Moulds are a type of fungi, as are mushrooms and athletes foot.
Moulds like warm, moist environments with some nice organic matter to feed on, which is why after rain we can find little patches of mould growing on the ceiling, on books, belts, shoes, clothes, and yes – your carpet and couches.
When your couch is exposed to warmth and moisture for a prolonged period of time mildew can grow and spread on the couch’s material. Whether your couch has been stored in a damp, warm location or you’re cleaning mildew that developed on your furniture as a result of water damage in the home, you’ll want to remove the mildew from your couch as soon as possible to prevent the mildew from spreading further and weakening the material fibres on your couch.
Mildew can wreak havoc on your sofas and carpets, if left to its own devices. Mildew spores travel through dust particles in the air and can become active when exposed to humidity and moisture. If you live in a humid environment, or if your home lacks proper insulation, you may find your sofa and carpet infected with mildew, a black, brown or grey residue accompanied by a musty odour. You should take steps to eliminate the mildew as soon as you spot it.
Here are some detailed suggestions on how to remove mildew and mould from your couches and carpets.
Removing mould from your couch
- Vacuum off the entire surface of your couch, including cushions and underneath cushions, along with the back and sides of the couch. Vacuum thoroughly to remove mildew from the surface fibres of your couch. Discard the vacuum bag afterward so mildew doesn’t have the chance to transfer elsewhere.
- Combine 3 cups ammonia and 3 cups cool water in a bucket. Dip a sponge in the diluted ammonia solution then wring out the excess ammonia solution.
- Blot the mildew stains on your couch with the ammonia solution. Press the sponge into the surface of the couch material to get the ammonia solution into the fibres to kill the mildew. Rinse your sponge frequently then continue to clean the couch with more diluted ammonia.
- Wick up ammonia solution from the couch with dry cloths. Apply pressure to the cloths with your hands to soak up the moisture.
- Wet a clean cloth with plain cool water to rinse the ammonia solution out of your couch. Dab at the couch material to rinse, then follow by blotting dry with clean cloths.
- Remove as much moisture as possible from your couch using a wet vacuum with upholstery attachment. Move the upholstery attachment back and forth over your couch until no more moisture is extracted.
- Direct a fan at your couch and allow the cool air to speed the drying process. Move the fan every hour so it’s directed at a different part of the couch until the couch is dry.
Removing mildew from couches
- Place your sofa outside in the path of direct sunlight, if possible. Sunlight is the most powerful weapon against mildew, and can help you take control of the fungus by drying it out, thereby rendering it inactive. Separate the cushions from the sofa if possible, to ensure optimal dryness.
- Remove the remaining mildew residue by wiping it away with a broom or sucking it up with a vacuum cleaner extension. Upon drying, the mildew will take on a powdery form, easily removed from the surface of the sofa. If using a vacuum cleaner, just make sure to clean the filter immediately after removing the mildew, or throw away the bag if using a bagged vacuum cleaner.
- Dampen a soft cloth with a mildew-killing liquid solution. The ideal solution will depend on your particular type of sofa. For leather sofas, use rubbing alcohol diluted with 1 part water, and for textile sofas, use hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach, diluted with 2 parts water. For best results, place your liquids in a spray bottle and mist over your soft cloth, to avoid over-saturation.
- Wipe down the entire surface of your sofa with your dampened cloth, including individual cushions and especially the areas where you have located mildew. Wipe the surface just enough to coat it with your liquid solution, but do not soak the fabric under any circumstances, as excess moisture can worsen the problem.
- Dry the sofa in direct sunlight and then bring it into your home after ensuring that the entire surface has dried.
Removing mould and mildew from carpets
- Begin mildew and mould control at the beginning. That means get the offending carpeting or rug out of the house. This may not be possible, of course, but if it can be done it should be done. Whether you can or cannot get the rug or carpet out of the house, grab hold of the nearest broom and sweep it as clean as possible.
- The sweeping is done to loosen up the mould that has taken possession of your carpet or rug. Once that mildewy mixture has been loosened, you should bring out the vacuum cleaner and go to town. Try to vacuum as long as it takes to fill up the bag if you have such a vacuum. Take the entire vacuum cleaner out of the house and then remove the bag. Empty the contents of the vacuum cleaner’s bag directly into the garbage can or a garbage bag. If you have been able to take the rug or carpet outdoors, then you need to make sure you don’t bring the vacuum cleaner back into the house with the contents of the bag still in place.
- Now, it’s time to give that rug or carpet a good scrubbing. Get out the bucket and run some water into it while pouring in enough liquid dishwashing detergent to create a bubbly potion. The next step can be done with a simple rag or old shirt, but a high quality sponge will work best. Use the sponge to scrub the areas of the carpet that is showing mildew the longest, but be sure to give the entire surface area a cleaning. Once you have finished, you can then rely on the rag or old shirt to clean away the suds that are left on the rug. For a mouldy rug that has been taken outside, you can let the sun do its magic and dry the carpeting thoroughly. If you have not been able to take the rug outdoors, then turn on all the lights in the room. You may be tempted to get a ceiling fan in on the drying action, but resist with all your might. The fact is that the air circulated courtesy of an overhead fan may only succeed in scattering the mould spores still present.