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How to get rid of mold in your home

How to get rid of mold in your home

Finding mold or mildew in your home is never pleasant. And it can become a serious health hazard if you don’t remedy the situation quickly.

Here is some advice from our founder, Dr Greg, on the best way to tackle this problem.

What causes mold?

Mold and mildew need moisture and a source of nutrition to thrive. Cleaning up mold or mildew will do little if it can keep coming back! If you can determine the source of moisture, for example a drip or a leak that you can stop, it will save you a lot of future grief to do so even before cleaning up.

What are the most common types of mold?

There are dozens of types of mold commonly found around the house and they are not easy to tell apart. All of them are allergenic, while some are more hazardous to our health. The CDC advises that color is not an indication of how dangerous a mold may be. Here are three of the most common types:

Aspergillus comes in many species and colors. It grows on any damp surface, such as shower stalls. While allergenic, it is relatively harmless unless the person is immune-compromised.

Cladosporium prefers growing on textiles, such as carpeting and upholstery, but can also be found beneath sinks. It comes in shades of green to brown.

Stachybotrys (called “black mold”) is most likely found on cellulose materials such as wood or the paper on drywall. It starts out as small black spots and spreads. It is toxic, and can cause multiple symptoms such as headaches, nosebleeds, and fatigue.

Yikes, I have mold. What should I do?

Assess the problem
The very first step you should take is to assess what sort and extent of a problem is present — not fun or easy to do, given the unpleasantness of the problem. However, as the EPA recommends, if the problem extends to an area more than 10 square feet (about 3 feet by 3 feet), looks like it has permeated porous surfaces like wallboard, or is accompanied by extensive water damage, it is best left to the professionals and you should contact a remediation company.

Keep your spaces dry
Since mold and mildew need moisture to thrive, you first need to determine the source of moisture. Ensure the humidity in your home is below 60 percent—it should ideally be between 30 and 50 percent, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—and that you have adequate airflow If humidity is an issue — such as in a bathroom shower — then it would be good practice to wipe down the walls and tub between showers to allow for quicker drying. Daily shower products, such as Sensitive Home Daily Shower Cleaner, actually promote sheeting action of the water, which promotes quicker drying.

Remove mold from surfaces
After removing the source of moisture, the next step is to remove any mold or mildew that is present. If you have a mask handy, it is best to wear it during this stage: certain molds, such as Stachybotrys (“black mold”) can be hazardous, although multiple molds look black. Better safe than sorry! Also, as noted above, call in a professional if the problem area is too extensive.

For mold that has not permeated porous surfaces, you can use general cleaners such as Sensitive Home All Purpose Cleaner or Sensitive Home Tub & Tile Cleaner. Alternatively, you can dilute some dishwashing liquid, such as Sensitive Home Dish Soap, into water (1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent in 1 quart of water). Note that these types of products do not actually kill the mold and mildew, but make it easier to remove (which may be all you need to do). Keeping the surfaces dry (as described above) will help keep the mold and mildew from returning.

For stubborn mold stains on hard surfaces such as grout, mix 1 cup of household bleach (hypochlorite solution) with 1 gallon of water and apply it directly to the affected area. Alternatively, you can use a spray product that contains some bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in its ingredients.

Clean fabrics and upholstery
For fabrics and upholstery, the best initial step is to first use a spray disinfectant that says that it kills mold and mildew on its label; this will at least kill the mold and mildew that is present. Use enough spray to be certain that the solution has permeated the fabric. If there is also mold or mildew staining present, you may be able to remove it with the dilute dishwashing liquid described above. However, for really stubborn stains, you will need to resort to treating it with the sodium hypochlorite bleach solution described above — if the fabric can tolerate bleaching. Look for labels (on clothing), or test an inconspicuous portion of the fabric with the bleach solution.