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Mold is a silent killer. You might mistake its negative effects for allergies or asthma, but the invisible spores that float through the house are the real problem. They are seriously harmful to your family's health, and it is worth the time, effort, and money to get it taken care of.
After flooding or a major leak, mold can grow within just 48 hours of exposure to water. If you see, smell, or suspect for any reason that there may be mold growing in your house, don't delay to get it taken care of. I highly recommend calling in professionals to inspect your home and remove the mold, especially if you've had a flood or major leak.
If you can't afford them, however, this is a DIY guide to removing black mold as efficiently as possible so that you can keep your family safe.
Step 1: Find the Source
There is nothing more frustrating than spending time and money eradicating mold from your home, only to find it growing back months later. Removal is not a fun process, so it's better if you don't have to repeat it.
So, it's important that before you begin the process of removal, you find the source of the problem. Specifically, you want to stop any water leaks that may create an environment for more mold to grow in the future.
Check Water Sources
Mold grows around moisture. More specifically, it grows on surfaces that are constantly exposed to moisture because of a leak or flooding that never dried.
Some common places we find mold are bathroom tubs, walls around the shower, cabinets under bathroom or kitchen sinks, around the washer, in rooms that always have a window open, walls where a garden hose attaches, and on walls or ceilings around a pipe-leak.
Check Your Home's History
If your home has ever had a major leak, been flooded, or sustained water damage of any kind, you probably have mold growing that you can't see.
Mold starts in the decay caused by moisture but can be relatively dormant until humidity levels reach a certain point. If that happens, it can grow rapidly and unseen for years before noticed. It can grow behind drywall, paneling, wallpaper, ceiling tiles, etc.
What If You Can't See the Mold?
Even though you can't always see the mold, you can usually smell it. There are typically symptoms like allergies, asthma, and headaches. If you start to experience these and they're worse when you're at home, it may be time to get your home checked for mold.
If you can't see the mold but know it's there, it may be time to bring in a professional for a mold inspection. You don't want to risk leaving any behind to grow and spread because you didn't see it.
Step 2: Equip Yourself
One of the reasons we're trying to remove mold in the first place, is to keep ourselves safe and healthy. When removing the mold, you're at a greater risk of exposure to its negative effects, especially your lungs.
The chemicals used to remove mold also pose a huge risk to your health if used improperly or without proper safety precautions.
Before you begin the mold removal process, make sure you have all the materials necessary to protect your lungs, eyes, and hands and to safely dispose of the mold afterwards.
These protective materials include:
- Safety Goggles
- Nitrile Gloves
- Window Fan
- Garbage Bags
Tools and Materials for Mold Removal
Depending on what chemical or natural solution you want to go with, make sure you have plenty of it before you start so that you don't have to stop in the middle of a project.
You'll also need tools to help you safely and effectively remove the mold.
A spray bottle is the best way to transfer the cleaning solution to the affected area. You'll also need some sponges and rags that you don't mind throwing away afterwards to scrub the moldy area.
A small scrub brush or old toothbrush typically works great for the small, nooks and crannies.
Step 3: Choose Your Weapon
4 Cheap and Effective Ways to Kill Mold
Here is a list of four effective ways to kill mold around your house.
You'll want to use a 50/50 mixture of clear ammonia sprayed on the mold and left for a few hours before scrubbing and rinsing the area.
Use the window fan to filter out any airborne chemical particles that may fill the room.
One part bleach to 10 parts water is generally recommended for this method. You can use a spray bottle or sponge to apply the solution and then scrub it off with the sponge or rags.
After you rinse the surface, you can put more bleach on the area to prevent future mold growth. Unless of course, it is a commonly used surface like a table or counter. You want to avoid contact with bleach as much as possible.
Mix 1 cup of borax for every gallon of water and use a scrub brush to remove the mold. Be sure to remove any extra mold particles and moisture to prevent it from coming back. Rinse the surface and filter out the air in the room.
Don't Mix Bleach and Ammonia
Don't ever mix ammonia and bleach. Together they create a toxic chemical compound that can kill or seriously injure you. Just use one or the other.
5 Natural Mold Removal Options
Here are five additional options for mold removal that are natural.
Mix hydrogen peroxide with water in the spray bottle. About 3% should do the trick. Soak the moldy surface for 5 to 15 minutes, and then scrub the area till all the mold is removed. Wipe any residual spores away.
Hydrogen peroxide is very similar to bleach, so if you're using it on surfaces where you eat or come in contact with often, be sure to rinse it well afterwards.
You'll want to use distilled white vinegar. No need to water this down; just put it in a spray bottle, soak, and scrub.
The upside of vinegar is that, like its less natural counterparts, it is relatively inexpensive. Vinegar only kills about 90% of the mold, however, so you may want to follow this up with a baking soda solution.
A teaspoon of baking soda in a 20 oz. spray bottle, diluted with water, will do the trick. You can spray this a second time after you've removed the mold and rinsed the area. It will keep the mold from coming back.
Tea Tree Oil
Use 1 teaspoon tea tree oil for every cup of water. Spray, scrub, and rinse. You can leave this on most surfaces as well to prevent future mold growth.
Though tea tree oil is one of the more natural options, it comes with a bigger price-tag. If you're on budget but really want to use a non-toxic product, use it on the areas you come in contact with most, and for the other effected areas, use something else.
Use 10 drops of grapeseed extract per cup of water. This is harder to mix than the other solutions, so shake it well before you spray. The longer you saturate the mold in this solution, the easier it will come off.
The shelf-life of grapeseed extract is pretty long, so you can leave it in the spray bottle for reuse later.
- CDC: General Information About Mold and Dampness
The CDC provides information on mold and health, an inventory of state indoor air quality programs, advice on assessment, cleanup efforts, prevention of mold growth, and links to resources.