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How To Get Rid Of Mold

Updated: Apr 15

How To Get Rid Of Mold Graphic

Studies estimate that over 50% of US homes have mold in them. As mold remediation professionals, we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of mold. While mold is used for good - like making cheeses - it is mostly bad and ugly. This unwelcome visitor is an unsightly health hazard that can make you sick.

The good news is there several effective ways to get rid of mold provided you are vigilant and take prompt action upon detecting mold growth.

This essential guide breaks down how to successfully remove and keep mold out of your home. We highlight the dangers of mold and where it may occur in your house. We also discuss when it's best to contact a mold remediation professional, such as Chore-ology, to protect your health and property from mold.

How To Remove Mold

When you have a small moldy surface or a fairly new moldy area in your home or place of work, a determined DIY effort often solves the problem. If the mold stain is less than 10 square feet, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines say you can tackle it yourself.

However, removing visible mold may only be treating the symptom. A proper mold cleanup involves:

  • Identifying and eliminating the cause of mold (usually excess moisture).

  • Removing mold-infested materials.

  • Cleaning and disinfecting all affected surfaces thoroughly.

  • Ventilation and humidity measures to prevent future mold.

For a comprehensive solution, it's often best to consult a professional expert. If you're committed to going it alone the first step to attacking a mold problem is to choose the right mold-cleaning solution.

Mold Busting Products

Here are the top DIY cleaning solutions to clean mold:

  • White vinegar: The acetic acid in vinegar helps to kill mold. If you favor this cleaner, look for distilled white vinegar with an acetic acid percentage of 7% or higher.

  • Chlorine bleach solution: Bleach is an effective, affordable mold removal product. Mix a bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for the task.

  • Baking soda: Baking soda is a household-friendly mold remover that does a great job and is safe to use. A baking soda and vinegar solution is also a good mold removal remedy.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: This product has strong oxidizing properties, making it a powerful disinfectant and cleaning solution. You can use 3% hydrogen peroxide without any dilution. Peroxide may have a bleaching effect on some materials, so test it on a small area first.

  • A speciality mold cleaning product.

You are also going to need:

  • A spray bottle

  • A scrub brush or scrubbing pad

  • Cleaning cloths

  • A toothbrush for cleaning between tiles and grouting (if necessary)

  • A swivel-head mop for walls, ceilings, or floors (optional)

Natural remedies to remove mold

Some homeowners have successfully contained surface mold using natural remedies such as tea tree oil, clove oil, and grapefruit seed extract. These solutions are home-friendly and toxin-free but their effectiveness may vary depending on the type and extent of the mold.

  • Tea tree oil: To use tea tree oil on mold, mix about 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle well then follow the 7-step guide below and allow the cleaned surface to air dry.

  • Clove oil: Clove oil has antifungal properties which act against mold. Mix a few drops of clove oil with water in a spray bottle and shake well.

  • Grapefruit seed extract: Grapefruit seed extract is a natural antimicrobial agent derived from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit. To use grapefruit seed extract to remove mold, mix about 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract with 1 cup of water in a spray container.

Safety gear

When cleaning mold, you should be suitably kitted. You want to keep spores out of your eyes, mouth, and nose. You also want to protect yourself against chlorine bleach contact and dangerous fumes. The following safety gear is recommended.

  • Long-sleeve gloves

  • An N-95 face mask or respirator.

  • Eye goggles without ventilation holes

This equipment is encouraged by the EPA. Many pulmonologists (lung doctors) also stress the importance of protecting yourself with a mask or respirator given the respiratory complications associated with mold.

7-Step Guide To Remove Mold

If you use a special mold cleaning product, follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you're using a DIY solution, follow these straightforward steps.

  1. Safety precautions: Wear your personal protective equipment and ensure adequate ventilation by opening windows or doors and switching on a fan(s).

  2. Apply cleaner: Use a spray bottle to spray your cleaning solution directly onto the moldy surfaces. A spray bottle targets the area effectively to ensure full coverage. Note: It’s vital to wet the mold before trying to remove it. If you break up mold when it's dry, the lightweight spores will drift off and contaminate the air.   

  3. Wait: Allow your cleaning liquid to sit on the surface for about 15 minutes to penetrate and kill the mold. 

  4. Scrub: After the waiting period, use a brush, sponge, or scrubbing pad to scrub the moldy surface. This loosens and removes the buildup.

  5. Rinse: Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove the cleaner and mold residue. 

  6. Repeat: Even if the surface looks clean, it's advisable to spray, wipe, and rinse the surface a second time for a thorough clean.  

  7. Dry: Allow the area to air dry completely. Ensure proper ventilation to support the drying process and prevent mold from returning.

While targeted DIY action should kill surface mold, stubborn mold stains could remain or return soon after your efforts. In this case, you likely have a bigger problem.

How To Handle Serious Mold Invasions

Mold professionals will inspect for deeper issues and resolve them. They can also develop strategies to prevent future mold growth, protecting your home and health over the long term.

Mold isn't always conveniently visible. Sometimes it hides in nooks, basements, or drywalls. It lurks in roof insulation, behind the fridge, or on porous surfaces like ceiling tiles and fabrics. The only telltale sign of mold might be unexplained sneezing and coughing fits.

If you suspect hidden mold, it's best to speak to a professional. Mold remediation pros have expertise in finding and removing mold from hard-to-reach places. They will determine if contaminated materials need to be replaced.

It's worth noting that the EPA recommends that mold areas larger than 10 square feet be handled by professionals.

Hiring a professional mold remediation company

The 7-step process and tips detailed above equip you to confidently handle a small-scale mold buildup. For larger more complicated cleanups, it is safer to contact the experts.

Chore-ology offers professional mold removal and biohazard decontamination services to kill black mold and other mold infestations. Among other services, Chore-ology promises accurate diagnosis, safe mold handling, thorough cleanup, and prevention strategies. Let our experts deliver a safe and effective solution for maintaining your home's health and safety.

How To Prevent Mold From Returning

The project to remove mold doesn't end when the mold stains are cleaned. The mission is to prevent them from returning. Keeping mold at bay is all about ventilation, humidity control, and inspection. Let's look more closely at these key interventions:

  • Ventilation: Adequate ventilation circulates air and prevents moisture buildup. It's advisable to have an exhaust fan in the bathrooms, kitchen, and other areas prone to moisture. If possible, crack open windows and doors when showering and cooking. Use exhaust fans to move the air and aid ventilation.

  • Humidity: Controlling humidity levels will help prevent dampness. Aim to maintain indoor humidity levels between 30% and 60%. A dehumidifier is a great asset in areas with high humidity, such as basements and crawl spaces. Remember, many HVAC systems have dehumidifying features. Smart use of these controls lets you manage humidity efficiently throughout the home.

  • Regular inspection and maintenance: Regularly inspect plumbing fixtures, pipes, and appliances for leaks. Even small leaks can lead to moisture buildup and mold over time. Repair plumbing leaks promptly to prevent water damage and mold infestations.

It's also important to regularly check and clean your ventilation system. Ensure air ducts and vents are clean and free from obstructions. Clogged vents restrict airflow and allow moisture to accumulate, creating an environment for growth.

Controlling moisture levels and humidity, and keeping surfaces clean and dry are key to preventing mold problems in your home. Using mold-resistant paint and resistant sealants is also good practice.

What Causes Mold?

Mold spores are naturally present in the air. Lightweight, airborne spores in nature can drift into your home through open windows and doors. They also come in through ventilation systems or on clothes, shoes, and objects like shopping bags and sporting equipment. Pets also bring spores indoors. 

Growth occurs when mold spores land on damp surfaces that contain organic material they can use as food. When spores settle on a wet surface, the moisture allows them to grow.

Organic materials, such as wood, paper, dirt, or dust, provide their food. With oxygen and the right temperature, mold colonies can quickly take root and spread.  

Bottom line: Damp, humid, and poorly ventilated spaces with little sunlight are happy havens for mold.  

The Dangers Of Mold

Health dangers

Mold poses a variety of health risks. These range from irritating discomfort to potentially life-threatening conditions. It’s important to be aware of the most common health hazards:

  • Allergic reactions: Mold spores can cause sneezing, nasty coughs, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion. People with existing allergies are often impacted more severely.

  • Skin irritation: Direct contact with mold may cause skin irritations, including itching and redness.

  • Asthma attacks: Mold can irritate airways and worsen asthma symptoms, leading to wheezing, chest tightness, and severe breathing difficulties.

  • Respiratory infections: Inhaling mold spores over extended periods may result in serious respiratory infections.

  • Weakened immune system: Long-term exposure to mold may weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to other illnesses.

If you are concerned after exposure to mold or experience any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor urgently.

Property damage

Mold can damage building structures and furnishings if left unchecked. Mold creates conditions for rot and decay that weaken materials over time. Key fittings, like wood, drywalls, and insulation, may be compromised.

To make matters worse, mold growth produces a damp, musty smell that is unpleasant in any home.

Common Areas For Mold Growth

You may be surprised how easily mold colonies can flourish around the home. We've seen that mold thrives in damp, poorly ventilated spaces. It also takes root when moisture is combined with materials like wood, drywall, carpets, furniture, and dust. Activities like showering, cooking, and washing all create potential mold conditions. So do leaking pipes and roofs, flooding, and even window condensation.

This explains why mold is found in so many places around the house:

  • Bathrooms

  • Kitchens

  • Washing and laundry rooms

  • Attics and basements

  • Garages

  • Drywalls

  • Insulation materials

  • Flooring materials

  • On furniture, carpets and curtains

  • On books, paper, and cardboard

Outdoor areas with shade, poor air circulation, and damp conditions are also prime spots for mold:

  • Fallen leaves piled against the house

  • Blocked gutters

  • A damp shaded roof

  • Garden sheds

  • Dog basket or kennel

  • Objects such as carpet cut-offs or shower curtains that are left outside.

Types Of Mold

Many molds exist in nature and don't generally bother humans. The most common molds found in the home and office space include:

  • Black mold: Black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum is considered a dangerous species known for producing toxins (mycotoxins). Typically greenish-black in color, black mold is responsible for wheezing and whooping coughs, breathing difficulties, and more serious respiratory infections.

  • Allergenic molds: These are common indoor culprits that trigger allergy symptoms similar to hay fever. Examples include Alternaria and Aspergillus. Most people are largely unaffected by molds like Aspergillus; people with allergies or weak immune systems are the most vulnerable.

  • Bathroom molds: Moisture-loving molds such as Cladosporium are common in the bathroom and other wet areas, especially where ventilation is poor. Usually black or green, large Cladosporium growths make bathrooms ugly and unhealthy if not checked.

There are thousands of different mold species. While some molds may have characteristic colors or appearances, visual inspection alone is not enough to identify the species. This emphasizes the benefit of bringing in experts to establish exactly what you're dealing with and how serious it is.

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