Now that we understand mold, we need to know how to effectively remove it from our homes. Sometimes, professionals will be needed and we discuss their methods in our next article “Calling in the Pros”, but with a little know-how, you should be able to clean up a fair amount of mold yourself if the damage hasn’t gotten too advanced.
Here are some techniques for cleaning up mold, starting with some precautions.
First – you need to make sure that you are protecting your skin, your lungs and your eyes from the mold. You are going to be scrubbing pretty hard, and there’s a good amount of mold and spores that will become airborne in the process.
Be sure to wear the following protective gear:
- Respirator: A basic dust mask that you can buy at the pharmacy isn’t going to cut it. You need something that will actually filter the air that you are inhaling into your lungs. For this, there are effective types of masks called N-95 respirators. They’re not expensive, some you can get for as little as $9 to $25. They come in a wide variety – some look very similar to paper dust masks, with a front nozzle, and more serious N-95s are made out of rugged plastic or rubber and have cartridges that filter particles and spores from passing through.
- Gloves: Again, everyday household rubber gloves probably aren’t what you are looking for here. Proper mold removal includes working with biocides that can often wear these out pretty quickly. It is recommended that you get a pair of sturdy gloves made out of one of the following materials – neoprene, polyurethane, PVC, nitrile or other natural rubbers. These gloves should also protect your entire forearm.
- Goggles: To protect getting cleaners and mold in your eye (again, much of this stuff will become airborne during scrubbing) wear some sort of goggles.
Mold Cleaning Tips:
- Scrub all surfaces with a bristle brush or sponge with a scrubbing surface. For cleaners, use a strong detergent, chlorine bleach or other biocide (never mix cleaners!). Put this cleaner into a spray bottle so you can continually apply and re-apply as necessary to do a good job.
- If you are scrubbing painted surfaces, be prepared to scratch up the paint and plan on repainting. Mold will typically stain the wall, so scrub as much away as you can (use elbow grease!) and make sure the area is fully dry before repainting. Also, make sure that the original moisture problem that caused the mold has been fixed, or you’ll be scrubbing again in a matter of weeks!
- Any contaminated material that is absorbent or porous (ceiling tiles, carpet, etc) should be thrown out. There’s not much you can do to rid these things of mold and replacing them isn’t too expensive.
- Also note that scrubbing items with the amount of force and detergent as it takes to effectively remove mold, you can also cause permanent damage to your property. If you have items that are very important to you, it is recommended that you consult a specialist who will have techniques that are specific to whatever you’re trying to save. For example, you may want to call someone for furniture repair, art restoration, people who specialize in water damage.