The Do’s and Don’ts of Mold Removal

It’s simply not true that you always need to hire a professional mold inspector every time you suspect a mold issue in your home or business. In fact, in most cases all you really need are some common household chemicals and a little elbow grease. In this post, we’d like to cover some of the do-it-yourself remedies that you can try before consulting a professional cleanup company. If you insist on hiring a professional mold removal company The Cleanup Doctors are the best in the business.

soapy water1.) Warm Soapy Water

Yes, it can be that simple. If the contamination is new, and appears to be just on the surface, then a bucket of warm soapy water and a slightly abrasive brush or sponge are effective enough to clean up the mildew and keep it from moving in deeper and spreading.

2.) Bleach

This is probably the most popular overall solution to eradicating mold. Hydrogen peroxide, which is the main ingredient in household bleach, is incredibly effective in killing spores and cleaning surfaces because of its disinfecting power. It’s very important to read all warnings on bleach bottles, as it can be very corrosive and dangerous, especially around young children.

Always mix bleach with water. The typical recommendation is to mix 1 cup of bleach with about 1 gallon of hot water, and be sure to stir it so it becomes balanced. You would then want to put this new mixture into a spray nozzle so that you can evenly distribute the solution to properly cover all the contaminated surface. Also important to note: DON”T use bleach on anything containing color dyes. It should only be used on porous surfaces like tile, plastic, metals, and wood.

3.) Distilled Vinegar

Not only does white vinegar help in eliminating the odor of mold, it also helps in killing it. With vinegar, it’s important that you DO NOT mix with any other liquids, as you need it to be as pure and strong as possible. Just like with bleach, you want to directly spray the liquid onto the contaminated areas. You will not need to rinse off the vinegar after it’s settled in. Let everything sit for several hours, and then you can return and wipe the surface with another household cleaner.

With any of the above solutions you choose to go with, it’s important to take extra precautions by opening up any windows in the area and turning on any vent fans to get the air circulating. The fumes that can be given off by some of these chemicals can be pretty overwhelming, bordering on harmful even. Also, be sure to wear rubber gloves so you don’t irritate your skin.

Different Types of Mold

It comes as a surprise to most people when we tell them that mold is just about everywhere. All homes and businesses have mold spores, no matter what. Most types of mold are completely non-toxic, however, they can still pose health threats, particularly to individuals with asthma or seasonal allergies. Without actually testing the mold in a lab, it’s almost impossible to differentiate between types.

Most of the time, the black colored mold that you notice on your shower surfaces is completely harmless. It’s referred to as cladosporium, and even though it can irritate people with respiratory issues, it’s not hazardous. We’ve already discussed common methods for removing this type of mildew, but prevention is just as effective. Bathrooms, especially those with showers, should have vent fans – and they should be used every time someone takes a shower. This will reduce the moisture level in the room, which helps to starve the spores of one of their most important growth catalysts.

The most common toxic mold is called “black mold”. This type can result in some pretty serious health risks. These dangerous strains of stachybotrys and memnoniella produce mycotoxins, which only grow in damp places. They need organic cellulose as a host, which is basically the bulking compound that gives wood its fibrous strength. This means that black mold tends to only grow on surfaces that contain “natural” fibers, such as drywall, wood studs, and even carpet backing. This is why it’s so important to seek professional remediation when there is a flooding situation that gets into the walls and carpeting. It’s highly likely that you will have a black mold situation after a flood event. If you’re convinced it’s black mold, you should have it tested by a professional laboratory.

IMPORTANT: any time you have dry mold spores present, it’s imperative that you are very cautious when removing them. Never try to scrape it off the surface, as this can cause them to go airborne. Once airborne, they can pose a serious health risk.

Symptoms of Black Mold Poisoning

Inability to focus: black mold can attack the central nervous system, thus affecting the normal processes of mental pathways. This would typically reveal itself through someone having a difficult time focusing on one thing for very long, and typically only being able to do so for a few seconds. This symptom absolutely should NOT be assumed to be an indicator of a mold problem by itself, but coupled with a few of the others, it could be a determinant.

symptoms of moldIssues with blood pressure: most people would never guess that black mold can cause blood pressure problems. This is because we automatically assume it’s because of hereditary factors or even stress. Again, this can’t be taken as a mold problem on it’s own, but as one of several signs acting together.

Respiratory problems: this is the most common symptom of mold poisoning. Many people report flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, and congestion. This is the body’s immune system response as it tries to rid the body of the mycotoxins. In more serious cases, it can cause the lining of the lungs to bleed from high levels of inflammation. People with asthma or allergies can have much worse and heightened reactions.

Headaches: this is usually the first symptom that victims report experiencing. Since headaches are so common, many people would never assume mold as being the culprit. However, when paired with one or more of other symptoms we discussed above, the likeliness of the problem being toxic mold is greatly magnified.


How to Keep Mold from Forming

1.) Always do your best to maintain your level of humidity in your home or office at 40% or less.
2.) During hot and humid months, always have your air conditioner on. An added benefit would be to run a dehumidifier as well.
3.) If your kitchen and bathrooms don’t have exhaust or vent fans, get them installed. And use them.
4.) Clean your shower surfaces with products that kill mold, such as Tilex, bleach, or distilled white vinegar.
5.) Never install carpeting in your basement.
6.) If you have a flood event, replace your carpeting and any upholstery that gets wet.

So what should you do if you suspect black mold? Firstly, since black mold tends to develop in moist and dark areas, it’s very likely that it has been growing unsuspected for quite some time. A perfect example is behind bathroom walls. This is almost guaranteed to happen when there is a leaking pipe behind the wall. If you’re convinced there is black mold, the best idea would be to consult a professional remediation company. One little tip would be to contact some local real estate agents and ask them who they would recommend, since it’s likely they’ve had to deal with this issue in some of their abandoned listings on a regular basis. Once you have the name of some companies, head over to a search engine and look the company up. If they’re reputable, you’ll be able to find out very quickly through some of their citations and reviews from previous customers.

Once you’ve chosen a company for the service, they will come out to perform an initial inspection. It’s important that they do a thorough job at this stage. A visual inspection will occur, and the better companies will also utilize technologies that detect moisture behind walls and in other inconspicuous places. Then, they’ll need to take a sample for testing. There are several options here, and all of them are viable. The most common is air sampling. They may also take an actual piece of contaminated material, such as carpeting or drywall. This will then be sent to a lab for further testing. Once they’ve figured out what they’re working with, the inspector will then recommend steps to be taken. In the most severe cases, a professional removal and remediation company will need to be hired to remedy the situation properly.

Robert Gibbon

I'm just a normal guy living in Los Angeles who likes to write about subjects as he's learning them. My current obsession is remodeling my home. We bought a place built in the 1970's, and it needs some love. Walk with me through my journey as I blog about all the fun things a homeowner can do themselves.