Thanks to our excellent ventilation systems here in Florida, mold is not as large a problem as it is in other tropical areas. However, no matter how hard you try, sometimes it gets in. Pipes can leak, a window might be left cracked while you’re on vacation, or some freak tropical storm might come through (as can happen in places like Bradenton), leaving you with a deadly problem. You probably already know you need to get rid of it, so here are some tips on how to get rid of the mold.
1. Get Rid of the Water
It might seem obvious to you but mold grows in damp places. Removing the source of that water is one of the first things that you should do to get rid of the mold. You might not remove any existing mold, but you’ll help prevent new mold growth, which is important: you can’t get rid of anything that’s still growing. (Ask any parent. They’ll tell you.) Dry everything completely (using a commercial desiccant if necessary), stop up the leaks, and close the windows. This is your first step.
2. Be Careful When You’re Removing the Mold
Mold removal can be as simple as wiping the surface with a cloth dampened with some window cleaner. However, for bigger jobs, more care is required. If you have to vacuum, be sure to use one with a HEPA certification. Standard home vacuums can leave particles hanging in the air which can still cause you to get sick—even if the spores are already dead.
Along the same lines, if you’re scraping and cleaning off surfaces with a lot of mold, wear gloves and make sure you have a respirator. You don’t want to breathe moldy air. Use goggles, specifically ones without ventilation holes; they don’t allow the spores in and the fewer you’re exposed to, the better off you are. If you have moldy sheetrock, carpet, or other items with mold in them, dispose of them. Removing mold from them is impossible. In Bradenton (as well as all of Florida), humidity can help usher in the mold. Grab a dehumidifier and see if that helps.
Also, never ever mix ammonia and bleach. It can kill you.
3. How To Tell When You’re Done
Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell when you’ve done the job adequately and completely because while you might not see it, it could still be there. However, there are a few ways:
- Look for visible mold: there might be some hiding in a corner or underneath the windowsill that you missed.
- Smell for it, too: mold is pungent and if you got it all, you shouldn’t be able to smell it.
- Look around for more water at the site: if you haven’t stopped the leak or eliminated the moisture, you will have this problem again.
- Listen to your body: If you’re around the site and you feel sick, you may not have gotten all the mold.
Remember that you’re using your best judgement here, as well. If you have any doubts, be sure to get it checked out. It’s not worth your health—or your life—to neglect the problem. Take the EPA’s advice and get a professional when you’re unsure of how to clean something or if you’re unsure about whether it is clean or not. Mold’s a serious problem, but with these tips and some elbow grease, you’ll get it to sparkle in no time.