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Carpet Steam Cleaning and Mold Growth

Posted in Mold, on July 25, 2019

Did you know that steam cleaning your carpet can lead to a mold growth issue in your home? Did you also know that there may be enough mold growth build-up in your carpet that your air quality may be negatively affected?

If you have carpeting in your home you will need to clean it at some point in the life of the carpet. Kids, pets and everyday traffic may leave your carpet stained and in need of
a sprucing up. Most people will then have them cleaned. Area rugs or small removable carpets can be sent to a carpet cleaning specialist. However, broadloom that can not be removed will need to be cleaned on site. Most people will choose to rent a steam cleaning system from their grocery or hardware store. Others may choose to call in a professional carpet cleaning company.

Even though you may think you are doing the right thing in cleaning your carpets, you may be creating a mold growth issue. Steam cleaning can lead to a mold growth issue in carpets, the underpad as well as the wood sub-floor in extreme cases.

The resulting mold growth issue may also be significant enough that it can affect the indoor air quality of the home and its occupants.

Steam cleaning carpets can leave excessive moisture in the carpet or underpad. If these flooring materials remain damp for more than 1-2 days, mold growth can develop.

In most cases steam cleaning results in several buckets of water being used in the cleaning process. The moisture extraction usually results in only 50-75% of the moisture being recaptured or sucked back out of the carpet. If the remaining moisture stays in the underpad (which is a sponge product) mold growth can begin to develop in less than 48 hours. Dust and other cellulose materials trapped in the carpet fibres and
the underpad will act as a food source for the mold.

Repeated steam cleaning can lead to further mold growth issues as the existing mold growth receives more prolonged moisture through repeated cleaning. This becomes a vicious cycle of steaming and mold growth development.

Spot cleaning or cleaning with a cleaning system that does not require as much water may be a better option. Spot cleaning in most cases does not wet the underpad which allows the carpet to dry out faster. Keep in mind that most underpad or underlayment is made of a sponge type material that can absorb and hold moisture. The carpet surface may feel dry to the touch, but the underpad may be holding enough moisture to continually wet the carpet backing. This can lead to a mold growth issue if this issue persists for more than 1-2 days.

We have seen this issue first hand in many of our indoor air quality tests or mold inspections where we use thermal imaging to determine if wall or flooring systems have an elevated moisture issue.

If you have ever steam cleaned your carpets, you may want to have a mold assessment performed in your home. Call us today.

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