Everyone knows the best way to clean mold is with bleach, right? Wrong! Keep reading to find out the best way to clean mold — and why not to use bleach.
Why Not Kill Mold With 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 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 disinfectant, not a detergent.
Bleach is also highly toxic, especially when mixed with other cleaners or chemicals. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discourages the use of bleach and biocides for mold cleaning.
Remove Mold With Detergent
The best method for cleaning mold on non-porous and some hard, porous surfaces is to scrub and/or damp wipe the surface with a mild detergent solution. Surprised? 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.
What you really need is soap. It’s simple physics. Mold is hydrophobic, meaning it lacks an affinity for water or repels away from water and aerosol sprays. When water is applied to a moldy surface, it causes mold spores to scatter. When detergent is added to the water, it acts as a surfactant and breaks down the surface tension. This causes the mold spores to be released from the surface and allows them to be easily removed by wiping.
You might be surprised to learn that some of the most effective detergents for cleaning mold are liquid dishwashing detergents, such as Cascade and Dawn. Dishwashing detergent does not produce suds, making it easier to see the surface you are cleaning. Dishwashing detergent is designed to cut through tough grease and grime, but is gentle enough to not irritate skin.
We recommend treating surfaces with a product such as Concrobium Mold Control after cleaning to kill any remaining mold spores and to provide some level of inhibition of future mold growth.
What About Porous Items?
Porous items such as upholstered furniture, clothing, carpet and ceiling tiles are more difficult to clean. If the mold is extensive, then these items will likely have to be discarded.
Light mold growth can be removed using a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner, by professional laundering or by specialized furniture or carpet cleaning companies. Even after cleaning, remaining mold stains may be difficult or impossible to remove.
How Branch Environmental Can Help
A complete mold remediation involves not only cleaning, but also identifying and correcting the moisture problem(s) that led to mold growth in the first place.
Branch Environmental is a full service mold inspection, assessment and remediation company. Call us today if you would like to schedule a mold inspection, request a remediation estimate, or if you simply have questions about how to clean mold.