Mold is a common problem in homes – by some estimates, four in ten structures will experience it at some point. Mold grows when surfaces experience constant moisture, and this can occur when there is a leak, flood, or even just high environmental humidity. Certain types of mold are quite toxic, so in some cases you will need to hire a professional for mold removal. But in others, you can totally save some money by getting rid of that mold yourself. The trick is to understand the mistakes to avoid. Following is everything you need to know to successfully rid your home of mold.
Do: Set up the proper environment for safe cleaning
Mold spores easily become airborne, especially when you’re scrubbing away at them. Once airborne, mold will contaminate other parts of the home. To protect yourself, wear long sleeves and pants that can be washed as soon as you’re done. Protect your eyes with glasses and your respiratory system with a mask.
If possible, set up a negative pressure environment in the room where you’ll be cleaning. This means that more air flows into the room than out and this state can prevent mold spores from recirculating. To do it, cover windows with plastic and tape any gaps or cracks in the room, such as those around light fixtures and outlets. Let one gap remain – the best choice is the gap underneath a closed door.
Don’t: Breathe in spores or allow them to become airborne
You must wear protective clothing when dealing with mold. Chances are good that you’ve already experienced respiratory symptoms due to the presence of mold, so increasing your exposure will only make you sicker. Don’t open the windows in an effort to clear out the room, as this will only spread mold spores further afield.
Do: Use Borax
There is only one cleanser recommended for cleaning mold. Borax is a white powder that’s found in many laundry detergents, so you should be able to find some at the local grocery store. To clean your mold, mix one cup of borax with 1 gallon of hot water.
Apply the borax solution liberally to the moldy area then scrub it with a rag or wire brush until the mold is all gone. Wipe the area to remove visible mold spores, but you don’t need to remove all traces of borax. Leaving a residue behind can help prevent new mold growth. However, you must be sure that the area dries thoroughly or mold will come back. Run a humidifier or fan in the room for at least 24-48 hours after mold removal.
Don’t: Use bleach
Bleach kills all sorts of bugs but it doesn’t do the trick with mold. While bleach does strip the color out of mold, it doesn’t stop it from continuing to grow. Though it may look like it has worked for a little while, mold cleaned with bleach will return with a vengeance within 3-4 months.
Do: Address the source of the moisture that feeds the mold
Mold needs a constant source of moisture to thrive, and this is often supplied by a water leak or breach in the home’s exterior that allows water to seep inside. If you don’t fix the problem that’s letting water in, the colony will continue to grow no matter how many times you clean it.
Don’t: Assume that once cleaned, mold will stay gone
For homeowners without advanced professional equipment, it can be a challenge to know for sure that the mold has been completely eradicated. It’s important to keep a close eye on the situation because it only takes a few spores to restart a colony.
Assuming that you have fixed the problem that provided the water to feed mold, the problem will likely clear up. But if the problem is ongoing, such as in the case of environmental humidity, take steps to control it within your home. Running a dehumidifier is a great way to help prevent recurrence.
Calling a professional
Do: Get help for serious infestations
An average homeowner can deal with small mold colonies that appear on non-porous surfaces like metal, glass, or tile. Walls painted with water resistant paint can also be managed non-professionally. But for mold on porous materials like drywall, carpet, wood, or insulation, it is always best to call in a professional mold removal team.
In fact, for significant mold issues, you may be required by state or municipal regulations to engage a licensed mold remediation contractor. That person will be able to safely remove mold and advise on items that are too affected be saved.
Don’t: Assume you’ve got it handled
Mold is tricky and can occur behind walls and within insulation where you can’t see it. Mold spores are also prone to becoming airborne and circulating throughout a home via the air ducts. If you have any question at all about the source or extent of your mold infestation, call a professional to help out.