Identifying Rug Mold (Mould)

What it Looks like and What You Can Do (Updated October 2018)

Rug mould removal, Cardiff, Wales

10/04/2018 | Last Updated 2018 | This Article has Been Optimized for an International Audience with North American English

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What Does Mold do to a RugWhat Causes Rug MoldHow to Identify Rug MoldDrying Out the TextileGetting the Mold OutIf These Steps Don’t Work

How Does Rug Mold Hurt a Textile?

Mold (mould) is commonly thought of as a small issue, but it is actually a significant problem. The spores from the mold (various types of fungi) can be hard on people with allergies. It also smells awful and can spread throughout a home or business. When it spreads into wall-to-wall carpet or upholstery, it can become a costly problem to fix.

Rug mold can destroy the appearance and value of a priceless textile. If caught early it can be treated with little or no sign that there was ever a problem in the first place – if found too late it can cause extreme discoloration or destroy the foundation of the rug.

Stages of Growth: Identifying Mold on Rug Damage

There are two stages of rug mold damage. The first is the growth phase – this is where the textile develops mildew and mold on the surface of the fibers. This is what it looks like:

Mold on an oriental rug

Identifying features of Oriental rug mold and mildew:

White or light brown or green layer on top of the fibers. This is the mycelium growing through the threads. The mold and mycelium grow as long as there is a food source and that food source is the fibers of your textile.

As the mold or mycelium runs out of its food source, it can turn black, brown, or dark green color. Once it gets to this stage, it is nearly impossible to get the discoloration out of the fibers.

Once you see the white or light green on the textile fibers, you should immediately take it in for full immersive cleaning and treatment.

Dry rot on an oriental rug

Identifying Dry Rot Caused by Rug Mold

Dry rot is a later stage of the molding (moulding) or mildew process. The fungi attack the cotton foundation of the rug. When this happens, the knots in the textile lose their foundation and rug begins to split.

You can identify dry rot by looking for holes developing in the rug. Unlike moth damage, which eats the wool and leaves the cotton foundation of the textiles, dry rot destroys the cotton foundation. This gives a look whereby the knots in the textile look like they are intact but detached from the textiles.

Touching the fibers also gives clues on whether you have dry rot. In rotting areas, the knots are firm and inflexible. Do not try to bend the textile if you feel that its firm. When rotting the fibers become brittle and can break and cause serious damage if you do not treat it carefully. Therefore, if you textile feels this way you should immediately put it down and call a professional immediately.

Dry rot rug mold is one of the worst issues that can happen to a textile. Nothing can be done to undo the damage – it is merely a matter of mitigating further deterioration in the textile. If you catch it early enough, then the textile may be able to be spared. If not then you will have to throw it away.

What Causes Mildew, Rug Mold, and Dry Rot?

Each of these problems is due to the growth of fungi on the rug. Fungi require moisture to grow – therefore, the catalyst of these problems is an unusual amount of moisture.

Often the problem is caused by ingress water damage. In other words, when the textile is submerged in water following a flood, water break in the home, or another water-oriented disaster.

Other times the problem is caused by pet urine. Most people believe that pet urine is not a problem if it’s cleaned immediately – but this is far from the truth. Pet urine contains salts that attract moisture. When a pet urinates on a textile, the salts are trapped in the fibers and the rug padding. When this happens it the textiles becomes moist which can invite mold.

If your textile is exposed to an unusual amount of moisture or has frequent pet urine on it than you should take it in immediately for treatment. At the very least you should follow the processes laid out in this article.

Treating Rug Mold | Step 1 – Drying Out the Fibers

Once again, mold, mildew and other fungi can only grow in moist environments. Therefore, the first step is to dry out the textile. To do this, put the textile into a trash bag (at least the infected area) to prevent the mold and mildew spores from spreading.

Take the rug out to the backyard or onto the tile. Some sites recommend that you hang up the textile outside if possible, but you should avoid this to avoid sun fading of the dyes. Instead look for a shady area, porch area outside of direct sunlight, or a shed.

If you have a couple of fans, point them onto the fibers to circulate airflow. This speeds up the drying out process. If you are in a shed, a dehumidifier is great for sucking all the humidity from the fibers.

Treating Rug Mold | Step 2 – Getting Rid of the Mold

The process you use for eliminating mold in your textile is dependent upon your dedication to your textile, the amount of time you have, and your budget. When possible, you probably should take your rug into a textile specialist. If you have a desire to do it yourself, then you should reach out to local suppliers asking for the proper disinfectants for eliminating most mold types.

If you are in a position where you cannot get the right disinfectants, get professional treatment, or you simply just want to do it yourself then follow these directions. LEGAL NOTICE: We are a professional rug services business, we use specialized equipment and chemicals to stop the spread of mold. We do not recommend any of these things in a professional capacity; proceed at your caution.

  1. Once the textile is dried, you want to brush or scrub the rug mold off the fibers physically. You should wear a mask, especially if you have problems with asthma or allergies.
  2. Scrub the fibers with vinegar. Vinegar is an acid that is known to kill many common types of mold. Make sure to use plenty and to flush the fibers thoroughly with the vinegar.
  3. Flush the textile with water. Make sure there is no visible rug mold at this stage. If there is still staining on the rug, it may be permanent.
  4. Immediately dry the textile completely with a fan. Ideally, you should prop your textile in such a way that the air circulation can hit the bottom of the rug. This is a critical step. Most Textiles are made with multiple types of fibers (wool, cotton, etc.). As a result, the rug dries quicker in some areas than others which can warp the textile’s shape. Additionally, if you do not dry the textile completely it will promote the mold again!

If These Rug Mold Treatments Do Not Work

Observe the rug carefully. If you see the fibers start to develop rug mold again then you need to bring it in for a thorough treatment and cleaning. It is surprisingly affordable.

The best part of taking it to a specialist is that you do not have to worry whether it will work. Additionally, your rug should be cleaned every year or so anyway, and mold treatment is hitting two birds with one stone.

Final Thoughts On Rug Mold

As we learned, mold can be a serious problem. If you do not take care of the problem promptly than it can cause serious staining, issues for air quality, and can lead to dry rot. If you are serious about preserving a rug than make sure to check your textile periodically for rug mold and mildew. Textiles can last for centuries, but only if they are properly maintained. If you have any questions regarding this, call your local service. Most will be very happy to give you the advice to make sure that you do not hurt your textile. After all, if rug mold becomes dry rot than the business cannot make money off you!