden or metal items such as tables or even dining chairs that can be re-upholstered can be saved, but sofas, couches, and mattresses that have been exposed to flood water must be discarded. They are not safe to attempt to clean, even by professionals.

Disclaimer: The rest of this article will assume that the item being cleaned has not been exposed to flood waters and the contaminants contained therein.

Identifying Mold on Fabric Furniture

The signs of mold growth on furniture are few, but here they are:

  • Staining – This could be rings where it appears water or other liquid was spilled
  • Discoloration – Unexplained discolorations, particularly white, black, or green
  • Stale odor – The fabric material smells musty or sour
  • Brittle fabric – Some types of mold can cause fabric to decay and fall apart

Types of Mold on Furniture

The type of mold present in your home will depend on environmental factors such as humidity levels and temperature fluctuations. Common types include Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, Stachybotrys (black mold), Aureobasidium pullulans (pink/brownish-colored), and Fusarium (white). Some of these molds are dangerous, and if you’re dealing with something with a lot of porous material, such as a sofa, you’re going to be better off replacing it completely than trying to clean it. Sofa cushions are nearly impossible to disinfect completely because they’re so thick, and if the arms and backs of the sofa are thick with foam, as well, you’re going to have the same results there.

For this reason, it is best not to attempt any DIY remediation efforts but instead contact a professional water damage restoration company specializing in mold removal for assistance in identifying and removing the source.

Preparing for Mold Removal

If you insist on going through with attempting to clean the mold from your furniture, you must take the necessary safety precautions. This includes:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Respirator masks (N95 or higher rated)
  • Disposable coveralls/Tyvek suits
  • Plastic sheeting & duct tape for containment purposes
  • Duct tape
  • Vinegar or other anti-mold spray
  • Trash bags
  • Vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter attachment

It is also important to ensure that the area you are working in is well-ventilated by opening windows or using fans/dehumidifiers.

Now that you are prepared let’s remove the mold from the fabric furniture.

Removing the Mold from Fabric Furniture

Dry It Out

If your furniture is still wet or damp, you must first dry the furniture completely and this should be done outside, in an open garage, or on a patio. Sunshine is the best natural disinfectant, so if it’s going to be sunny and dry, outside in the sun is the best place to put moldy furniture, clothing, etc. If it has removable cushions, remove them from the main body of the item and dry them separately. If the cushions have covers on them, remove those and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to wash them in a washing machine.

Place as many fans as you can find around the cushions and main body of the item and keep a steady airflow until everything is completely dry. Be patient because it will take at least a few hours and can likely take a day or two, depending on how wet the item was to begin with.

Vacuuming the Surface of the Furniture

Once it’s dry, vacuuming is the next step. This is critical to removing mold from fabric furniture. This will help to remove any loose spores and debris that may be present on the surface. When vacuuming, you should make sure and cover every inch of surface.

Empty the vacuum and repeat at least once.

Note that even if you kill all mold within the item, it could still cause allergic reactions if the dead mold spores and particles can’t all be removed.

Treating the Affected Areas with a Disinfectant

After vacuuming, it is important to treat affected areas with a disinfectant. This will help kill any remaining mold spores and prevent them from spreading further into other parts of your home. When using these pre-made chemical solutions, make sure you follow all safety instructions provided by manufacturers and wear protective gear such as gloves and masks while applying them onto surfaces.

Once you have treated affected areas with a disinfectant, it is also important to apply anti-mold spray on the surfaces to prevent future growths of mold spores. These products can be found at most hardware and building supply stores and should be applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results. Allow enough time for these products to dry before allowing anyone back into your home after completing treatment. You can speed up the drying process with fans, just as you did earlier.

Drying and Sanitizing the Furniture After Treatment

Air Drying the Furniture in Direct Sunlight or Using Fans to Speed Up the Process

You will perform this step exactly how you dried the item out earlier in the process: either place it outside in direct sunlight to dry or dry it with fans. This will help speed up the drying process and prevent the further growth of mold spores. Alternatively, you can use fans or dehumidifiers indoors to help dry out any moisture on your furniture. If you’re drying the item indoors, ensure all windows are open when using fans so fresh air can circulate throughout the room.

Professional Restoration Services for Severe Cases of Mold Damage on Fabric Furniture

If you have furniture saturated with mold, you likely have other issues in the home. Unless it was caused by a spill, such as a drink spilled on the furniture, there might be another cause. The next question is, how long was the mold in the furniture before you decided to clean it? Did it slowly appear over time or did it just appear out of nowhere?  This line of questioning is because the moisture source needed for mold to grow needs to be located and corrected.

Excess humidity can cause mold to grow in your home, so if the moldy furniture was in a humid basement and you return the furniture to that environment, it will simply become moldy again if you don’t solve the humidity problem. We’ve been in thousands of homes where there were no visible signs of mold because it was inside the walls, typically in a bathroom or laundry room and the kitchen. Mold does not have to be visible to infest your home. Eventually, it will rear its ugly head and become visible, but with the potentially disastrous health problems associated with toxic molds in the home.

It all leads to testing.  You can have a professional come to you and they can perform a test for the dreaded fungi that invade our homes.  While your furniture was hosting mold, it grew and launched an untold number of its spores into the air. You could have mold you can’t see and possibly a lot of it.

Having your home tested after finding mold is common sense once you understand how it spreads via spored in the air. But common sense also dictates that if it was from a spill, there is likely no standing water, a slow leak, or high humidity, such as in a closet or under a sink with next to zero airflow.

FAQs in Relation to How to Remove Mold From Fabric Furniture

Can you get mold out of a fabric couch?

Yes, it is possible to get mold out of fabric couches in some cases. However, the process can be difficult and time-consuming to do it right and thoroughly. If it’s from a small spill, it will likely be a simple project. Dry it, clean it, dry it again. But if you don’t know the source of the moisture that led to the mold, you should have a test done. If you’re the DIY type, you can purchase home kits that test for the spores that can cause issues. If you decide to do an in-home test yourself with a kit, make sure you follow the directions exactly as written to get the best results.

Does vinegar kill mold on upholstery?

Yes, vinegar can be used to kill mold on upholstery. It is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer that can help remove the visible signs of mold growth. To use it, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply directly to the affected area. Allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth or sponge. Repeat this process as needed until all visible signs of mold are gone. Be sure to test an inconspicuous area first before applying the solution liberally across the entire surface, because vinegar can discolor some surfaces.

What kills mold on fabric?

Mold on fabric can be killed with a combination of heat and detergent, vinegar, bleach, or many other products available on the market. The first step is to wash the fabric in hot water with laundry detergent if it can be removed from the furniture (this only applies to clothing and other fabrics not permanent on furniture, removable covers are fine with this process). This will help remove any surface mold spores, as well as dirt and debris that may be harboring them. After washing, dry the fabric on high heat for at least 30 minutes to kill any remaining mold spores.

How do you get mold out of fabric cushions?

Removing mold from fabric cushions can be a tricky process. First, the affected area should be vacuumed to remove loose spores and debris. Next, a solution of warm water and mild detergent should be used to scrub away any visible mold growth gently. An anti-fungal cleaner may also be used for more stubborn stains. Finally, the cushion should be dried thoroughly in direct sunlight or with a fan before being replaced on furniture or put back into storage. With proper care and maintenance, fabric cushions can remain free of mold growth for years to come.

Conclusion

It is possible to remove mold from fabric furniture in some cases, depending on the severity of the infestation. It is important to take the necessary steps for proper removal, drying, and sanitizing of the affected area to prevent further damage or health risks. In cases where the mold has spread too far or is too severe, professional restoration services may be needed.

If you need testing or are unsure if mold has spread throughout your home, and live in the greater Orlando area, give Damage Control 911 of Orlando a call, we can take care of that for you quickly, with accuracy only attained by trained and experienced professionals.

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