If you suspect that mold is growing in your rental property’s carpet, you want to get it out as quickly as possible. Mold can cause a variety of health issues that can negatively affect you, your tenants, and their pets.
Cleaning the Carpet
What You Will Need
Keep in mind that you may not need all of these tools, depending on how you approach your mold issue. However, investing in a good mold-killing spray or other product is highly recommended, no matter what technique you use.
- A facemask. You should wear a protective facemask while you are dealing with mold to ensure you don’t breathe in harmful mold spores.
- A bucket to mix solutions. If you want to try some natural home remedies, a bucket will be useful.
- A clean cloth to dry the carpet.
- A stiff brush to scrub the affected area.
- Baking soda. For light mold problems, baking soda can be very effective.
- White vinegar. Vinegar is great at killing mold. It’s also an excellent odor-eliminator.
- A HEPA vacuum. A HEPA vacuum is one approved for filtering out mold spores. This is best used after successfully removing an infestation. It will pick up any last remaining spores before they have a chance to start a whole new mold problem.
- A regular vacuum. This will help you when doing a thorough cleaning of your rental’s carpet.
A hairdryer. This may be useful for drying the affected area on the carpet.
- A wet vacuum. Wet vacuums are designed for tackling moisture.
- A mold-killing spray. Choosing the right spray for your mold situation is important for making sure the mold is completely removed.
- A product to prevent mold in the future. Investing in products like air purifying bags will help improve your air quality and prevent mold from growing again in your property.
What to Do
Here are the steps for getting mold out of your carpet:
- Inspect the property. Even if you have noticed only one spot of mold on the carpet, there may very well be others. So, it’s important to do a thorough inspection before you begin. It’s also a good idea to get a mold testing kit to better understand your property’s issue.
- Clear the area. To ensure you have enough space to work in, make sure to remove any furniture or other items from the area so that you can get rid of the mold effectively. If you have any electronics nearby, unplug them and move them out of the way. You don’t want any sprays or other products getting on your devices.
- Dry the carpet. The mold growing in your carpet is most likely from trapped-in moisture. You can use a wet vacuum, which are available for rent at home improvement stores or you can use a clean towel. It’s best to use a white towel since the dye from a colored towel can transfer onto your carpet while you scrub or blot the material.
- Clean the carpet. Now it’s time to get down and dirty. There is a variety of ways you can clean the carpet and get rid of mold.
- Sprinkle a small amount of laundry detergent directly over the carpet. Then, dissolve some of the laundry detergent in a bucket of lukewarm water and soak a cloth in it. Give the cloth a wring and then use it to scrub the moldy area. After, use a wet vacuum to absorb the excess moisture and prevent new mold spores from growing. You can also use a dry towel to thoroughly soak up the solution.
- For a light mold problem, use some baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda over the affected area and leave it on the carpet overnight. The next morning, vacuum it all up.
- Spray some pure white vinegar generously over the affected area. Let sit for a few minutes (but not so long that it dries) and then scrub the carpet vigorously with a stiff brush. Then, blow dry the area with a hairdryer or blot it dry carefully with a towel.
- Spray the carpet with a solution of bleach and water (make sure to use a color safe bleach). Scrub the affected area and then dry it thoroughly.
- Rent a HEPA vacuum. A HEPA vacuum is one approved for filtering out mold spores. This is most useful after you’ve cleared out the mold infestation. It will pick up any last remaining spores before they have a chance to grow and create a new mold problem.
- Use a mold-killing spray and scrub the area with a stiff brush. Then, clean your carpet thoroughly with some carpet-cleaning products.
- Ventilate the room. Once you’re done cleaning (or while you’re cleaning) it’s a good idea to open up all the doors and windows to let in some fresh air. Air flow will reduce the humidity that encourages mold, and lessen associated odors. If you plan to use a chemical cleaning product, ventilation will reduce the chance of irritating your lungs and eyes.
- Hire a professional. If all else fails, enlist the help of a professional so that you can get rid of mold once and for all.
Why Mold is a Hazard
Mold is a serious environmental hazard that drastically affects your property’s conditions and your tenants’ wellbeing. There are many different kinds of mold, including common, pesky types like Stachybotrys, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Paecilomyces, and Fusarium. These dangerous molds are usually black, white, green, or gray. The textures can vary — some being smooth and shiny, and others being rough or “fuzzy.” Certain kinds of mold have a repulsive odor, and others don’t smell like anything. No matter what the mold looks or smell like, it’s still an annoying issue to have in a rental unit.
Most of the time, mold grows in hard-to-reach places, making it extra difficult to remove. Mold tends to form in materials that trap moisture, like wall paneling, paint, fabric, ceiling tiles, newspapers, or cardboard boxes. The humid environment is perfect for mold to grow and thrive. They can also be pretty persistent, coming back no matter how many times you spray or scrub. This is why it’s so important to choose the right mold killer and get rid of it for good.
Some kinds of mold can be hazardous to one’s health, so you may be liable if a tenant inhales toxic mold spores. Symptoms can include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Frequent headaches
- Poor memory
- Lack of concentration
- Joint pain and stiffness when waking up
- Tingling, numbness or other unusual skin sensations
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus congestion
- Chronic coughing
Mold, and the reduced indoor air quality that comes with it, can also affect pets’ health. Make your tenants aware of this potential hazard. Symptoms of a mold allergy in dogs include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Watery eyes
- Chronic ear infections
- Loss of appetite
There is also the chance that mold will cause structural damage to your home, which can be a serious hazard for tenants reisding there. Mold that causes your home’s walls, roof, or floor to cave in and weaken can cost you a pretty penny in the future.
Thankfully, most mold isn’t harmful — it’s just plain annoying. But, regardless, you should always aim to remove the mold as soon as possible. It’s hard to tell the difference between harmful and harmless mold, so always proceed with caution and take the proper preventative measures.
Mold in your carpet, specifically, is difficult to remove, since it is greatly affected by humidity and gets a lot of foot traffic. Mold can be identified in your carpet in many ways. Sometimes, you will notice visible mold growth. Other times, the mold is more inconspicuous. You’ll be able to tell from carpet mildew, wet or water-damaged carpet, wet padding beneath the carpet, or certain odors and stains. Carpet is not the best choice for all rental properties or rooms. So, it’s important to choose the best flooring for your property.
Landlord Responsibilities for Mold
Landlord responsibilities for mold are not explicitly outlined in building codes, ordinances, statutes, or regulations. However, landlords can still be held accountable for mold problems, even if the law isn’t mold-specific. Only a few states, including California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas, and a few cities, including New York and San Francisco, have regulations for mold and indoor air quality. You should check your state laws and the EPA website for any mold standards or guidelines.
Remember that it is a landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable living space to their tenants. Depending on the situation, if mold is present in the rental, the tenant may be able to withhold rent or file a lawsuit. For instance, if you fail to repair a leak and mold begins to grow in the soaked area, any health problem caused by it would be your fault. Some landlords choose to include a mold clause in their lease that relieves them from any liability related to mold growth. A smart landlord will work to prevent mold from growing and inform their tenants of the hazard. If your tenant notices mold, make sure to act on it immediately and use an effective mold killer. Improving your indoor air quality and maintaining it, with products like the Moso Bag, will ensure that your property is always in the best condition.
Preventing Mold in the Future
You can prevent mold in your rental property by taking a few, simple precautions.
- Always keep a bottle of mold killer on hand. Once you’ve selected your weapon of choice, make sure to always have it readily accessible. Make sure to tell your tenants to do so as well. At the first sight of new mold growth, you should spray the area. This will help keep it from spreading.
- Test your property for mold. You can purchase DIY mold test kits to use on your property. It’s important to test all of the rooms that are at the highest risk for mold. This means places where humidity levels tend to be higher or where there is a water connection. Usually, your kitchen and your bathroom are the main rooms you should test.
- Get an air purifier. An air purifier is a great way to improve indoor air quality and prevent mold from growing. A standard HEPA air purifier can filter out particles as small as 0.3 microns. Mold spores range from 1 to 30 microns in size, so a good air purifier should be able to eliminate pretty much all of the mold spores in the air.
Inspect your property regularly. Check for leaks and pooling water around your home every couple of months so that you can address any threats before they become issues. Always complete maintenance requests in a timely manner and remind your tenants to clean up and maintain the premises.
For more information on mold, visit the EPA’s mold page.
To prevent mold in your carpet, specifically, keep these helpful tips in mind:
- Reduce indoor humidity. The use of dehumidifiers will help control moisture in the air, depriving mold spores of the water they need to grow into mold. A range of 30% to 60% humidity is adequate for in interior spaces.
- Choose the right flooring. Do not install carpeting in areas that are likely to be subject to frequent, high moisture. Carpet in a bathroom, for example, will quickly turn to a breeding ground for mold growth due to the high humidity from constant water use in that area.
- Choose high-quality carpet padding. There are lots of solid, rubber-slab carpet padding with anti-microbial properties on the market. It is a bit more expensive than other types of padding but it can be markedly helpful for preventing the growth of mold, especially in climates prone to periods of high humidity.
- Never let standing water accumulate. Carpet exposed to standing water will quickly be ruined. If standing water ever occurs because of a leak or a spill, all carpeting exposed must be immediately cleaned and dried. The top and bottom surfaces of the carpet, any padding, and the floor underneath must be cleaned and completely dried as soon as possible to maintain the carpet. If a large flood has occurred, or if standing water has been present for any extended period of time, the carpet will probably need to be removed and replaced.
- Clean smart. When carpeting needs to be cleaned, try to use a dry form of cleaning, if possible. You want to make sure that any moisture in the carpet is dried thoroughly and immediately.
A Final Word
A mold problem can be very aggravating for landlords and tenants alike. This is why you should always schedule regular inspections and respond to maintenance orders in a timely manner. Mold can cause lots of health issues and deteriorate the conditions of your property. Make sure you are educated on the different kinds of mold and symptoms of exposure. Any kind of mold, no matter how trivial, should always be handled carefully. If you encounter a severe mold infestation, contact a professional immediately.