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How To Get Mold Out of a Carpet

Last updated April 28, 2023

Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.

Our verdict:

Carpet mold can be a serious problem for your health and for your home. 

While severe cases of mold growth may mean getting rid of the carpet altogether, you can often rectify the problem yourself. It’s essential to wear protective gear and keep the area well-ventilated before you start the cleaning and mold removal process. 

A humidifier will further help combat mold by keeping moisture levels low. And consider buying an air purifier, as these devices effectively trap and contain harmful mold spores. 

Like most surfaces, mold will grow if a carpet gets and stays wet. If this issue plagues you, don’t worry; we’re here to help. 

As there’s more to it than excess moisture, we’ll investigate why and how mold grows on a carpet. Plus, we’ll explore why carpet mold can be such a problem for your health and home. 

Keep reading for our top tips on effectively getting mold out of your carpet.

How To Get Mold Out of Your Carpet 

Getting rid of mold from a carpet can be tricky. Removing spores from absorbent and porous materials like carpets is more complex than surfaces and countertops. In severe cases, you may have to throw away the rug and have it replaced. 

If the mold growth is relatively small and you’ve identified it quickly, rest assured that your carpet should still be salvageable. First things first, be sure to wear protective safety gear. The process of removing and cleaning the mold will cause mold spores to be released into the air. 

Wearing a respirator mask, rubber gloves and safety goggles is essential to prevent a reaction to mold spores. Strong chemical cleaners can produce fumes, so a mask will help reduce inhalation levels. 

Once you’re fully prepped, follow our step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Ventilate and isolate the space

Keeping the area well-ventilated is crucial, but it’s also essential to ensure mold spores don’t spread throughout your home. It may be challenging to do both simultaneously, so prioritize ventilation over isolation because of the risk of inhaling strong cleaning fumes (even with a mask). 

Pro tip: Use plastic sheeting or close doors to block off some areas. You can also use fans to blow air out of an open window or door that leads outside the home.

Step 2: Scrub the surface of the carpet to remove visible mold spores

Use a dry, stiff bristle brush to remove as much visible mold as possible. Then brush or sweep the mold into a dustpan and dispose of it in a trashcan. You can also brush-scrub the back of the rug as well and discard the mold in the same way.

Pro tip: You could use a vacuum to discard the spores but use one with a HEPA filter, as non-HEPA filters may not effectively contain them. 
It’s also possible that the spores can stay in or on the vacuum and spread to the rest of your house the next time you use it. So be sure to do this cautiously and always clean the vacuum afterward.

Step 3: Clean the affected area thoroughly 

Use an anti-mold cleaner to scrub the area properly. You can buy these at most hardware stores. Ensure you get one safe for carpets, as products meant for kitchens or bathrooms may discolor the material. The same applies to bleach — while it can help eradicate mold, it can also discolor the carpet.

Pro tip: Try baking soda and vinegar if you prefer more eco-friendly and natural cleaning products. Simply apply baking soda to the affected area and leave overnight. This will help to absorb moisture and bad smells. Vacuum the next day and then use a stiff bristle brush with vinegar.

Step 4: Let the carpet dry out completely

Ventilate the space by opening windows and running your air conditioner (if you have one). You could also consider using extra fans and a dehumidifier to speed up this process. Although they won’t kill mold, dehumidifiers, in particular, can be especially helpful for keeping mold at bay in the long term.

Pro tip: If you’re getting rid of mold from a rug, hang it outside to dry if possible. If you can place it in direct sunlight, that’ll be even better, as UV rays from the sun can help to destroy mold spores.

Step 5: Use an HEPA vacuum cleaner on the carpet  

As a final step, this will help remove as many mold spores as possible. Like before, clean the vacuum and change the filter afterward. It’s a good idea to check the affected area daily for a few weeks so mold growth hasn’t returned. As mold can reoccur slowly, give it a month before you’re satisfied there isn’t any regrowth.

Pro tip: Using an air purifier can also help to trap mold spores. Just like with vacuums, purifiers with HEPA filters are highly effective as they can contain the greatest number of spores and other toxins. 
Check out our guide on the best air purifiers for mold here.

Why Does Mold Grow on a Carpet (and Why Is It a Problem)? 

Mold is a fungus that forms and reproduces by releasing spores into the air. These spores are minuscule and can quickly get into tiny spaces and materials, including carpets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Yet mold needs various ingredients to grow; one of these is moisture — this is why you’ll often see mold in damp places like bathrooms and basements. If a carpet gets wet and stays wet, for example, due to a leak, flood, or high humidity, moisture becomes trapped in the fibers. Equally, water can get stuck under the backing of the carpet and if this isn’t dried thoroughly, mold will form.

However, mold also requires a food source, such as dust, to feed on. And carpets can hold a fair amount of dust… According to an Ohio State University College of Engineering study, dust and carpet materials significantly contribute to mold growth.

All of these factors make carpets a prime location for mold to develop. And while you might look at some carpets in your home regularly, areas like those tucked under heavy furniture could be noticed. If these spots get wet and the damage goes unnoticed, mold will flourish.

Why is carpet mold a serious problem?

The presence of mold anywhere in your house can negatively impact air quality and compromise your health. According to the CDC, the various health effects include :

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Burning eyes
  • Skin rash

Yet inhaling mold spores can also lead to asthma attacks and cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Individuals who have underlying lung conditions or respiratory diseases may be especially at risk. A study from the University of Manchester in the UK discovered that mold exposure increases flare-ups in people who suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). 

Similarly, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), certain groups, such as babies and children, older adults and anyone with a compromised immune system, such as chemotherapy patients, are particularly vulnerable. 

Mold on carpets can be a particular cause for concern as people walk over them frequently. This only sends more spores into the air. Equally, children often play on floors and carpets, which risks their health.

It’s essential to keep in mind also that it’s not only your health that can be affected by carpet mold. The solid and musty odors that mold emits can permeate your entire home. And mold can harm the surfaces it grows on, meaning that spores underneath a carpet could damage the floor.


If left untreated, carpet mold doesn’t only present a health risk but can also damage the floor beneath as well. Thankfully, except in severe cases, the problem can be treated. Before you get started on removing the mold and cleaning the carpet, just be sure to wear protective clothing. And once you’ve scrubbed the area, it’s crucial to let the carpet dry out completely to avoid mold regrowth. 

Consider using either a humidifier or an air purifier to help prevent mold growth in the future.


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American Lung Association. (2022). Mold and Dampness. 

Ashton, D. (2023). HouseFresh. 8 Best Air Purifiers for Mold.

Cameron, S., Schwartz, D. B. (2020). Bob Vila. How To: Get Mold Out of Carpet.

Cookson, M. (2023). HouseFresh. Will a Dehumidifier Kill Mold?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Mold. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness. 

Environmental Protection Agency. (2022). Mold and Health. 

Gromicko, N. (2023). International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Carpet Mold: Identification, Prevention and Removal.  

Lower, A. (2023). Second Nature. How to Get Mold out of Carpet.

The University of Manchester. (2021). Mould exposure significantly increased chance of COPD flare up in study.

Ward, J. (2022). Mold Busters. Mold in Carpet. 

World Health Organization. (2009). Damp and Mould: Health risks, prevention and remedial action.