Mold is a naturally occurring fungus that breaks down organic matter. In the wild, it helps things decompose, recycling their nutrients back into the ecosystem. Mold has also proven useful in the development of penicillin and other medications that have saved countless lives. It is a necessary part of our ecosystem, but mold can be quite dangerous in the home.
Mold can only appear when there is moisture, so it is usually found in dampened areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Shower tiles, sinks, basement walls, and wallpapers are susceptible to mold. Poorly insulated attics that have gotten wet may also get mold. Mold spores travel through the air, then settle on wet surfaces and grow. They may be white, black, orange, pink, or even green.
It is important that you remove mold as quickly as possible because it will produce spores, which can irritate your breathing. Chronic problems with mold may cause serious lung conditions. Mold will also continue to spread throughout the house, breaking down its wooden framing and damaging household items.
How to Get Rid of Mold
Most instances of mold can be cleaned up with some bleach and a sponge. If you need to remove remove attic mold or clean up a large area between the walls, you will need to call a professional. Mold that has penetrated a surface or spread through nonporous materials is very difficult to remove.
First, you will need to address the cause of your mold problem. Otherwise, the mold will come right back. If you have a leaky pipe, for example, fix it so there is no more water causing mold. Reduce the humidity in the room with a dehumidifier or by using fans. In the attic, check that your roof follows your city’s code and consider having more vents installed. You can hire an inspector to help find the causes of your mold problem.
Next, you will need to put on some protective equipment. Put on a pair of gloves and an N-95 respirator to prevent you from inhaling spores. A pair of goggles will help keep mold from getting in your eyes and causing irritation. Open the windows and increase ventilation before you start cleaning.
There are a few different solutions that you can use to get rid of mold. Each one depends on the type of mold you are cleaning. In short, you will spray the area with cleaner, let it sit, then clean the mold up. Here are some easy solutions you can make yourself or find at your nearest home supply store:
- Mold cleaner: There are lots of mold cleaners available in stores, each with their own specialties. Find one that is designed for the surface you are cleaning and follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
- Chlorine bleach: Bleach can be used to clean nonporous surfaces, like sinks and bathroom tiles. Mix a cup of chlorine bleach with a cup of water, then spray it onto the moldy surface. Let it sit for an hour, then scrub the area with a brush. If you are cleaning some mold outside, dilute the bleach further with one part bleach and ten parts water. Rinse the area with water when you are done.
- Ammonia: Clear ammonia works a lot like bleach. Mix equal parts ammonia with water, then let the solution sit on the moldy surface for a few hours. Clean up the mold with a brush or a rag, then rinse with water and dry. Never mix ammonia with bleach because it will cause toxic fumes.
- White vinegar: White vinegar is a handy product with antibacterial and antifungal properties. Spray the moldy surface with undiluted vinegar and let it sit for a few hours. Scrub the area with a stiff brush or sponge and repeat the process until the mold is gone. Rinse the vinegar away when you are done.
- Dish soap: Dish soap can be used to remove mold from porous surfaces, like wood. Use it to remove mold as you would to clean the dishes. Scrub the area with soapy water, then rinse. If the mold has penetrated the wood, you can try sanding it.
When you are done cleaning, throw out your dirty cleaning materials and protective equipment. Then, wash your clothes and ventilate the room for several hours. Continue to ventilate the area and monitor humidity to prevent this from happening again.