How to Safely Remove Mold

by Michael Franco
Black mold in the corner of room wall. Preparation for mold removal.

Mold. The word itself just sounds ominous. And the discovery of those little black spots of mold inside your home can be disconcerting, to say the least. For good reason, too: Mold exposure can lead to a host of allergic symptoms like runny noses, sneezing and even fatigue and headache. Mold can spread at an alarming rate, exacerbating those potential health issues. Left to grow, mold can even cause damage to the structural integrity of your home, leaving it up to you to foot the bill.

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Spotted some mold stains in your home? You might be wondering if it’s possible to eradicate mold yourself. If it’s caught early, getting rid of mold in your home is a pretty simple process, given you adhere to certain safety precautions.

Want to destroy some mold? Follow this guide to learn how to clean mold off any surface in your home.

Safety Precautions

Because scrubbing moldy surfaces can send mold spores flying through the air, it’s important to follow specific safety precautions before beginning any mold removal project. You’ll want to minimize the inhalation of any microscopic mold spores, so wear an N-95 or P-100 respirator as you work and, if possible, keep the space ventilated by setting up a box fan in a window. Be sure to also wear airtight goggles to prevent mold spores and particles from getting in your eyes as you work. Finally, you should also wear long gloves that extend down your forearms to protect your skin from any harsh chemicals you’ll likely be working with when removing mold.

What Kills Mold?

Although there are plenty of commercial mold removers on the market, you’ll be pleased to find out that several common household cleaning products are incredibly effective mold killers.

Bleach

At the top of the list is chlorine bleach. Mix a mold-busting solution by combining one part bleach with ten parts water. Then, you can use a garden sprayer to apply the solution directly to the affected areas. Bleach works really well to eliminate mold and remove any mold stains, but be careful: Bleach will also remove the color from literally anything. And while not technically toxic, exposure can cause irritation to the eyes, lungs and skin, so it’s important to take the proper safety precautions when using a bleach solution to kill mold.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another effective mold destroyer is 3% hydrogen peroxide. Although it works slower than bleach, it’s also significantly less harsh and doesn’t emit any fumes or leave any lasting residue.

Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar also works well to clean and kill mold from surfaces in your home. Because white vinegar is gentler than bleach or peroxide, using vinegar to clean mold might require follow-up applications with another household cleaner.

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Removing Mold

You can use any of the above-mentioned ingredients to get rid of mold on nearly any surface, including exterior surfaces. However, if you’re removing mold from porous surfaces like drywall or if you discover mold on wood, you’ll want to add dishwashing detergent to your solution to help it adhere to the surface in question. Use a garden sprayer or spray bottle to apply the mixture to the affected areas. Then, use a clean sponge to lightly scrub the moldy surface. Once the affected areas have been scrubbed, let them sit for roughly 15 minutes (or up to an hour if you’re using white vinegar). Next, rinse the area with a damp towel and warm water. Finally, wipe the surface with a clean, dry towel and then dispose of all your materials after use.

Keys to Preventing Mold

The best way to remediate mold growth in your home is to keep it from growing in the first place. In order to prevent mold growth in your home, maintaining low humidity levels is key. Ensure your levels are low enough by running a dehumidifier or running an air conditioner to keep levels around 50%.

In high-moisture areas like bathrooms, run your exhaust fan while showering and for at least 30 minutes afterward to keep the accumulation of moisture at bay. Then, use commercial mold-killing cleaners during routine bathroom cleaning. There are even many effective mold-resistant paints that can help prevent mold spore growth even in those high moisture areas that are difficult to keep dry.

You should also make it a priority to fix any leaks in your house immediately upon discovery. Even a tiny leak can promote significant mold growth. Outdoors, make sure your gutters and downspouts are free of clogs to prevent water from collecting near your home’s foundation.

When to Call a Professional

Small mold removal projects can easily be tackled using the above methods, but for larger, more extensive mold problems, you’ll certainly want to consider hiring a mold remediation company. As a general rule, if the mold covers more than 10 square feet, hire a pro. A mold problem this large probably requires the demolition and removal of damaged building materials as well as the use of industrial-strength chemicals.

Getting a Hold on Mold

The most common type of mold is mildew, but it’s certainly not the only type of mold you may discover in your home. For example, dark-green or black mold that is raised and appears fuzzy to the touch is typically highly toxic. If you find this mold in your home, your best bet is to call a professional, as it could signal widespread mold growth (and probably damaged building material) inside your walls.

Even though small amounts of mildew are relatively harmless, it can spread quickly if left unchecked. That’s why it’s imperative to kill the mold as soon as you spot it. Luckily, the job is easily handled with everyday cleaning products you probably already have at home.

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