Today, we are going to be learning how to clean mold. If there is one way that mold unifies us all, it is the general acceptance that mold is disgusting. And its level of disgust does not even compare with a full trash can or laundry bag.
However, it is not enough to be disgusted by this thing; we have to get it out of our homes and our lives. Hence, this article. Without further ado, let’s find out what mold really is.
Table of Contents
What Is Mold?
Mold is a kind of fungi. Mold can come in a number of different colors including black, purple, orange, white, and even green. And it spreads by releasing spores.
Mold spores fly in the air and can cling to anything (including our clothes). This presents endless opportunities for mold to multiply. However, for mold to actually breed and thrive anywhere, especially indoors, there needs to be a nice damp place to breed.
Fungi are a common phenomenon in our ecosystem. In fact, we actually eat a number of them; some of the most popular ones being yeast and mushrooms. However, mold is certainly not in that category.
That said, while we wouldn’t be eating mold, it does come in handy in certain areas, especially outdoors. Basically, mold helps with the decomposition of dead trees and plants in general (source).
Why Should You Stop Mold Growth In Your Home?
Here are some reasons why you should stop mold growth in your home:
1. Exposure to mold is linked with certain respiratory problems or diseases. Examples of such diseases are chronic rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity and sinuses), pneumonitis (inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs), allergic fungal sinusitis (fungal infection of the sinuses) and allergic alveolitis (inflammation of the lungs).
2. Allergic and/or atopic people are more susceptible to mold and fungal infections.
A good number of notable researches have been able to link exposure to mold with certain respiratory and other diseases (source).
In the 2009 WHO Guidelines For Indoor Air Quality; Dampness and Mold, a number of summations were reached as regards the above mentioned.
After studies have been carried out in a number of countries in different climate conditions, it can be said that living in moldy buildings increases the possibility of respiratory problems, respiratory symptoms and could even worsen the asthmatic condition.
However, non-atopic people are not left out as evidence shows that they are also prone to some of these adverse effects. (source).
Before this(2004), the Institute of Medicine had already pointed out that it had found some solid evidence linking indoor mold exposure to certain respiratory tract problems (including wheezing and coughing) in healthy people and the worsening of asthma symptoms in people with asthma (source).
We must quickly point out that one is at greater risk of having mold-related issues if mold exists in an enclosed space.
Types Of Mold
The following are types of mold:
1. Allergenic mold.
2. Pathogenic mold.
3. Toxicogenic mold.
1. Allergenic Mold
Molds in this class are generally dangerous for people who already have allergies or even asthma. Allergenic mold affects the respiratory organs and can result in some symptoms such as cough, runny nose, and sometimes headaches in people with mold allergies. As for people with asthma, allergenic mold could aggravate asthmatic symptoms.
Generally, people without asthma or a mold allergy are not affected by the allergenic kind of mold especially if the mold exists in small portions.
Also, if the mold is located and removed, there should be a reduction and possibly the elimination of these symptoms (source).
Which type of mold is allergenic?
Allergenic mold includes:
There are different species of Aspergillus. They come in different colors. Aspergillus mold has the potential of becoming toxic.
Effects: Aspergillus mold has been known to aggravate asthmatic symptoms and inflame certain respiratory organs including the lungs.
Alternaria mold is common and spreads quickly. You’ve probably seen it on some damaged pipe somewhere or in showerheads. It is usually brown or dark green.
Effects: Alternaria mold causes and aggravates asthmatic symptoms.
While mold generally grows in damp and/or warm places, Cladosporium can also grow in cold places. You’d generally find Cladosporium mold on carpets and fabrics and it is sort of suede-like to the touch. Cladosporium is usually either brown or olive green.
Effects: Cladosporium mold causes and aggravates asthmatic symptoms, causes lung infections, lesions, and skin rash.
Aureobasidium mold grows on wood or painted walls. It could be black, pink, or brown but the older it gets the browner it gets. You do not want to touch this with bare hands, though, as it is known to cause skin infection.
Effects: Aureobasidium mold causes skin infection.
Mucor is kinda runny and looks either white or grey. It grows really thick and usually grows in wet places like around the air conditioner or on damp floor coverings.
Effects: Mucor causes and aggravates asthmatic symptoms, causes fever and breathing problems.
In severe cases, constant exposure to mucor causes mucormycosis which is an infection that causes the sinuses and lungs (and sometimes the brain) to get damaged.
Trichoderma mold is usually white with a touch of green and it looks like wool. Generally, Trichoderma is an allergenic mold but it can also become toxic.
Trichoderma mold typically grows in wet places like around the air conditioner, on wet carpets and wet fabrics in general.
Effects: Trichoderma produces an enzyme that causes wood to rot. It can also cause certain liver and pulmonary infections.
Penicillin is usually either blue or green, velvety to the touch, and spreads really fast.
Effects: Penicillin causes and aggravates asthmatic symptoms. It also causes certain pulmonary infections.
The good news is, penicillin is used in the production of antibiotics(source).
2. Pathogenic Mold
Pathogenic mold is particularly dangerous for people who have a compromised or a weak immune system. This could include children, elderly people, people living with HIV, and people with cancer.
Generally, adults with optimally functioning immune systems should not be at risk of pathogenic mold. This is because the immune system is able to fight off those pathogens.
What are the classification of Pathogenic Mold?
The classification of pathogenic molds are:
1. Subcutaneous mycoses.
2. Deep organ mycoses.
Subcutaneous Mycoses Causing Pathogenic Mold
Subcutaneous mycoses refer to fungal diseases that specifically affect the skin. Subcutaneous mycoses are severe and chronic. They could affect the subcutaneous tissues, other tissues, and organs in the body.
Subcutaneous mycoses are different from rashes and other infections that allergenic molds are responsible for.
Pathogenic molds responsible for this group of fungal diseases are usually very weak. This is why they usually cannot go beyond the skin even if the individual has a compromised immune system.
Nonetheless, some strong pathogenic molds could cause subcutaneous mycoses in people whose immune systems are working optimally.
Some subcutaneous mycoses causing pathogenic molds are:
- Acremonium Acrermonium is moist but becomes powdery as it ages. It grows slowly and could be orange, pink, rose, white, or grey (source).
- Exophiala: Exophiala is referred to as black mold because it looks black. It is usually found in decaying wood and is known to cause cerebral infections and subcutaneous cysts.
Deep Organ Mycoses Causing Pathogenic Mold
These molds are strong and can cause damage that goes way beyond the skin. They can grow in a human body system irrespective of the state of a person’s immune system.
Some deep organ mycoses causing pathogenic mold include Aspergillus flavus, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Penicillium marneffei (source).
3. Toxicogenic Mold
Toxicogenic molds are the most dangerous. They are sometimes referred to as toxic mold.
While people who are susceptible to the previously discussed molds are more susceptible to toxicogenic mold, nobody is exempted from the harm that toxicogenic mold causes.
It gives off chemicals referred to as mycotoxins which are deadly. According to Bust Mold, Toxicogenic molds are dangerous enough to be used in biochemical weapons (source).
Toxicogenic molds are easily spread as they can get into their host via inhalation, ingestion, and touch.
Which type of mold is toxicogenic?
Toxicogenic molds include:
Stachybotrys mold is black in color. It causes the lungs of both animals and humans to bleed. Stachybotrys mold is not easy to diagnose. It usually hides under ceilings and behind walls.
Effects: Stachybotrys causes the lungs to bleed.
Aspergillus mold is an allergenic mold and also has the potential to be toxic. This is because Aspergillus releases mycotoxins which are harmful.
Memnoniella molds are like Stachybotrys and have the same effect on humans. The basic difference between both molds is how their spores are released.
Stachybotrys mold spores are released in clumps while Memnoniella mold spores are released as chains.
Geotrichum mold is the opposite of Memnoniella and Stachybotrys molds in appearance. Geotrichum mold is white and powdery. It grows very fast and can grow anywhere under any climatic condition. Its primary mode of transportation is air.
Effects: Geotrichum mold causes some pulmonary infections and tuberculosis.
Trichoderma is toxic. It is white in color and usually thrives in wet places.
Effects: Trichoderma causes pulmonary and liver infections. Also, it contains some enzymes that can cause the destruction of paper and wood products (source).
Where Can You Find Mold In Your Home?
You can find mold in the following places in your home:
1. Wet or damp spots in your kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and laundry room.
2. Dark spaces in your home.
3. Wooden doors.
4. Wooden floor.
7. Floor coverings.
How to Prevent The Growth Of Mold In Your Home
Around Your Home
How do I prevent the growth of mold around the home?
To prevent the growth of mold around the home, do the following:
1. Get dehumidifiers and air conditioners to reduce the moisture in the air to about 30-50%.
2. Empty your air conditioner pans regularly to prevent accumulation of water.
3. Get a hygrometer to measure the amount of moisture in the air.
4. Open windows and vents to ensure adequate ventilation and air circulation.
5. Insulate areas in your home that are prone to cold such as the exterior walls, fix leaks in your roof, on your floors and walls.
6. If your home has just been affected by a flood, make sure you clean up and dry out the entire space as quickly as possible.
7. Discard any wet item that cannot get dried within 24 – 48 hours. They are potential breeding spots for mold.
How do you prevent mold growth in crawl spaces?
Follow these steps to prevent mold growth in crawl spaces:
1. Always keep small spaces in your home dry.
2. Cover the foundation wall and crawl space floor with plastic sheeting to keep out the moisture that comes from above and below the ground too.
3. Check the insulation annually or bi-annually for any sign of water problem.
4. Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the crawl spaces for proper circulation of air. At least one square foot ventilation for each 150 quare feet of crawl space.
5. Seal all leaks in walls and ceilings especially HVAC ducts and plumbing components.
6. Gutters and downsprouts should spray water out of the foundation of your house to prevent the flow of water into the crawl space.
7. Ensure dryer vents releases air out of the crawl space and not into it to prevent humidity levels from increasing above the ideal 30-50% level.
If you are working in the basement, check those places where the plumbing is at. Be sure that the plumbing is intact and there are no leaks at all.
If it is the attic, you want to be particular about the ceilings and the floors. Water could enter the attic through the ceiling and from the attic into your home through the floors. So, be sure that there are no leaks.
How do you prevent mold growth in the kitchen?
To prevent mold growth in the kitchen, do the following:
1. Do a periodic check of the taps, pipes and overall drainage system in your kitchen. Be sure that there are no leaks and if there are, fix them.
2. Always turn off your taps securely and make sure your tap does not continuously drip.
3. When you cook or clean in the kitchen, make sure you open windows so that the atmospheric moisture can escape.
4. Buy an exhaust fan to remove hot air or moisture from your kitchen.
5. Store liquid in air-tight containers before storing them in the refrigerator.
6. Periodically empty the drip pans in your refrigerator.
How do you prevent mold growth in the bathroom?
The following are steps to take to prevent mold growth in the bathroom:
1. Install an exhaust fan in all bathrooms in your home to suck out excess moisture from the bathroom.
2. Turn on the vent during a shower or bath and leave it on for 30 minutes after the shower.
3. Dry the shower tubs and walls with a squeegee after a bath.
4. Repair all leaks in the bathroom immediately.
5. Remove all product bottles, used loofahs, and sponges after a shower and allow them to dry.
6. Wash bathroom rugs, mat and towels regularly.
The bathroom is like the citadel of water in a home which makes it a bit more susceptible to mold growth than any other room in the house. So, you want to periodically check the sinks and bathtubs for leaks and fix them if there are any.
Also, carpeting the entire floor of your bathroom might not be an awesome idea seeing as water can enter beneath the carpet, which makes it a good breeding ground for mold. Worse still, it is not easily detected since it is covered.
Tiles might actually be a better idea because you can easily spot when they are wet as they do not soak up the water.
Do not leave any wet or damp things lying around; air them out to dry.
Finally, maybe you are trying to discourage creepers by closing your bathroom windows when you shower but it is actually a better idea to leave them open. If the window is open, excess moisture in the air can easily escape.
How do you prevent the growth of mold in the laundry room?
To prevent the growth of mold in the laundry room, do the following:
1. Always clean up spills in the laundry room.
2. Do not leave your wet clothes in the washer or the dryer.
3. Make sure that you vent your dryer outside the house. This spot should be exposed to sunlight.
This is because the moisture coming out of the dryer needs to quickly dry before that area becomes a breeding ground for mold (source).
The laundry room is an area in your home where a lot of water is used. So, ensure that it is always dry.
How to Prevent Mold Growth After A Flood
The following steps will help you prevent mold growth after a flood:
1. Stop moisture or water from entering the home.
2. Discard all contaminated materials such as drywall, medicines, furniture, food, and carpeting.
3. Dry and sanitize the items you were able to salvage.
4. Disinfect all surfaces with disinfectants.
5. Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the building and entire house for 1 to 2 days to remove excess mositure.
Check out these interesting articles from our previous post:
- How to Clean Spider Webs From House Siding
- How to Clean AC Coils Inside A House
- How to Clean A Circuit Board
- How to Clean Concrete Dust In Your House
- How to Clean Carpets – A Comprehensive Guide To Cleaning Your Carpets
- How to Clean A Water Pipe
How to Get Rid Of Mold
When getting rid of mold, one of the primary things to do is to open all windows and doors as long as possible. This ventilation is needed to purify the air in your home.
Also, leave the moldy area to air-dry when you’ve gotten rid of the mold. Make sure you protect yourself. Wear gloves and a protective mask. Pay attention to your oral and nasal cavities.
A good number of times, you can do without bleach. However, if you do want to use bleach, remember how sensitive it is. So, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to the latter.
Now, let us look at things a bit more specifically.
How to Remove Mold From Wooden Surfaces
How do you get mold stains out of wood?
Follow these steps to get mold stains out of wood:
1. Wear a mask.
2. Vacuum the moldy spot on the wood to remove mold spores. Preferably use HEPA vacuum cleaner.
3. Use warm water and unscented soap to wash off mold stains on painted wood.
You can use bleach to clean moldy spot on raw wood. In worse cases, use vinegar to soften the mold spores for one hour before cleaning with dilute bleach.
4. Sand entire area to remove all leftover mold. You can refinish the wooden surface to prevent mold from growing again.
The HEPA filtration system is basically an air filtration design that some vacuum cleaners use. Using a HEPA vacuum cleaner helps to rid the air of the mold spores that are released.
Also, consider using a HEPA vacuum cleaner around your home if you or someone in your home has allergies or respiratory issues.
It is important you use unscented soap to clean moldy spots because scented soap will mask the scent of the mold. This will prevent you from knowing whether you’ve gotten rid of the moldy smell or not.
How to Remove Mold From Concrete Surfaces
To remove mold from concrete surfaces, do the following:
1. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to get rid of mold on concrete surfaces if the mold is dry.
2. Sprinkle phosphate mixture on the mold-infested area and leave for about 15 minutes.
3. Rinse the area with clean water.
Be careful that this mixture doesn’t come in contact with your skin or eyes as it could be dangerous.
How to Remove Mold From Tiles, Stoneware, And Other Impermeable Surfaces
Follow these steps to remove mold from tiles, stoneware, and other impermeable surfaces:
1. Scrub the affected area thoroughly. Preferably, use unscented soap so that the soap doesn’t mask the smell of the mold.
2. Dry the moldy area immediately after washing to prevent mold from growing in that same spot again.
How to Remove Mold From Mattresses, Sofas And Other Permeable Surfaces
Most permeable materials are as good as done when they’ve been infested by mold. Instead of trying to reuse the material by getting rid of the mold, consider disposing of the material.
To do that, wrap the material in a plastic bag bearing in mind that mold reproduces and spreads on contact (source).
How to Stop Mold Growth In Closets
To stop mold growth in closets, do the following:
1. Open windows close to the affected closet.
2. Lay a protective layer or a tarp on the closet floor.
3. Wear a facial mask.
4. Spray water to the moldy areas of the closet to prevent the mold spores from going airborne.
5. Mix mild dish soap and warm water in a bucket.
6. Scrub the moldy spots in the closet with a hard brush soaked in the cleaning solution.
7. Rinse the affected area with clean water.
8. Dry the closet leaving the doors and windows open for a thorough drying.
Getting A Professional
Sometimes, it is best to call a professional. This is important to ensure the mold spores are completely removed and to prevent future infestation.
Most molds are toxic and so can cause adverse effects. And even those ones that aren’t, still have some negative side effects.
When do you need a professional to get rid of mold?
You need a professional to get rid of mold, when:
1. the affected area is large.
2. you know the mold is toxic.
3. you are not sure what type of mold you are dealing with.
4. you or someone in your home have allergies or asthma.
5. you or someone in your home have a compromised immune system.
6. you have tried taking care of it before and it has reappeared.
7. you’ve begun to notice mold after your house was just recently flooded.
Taking care of mold could be easy if you know what to do. However, it is not certain as a lot of molds look-alike. So, identifying which is toxic and which isn’t could be an uphill task.
If you want to attempt this cleaning process, start with a HEPA vacuum cleaner if you are in optimal health, and the portion infested is small. But stay away and call a professional if otherwise.
How to Clean Mold – Related FAQs
What Kills Black Mold Naturally?
Black mold can be killed naturally using any of the following:
- Vinegar. Pour undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle and apply it to the mold-infested area. Wipe the mold stains away from the area with a disposable towel. If this doesn’t work, use an old toothbrush to scrub the mold-stained area. Allow it to dry. Then use a damp towel to clean the area.
- Grapefruit seed extract. Mix 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract oil to each cup of water used for this cleaning in a spray bottle. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or at most 1 hour depending on the extent of the mold infestation. Then wipe off all leftover residue.
- Tea tree oil solution. Add one teaspoon tea tree oil to one cup of water. Then increase the quantity of the solution from there. Mix it by shaking vigorously and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Apply the solution to the moldy area and allow it to dry for one hour. Wipe it off with a dry towel or microfiber cloth. Make sure you wear a pair of protective gloves so your skin doesn’t get irritated.
- Baking soda. Mix water and baking soda in a 50:50 ratio and stir until it becomes a paste. Apply the baking soda paste to the moldy area. Scrape away the moldy spots with a small brush. Next, add two tablespoons of baking soda to two cups of water and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it all over the affected area. Leave it to dry. This will serve as a protective layer against the growth of mold in the future.
- Lemon juice. Squeeze 3 to 5 lemons into a cup. Pour the lemon juice over the mold-infested area and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Wipe the surface with a wet towel. For best results, mix lemon juice, water, and dish soap in a bowl. Pour over the affected area and scrub with an old toothbrush. Clean the surface with a damp towel afterward and allow to air-dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide. Add 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts of water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution over the moldy spot and leave it to sit for 10 minutes. Then, scrub the spot with a toothbrush or a small brush. Thereafter, wipe off any mold residue with a wet towel and leave the spot to dry.
Can Cleaning Black Mold Make You Sick?
Cleaning black mold can make you sick especially if you have asthma or allergies. Exposure to mold can irritate your throat, eyes, nose, skin, and lungs.
Here are safety precautions you can take if you want to clean moldy spots:
- Do not breathe in mold spores as they can enter your lungs.
- Use a disposable respirator for light mold cleanup.
- Use a half-face respirator with mold filters or a full-face mask for a deep clean up.
- Wear long gloves to protect your hands if you are using mild detergents or tougher gloves if you are using chlorine bleach for your cleaning.
- Wear protective eyewear or goggles to protect your eyes during the cleaning.
Is Vinegar Or Hydrogen Peroxide Better For Mold?
Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are both effective for removing mold spores from porous surfaces whether in their diluted or undiluted state. They can penetrate porous surfaces or materials killing mold spores down to their roots.
So, the mold roots cannot regrow. You can use either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide alone for mold removal or a combination of both to make a stronger solution.
This is unlike chlorine bleach that can only penetrate non-porous materials or surfaces. Bleach also causes fumes when used.
How Do You Stop Mold Growing In Your Shower?
To stop mold growing in your shower, do the following:
- Install a ventilation fan in your bathroom and keep it on when you bathe or shower. Leave it on for 30 minutes after your bath.
- Keep humidity levels in your bathroom below 50%. Get a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
- Use a shower curtain that is resistant to mildew. Wash the shower curtain or replace it often.
- Frequently wash your bathroom rugs.
- Do not keep loofahs, toys, or bottles of shower gel or shampoo because they provide spots for mold hide or grow.
To get rid of bathroom mold, do the following:
- Strip away any sealant or caulking that has mold spores growing on them.
- Clean your bathroom with vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or any other mold-killing products.
- Open doors or windows when you are cleaning your bathroom to provide fresh air. This will help to dry out the mold spores.
What Is The Difference Between Mold And Mildew?
The differences between mold and mildew are:
- Mold can either be black or green while mildew is typically gray, white, or yellow in color.
- Mold grows on food such as bread, cheese, or meat while mildew is found on wet surfaces and areas with high humidity like the basement. Generally, they grow on moist surfaces indoor or outdoor on cracks, garages, or sheds.
- Mold is slimy or fuzzy in texture while mildew is powdery or fluffy.
- Mold causes serious long-lasting health problems depending on the mold strain and how long you were exposed to it while mildew affects crops and plants. Mildew does not leave long-lasting damage to surfaces but can cause some allergic reactions when inhaled.
- Mold removal poses a huge problem for most people so it is best handled by professionals while mildew cleaning just requires a brush for a good scrubbing and a mildew cleaner.
Can Mold Grow In Your Lungs?
Mold can grow in your lungs. When mold enters the alveoli of the lungs, the fungus is engulfed by cells responsible for the initial immune response including macrophages. Mold strains attack the macrophages and sometimes start to grow and multiply inside the macrophages.
Individuals with abnormal large spaces or air sacs in their lungs are usually more exposed to mold growth in the lungs. This can be caused by some liver diseases like Emphysema or Tuberculosis. Although you do not have to have lung diseases for mold to grow in your liver, the chances are higher.
How Do You Tell If Black Mold Is Making You Sick?
You can tell if the black mold is making you sick when you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Irritation and allergic reactions such as the runny nose, skin rashes, sinusitis, red eyes, sore throat, wheezing, and dry cough.
- Severe allergic reactions can lead to shortness of breath while mild exposure may worsen asthma or lung problems in individuals with an existing lung condition.
Black mold releases mycotoxins leading to mycotoxicosis. This can occur if you eat moldy food.
It can also occur in individuals whose immune system is weak as seen in those undergoing cancer treatment, HIV patients, or those that are at risk of fungal infections.
Other people that are at higher risk of symptoms related to black mold exposure are infants, children, people with asthma or allergies, and older adults.
How Do You Stop Mold From Growing On The Inside Of The House Windows?
The following steps will help you to stop mold from growing on the inside of the house windows:
- Find the main cause of mold growth.
- Remove the window frame if the mold has grown on it. Clean the window frame thoroughly and seal up the leaks around it to prevent a re-infestation. If you can, replace the window frame.
- Inspect the gutters and roofs for any visible sign of leakages.
- Redirect water from your windows and home to prevent water from seeping through the windows when it rains or snows.
- Reduce the moisture and humidity in your bathroom. You can install exhaust fans or dehumidifiers.
- Clean the moldy spot with enzyme-based products like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice.
- After cleaning your windows, monitor them to make sure the mold does not regrow. If it does, clean it up immediately.
How Do You Get Mold Spores Out Of The Air
Follow these steps to get mold spores out of the air:
- Kill all visible mold with a mold cleaning spray.
- Prevent regrowth of mold by applying enzyme-based cleaners and frequently check the moldy area for signs of re-infestation. Reapply the cleaner periodically.
- Get a HEPA air purifier for your home to capture airborne mold and improve the quality of air. HEPA air purifier prevents moldy spores from circulating around your home.
- Use a dehumidifier to absorb excess moisture and reduce humidity levels up to 50% in your home thereby inhibiting the growth of mold.
- Install a good disposable filter in the central air system in your home. It is a backup to an air purifier.
- Use filters on the window screens and air conditioners. This will help to suck up moldy spores from outside into your home.