How To Remove Mildew From Carpet
To clean mildew from synthetic carpet, follow the procedures listed below. Begin with step one, progressing only to the next step if necessary. Remember that you always want to use the gentlest approach to cleaning a carpet stain first.
(Begin with step 1, if the stain remains then proceed to the next step. Always test the following stain removal solutions in an inconspicuous area first to make sure they won't damage your carpet.)
1. Use a detergent solution by mixing one teaspoon of clear dish washing liquid with one cup of lukewarm water. Make sure the water is not hot.
2. Mix together 1 tablespoon of clear household ammonia(3%) with ½ cup water. (WARNING: Never mix ammonia with chlorine bleach as it will create extremely hazardous fumes!)
The problem with finding mildew on your carpet is that often the cause lies beneath the carpet. By the time you've noticed it on top, your padding may already be saturated with the stuff. This really is a job for a professional as mildew and mold can have serious health consequences for your family if left untreated. Please call a professional carpet cleaner to take care of the problem. It may be necessary to replace both the carpet as well as the padding. Hopefully the affected area is small.
The methods listed below are for mildew caused by moisture in the air or a small spill, not for if the area has been saturated with water, e.g., a washer or toilet overflowed. If this is the case then please read our article on water damage.
If you're absolutely determined to tackle this yourself, then start by airing the place out. Whether the mildew is there simply because you live in a humid area, or due to spilled water, get the place aired out. Open the windows, place fans in the area, and put a dehumidifier in the room if you have one. Remove as much furniture from the room as possible and vacuum the heck out of it. Do it twice if necessary.
Using a mild detergent and water, sponge the solution onto the mildew stains. Let sit for roughly 5-10 minutes then rinse with water and blot dry. Hopefully the stains are gone. Let the area dry out.
If unsuccessful, use an ammonia solution of 1 tablespoon ammonia(3%) with ½ cup water. Gently blot at the mildew using an absorbent towel dipped in the mixture. Blot dry the area using a dry towel. Let the area dry.
A little note about dehumidifiers. We live in a very humid area by the beach. We have the type of windows and doors that when shut, do a really good job of keeping the place nearly airtight. That's a good thing in the sense that it lowers air conditioning and heating costs, but it also means that the airflow is restricted trapping moisture in our home.
When we first moved in, there would be a light dusting of mildew EVERYWHERE. No matter how often we cleaned it, within a day or two it would magically re-appear. It was in the bathroom, on tables, even on my keyboard. We almost immediately purchased a high quality dehumidifier.
Now our mildew problems are gone. We mainly run it when it's cold and the place is sealed up tight. During the summer we leave windows open and the fans blowing, creating a cross draft. While it is somewhat expensive to keep it running, it's much better than the alternative. Living in an unhealthy environment where everything is dusted with mildew.
If the mildew stain is small, and located in a single area of the home, then attempting to get rid of it yourself may be reasonable. If the affected area is large, or has saturated the padding, then please seek the assistance of a professional carpet cleaner.