The Basics of Cleaning Mold: How to Remove Mold Once and For All
Unfortunately, mold is a common nuisance in many homes and businesses. Once it appears, it can remain even after several cleanings. In order to get rid of mold once and for all, we look at what it is and why it grows. Plus, our basics of cleaning mold guide will help ensure that the next time you try to remove it is the last.
The Basics of Cleaning Mold
- Identify the Source of the Water – Locate the source of the water that is causing the mold.
- Fix the Water Issue – Repair the source of the water, otherwise, the mold is guaranteed to return.
- Dispose of Materials Contaminated by Mold – Throw away items contaminated with mold.
- Dry the Area – Use fans and dehumidifiers to completely dry the area.
- Clean and Disinfect – Use a disinfectant spray to kill any remaining mold spores or other contaminants.
- Reconstruction – Rebuild the affected area. This can vary widely from situation to situation.
What is Mold
Mold is a naturally occurring fungus that decomposes organic materials. In nature, it breaks down leaves, plants, wood, and other items. However, most of the building materials in homes and building share a similar composition. With the right conditions, mold can move into your basement, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and many other areas.
It’s easy to think mold is the problem, however, it’s actually a symptom of persistent water. In fact, it doesn’t take much water for mold to survive. While mold may appear after a flood, it’s just as likely with small leaks, high humidity, and condensation. The longer materials remain wet or even damp, the greater the chance of mold developing.
What Mold Needs to Grow
- Moisture – Most importantly, mold needs persistent moisture to grow. Even high humidity or condensation is enough moisture for mold to thrive.
- Organic Materials – In addition to water, mold needs some food source to grow. Nearly all organic materials fit this description.
- Temperature – Mold will grow at a variety of temperatures from 32° F / 0° C to 120° F / 49° C, but most prefer a range between 70° F / 21° C and 90° F / 32° C.
- Light Levels – Intense light and high levels of UV impact mold’s ability to grow, but it does not require complete darkness to grow.
- Oxygen – In nearly every circumstance, the air supplies enough oxygen for mold to grow and reproduce.
- Time – Although other variables impact the amount of time required, mold can appear in as little as 48 hours. If the water involved is groundwater or contains sewage, the time necessary can drop to as low as 12 to 24 hours.
Cleaning Mold is Ineffective Unless You Fix the Water Issue First
Bleach is often the first thing people grab when they see mold. Given the way bleach is marketed, it makes sense that most people assume it kills mold permanently. Bleach will kill mold, but there are limitations. The same is true of solutions made with ammonia or vinegar. Mold grows deep within most porous materials, which bleach is most effective on the surface. Even if the bleach does kill the mold, the water is still the issue. As long as the water remains, mold can return. In order to effectively clean mold permanently, you need to resolve the water issue.
The 6 Basic Steps to Cleaning Mold
1. Identify the Source of the Water
Some source of water or moisture is always the cause of mold. If you have mold, there is some source of water involved. It is common around leaky plumbing fixtures and pipes, as well as in bathrooms and kitchens where humidity and condensation are high. Depending on the exact cause, you may need to open walls, floors, or ceilings to access the issue.
2. Fix the Water Issue
Once you know the cause of the water, you need to make repairs. This can be as simple as replacing a washer on pipe connections. However, it can also be more complicated like installing exhaust fans, replacing water pipes, or waterproofing your foundation. This is the most critical step in cleaning mold from your property. If you don’t repair the source of the water, mold will return 99% of the time.
3. Dispose of Materials Contaminated by Mold
Even after fixing the water issue, mold spores can remain deep within many materials. If that material gets wet again, the mold can quickly return. Plus, materials that are significantly contaminated should be removed to ensure they don’t spread mold to other areas. Cut out drywall, plywood, and other materials that are covered in mold. Throw away paper goods, particle board items, fabric, and carpeting contaminated with mold, as they are hard to clean.
4. Dry the Area
Even after addressing the water issue that leads to the mold, some materials may remain damp or even wet. Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the area thoroughly before moving on to the next step. Depending on the cause and extent of the moisture, drying can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. Use a moisture meter to ensure the area is completely dry before moving on.
5. Clean and Disinfect
Once dry, you need to clean and disinfect the space. It’s okay to use bleach, but we recommend a hospital grade disinfectant. Always mix the chemical to the correct ratio and apply using a spray bottle or a pump sprayer. A sprayer ensures even distribution and ensures it gets into small cracks and crevasses. For bleach, allow to air dry and then repeat the process a second time. For hospital grade disinfectants, follow the manufacturers’ application instructions. Allow the disinfectant to dry completely before moving on to reconstruction.
Rebuilding your home or business after cleaning mold can vary depending on the extent of the water and mold damage. In some cases, it may only require repainting walls. For more severe cases, you may need to hang new drywall, install new flooring, or replace cabinets.
Get Mold Removal Services From a Local Remediation Contractor
If you’re tired of cleaning mold, Restoration Local will connect you with a local mold remediation contractor to get rid of it once and for all. As the #1 network of restoration companies, we have mold removal companies across the company. Choose a local mold company from our directory now. We have listings for both independent contractors and many popular franchises like Bio-One and Rainbow Internation. For immediate service, call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with our on-call mold contractor in your area. Our on-call mold remediation companies offer a free estimate and 30-minute response.