If you notice a musty smell in your home, it’s important to do a little sniff test to determine where it’s coming from. Not only is the musty smell unpleasant, but when caused by mold, it puts your family’s health at risk. Here we explain what to do if your carpet smells musty.
What Causes Carpets To Smell Musty?
Musty smells are caused by dampness. They can be related to mildew, the damp itself, or in the worst-case scenario, mold. Although there are other things that can cause mustiness, such as a lack of ventilation, high humidity, or something you brought into the home, you still want to eliminate the source before the smell spreads.
Dampness can result from excessive humidity, a slow leak, condensation, or wet areas that have never had a chance to dry out properly. If you find a musty smell coming from your carpet, act fast to find out why.
What Are The Health Hazards Of Musty-Smelling Carpet?
Damp carpeting is a prime spot for mold growth as it provides the moisture and oxygen needed for mold to grow and feed. Because the mold is often unseen, it can continue to produce mold spores and spread. When mold spores are released, they contaminate the air your family breathes at home. Also, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, the mold can spread very quickly.
Why Is Mold Dangerous?
Mold is an allergen that can contain a toxic substance called mycotoxins. When touched or inhaled, toxic mold can cause the following health issues:
- Runny nose
- Throat irritation
- Red eyes
- Skin rash
- Increased asthma attacks in those with asthma
Prolonged exposure to mold causes health issues to become more severe, including:
- Increased upper and lower respiratory symptoms
- Chronic illness such as nasal infections (sinusitis)
- Damage to organs
- Legionnaire’s disease
- Development of mold allergy or asthma, especially in children
What To Do If Your Carpet Smells Musty
Because mold is not always located on the surface of the carpet, it is important to do a sniff test to try to find it. If you have a strong-smelling musty carpet, but don’t see signs of mold, pull the carpet up to look for mold lying below. Other signs to look for include:
- Wet or damp carpeting
- Discoloration or visible mold or mildew growth
- Wetness below the carpet, such as the flooring or underpadding
If your carpet does appear discolored with visible mold growth, the carpet should be safely removed by mold specialists right away. In severe cases, parts of the “substrate” below the carpet will have to be replaced, as well as contaminated drywall and floorboards.
How To Get Rid Of Musty Smell In Carpet
There are a few things you can do to get rid of the musty smell in carpet, including:
- Remove wetness and dry the moisture: It takes a professional-grade carpet cleaner to remove wetness in a carpet. If you get to it soon enough, you might be able to salvage the carpet. After the water extraction, professional-grade fans are often required to help speed up the drying process and help dehumidify the room.
- Remove debris: Sometimes, after you arrange to have the carpets professionally dried, the musty smell can still cling to debris in the carpet. Once the carpet is 100% dry, you can use your vacuum and a carpet deodorizer to help refresh the carpet fibers.
- Vinegar and water: If you are sensitive to strong-smelling carpet deodorizers, you can mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups of warm water in a spray bottle and “mist” (not saturate) the carpet with the mixture. Let it dry and it may remove the musty smell.
- Baking soda: Baking soda is another great natural odor remover. You can use it once the vinegar spray is completely dry if you find the smell is still there. Sprinkle the baking soda on the carpet and let it sit for at least two hours or preferably overnight, and then vacuum up the residue.
- Hydrogen peroxide: If the vinegar and baking soda still doesn’t work, your last DIY trick is to mix one part hydrogen peroxide with five parts water in a spray bottle. Follow the same steps as you did with the vinegar to kill mold spores and deodorize the carpet.
- Professional steam cleaning: The easiest way to get rid of musty carpet smells is to call in professional steam cleaners. They use the right cleaning equipment to help remove moisture, kill mold spores, and refresh your carpet without using harmful chemicals.
How To Prevent Musty Smells In Carpet
There are several ways you can prevent musty smells in your carpet, including:
- Fix leaks right away: If you hear dripping or know you have leaks, find the source so you can fix leaks before the moisture causes damage.
- Protect crawlspaces: Cover exposed dirt in your crawlspace with plastic to prevent moisture from seeping into your home. Also, ensure your crawlspace is well-ventilated.
- Exhaust fans: Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms require exhaust fans to reduce moisture in the home.
- Reduce humidifier use: If you notice moisture on walls or windows, reduce the use of humidifiers.
- Use dehumidifiers/ACs: When it’s hot and humid, either run your air conditioner or invest in a dehumidifier to keep moisture from creating mold growth.
- Concrete floors: Ensure you have the proper vapor barriers and sub-flooring when laying carpet on concrete floors.
When To Call In The Professionals For Musty Carpets
If you identify the culprit behind your carpet odors as possible mold growth, the carpet, underpadding, and other materials contaminated by mold must be removed. However, mold is dangerous and should only be handled by remedial mold removal experts. Otherwise, you risk spreading the spores throughout your home. If it does not appear the musty smell is caused by mold, you can call in carpet cleaning professionals to tackle the job. If they discover mold, they will let you know and can recommend what steps to take next.