One of the most common problems that homeowners face are mold and mildew infestations. This fungus grows on anything and thrives anywhere it can find moisture, especially places that are damp, warm, poorly lit, and poorly ventilated. Not only does it produce a musty, unpleasant odor, but when left unchecked it can cause serious damage. Mold can also provoke allergies and even asthma attacks for people who are prone to them. In this article, you’ll find advice on how to remove mold from your home, along with information on how to spot it and prevent it in the first place.
2. Use Cleaning Solutions
There are a number of cleaning solutions you can use, all of which are inexpensive and easy to find.
- Bleach is very effective when used on moldy surfaces. Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water, then use either a spray bottle or a bucket and sponge to clean the affected area. If you want to prevent growth, don’t wipe the area afterward. Note that bleach has some drawbacks, the foremost being that it’s useless on porous materials like wood and drywall. It also gives off harsh fumes, and mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia or certain other household cleaners is incredibly dangerous as it produces toxic gas.
- Vinegar isn’t quite as effective as bleach, but it’s safe and doesn’t give off harsh fumes. Pour undiluted white vinegar or apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle, spray the affected area, let it sit for an hour, then wipe clean. If you want to use it to prevent growth, simply don’t wipe afterward, and spray again every few days. Use it only on non-porous surfaces.
- Borax is dangerous if swallowed, but it’s otherwise safe and doesn’t give off dangerous fumes. Create a mixture of 1 cup of borax for every 1 gallon of water, then clean with a scrubbing brush. Once again, only use it on non-porous surfaces, and you can use it to prevent growth by not wiping it off afterward.
- Ammonia is similar to bleach in that it can’t be used on porous surfaces, and also that it’s a dangerous chemical. Make sure that you only use clear ammonia. Create a 50/50 mix of water and clear ammonia, and spray the affected surface. Let it sit for a few hours, then wipe and rinse.
- Baking soda is both mild and safe, and it also acts as a deodorizer. What’s more, unlike the other solutions, baking soda can be used on porous surfaces. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 8 ounces of water and mix thoroughly. Spray the affected area, scrub with a sponge or brush, then rinse. Follow this by spraying a second time, but don’t rinse afterward.
Kill Mold Step#1: Size Up the Situation
Let’s say you’re tearing out an old basement, or working in an attic somewhere, or cutting into a wall before adding in an addition. Homeowners everywhere discover mold all the time in ways like this. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Another common problem is mold growing around windows that form condensation as the cold temperatures of winter settle in.
The main issue is how big and bad your mold growth is. With the proper know-how, precautions and the treatment strategies I’ll show you here, go ahead and tackle any situation up to the size of a few sheets of plywood. If the moldy area is bigger than this, or if it seems to be associated with some kind of sewage leak, consider calling in a mold abatement professional.
Kill Mold Step#2: Eliminate the Moisture Source
Mold never appears without moisture. That’s why you always need to start your work by finding and drying up the water causing the problem. Liquid water is easy enough to spot, but most hidden household mold is probably due to condensation or some other form of water vapor. You’ll almost always find mold in the fiber insulation stuffed into the rim joists where basement ceilings meet outside walls in cold climates, for instance. Basements and crawl space walls and floors are also a common breeding ground for mold, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is always because of a lack of ventilation. Fresh air is usually great and necessary, but not when it’s warm and humid outside. The leading cause of mold and musty basements and crawl spaces is ventilation during hot summer months. When warm, moist, humid outdoor air makes its way into a cool basement, water condenses out, kickstarting the mold growth process. There are more possible sources of mold inducing moisture, but you get the picture.
Kill Mold Step#3: Make Removal Decisions
Not all moldy surfaces should be treated. Sometimes tearing out moldy materials and replacement is a better strategy. Moldy drywall, fiber ceiling tiles, carpets, wood paneling and other non-structural materials are best removed rather than decontaminated. Just don’t be an idiot about the work. Not all mold is dangerous, but how do you know? That’s why you should always wear a HEPA-rated respirator when dealing with moldy areas. Your body is pretty important, and there are certain kinds of molds that will cripple you for life if you’re not protected.
Kill Mold Step#6: Stop Mold from Coming Back
This is trickier than it looks, and that’s why you want to look at using some kind of fungistat. Some of the best mold control products are also proven fungistats and this means they both kill mold and inhibit mold regrowth, too. That said, no fungistat is magic. If areas of potential mold get moist again and stay wet, mold will grow back eventually, no matter what you do. That’s why you’ve got to look towards boosting the right kind of ventilation, while also eliminating places where wintertime condensation can occur. Most of this is very simple – ridge vents on roofs, keeping soffit areas open and free from insulation, dealing with basement leaks – but other mold problems aren’t so simple. The biggest single cause of mold in homes that get cold weather is insufficient wintertime ventilation. This accounts for everything from the mold growing along the bottom of windows, to moldy exterior wall corners and even internal mold growth within walls. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is one of the most powerful anti-mold items you can install in your home.
The thing to understand is that building codes usually under emphasize the need for mechanical ventilation. They certainly do in Canada. Even if your building inspector doesn’t insist on a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), for instance, but an HRV really is an excellent option. This is especially true if the renovations you’re doing will be tightening the house up with new windows and air sealing strategies. Are HRVs new to you? Click here to watch a video on how they work and why they’re such a good idea.
Kill Mold Step#7: Eliminate Mold Stains
This isn’t always as easy as it looks. Mold stains can be almost impossible to get off with a scrub brush, and while bleach, hydrogen peroxide or oxalic acid all work to remove stains, they also lighten the colour of surrounding surfaces. The best option I’ve found so far for removing mold stains is the relatively new family of oxygen-based products made by different companies. The best take the form of a white powder that you mix with warm water and let sit for 10 minutes before sloshing onto the surface. Occasionally you might need to do a bit of scrubbing after the solution goes on, but most times it simply removes staining all by itself. And somehow it does this without lightening surrounding areas at all. I’ve even had excellent results using these products to remove grey weathering from exterior wood, without getting rid of the underlying woodgrain.
Learning to control mold effectively and to explain how it’s done doesn’t take a long time, but the health value is pretty high. Kill mold where you find it, boost ventilation, then see how easy it is to prevent mold from ever coming back.
Posted on November 17th, 2017
Do These Natural Solutions Really Work? – My Results with Each
Tea Tree Oil
- I tried the tea tree essential oil first and I was very happy with it as this killed the mold right away. The only drawbacks to using this is it can be a little expensive although a few drops does quite a good area. Tea tree oil does have a strong smell that you have to get used to, but the smell will go away in an hour or so.
How does this work?Tea tree oil has been found to be a very effective mold killer, it is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It’s powerful anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties kill the mold.
- I found that vinegar is also good and it is less expensive. It is antimicrobial and will kill mold. If you’re not a fan of the smell you can add some essential oils to it to leave a more pleasing scent. Studies have found that vinegar (straight 5%) kills 82 percent of mold. So, this is my favorite solution for how to remove mold naturally! When you finish with baking soda this is a great way to make sure you’ll get all the mold.
How does this work?
The pH of vinegar is around 2.5 and because it is acidic, it breaks up the structure of the mold.
- This is a good option and it is a common household item that you may already have in your bathroom cabinet. It is anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-viral. I like to use the baking soda scrub for this when I’m done also, as it will be sure to get any leftover mold.
How does it work?
The hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen which breaks up the mold by oxidizing it’s surface.
Have you tried any methods that work that I should add to this list for how to get rid of mold naturally?
How to Kill Mold
- Kill mold on soiled items: It seems to always happen to a favorite shirt or outfit. Maybe you forgot to switch the laundry or left your dirty laundry in a moist basket to long, but regardless of the cause, there it is…. mold. It can be difficult to get that putrid smell out of your clothes not to mention the greenish, black spots, but there is a way to kill it from your clothing. Put a whole cup of vinegar along with some borax in your wash. The chemical combination will eliminate the mold smell and the borax will wash the stains out. If the mold is really caked in your clothes, pour some vinegar directly on the mold and let it sit for an hour before washing.
- Kill mold in your bathroom: Bathrooms are perfect breeding grounds for mold of all kinds. Since mold loves moist, wet places, you’re sure to find some from time to time in your bathroom. A good way to prevent mold is to spray your shower after every use with some watered down bleach or a spray bottle of vinegar. However, bleach won’t be able to clean those areas where your walls come together. Make a mixture of one cup of borax to one gallon of water to really scrub down those areas.
- Kill mold in cabinets and refrigerators: Another place mold likes to turn up is in your kitchen especially in the moist refrigerator. Although bleach, borax, and vinegar can all be effective in your kitchen, the best solution is Hydrogen Peroxide. It works wonders on kitchen items, floors, tiles, and walls. To kill mold, mix Peroxide with 3% water. Spray on the surface, let sit for 10 minutes then wipe it off.
If you have a stubborn mold, the best solutions are borax, vinegar, bleach, and Hydrogen Peroxide. Never mix bleach and vinegar! Mold can be a nuisance, but knowing how to clean it effectively will limit your exposure to harmful types of mold.
Remove mold contamination
If your home is severely mold-infested, it’s best to call a professional who can properly test the mold and recommend solutions or test for mold yourself with an at-home kit. Ensure the professional you hire inspects any air ducts that have come into contact with the mold.
For less severe mold issues, start by opening doors and windows to allow fresh air inside the room. Do not use fans if the mold has already begun to grow, as they can spread the spores to other parts of the house.
Put on a pair of latex gloves and goggles for protection and remove all wet items such as carpeting, rugs, toys, furniture and ceiling tiles. Remove wet baseboards and dry wall up to 12-inches above the water or mold stains. And remove and discard wet insulation, then check inside the wall for mold. (Rigid insulation can be disinfected and reinstalled.)
When mold accumulates behind unfinished drywall, inside unpainted wood, underneath carpets or other places that spray solutions simply cannot reach, the material will likely need to be replaced.
Clean and disinfect wet items
First, put on a pair of latex gloves and goggles for protection.
Disinfect glass, plastic and metal surfaces with a solution of equal parts hot water and 3% hydrogen peroxide (found in supermarkets & drugstores). Scrub the solution into rough surfaces, such as concrete, with a stiff brush. Let the solution sit for 15 minutes and wipe dry.
Disinfect porous items such as wood and fabric with just the 3% hydrogen peroxide (no additional water). Let the solution sit for 15 minutes and rinse clean. **Have a specialist handle items of sentimental or monetary value, as hydrogen peroxide is a bleach and may discolor fabrics and other materials.
Leave non-porous materials to dry over several days and monitor for mold growth and odors. If mold develops, discard the item.