Spotlight on Mold Removal
When you find mold in your home, do you know how to safely remove it? Mold removal can be a DIY project, but it is good to know when to call in the professionals. Come read and learn all about mold removal.
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What is Mold?
Molds are fungi. Fungi are neither animals nor plants. They inhabit a kingdom all their own. Fungi are spore producing organisms that feed on organic matter and include: yeasts, mildews, rusts, smuts, molds, and mushrooms. Fungi grow using filaments or hyphae that make up their bodies (mycellia). They digest organic matter externally before absorbing the nutrients.
You encounter fungi everyday in your food when you eat bread, drink alcohol, or eat blue cheese. Even though there are a few molds that are beneficial to us, the molds that attack our homes are not.
How Does Mold Grow?
Molds grow from microscopic spores that are ubiquitous. You can find molds on every continent, and in almost every type of environment. The recycling process molds perform returns nutrients to the soil and is important for plants to grow. Mold needs 4 things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and warmth. Mold grows inside of their food sources. They can penetrate deeply into drywall, carpets, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, etc.
Why Do I Have 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 in your home can prevent mold from growing by stopping leaks before they become a big problem. Check out our post: Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them to learn more.
Is Mold Dangerous?
In a word, YES. Mold can make you very sick, but most people don’t realize how insidious it can be. Mold can cause health issues ranging from severe allergic reactions to mental health problems. Come to more about what medical symptoms are associated with mold exposure and how to correct a mold problem, check out our post: Mold Exposure Symptoms.
How Do I Remove Mold?
Mold removal 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 and 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 as an agent 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.
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 Remove 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.
What To Use To Remove 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.
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 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.
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.
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. Softer 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. High moisture levels encourage mold to grow. 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 the professionals. It is very difficult to tell just how much of the materials have really been invaded by the mold.
Tips For Removing 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.
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.
To read a great example of how Branch Environmental helped a homeowner discover and remediate mold check out our post: How Does Mold Affect Your Health? In this post, the homeowner was suffering from severe health issues, and his doctor suggested his home be checked for mold. Check it out to learn just what was causing his health issues.
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:
- A Simple Guide To Cleaning Mold – Branch Environmental
- Why Cleaning Mold is More Important than Killing Mold – Branch Environmental
- Mold | US EPA
- Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them – Branch Environmental
- Why Fall Is The Worst Season For Allergies And Asthma – Branch Environmental
- Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults – Branch Environmental
- Mold Exposure Symptoms – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – 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