The first sign of a mildew problem in an oriental carpet is usually small circles of dark brown or black. This indicates that the carpet is an environment with excessive moisture. If the problem is not dealt with, the mildew infestation can spread quickly. Without both a change in the environment and a thorough cleaning, the oriental carpet may end up being destroyed.
Before doing anything else, remove the rug from its current location. Move it somewhere that is both cool and dry. If the weather is appropriate, consider placing the rug outside. Lay it on a clean plastic tarp in a sunny location. If the weather is rainy or unpredictable, create an appropriate environment indoors. Use newspapers to protect the floor and fans to circulate air.
Use a vacuum cleaner to remove as much mildew as possible from the carpet. Make sure to vacuum both sides. Dispose of the vacuum bag quickly, to prevent the spread of mildew spores. Alternatively, use a soft-bristle brush to gently clean the stained areas.
Combine lemon juice and salt and apply this mixture to the affected areas. After 30 minutes, carefully scrub away the mixture. Vacuum up any leftover liquid. Create another mixture of 1/2 of white vinegar, 3 cups of warm water and a teaspoon of unscented dish soap. Use a brush to thoroughly and gently wash away the stain. Carefully apply a clean cloth to the area to dry it. Then wait for the rug to become completely dry. If a stain remains, repeat this process.
Baking soda can be used to help draw remaining moisture out of the carpet. This is especially recommended if drying the carpet in the sun is impossible due to weather. Even after the stains have been completely removed, applying baking soda is generally advisable. The absorbing qualities of baking soda will remove any lingering odors. Allow the baking soda to sit on the carpet for up to two days. Then vacuum it up. Baking soda can be safely applied multiple times if the odor is not eliminated.
Wearing gloves, glasses and a protective breathing mask during this process can ensure that one is not exposed to mildew spores.
Preventing Mildew Growth
If oriental carpets are kept in properly cared for environments, mildew will not grow. Make sure that the moisture level is not too high. Check to see if the roof leaks or if plumbing problems exist, and repair as needed. Some homes, especially those in damp climates, might require the use of air conditioners or dehumidifiers to ensure a safe environment for delicate rugs.
After any mildew infestation, continue to check on the affected rugs. Consider establishing a schedule to ensure that the rugs are regularly examined. While any oriental carpet may be affected by mildew, those that have had problems in the past are more likely to be reinfested.
With proper care, oriental rugs can last a long time. If the above steps do not help, consult a qualified professional.