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?
-It’s As Simple As 1 – 2 – 3 (4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Open a window and scrub hard surfaces with a mild borax-based detergent solution. Allow to dry. Repeat if necessary.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.