How to clean mold from carpets with items already in your cabinet — and how to stop it returning

Our experts reveal how to clean mold from carpets thoroughly and save yourself a costly flooring replacement

Clean pink carpet with curved hoover line and black vacuum in shot from above
(Image credit: Getty Images/Tanya-Stock)

Learning how to clean mold from carpets is an absolute necessity if these not-so-fun fungi have cropped up in your home.

Our cleaning experts share the steps they use to clean — and crucially not spread —the mold in clients' carpets, the simple ingredients in your kitchen cabinet that can help you tackle it, and when it's time to call in the pros for help. 

Tips and tricks from our professional cleaners read like a cheat sheet to learn how to clean a house and will set you in good stead to tackle this carpet problem.

How to clean mold from carpets and stop it returning 

Before you begin cleaning carpets, assess how large an area has been affected. 

Amy Poulton, DIY experts, says, "Avoid trying to remove a large mold infestation in your home since disturbing the mold could spread the spores further and cause health problems." 

If the mold covers an area of more than 10 square feet, call the pros. Otherwise, our five-step process should help get it under control.

Profile photo of Hometalk editor Amy Poulton
Amy Poulton

Amy Poulton is a DIY expert at Hometalk, a DIY home and garden website for those passionate about DIY projects, decorating, cleaning hacks, and home improvement, reaching 23 million DIY enthusiasts.

Step 1: Prepare the area

A pink living room with a yellow couch, rattan table, and pink stools

(Image credit: Wayfair)

When dealing with mold in carpet, you're tackling the mold whilst trying not to damage your carpet and other items in the process. Before you begin, remove everything from the area and carefully check the mold hasn't spread onto them.

Karina Toner, operation manager at Spekless Cleaning says, "Begin by ventilating the area and wearing protective gear such as gloves and a mask to avoid exposure to mold spores. Remove any furniture or objects from the affected area to facilitate thorough cleaning."

We recommend the DuPont Tyvek coveralls with hood and boots from The Home Depot for their durability and comfort, and the three-pack of N95 disposable adult respirator masks, also from The Home Depot as they're highly rated by thousands of shoppers and suitable for mold removal.

Karina adds, "Dealing with mold on carpets requires careful attention and the right approach to ensure effective removal while maintaining the integrity of the carpet fibers. Avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals on carpets, as they can damage carpet fibers and pose health risks if not properly diluted or ventilated."

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karine is an Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a prominent cleaning company based in Arlington, VA. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, she's honed her expertise in providing top-notch cleaning solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of clients effectively, and sustainably.

Step 2: Dry vaccuuming

Ultenic U12 Vesla cordless vacuum cleaner being used on oatmeal on gray carpet

(Image credit: Future)

Next, vacuum the area whilst it is still dry. 

Karina says, "Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner to dry vacuum the affected carpet area, removing loose mold spores and debris."

You can purchase HEPA filter vacuum bags from Amazon, but be sure to check they fit your specific make and model of vacuum.

The Real Homes team has tested the best vacuum cleaners and our Tineco Floor One S5 review delves into the features. It also has a HEPA filter.

Step 3: Prepare cleaning solution and spot test

Gloved hand spot testing on carpet with bowl of liquid with dish soap in and sponge

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kinga Krzeminska)

Luckily, you don't need many fancy products when cleaning moldy carpets, and likely will have most items in your kitchen cabinets.

Amy says, "You can use white vinegar (try organic white vinegar from Amazon), baking soda (such as Arm and Hammer baking soda from Target), or hydrogen peroxide (available from the US+ Store on Amazon). We prefer these household items over chemical brand cleaners as they're just as effective and cheaper."

To use vinegar, mix with water in equal parts in a spray bottle then apply to the mold and leave it to work for an hour before scrubbing and brushing away the mold.

To use baking soda, make a paste with it and water, apply it to the mold, then leave it to dry. Once dry, vacuum the area. 

To use hydrogen peroxide, apply the hydrogen peroxide directly to the mold, leave it for 15 minutes, then scrub away.

Don't forget to spot test first. Karina adds, "Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire carpet, perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility and avoid damage."

If you'd prefer to use a commercial mold remover, we recommend the RMR-141 Mold and Mildew Killer as it's suitable for all surfaces and highly-rated by shoppers with over 16,000 reviews.

Step 4: Spray and blot

Blue sponge removing stain from beige carpet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is the easy part. Spray and blot your chosen solution to the affected area and allow it to sit and penetrate the mold for at least 10-15 minutes (or if using a commercial cleaner, following the manufacturer's time instructions carefully).

Karina says, "Then, using a clean cloth or sponge, gently blot the treated areas to lift the mold and cleaning solution from the carpet fibers."

Step 5: Rinse and dry

This step is a little bit of a balancing act to rinse the treated areas with clean water and blot dry with a clean towel or microfiber cloth (such as the Mainstays multi-color pack of 18 microfiber clothes from Walmart), without going overboard with liquid.

Karina says, "Ensure proper ventilation and use fans or dehumidifiers (we've rounded up the best dehumidifiers) to expedite the drying process and prevent mold re-growth. Avoid over-saturating the carpet with cleaning solution or water, as excessive moisture can prolong drying time and promote mold growth."

If you have a steam cleaner, take pause. Karina adds, "Whilst it can be effective for general carpet cleaning, it may not be suitable for removing mold from carpets, as excessive moisture can exacerbate mold growth.

Step 6: What to do next

Once you've completed steps one to five, you should hopefully be mold free and your carpet properly refreshed.

But, watch out for incomplete removal — that's any mold leftover despite your cleaning and vacuuming of the area — as it's a recipe for regrowth.

Amy explains, "These methods are great for removing small areas of mold, but if the area is large or there has been damage to the floor, then it's best to call in the professionals. Also, note that you need to know why the mold grew there in the first place e.g. a leak, a spill, humidity etc. Then you can solve the problem. Otherwise, the mold will likely return."

Amy recommends calling in the professionals if the mold on your carpet is more than 10 square feet, there is growth beneath the carpet, has spread through the carpet to the floor, or if it keeps returning.

She adds, "If you or your household members suffer badly from allergies and asthma or you can still smell the mold but can't see it (it has an an earthy, musty smell), this is a sign the mold could be in your walls and floors."

Now you've tackled that tricky carpet, learn how to get rid of mould and mildew around the home, and how to get rid of black mold if you find it lurking in your pad.

Punteha van Terheyden

Hi! I'm editor of Real Homes. I've been a senior journalist and editor for national magazines and newspapers for 16 years, specializing in consumer, real-life, and lifestyle articles. I have a BA in English Language and Communication, mentor journalists, and I’m also founding editor of Lacuna Voices, an independent digital platform. I love to cook, add character to my newly-built home, try my hand at DIY projects, keep my collection of plants alive, and make memories with my little family of three. For Real Homes, I specialize in articles on pest control, DIY, declutterring and cleaning, interviewing experts daily for their top tips and product recommendations.