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Household Mold Remediation

Discovering mold in your house but failing to act on it is a little like putting off a visit to the dentist when you have toothache: the longer you wait for mold removal, the worse it will ultimately be.

Small infestations can be dealt with using a range of low-cost, DIY household mold remediation products but if the situation is allowed to get out of control, you may have no choice but to call in the professionals. Inaction not only risks your health, it can also be highly detrimental to your bank balance. It can even affect the value of your home.

How much mold is too much for you to deal with? According to guidelines issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, patches that cover less than 10 square feet – roughly 3ft. by 3ft. – can be dealt with by the homeowner. Once things go significantly beyond this size, though, it is usually best to call in a certified mold remediator.

If you intend to do the job yourself, it is important to bear in mind that household mold remediation requires both time and careful attention to detail. There are no short cuts. Each and every step of the clean-up process needs to be carried out if you want to ensure a successful long-term outcome and the best chance of a mold-free future.

Mold cannot grow without moisture so the first goal of any remediation plan is to identify the water source that is feeding the growth. In some cases, such as following a burst pipe or in the aftermath of a flood, this may be blatantly obvious but if the problem is a cracked and slow leaking pipe or a blocked vent, it may be far harder to track down.

It’s vitally important to devote sufficient time and energy to this part of the process. If the moisture continues to build up, the mold will eventually return, no matter how good a job you do of clearing it up, or the type and expense of the mold cleaning products that you used.

Before making your attempt at household mold remediation, it is important to ensure you have the right protective gear. While only a minority of molds are truly toxic, most are capable of producing a nasty allergic reaction that can leave those nearby feeling quite unwell.

Safety goggles (without air vents to prevent spores getting into the eyes), a good-quality respirator mask and long rubber gloves are all absolutely essential. They will protect you not just from the mold but also from any unwanted exposure to the chemicals you may be using to do the cleaning, some of which can irritate unprotected skin.

If possible, purchase a set of disposable paper overalls to wear while the job is in progress. If none are available, be sure to launder all clothing worn during the operation immediately afterwards.

When it comes to the actual clean-up, hard surfaces like brick or floor tiles simply need to be scrubbed clean with water and detergent or a specialized mold cleaning product. The area then needs to be allowed time to completely dry out. Once this is done, you can disinfect the area with a solution made of water mixed with bleach or white vinegar, which can help to retard future mold growth. Bleach solutions should be mixed in a 4:1 ratio and white vinegar should be mixed at 1:1.

Softer or more porous surfaces like carpet or fabric-covered furnishings may need to be replaced altogether.

Because mold is microscopic, it is important to clean well beyond the area that you can actually see the mold. You should also be aware that the process of cleaning may release spores into the air that can travel to other parts of the house and start a new infestation, months or even years later.

Mold removal companies will usually seal off the area where the cleaning is taking place from the rest of the home and a homeowner can easily do the same with sheets of inexpensive plastic from the hardware store. However, remember to ensure there is plenty of ventilation in the room where the bleach and other chemicals are being used.

If during your close inspection you discover more mold sites, or if after a thorough cleaning you find that the problem has returned, then it may be time to call in a team of household mold remediation professionals after all.

 

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Mold Cleaning Made Easy

Just like death and taxes, mold is unavoidable.  Originally designed to help tidy up nature by decomposing waste, mold is now doing the same destructive work where we wish it wouldn’t: inside our homes.  Inside your home, given the proper ratio of moisture, lack of ventilation and warmth, mold can infest any organic material and begin to digest it while spreading its spores to other areas in your home so that new colonies can thrive.  Aside from the smell and the nuisance, any one of the more than 100,000 types of mold can affect the health of your family with the fumes from its decomposition work and the mycotoxins it releases.  From mild mold allergy symptoms to a full blown asthma attack, mold can make people feel pretty crummy.  So, once you’ve found the dreaded mold, how should you approach the daunting task of mold cleaning?

Mold Cleaning
-It’s As Simple As 1 – 2 – 3 (4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8!)

  1. Size up the area.  If your mold problem covers less than 3’ x 3’, be brave and do the clean-up yourself.  If it’s larger or spread wider, consider calling in some specialists in mold inspection and mold remediation.
  2. Protect yourself.  At a minimum, use a cotton face mask and non-porous gloves.  It doesn’t make sense to get sicker while trying to keep from getting sick.
  3. Remove items that may become infected during clean-up.  If it’s not moldy now, mold spores released during cleaning may land on an unaffected item and set up camp.
  4. Bag and remove loose moldy items.  If you think it’s worth trying to save an item that can be moved out of the area, move it in a sealed garbage bag and do the job outside in the sunshine. Otherwise, bag it, seal it, and take it to the outdoor trashcan.
  5. Open a window and scrub hard surfaces with a mild borax-based detergent solution. Allow to dry.  Repeat if necessary.
  6. After mold removal, you may disinfect with a water and bleach solution made in a 4:1 ratio.  Make sure you have adequate ventilation and use bleach carefully as its fumes can be dangerous. Do not rinse bleach solution from the surface.  It is important to note that while bleach does not kill mold, it can help to remove the stains that mold leaves behind and inhibit new mold growth.
  7. If bleach isn’t your thing, you can also protect surfaces by disinfecting with white vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio.  Do not rinse vinegar solution from the surface.
  8. All rags, sponges and towels used for mold cleaning should be bagged, sealed and taken to an outdoor trashcan.  Disinfect your protective gear before storing.

After you remove the mold (and the source that made the circumstances for mold growth possible!), monitor your home for new mold growth and remove it while it is still manageable with DIY techniques.

Make Mold Cleaning Obsolete

Finally, deter mold growth with some good old fashioned prevention:

  • Keep humidity levels between 40% and 60%.
  • Make sure your home is well ventilated, especially in bathrooms, kitchens and basements where there is plenty of moisture and, therefore, the potential for problems.
  • Clean up spills, water leaks and floods promptly and completely.
  • Use dehumidifiers where necessary.
  • Clean bathrooms regularly with commercial mold-deterring products.

 

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Mold Cleaning Products – Safe, Effective and Inexpensive

If you’re in the mood for an off-the-shelf solution to your home mold removal project, there is no shortage of mold cleaning products available in your local hardware store.  Just look for the displays full of green spray bottles which bear names that almost always include the words “shield,” “armor,” or, in order to appeal to the eco-minded among us, “eco-molderizer-o-rama.”  On the other hand, if you have a manageable amount of mold and you’re looking for products that are safe, effective and inexpensive, you need look no further than under your kitchen sink.

Mold is a living organism, thriving in the perfect tropical environment of the deep recesses of your home that are damp, airless, warm and filled with the organic flotsam of our daily lives: newspapers, carpet, drywall, books, clothes, wood, windows and shoes are all equally hospitable for mold.  When mold makes itself at home on one of these surfaces and the conditions are right, it begins to slowly digest the material on which it sits and emit the toxic fumes and spores that can make you and your family very sick.  And because mold can make you sick, you must not only kill mold quickly but you must kill it with mold cleaning products that will be safe for your family and pets … and while we’re at it, wouldn’t it be nice if the products you use to kill mold didn’t do more damage to your home than the mold itself was doing?

Mold Cleaning Products

To safely clean visible mold (no matter what color or texture!) off the organic surfaces in your home, simply do the following:

  1. Take the proper safety measures: wear latex gloves, coveralls or long sleeves and long pants, a respirator mask and, if possible, goggles to protect your eyes.
  2. You will release mold spores into the air when you begin to clean so enclose the area in which you are working if necessary or practical.
  3. Spray the surface with water to prevent the mold from releasing spores then clean the surface with warm water, borax soap and a sponge.
  4. Rinse often and scrub hard.  Don’t skimp on this step as you are actually killing the mold in this step.  Don’t just wipe it once and think the job is done!
  5. Dry the area thoroughly using a dehumidifier and/or open doors and windows.  Remember, damp conditions of some kind allowed this mold to grow.  Even though you have just killed the mold, mold spores are constantly floating through your house looking for a nice place to land so don’t leave the area wet or new mold will grow quickly.
  6. Optional but highly recommended, the next step is to disinfect the area with a mild bleach solution (be careful not to inhale any fumes from the bleach!  Bleach is as bad for you as mold is!) or diluted white vinegar and water. Dry the area thoroughly.
  7. If you are removing mold from a wood surface such as a windowsill or baseboard, consider sanding and repainting with a mold retarding paint.  Do not consider simply painting over the mold!  The mold will show through and will be harder than ever to remove.
  8. Make sure that the conditions that allowed this mold to grow in the first place are eliminated.  Leaks, lack of airflow, condensation buildup, poor cleaning habits … fix it or be prepared for the return of the mold.
  9. Clean and put away your protective gear, store your cleaning supplies under the sink and you’re done!

Beyond the Basics

If you have a large area of mold, mold that you cannot see, mold that has infested the structure of your home or very wet carpets, furniture or other fabrics, you will need to bring in bigger guns … up to and including a mold inspector to find all your problem areas and mold removal companies to safely remove all the mold and materials that are harboring it.  We have lots of articles and resources here at Mold Removal Center to help you make this decision and guide you in finding the help you need.

Believe it or not, the best mold cleaning products are not the fanciest ones, the newest ones, the ones with the longest list of ingredients or the ones with the shiniest labels.  The best products are already in your house.  Add a little safety gear and some elbow grease and voila!  You will be not only mold free but you will have saved money that can be better spent on whatever well-deserved reward you desire for all your hard work!

 

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Mold On Windows – Simple Steps To Remove Window Mold

Removing Mold from Your Windows

Winter brings many joys … the holidays, time with family and friends, fresh baked cookies, snow and roaring fireplaces.  Unfortunately, winter also brings some things that are not so wonderful including a brand new crop of indoor mold growth which can be found in any corner of your house.  Keeping mold at bay takes vigilance but one place where it is fairly easy to eradicate is on the surfaces of your windows.

Mold growth on the surface of your windows is an aesthetically unpleasant reality of winter.  Ugly black spots form on your windows because the warm indoor air and the cold outdoor air meet there and form condensation which, when it is unable to evaporate quickly, invites mold to take root and grow there.  It is important to note that mold does not actually grow on the inorganic surface of your window; mold grows on the organic material that settles on your window – dust, animal dander, dead skin cells and other flotsam of our human life creates a hospitable bed for mold to grow in.  Just add condensation and still air and voila!  You’ve got mold.

What to Do About Removing Mold from Your Windows?

Window Mold

Mold that grows on your windows is rarely of the most toxic “black mold” variety – constant temperature changes and poor quality of the food source make sure of that.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful when removing mold from your windows.  Non-porous gloves and a simple face mask to protect you from proliferating mold spores are still recommended.

  1. Wash windows with detergent, hot water and a brush or scratchy sponge.  Don’t bother with the chlorine bleach.  It’s bad for you and the environment and is like bringing a bazooka to do a popgun’s job.
  2. Rinse, then sterilize with water and white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.  This step will only prevent regrowth until there is a build-up of new food sources (again, dust, animal dander, dead skin cells, pollen, etc.) so make sure to clean your windows and window sills often with a damp rag rather than a feather duster (which simply redistributes the nasty stuff).
  3. Take steps to manage the inevitable regrowth of mold in the exact same spot.  Read on …

Moldy Window

Simple Ways to Keep Mold Away

Unfortunately, unless you live someplace where the humidity is always around 50% both indoors and outdoors, mold will happen in your house.  Another unfortunate reality is that mold on and around your windows can happen in a brand new, energy efficient house (sealed too tightly) or an old, drafty, energy inefficient house (too leaky).  So, since there is no perfect house, what can you do?

  1. Any mold is a sign of too much moisture.  Invest in a dehumidifier and use it to keep the humidity between 40% and 60%.
  2. Allow some airflow.  Open some doors or windows, or run a ceiling fan or a tabletop fan.
  3. If it’s practical, add some insulation around your windows.
  4. Dry condensation off your windows with a clean rag.  This will remove both the water that mold needs and the food source that it loves … plus, your windows will be clean!
  5. Invest in a vacuum with a HEPA filter which will remove the microscopic “future food source” particles instead of launching them into the air to settle somewhere else.
  6. Clean all window sills and windows in the spring.  If mold is allowed to sit on your window surfaces through summer, they will dry and be harder to clean.
  7. Check the caulking around your windows and window sills to make sure moisture from your window surface is not getting into the walls where it will take much longer to dry.
  8. Finally, always check to see if your window mold is a sign of something bigger and more sinister happening in your walls or elsewhere.  Mold on your windows may simply be an ugly side effect of a larger – but hidden – moisture problem.

Mold On The Window

While it’s a normal part of winter to find mold growing on your windows, it’s ugly and should be removed as soon as practicable.  It’s easy to do so … and even easier to invest in a few preventative techniques like maintenance, proper care and appropriate cleaning to avoid a major mold problem that won’t be so easy to handle.

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How To Kill Mold With Sunshine

It’s a rare house these days that doesn’t have a mold problem, whether it’s a little mustiness under the bed or a full blown black mold disaster in the walls. And while major problems can have you picking up the phone and crying out for help from a mold removal specialist, If your house falls on the musty-mildewy-smelly end of the scale, the solution to your immediate problem can be as simple, non-toxic and “green” as stringing up a clothesline between two trees in your backyard. Yes, that’s right: sunshine. Mold’s worst enemy is now your best friend.

I know of what I speak: when I recently cleaned out my closet, I found a basket with some purses and baseball caps that I hadn’t laid eyes on in at least two years. And while I couldn’t really smell mold in my closet, I sure could smell mold on those few items. I considered attempting to wash everything but washing leather purses wasn’t practical and we all know what happens to baseball caps when you put them in the washing machine – mushy, deformed bills at the very least. I also considered dry cleaning but, frankly, none of these items were worth the expense, so I opted for the Sunshine Cure.

Killing Mold With Sunshine



Solar Magic and Mold Removal



This method works for any item made of fabric and most items made of leather depending on their level of mold infestation. And it’s so simple to do, it’s worth it to try this method first:

  1. Working as early in the morning as possible, put on gloves and a simple mask to protect yourself from flying spores, then wipe each item with a clean cloth.
  2. Hang each item with as many sturdy clothespins as needed, leaving some distance between each item so the breeze and the sun can do their jobs.
  3. Around sunset, go take a careful sniff. You’ll be amazed … but if you aren’t, try this:
  4. The following morning, hang everything out again. Spray each item with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water and let the sun go to work again.
  5. At sunset the second day, you’ll have fresh smelling stuff.

If sunshine, a fresh breeze and little time doesn’t take the moldy smell out of your stuff, you may have a bigger problem than you imagined and will have to bring out bigger guns. Washing in detergent and hot water, drying in the sun then disinfecting with white vinegar and water is your next step. Beyond that, drycleaning or (and I hate to say it) the thrift store pile awaits.

If you have some mildly moldy smelling items in your closest, take the time to let the power of the sun do its thing. Then take a long hard look at your closet. Is the mold in your baseball caps a harbinger of bigger problems under the flooring? In the walls? Any mold is a sign of too much moisture and too little air circulation. Be vigilant and you’ll keep your family – and your clothes! – safe from the harmful effects of mold.

-Tanya Soriano is a guest contributor at Mold Removal Center-

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