How To Get Rid of Mold in the House

How To Get Rid of Mold in the House

Identify the mold 

Almost every home experiences mold infestation. The proper remedy is to get them before they accumulate and turn into big chunks. These molds are harmful to the health of your family and as you allow them to become bigger, they become harder and harder to clean. Black mold removal can be performed using ordinary cleaning products that you can buy in the supermarket. Molds can be easily identified as these are small black spots that grow into large colonies. The key to mold identification is testing it with bleach. Drop a few drops of household bleach to the mold, and the ones that disappear easily are mildew. You will usually spot this in damp areas. There are two kinds of black molds namely: mildew-mold and dirt mold. Mildew mold easily goes away after pouring bleach on it while dirt mold does not. Be wary that other kinds of mold are toxic so it is safer to let professionals handle if you have respiratory problems and get allergies easily. Once you have identified the type of mold, it’s time to gear up for safety.  

How to clean mold from front load washer gasket

Your washing machine can be a haven for mold, and the front load gasket is usually the first place it appears. Prevention is better than cure, so try to reduce the risk of mold by wiping the gasket between loads to keep it clean and dry. Use a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to clean the gasket on a regular basis to remove mold and prevent it from returning.

Related: How to clean your washing machine

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Removing Mold From Household Appliances

Appliances like washers, refrigerators, and coffee makers that combine moisture, heat, or food to feed mold need frequent cleaning.

Clean washers by running a hot water cycle with chlorine bleach (no clothes) at least monthly. Inspect every nook and cranny of front-load washer door seals to be sure no mold is growing that can leave clothes smelling moldy. 

Distilled white vinegar helps inhibit mold growth and does a great job cleaning refrigerators and coffee makers.

What do molds do to our body?

When a growth of mold appears, it can send clouds of invisible bits of mold through the air. These bits of mold can cause infections, allergies, asthma and other breathing problems. To avoid these health problems, keep your home as mold-free as possible.

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Mold Removal Safety Precautions

If you have to remove mold concentrations or perform any black mold removal covering more than a few square feet, we recommend you take these precautions:

  • Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
  • Wear special N-95 or P-100 respirators, in addition to goggles and gloves.
  • Set an old box fan or a cheap new one in a window to ventilate the room while working. Throw it out when you’re done cleaning, because the spores are almost impossible to clean off. Tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so the spores can’t blow back in.
  • Wrap and tape moldy carpeting in 6-mm plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
  • To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.
  • Turn off your furnace and air conditioner and cover ducts and doors to contain spores.
  • Keep your wet/dry vacuum outside when you vacuum.

How to Eliminate Mold on Fabric

Found a big box of old, moldy clothes in your basement that you’ve kept stashed away for years? Chances are, you’ll have to toss them. However, if mold has only been developing on a fabric for a few days—say, on a damp swimsuit—you can usually save it.

  1. Take the fabric outside to brush away as much of the mold as you can.
  2. If the item is washable, follow the care instructions, rubbing in detergent directly on the stain. Wash in the hottest water as directed by the label. For stubborn stains, soak the fabric overnight in oxygen bleach and water.
  3. Take fabrics that aren’t machine washable to a dry cleaner.
  4. If an item is made of leather, bring it outside and wipe it down with the solution made from distilled white vinegar. Follow it up with an application of leather soap and warm water. Apply a leather conditioner.

Are there any natural remedies for removing mold?

If you’re looking for a natural solution to remove mold, one of the below options will work. Keep in mind, though, that they may take more time than bleach and may not remove stains:

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Grab a spray bottle and pour 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. Spray the affected area, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then scrub the mold away.
  • Vinegar: Pour undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the moldy area. Let it sit for an hour and then wipe the area clean with water and allow it to dry.

Different type of mold and mildew

Most types of mold are harmless to humans. Some cause low-level irritation such as runny noses and eyes, coughs, and rashes. A few are extremely harmful to health and should be removed immediately by a professional. These are the most common kinds of dangerous mold and mildew found in homes:

NAME

COLOR

DESCRIPTION

LOCATION FOUND

HEALTH SYMPTOMS

Aspergillus Niger

Black with white or yellow underneath

Most common form of black mold

On damp walls, fruits and vegetables

Rare, but can cause serious lung disease

Aspergillus Flavus

Yellow-green and reddish-brown underneath

Appears downy or powdery in texture

On nuts and grains

Produces mycotoxin aflatoxin, which causes liver cancer

Aspergillus Fumigatus

Greenish center with gray edges

Round, fluffy looking growths

On any damp or decomposing organic material

Allergic reactions and potentially fatal aspergillosis in immunocompromised individuals

Cladosporium

Black, yellow, green

Clusters of fluffy spots

On almost any damp surface

Allergic reactions, increasing in severity with prolonged exposure

Stachybotrys chartarum (atra)

Greenish-black

Appears slimy or soot-like

Moist, high-cellulose surfaces, especially inside walls

Respiratory, neurological, and immune impairments, and death, especially in the young, old, and immunocompromised

Black mold (stachybotrys) is the variety most people are afraid of, but even black mold can be easily removed if caught early enough. What kills black mold is the same as all other molds — white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and fungicidal solutions will all kill it. Although some websites advise on black mold removal using essential oils, do not do this. Essential oils might make your room smell fresh and clean, but they cannot kill mold.

If an infestation gets out of hand, black mold removal costs can quickly become expensive. If you do see mold in your property, it’s always better to treat it as quickly as possible.

Despite this, most molds (and there are hundreds of thousands) are benign, or cause only mild allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing, and low-level irritation. However it can be hard to tell which mold you have in your home, or how it could affect you or your tenants. In order to reduce exposure, and limit liability if anyone in the property does get sick, it’s always wise to remove any mold or mildew as quickly as possible.

Products That Kill Mold

  • Chlorine bleach: Sodium hypochlorite or regular household bleach works best to destroy mold and remove any discoloration. It is quite harsh and should be diluted before using.

Warning

When working with bleach, use caution to avoid the inhalation of dangerous fumes. Bleach should never be combined with ammonia.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Less harsh than chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide (three to 10 percent solution) will kill mold and lighten stains. While it does have a bleaching effect, it works more slowly than chlorine bleach but has no fumes or residue.
  • Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar is acidic and slowly breaks down the structure of mold and kills it. Vinegar is relatively gentle, but mold stains may remain and additional scrubbing with a household cleaner may be needed. 
  • Baking soda and borax: Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and borax each have a high pH that inhibits the growth and survival of mold. Both products are inexpensive, non-toxic, and easy to mix with water. Borax will work better than baking soda for removing any lingering stains, but it is not as effective as a stronger cleaning product.

When using any of these products, do not rinse away the cleaning solution completely. Leaving a bit of the cleaner will help inhibit future mold growth.

The 6 Best Mold Removers of 2022 for Every Room

If I see mold in my home, should it be tested?

Testing for mold is generally not necessary. If you can see and smell it, you have a mold problem. However, it is recommended that you do have a thorough inspection to determine the cause of the mold growth. DHS recommends that you hire a consultant specializing in building assessments to evaluate your entire house.

Here are IAQ consultants and mold remediation contractors whose primary focus is mold: 

Open Up Moldy Walls

  • Pry off baseboards and trim from contaminated areas with a pry bar and block of wood.
  • Probe heavily stained or moisture-swollen walls using a screwdriver to discover and open up moisture damage and hidden mold in the insulation and wall framing.

How to Save Money on Mold Remediation

The most critical factor in saving money on mold remediation is to act immediately. Don’t hem and haw and consider whether or not you should do something, and don’t think to yourself, “Oh, it’s not a big deal.” The problem with mold is that even if it isn’t a big deal right now, it will be, and sometimes within only days if you don’t take action. A small growth is manageable. A large growth can be devastating, financially and healthwise. If you experience any of the signs of mold, act immediately. Once you think there’s a problem, there are several other things you can do to save money.

  • Make your home inhospitable to mold growth by promptly repairing and cleaning up any leaks or water damage.
  • If the area is less than 10 square feet, clean it immediately using a commercial cleaner.
  • For larger areas or hidden mold, call in professional help without delay—don’t try to fix it yourself and risk spreading the problem.
  • Clean, disinfect, or remove any items in the home that may have been exposed to the mold to kill errant spores and prevent a recurring problem.
  • Especially for larger problems, contact your homeowner’s insurance company to see if your policy covers mold. Many do—the first time. If a second mold growth occurs as a result of unremediated water damage or an unrepaired leak, it won’t be covered, and mold that is the result of a flood may not be covered in some areas unless you have flood insurance.
  • Collect several estimates for the mold remediation job from reputable service companies, but don’t automatically select the least-expensive quote: Really compare the services each company has offered to provide and check references. A lowball quote may reflect substandard or corner-cutting procedures, less protective gear for the home and technicians, or less experience.

Photo: depositphotos.com

If You Use Bleach to Clean up Mold

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce a poisonous gas.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you use bleach or any other cleaning product.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected areas.
  • If you need to clean more than 10 square feet, check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, which gives advice on all building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at .

How to I keep mold from growing in my home?

Keep your home as dry as possible

Repair roof and plumbing leaks right away. Make sure that the ground around the foundation of your house slopes away from the house, so that your basement is less likely to flood.

Use fans to send moisture outside

If your home has kitchen, bathroom or window fans that vent (send) the moist air outside, use them when you cook or take a shower. If you do not have fans, open a window when you cook or shower, cover pots when cooking, and try to take cool, short showers. Dry clothing on a clothesline outside or use a clothes dryer that vents (sends) air outdoors.

Use a dehumidifier

If your basement is damp, get a dehumidifier (not a humidifier, which adds air moisture) to remove moisture from the air. If you have an air conditioner to run in the summer, it will remove some moisture as it cools the air. When you use an air conditioner or dehumidifier, don’t keep your windows open if it is damp outside.

Don’t finish your basement unless it’s very dry

Don’t finish the walls of your basement with insulation and wallboard unless your basement is very dry. Also avoid putting wall-to-wall carpet on your basement floor. If your basement floor is concrete, you can paint it and use area rugs instead. Then you can take the rugs outside to clean and dry them; the rugs aren’t as likely to get moldy.

Wanda Olson; McGregor Pearce; and Dick Stone

Reviewed in 2018

The path of resistance

Initially, Mike’s landlord tried to fix the problem himself, bleaching the moldy walls. “We call that ‘spray ‘n' pray’,” said Scott Armour of the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, a global industry body for remediators. They, along with the EPA, advise against bleach for a variety of reasons, namely that fumes can be dangerous and it’s usually ineffective.

Bleach only works for non-porous surfaces. It can’t touch the mold that has burrowed into surfaces like wood or drywall (supposedly, vinegar may help you there). But the most important reason bleach fails is that people don’t stop the mold’s water supply.

For more information

For health-related questions, contact the Division of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, PO Box 2659, Madison, WI 53701-2659, telephone 608-266-1120.

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