7 Things You Should Know About Black Mold Removal
The term ‘black mold’ is something of a misnomer and misleading. Many people assume that mold has to be colored black to cause health problems. Nothing could be further from the truth! Come read and learn more about black mold, what it is, what it isn’t, and what to do about it.
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Black Mold – Something of a Misnomer
While all molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms, some molds can also cause much more dangerous health problems. Some molds, but not all molds, produce toxins. Toxic molds can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer. Not all molds are toxic, but many are. The thing is… dangerous and toxic mold is not just black, it can be many different colors. Toxic molds can appear to be green, yellow, brown, or black. So, where is the line between an allergic mold and a toxic mold? That line is defined by something called a mycotoxin, and is NOT defined by color.
Mycotoxins, literally ‘fungus poison’ in Latin, are chemical substances produced by molds that can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe.2,8 Molds that produce mycotoxins are the ones that could be categorized as toxic or poisonous.2,8 Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins.8
To learn even more about the health effects of mold check out our posts: Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults, Effects of Mold on Children’s Health and Mold Exposure Symptoms.
How did I get black mold?
Most likely, mold is growing in your home because there is too much moisture in an area. Any part of your home where running water or moisture is present has the potential for mold to grow. Periodic maintenance checks on all water sources, roofs, and crawl spaces in your home can prevent mold from growing by stopping leaks before they become a big problem. Check out our posts: Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them and Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage to learn more.
Mold Is Bad For Your Health
Mold is an insidious, invisible predator in your home. It hides in places no one ever thinks to look like under cabinets, in crawl spaces, and behind furniture. People may spend weeks, months, and even years fighting illness, and never know what they are really fighting…mold. Many of our customers find us after a recommendation from their doctor, indicating that they may in fact have a mold problem, and not just an illness.
Mold is most often associated with allergies, but mold is much more menacing than people know. While all molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms, molds can also cause much more dangerous health problems including: fungal poisoning from mycotoxins and mental health issues. Check out our post Mold Exposure Symptoms to learn more about what medical symptoms are associated with mold exposure.
Removing Black Mold Improves Your Home’s Value
Nobody wants to buy or live in a home with mold! Whether you are selling your home or plan to live there many years, mold removal is always the right choice. Mold is a dealbreaker for most homebuyers. Having found and fixed the problem before they purchase will give homebuyers much more confidence going into the sale.
On the flip side, wise homebuyers can choose to have the home of their choice inspected to be sure it is a wise investment, and a safe place to live. To learn more about mold inspections when purchasing or selling a home check out our post Should I Get a Mold Inspection When Buying a Home?
Inspections For Black Mold Help Find And Fix Water Leaks
The main sources for mold growth in homes are water leaks from faucets, roofs, hot water heaters, ground water damage and even sewer backup. Find the water leaks and find the source of the problem.
Some of our competitors offer “free” mold inspections, which basically means that the inspector shows up and hands over a price to fix a symptom, without truly knowing the nature of the problem. The primary reason that we charge for our mold inspections is the time and resources that go into each one.
In addition to the questions we ask over the phone, once we arrive we ask many more. If you think you might have a mold problem, you’re far better off with a thorough inspection like ours. We analyze the symptoms to determine the root cause of your problem.
Branch Environmental offers much more than a typical mold inspection. It’s a true mold investigation! Our inspectors go above and beyond to determine all the sources of mold in a home. The inspection process we follow checks your home from top to bottom, and will find any and all possible mold sources. We take our work seriously, and search until we find what’s really going on. We only recommend solutions that will solve the actual problem. You can trust your home to us.
Check out our post: Beyond Mold Inspections, Branch Delivers Mold Investigations to learn about how we determined the true sources of a mold problem for a homeowner.
Can I Remove the Black Mold Myself?
Removing mold can be a DIY project, but it’s a good idea to know when to call the pros. Our tips for mold removal help you know what to use, and what not to use. We can help you remove the mold safely, whether you choose to DIY or have us help you. We want to help you get back to living your best life!
What Not To Use – Bleach
The goal of mold cleaning is not to kill mold, or even to disinfect a surface or material, but rather to remove mold from a surface. Think of mold more like dirt. If you had a wall with dirt on it, would you simply spray it with bleach and consider it cleaned? Of course not.
Bleach is a combination of chemicals used to kill bacteria and whiten clothes, floors, and walls. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite which is toxic to bacteria, fish, and human beings. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discourages the use of bleach and biocides for mold cleaning.3
Of course, there are more reasons to avoid bleach. Bleach is designed to kill bacteria, and will not completely remove a mold problem. Molds are fungi and they can, and will, grow back after bleaching.
What should I use to remove mold?
There are 4 simple ingredients you can safely use to clean away mold in your home: white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.
What about all of the mold cleaners that are being marketed? What about the claims that a certain product kills mold, removes mold, removes stains, disinfects surfaces and prevents mold from ever returning? If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
To learn more about the products you use to clean your home, and how they are NOT regulated by the federal government check out our article: Cleaning Products – Homemade vs. Store Bought.
What To Wear To Clean Mold Safely
Before even choosing a cleaning product, you should know what kind of safety equipment to wear to clean a moldy surface.
The basic equipment consists of an N-95 respirator, goggles or eye protection, & protective gloves with long cuffs. Long pants, a long sleeved shirt and waterproof boots are important to wear as well. Closed toed shoes are a good substitute for boots, especially if you are working on a small area of mold.
Mold is a respiratory irritant and allergen, so a mask with a N-95 respirator is important, especially if you know you are allergic to mold. A simple dust mask will NOT protect you from the mold spores. For more information about safety, visit: What to Wear before entering a Home or Building with Mold Damage by the CDC. To learn more about face masks see our post: In-depth Guide to Face Masks: Allergies, Grass Cutting, and COVID-19.
Tips For Cleaning Mold
- Remember that your goal is not to kill the mold spores, but to remove them. When they have been removed completely they cannot grow back.
- Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Ventilation is important during cleaning, so that any disturbed spores exit the building. Close and tape off doors to the rest of the house and use a box fan in a window pointing out while cleaning. This will prevent spores from invading the rest of the home, and remove them from the air of the room to be cleaned.
- Be sure to spray and then wipe all surfaces with a damp rag. Dry wiping will disturb spores and send them into the air! Airborne spores can regrow in new locations, and cause even more mold to grow. Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, so be sure to cover all surfaces with your cleaner of choice, even if they look ‘clean’.
- Do NOT use a vacuum to clean mold unless you have a vacuum with a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, which means the filter can stop most particles of dust, pet dander, allergens, etc. that are 0.3 microns or larger and keep them from being put back into the air. The HEPA filter should be changed periodically to increase efficiency. Use with caution as mycotoxins may not be filtered out even when using a HEPA vacuum. Remember that you will eventually have to empty the vacuum, and it will be filled with the mold. So, vacuuming is not really the best method of removal.
What To Use To Clean Mold Safely
There are 3 simple ingredients you can safely use to clean away mold in your home: white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Remember NOT to mix these ingredients! Keep reading for maximum cleaning power and safety!
Hard Surface Cleaning
To clean a hard surface (like a shower stall, tiles, toilet, sink, or floor), simply add hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar to a clean, empty spray bottle undiluted. Never mix these chemicals! Choose one or the other.
When using hydrogen peroxide, spray the area to clean thoroughly, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, scrub the area, and rinse it clean with water. Repeat if needed.
For white vinegar, spray the area to clean thoroughly, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour. Then, scrub the area, and rinse it clean with water.
To use baking soda, add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of baking soda to a clean empty spray bottle and fill the bottle ¾ full of hot water. Shake to dissolve. Spray the area and use a scrub brush to clean the mold away. Then, rinse the area with clean water.
When using baking soda, it usually works best with a white vinegar spray following the baking soda, but not at the same time. The baking soda should be scrubbed away and rinsed before spraying with vinegar.
Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid. When they are used together, they react to form carbon dioxide gas and heat. The chemicals then are neutralized (changed to a neutral pH of 7) and have less cleaning power than they would if they had been used separately.
You can add 5 to 10 drops of tea tree essential oil to the white vinegar spray to increase the disinfectant power. Tea tree essential oil is distilled from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree from Australia. The essential oil is antifungal (kills fungi), antiviral (kills viruses), and antimicrobial (kills microbes, including bacteria). We advise people with allergies or asthma to use this oil with caution, as it can be irritating to the skin and lungs. To learn more about essential oils and how to use them safely check out our post: Essential Oils For A Healthy Home.
Cleaning Softer Surfaces
Hard surfaces generally are able to be cleaned, and most of the time mold will not grow back if it is completely removed and the moisture problem has been fixed. Soft surfaces (such as carpet, drywall, upholstered furniture, etc), are not always able to be cleaned completely enough to keep the mold from coming back.
Depending on how deep the mold penetrates the materials, upholstered furniture could be cleaned by a professional. Linens, clothes, and towels can be laundered in hot water to remove the mold, but stains may remain.
Leather is prone to mold damage, and can be cleaned. However, leather should not be kept in a basement or location where moisture levels are high. To clean leather check out The Spruce’s Step-By-Step Guide on How to Clean Mold From Leather. You can also have significant or sentimental leather items cleaned by a professional leather cleaner.
When you have softer surfaces such as carpet, drywall, and furniture that have been contaminated with mold, it’s probably time to call a professional. It is very difficult to tell just how much of the surface has really been invaded by the mold just by looking.
Know When to Clean and When To Call
It’s easy to take care of mold as a homeowner, but it’s also a good idea to know when to call in the pros. Mold is great at hiding in hard to detect locations such as in drywall, under sinks, and in carpet. If the area of mold covers more than about 10 square feet, there is a good chance the mold problem is more than an isolated issue. If you smell a musty odor in your home or have health problems associated with mold, it’s time to call in the professionals.
To learn more about what mold removal really looks like check out our post: Home Mold Remediation.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants, we can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- 5 Expectations About Mold Vs. Eye-opening Reality – Branch Environmental
- Mycotoxins – World Health Organization (Who)
- Top 6 Types Of Water Damage And How To Avoid Them – Branch Environmental
- Top 10 Ways To Prevent Water Damage – Branch Environmental
- Effects Of Mold On Children’s Health – Branch Environmental
- Mold And Mycotoxins: Effects On The Brain And Nervous System In Adults – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Branch Environmental
- Mold Exposure Symptoms – Branch Environmental
- Should I Get A Mold Inspection When Buying A Home? – Branch Environmental
- Beyond Mold Inspections, Branch Delivers Mold Investigations – Branch Environmental
- Why Cleaning Mold Is More Important Than Killing Mold – Branch Environmental
- Cleaning Products – Homemade Vs. Store Bought – Branch Environmental
- Why Cleaning Mold Is More Important Than Killing Mold – Branch Environmental
- Sodium Hypochlorite | Substance – Environmental Working Group
- Mold – Environmental Protection Agency
- Essential Oils For A Healthy Home – Branch Environmental
- What To Wear Before Entering A Home Or Building With Mold Damage – Branch Environmental
- In-depth Guide To Face Masks: Allergies, Grass Cutting, And Covid-19 – Branch Environmental
- Home Mold Remediation – Branch Environmental
- A Step-by-step Guide On How To Clean Mold From Leather – The Spruce
- What’s That Musty Smell? Mvoc’s – Branch Environmental
- Home Mold Remediation – Branch Environmental