While mold spores will never be completely eliminated indoors, they should not be allowed to get the food they need to grow indoors and become a mold problem. If the spores are given this food, which is moisture and materials to grow on, then you need to start thinking about mold removal. Below are some tips and tricks to help educate you on how to remove mold yourself and when it is time to call in mold remediation professionals.
Moisture is the most important factor in mold growth and once it is introduced to active spores, mold can start growing in as little as 24 hours. Therefore, this is why the first step in the mold removal process is to dry wet materials as soon as possible. When drying materials, it is helpful to position a dehumidifier and/or a fan to speed up the drying process if the water causing the damage is contaminant-free.
It is very important to first make sure that the water causing the damage is clean water. If you suspect that the water could be contaminated by sewage or biological agents, then you will need to wear proper protective equipment and contain the area. Using a fan when the water is contaminated would spread the contaminants further around the room and then you would have larger problems than just mold remediation.
To dry porous materials like upholstered furniture or carpeting, remove the excess water with a wet vacuum. Pick up the carpet and pad off of the floor so they can better air out. If the carpet and pad are just left on the floor, they will not dry out properly and your mold prevention efforts may go to waste. For curtains, drapes, and pillow covers, follow the washing instructions on their labels.
Hard, non-porous can be quickly dried up with clean towels and sometimes a once over with a vacuum. Mold removal on these hard surfaces can be much easier and straightforward since it is harder for the mold to bury into the material. Concrete is similar in that you use a water extraction vacuum and air dry. Make sure to clean all cleaning tools when you are finished so that they do not continue to spread mold spores after use.
Drywall can be a bit tricker to deal with. Typically, drywall is made out of mineral gypsum surrounded by strong paper. If the wet drywall does not have any signs of rippling, breaking, or swelling, then drying with a fan should be enough to solve the problem. If damage has occurred, then you will likely have to remove and replace the drywall. The space behind the wall should also be ventilated and dried if possible.
Besides drywall, other materials that also may need to be thrown out if they have been water damaged are ceiling tiles, insulation, books, unfinished wood, and other paper-based materials.
Assess the Damage
After everything is dry, assess the size of the area affected by the mold infestation and determine if it is a small job (under 10 square feet of mold), medium job (about 10 to 100 square feet of mold), or large job (over 100 square feet of mold). Individuals can probably tackle small jobs on their own, but it is probably best to call in mold remediation professionals for medium to large infestations.
You may want to consult a mold removal professional on whether or not your mold infestation requires containment. If it is a small job, you probably do not need it, but a larger job may require it. Containing the affected area with sheets of polyethylene and duct tape stops the mold from spreading into other areas of the building. It is also designed to protect inhabitants as well as those remediating mold in the house.
When removing mold, it is important to protect your skin, eyes, and air passages with the right equipment. To read more on how to protect yourself, go to our page on Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
How to Clean Mold
For smaller jobs without mold removal professionals helping you out, here are some key steps to follow to get rid of mold in your home. When materials are still wet, the use of a wet vacuum is a great first step to remove excess water. However if materials are already dry, a wet vacuum may just spread mold spores further. Be sure to clean and dry the wet vacuum after you use it to ensure that no mold spores are lingering inside.
Hard surfaces like linoleum, vinyl, ceramic tile, underflooring, plastic, and metal should be wiped down with a mild detergent and water, then air dried. If you are lucky, this may be all you need to clean the mold on these surfaces.
If it is treated or finished wood, then a small amount of water and mild detergent should be safe to use. Unfinished wood can be problematic, because it can be hard to get rid of mold once it has embedded itself in the wood’s fibers. Make sure to dry the area quickly after cleaning. If you notice mold growth when drying unfinished wood, you will probably have to discard that wood and replace it.
After your cleaning efforts are complete and everything is dried, it is time to come in with a HEPA vacuum. HEPA is an acronym for high-efficiency particulate air. This device helps extract extra spores that were left behind in your cleaning. Wear protective equipment when changing the filter of the HEPA vacuum and dispose of the filter in sealed plastic bags as spores can easily spread.
People tend to think that biocides are the secret for how to kill mold since they kill living organisms, these are not often recommended in mold remediation. In some cases, such as when individuals with weak immune systems are inhabiting the space, a professional may recommend the use of some biocides. It is very important to never mix bleach with other cleaning products because it can produce toxic fumes. Make sure the room is well ventilated if biocides are in use. Unfortunately, biocides are not the mold killer that people think they are, because it is pretty much impossible to kill every mold spore in a given area. They key is just never allowing these spores to access moisture.
If your mold infestation is too large to tackle yourself, it is best to call in mold removal professionals and potentially health professionals as well to assess the risk. Make sure to get a mold remediation cost quote and list of credentials from the mold removal company before moving forward so that you know you are getting the best rate possible for you from a reputable company.
Dispose of Moldy Materials
and Clean Up
When disposing of mold materials, be sure to put them in well-sealed bags while in the contained area (or the area where mold remediation is occurring). Dragging unsealed bagthrough other rooms can lead to spores falling out and finding new patches of moisture to grow in, thus beginning a new mold removal project for you.
How to Remove Mold for Good
The most important factor in preventing mold growth from recurring in your home is finding the moisture source that started it in the first place and fixing the problem. Mold spores will always exist indoors. It only becomes a problem when moisture is added. Once moisture is introduced, mold can grow in as little as 24 hours so be sure to act fact.