Mold is a naturally occurring fungus will grow on any cellulose-based material in the presence of water. It can grow in as little as 48 hours after the water appears if it is not promptly cleaned and dried. Mold will continue to grow and spread as long as the moisture remains. It is a common side effect of water damage or flooding. For that reason, it’s important to clean and dry the area quickly to prevent mold. However, if you already have a problem, it’s important to remove mold as soon as possible. These steps will help you clean mold permanently.
5 Steps to Cleaning Mold
- Identify and Repair the Source of the Moisture – Water is always the cause of mold, so you need to fix the problem before beginning to clean mold.
- Dry Out the Area – Even after fixing the problem, wet surfaces will allow mold to grow. Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the area.
- Remove Damaged Materials – Use heavy-duty plastic bags to dispose of items and materials contaminated with mold. This prevents spreading mold spores throughout your property.
- Clean Mold with a Disinfectant – Spray every surface with a disinfectant or fungicide to clean mild and prevent it from returning. Use a scrub brush to clean stubborn mold.
- Rebuild the Affected Area – Finally, rebuild the area. This may include anything from painting to installing new materials.
Take Satefy Precautions When Cleaning Mold
During the entire mold cleaning process, you should take safety precautions to prevent contaminating yourself or other areas of the property. Always wear pants, long sleeves, rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a ventilator. If you have extensive mold problems, you may want to hang thick plastic sheeting to prevent mold spores from spreading.
What Kind of Mold Is It?
Many are concerned about the health risks of so-called toxic black mold. While mold does pose a health risk, it is likely to do more damage to your property than to you in most cases. As for identifying molds, there are thousands of types of mold and it’s impossible to tell them apart just by looking at them. Expensive scientific tests can determine the exact strain or strains you have, but it’s best to treat them all the same and clean mold immediately. Aside from seeing mold, common signs of a mold problem are excess moisture, peeling paint and wallpaper, and deteriorating drywall and wood. Although unlikely, mold can eventually weaken the structure of your building.
Places Mold Will Grow
Mold will grow on any cellulose-based material, as well as hard surfaces like glass, plastic, and marble nearby. As long as there is a consistent source of moisture, mold will continue to grow and spread once it appears. Some of the most common place you will find mold include:
- Plaster, drywall, and gypsum board
- Brick, cinderblock, and concrete
- Wood beams and studs, flooring, and cabinets
- Porous materials like wallpaper, canvas, fabric, upholstery, and insulation
- Non-porous materials like glass, plastic, metal, marble, and granite
- Paper products like cardboard, books, and magazines
- Foodstuffs, especially dry foods in cardboard containers
Signs of Mold
The most common sign that you need to clean mold is seeing it. Mold often appears grey, green, or black and may appear thread-like or fuzzy. However, mold can appear virtually any color and even the same mold may look different depending on the material. Other signs you may have mold include:
- Stains or discoloration of carpeting, floors, walls, ceilings, or other items
- Excess humidity or condensation, especially in the basement, bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room
- Musty spells, especially in the basement or crawlspace
- Crumbling building materials like drywall, wood, and plaster
- Peeling or chipping paint or wallpaper
- In some cases, persistent allergies or respiratory problems
Causes of Mold Growth
Mold is always a result of a water source. As long as the water remains, the mold will continue to grow.
- Humidity – Mold commonly grows in areas with levels of humidity above 60%, like basements, crawlspaces, and areas with tropical climates.
- Condensation – It is also common in kitchens and bathrooms where water vapor will condense on walls and other surfaces.
- Poor Ventilation – Mold is also likely in spaces with poor ventilation like attics, basements, crawlspaces, and bathrooms.
- Plumbing Leaks – Even a small plumbing leak can provide enough water for mold to grow. Leaks are most common in basements, crawlspaces, kitchens, and bathrooms.
- Water Damage – Whether caused by an outside source, like groundwater flooding, or an internal source, like a dishwasher flood, any source of water damage can cause mold as well.
How to Prevent Mold
The best way to clean mold is to prevent it in the first place. While it’s easy to ignore issues like leaky roofs, condensation, poor ventilation, plumbing issues, and high humidity, these are the most common causes of mold in homes and buildings. Fix any water leak or moisture problem immediately and then disinfect the area to ensure mold does not grow. The same goes for signs of mold. It will not go away on its own, so you need to clean mold as soon there are signs of a problem. This includes any sign of water or moisture, as well as stains or discoloration and persistent symptoms of allergic reactions.
How to Permanently Clean Mold From Your Home or Business
These are the basic steps for removing mold from any property, however, individual circumstances will vary. Depending on the extent of the mold damage, it may be necessary to adjust the mold cleanup process for your situation.
1. Identify and Repair the Source of the Moisture
Before you can start cleaning mold, you need to locate the source of water and make repairs. If you’ve recently had a flood, sewage backup, or another water event, identifying the cause will likely be easy. However, a small water leak is harder to locate. Once you have located the water source, make the necessary repairs to resolve the issue permanently. Attempting to clean mold before fixing the source of water will only result in it reappearing in the future. For humidity and condensation in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, improve the ventilation or use a dehumidifier. Repair leaky roofs or plumbing.
2. Dry Out the Area
Now that the source of the water is fixed, you will need to dry out the area. Use fans and dehumidifiers to thoroughly dry wet materials. While consumer-grade items will work, consider renting commercial equipment from a local equipment rental company. This will speed up the drying process and help limit mold growth while you are waiting. Depending on the extent of the water damage, drying may take a few hours to several days or more.
3. Remove Damaged Materials
In some cases, it may be necessary to remove damaged materials before cleaning mold. If drywall, wood, flooring, or cabinets are deteriorating or weakened by either the water damage or the mold growth, you will need to remove and replace them. Place items in heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and properly dispose of them to prevent contaminating other areas of your property.
One of the major problems with mold is that it can move deep into porous materials. While you can clean mold from the surface of some materials, you should replace anything that is covered in significant mold growth. Additionally, you will need to throw away porous or absorbent materials such as carpets and ceiling tiles if they are moldy, as it’s impossible to completely clean mold from these materials
4. Clean Mold with a Disinfectant
Use a disinfectant to clean mold from remaining surfaces. While a solution of bleach and water will work, a hospital grade disinfectant or a commercial grade fungicide are more effective options at cleaning mold permanently. Disinfectants and fungicides are available at most janitorial supply stores and some hardware stores.
Use a sprayer to apply the disinfectant or fungicide to all surfaces in the vicinity of the mold. Make sure you follow the manufacturers’ instructions for diluting and applying that chemical. Also, never mix chemicals, as they may cause harmful reactions. In some cases, you may need to use a stiff bristled brush to scrub away the mold. Depending on the extent of your mold problem, you may need several applications as well.
5. Rebuild the Affected Area
Once you have completely cleaned mold from the area, you can begin to rebuild. This may only involve a fresh coat of paint or a new bead of caulk. However, it could also involve installing new drywall or carpeting or re-grouting tile.
A Warning About Cleaning Mold with Bleach
A solution of bleach and water will clean mold, but the results will likely only be temporary. While we often think of mold as the problem, it’s actually the water. Yes, bleach will kill surface mold, however, mold can grow deep within any porous material. The area will look clean for a few days, weeks, or even months, but as long as the moisture remains, the mold will eventually return. The key to cleaning mold permanently is to resolve the source of water. Although the surface may look clean, the mold could still be growing inside your walls, behind wallpaper and tile, or underneath the flooring.
Professional Mold Removal and Remediation
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