How to Get Rid of Household Mould
You can procrastinate about some cleaning tasks, but when it comes to mould, it’s better to take care of it sooner rather than later. Mould can cause health problems and destroy whatever it grows on. The spores of mould fungi commonly float through the air, and when they adhere to damp surfaces and start to grow, they can gradually consume the surface. The key is to get the clean-up done before that happens.
Mould produces allergens that can cause reactions in some people, including hay fever-type symptoms. Even mould treated by a chemical or biocide can still cause allergic reactions, so in addition to killing mould, it also needs be removed, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s a look at clean-up tips and how to prevent mould from forming.
Where Mould Is Most Common
A leaky roof or plumbing, flood damage, or indoor humidity that’s too high and without proper ventilation can all lead to mould problems. Unmitigated flood and water damage can lead to mould growth in as little as 24 hours, according to Gold Coast Flood Restorations in San Diego.
Anyplace that remains damp and unventilated is a potential mould-forming zone. “Anywhere water travels” in a structure is vulnerable to mould, says Austin Reid, co-owner of mould Masters in Southern California.
That includes areas where major plumbing arteries are located, crawl spaces with drains, walls plumbed from bathroom to bathroom and between floors. Incorrectly sealed tubs and faulty construction can cause water to seep in crevices and create big problems over time, Reid says.
Regions where the weather tends to be damp or humid can be mould hot spots — but arid areas are not immune. Buildings that are tightly sealed may lack adequate ventilation, which can lead to moisture build-up, says the EPA.
Mildew is another fungi-produced coating that can form on damp surfaces. Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and appears powdery and white or grey. Mould is darker in colour, usually black or green, and penetrates the surface of what it’s growing on. You may follow the same cleaning steps below to remove mould and mildew.
Most Mould-Prone Areas
- Basements or cellars
- Under kitchen and bathroom sinks
- Under or behind refrigerators
- Behind walls that house plumbing
- Around air-conditioning units
- Baseboards or around windowsills
- Under carpeting
Mould often goes undetected behind wallpaper. In the photo shown here, an inspector from Mould Inspection & Testing in Chicago found mould growing behind wallpaper and baseboards in a foreclosed home. Exterior walls aren’t a good location for wallpaper, says the company, because of big temperature changes between indoors and outdoors. In addition, glue can act as a nutrient to feed mould.
To Clean or Throw Away?
If the mould is on a porous surface, such as carpeting, ceiling tiles, drywall or wallpaper, the items might have to be thrown away since the mould may be impossible to remove.
Mould will often cultivate on the backside of drywall inside wall cavities before it becomes evident on the surface, according to Gold Coast Flood Restorations.
DIY Mould Removal
Here are some options for simple surface mould removal from Indoor Science Consultants and Technicians, a mould testing organization with locations across the U.S.
Bleach: Mix 1 cup bleach with enough water to make 1 gallon. Put the solution in a spray bottle, or spread it with a sponge or cloth. There’s no need to rinse.
Borax: Mix 1 cup borax with enough water to make 1 gallon. Borax is less harsh-smelling and corrosive than bleach. Apply the solution to the surface and scrub with a brush; don’t rinse. Wipe the surface dry.
Vinegar: Use full-strength vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the affected area and wipe off.
Ammonia: This is suitable for killing mould on smooth, nonporous surfaces. Never use it with bleach. Treat the area with a solution of equal parts ammonia and water, leave on for 10 minutes, and rinse with water.
Hydrogen peroxide: Spray full-strength hydrogen peroxide on the mouldy surface and let it sit for 10 minutes to loosen the mould. Wipe the surface and don’t rinse.
Baking soda: Mix ½ teaspoon baking soda in 1 gallon water and scrub the mouldy surface, then rinse with water. This is particularly useful for killing mould on upholstery.
Tea tree oil: Use 1 teaspoon tea tree oil per cup of water and spray on the surface. Leave it on for a few minutes and then wipe off.
Note: When cleaning up mould, the EPA advises wearing rubber gloves, goggles and possibly an N-95 respirator to avoid breathing in mould. The agency also cautions against using bleach or biocides (mould-killing chemicals) because they can cause severe reactions in some people.
When to Call a Pro
Wiping down mildew in damp areas is always a good idea, but how do you know when it’s time to bring in a professional? The EPA advises using a mould remediation expert if the affected area is larger than about 10 square feet (roughly 3 by 3 feet).
But, depending on your comfort level, even a patch that’s 1 square foot may be enough for someone sensitive to mould to call in a pro, says Reid of Mould Masters.
Testing for Mould
Chronic allergy-type health problems or mildewy odours mean it’s time to consider more extensive mould treatment. Start by using a mould testing company, which will take samples, send them to a lab, and obtain a report on mould levels and species. Use a company that does testing only, to avoid a conflict of interest.
For major mould clean-up, Reid says his company uses a plant-based, thyme oil mildicide that’s commonly used in hospitals. Professionals should follow EPA guidelines.
If a mould that produces toxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum (black mould) is found, you should always call a mould remediation company and not try to clean it yourself.
Black mould, which can permanently damage your health, often has a slimy, shiny outer layer, which may have a green sheen, according to Indoor Science Consultants and Technicians.
Experts treat black mould by containing the space, using high-powered fans, and wearing respirators and biosecurity suits, usually while residents vacate the home. When choosing a mould remediation company, be sure it is licensed and bonded and certified by The Clean Trust
How to Prevent Mould
Controlling moisture inside the home is the key to avoiding mould. Mould Masters recommends yearly inspections of roofing, plumbing, exterior drainage and interior ventilation. Check for leaks under sinks and in crawl spaces. Always use ventilation in a bathroom to remove condensation from showers.
The bathroom in the photo above has hopper windows, which are placed to provide ventilation as well as natural light and privacy.
Perago Solid Surfaces are bacteria- and fungi-resistant, as well as being non-porous and impervious to moisture. This makes it incredibly difficult for mould and bacteria to grow. Perago Solid Surfaces are ideal for any installation as it allows you to rest assured that mould will not be making an appearance. Learn more online.
With courtesy of freshome.com