As a homeowner, you probably can’t think of a worse situation than coming home from a long day only to find that your bathroom is infested with mold. Not only is this fungus incredibly smelly and gross, but it can also be pretty dangerous, especially for people with weaker immune systems.
In order to keep your home mold-free, you must eliminate moisture by maintaining proper ventilation, regularly inspecting your gutters for damage and maybe even investing in a dehumidifier. But if it’s too late to take preventative measures because you’re staring at a basement full of mold, here’s what you should do.
Cover your bases
If you’ve found mold in one area of your house, do a search of the entire property to make sure the problem isn’t more extensive. Pay particular attention to the bathroom, kitchen, basement and other areas that are prone to moisture. Sniff for a musty odor and search for black and white spots around your house.
When cleaning mold, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, protective gloves and glasses, an N-95 mask and waterproof boots. This will help protect you from mold’s dangerous effects. If you have asthma or a compromised immune system, it is unsafe for you to be cleaning the mold yourself.
Stop the mold from spreading
Before you start cleaning the mold, make sure you prevent the problem from traveling by removing any clean furniture from the room and throwing out moldy items that cannot be salvaged. Make sure you cover your air vents and open the windows so the problem doesn’t spread throughout your home.
Consider the material
Determine whether the mold was found on a porous surface (which has holes for liquid or air to pass through) such as drywall or carpet, or a non-porous surface, such as a window sill or tile.
If you’re working with a non-porous surface, use detergent and water to scrub away the mold. (Bleach is also effective, but isn’t necessary.) Make sure you dry the area completely.
For porous surfaces, hydrogen peroxide penetrates much more effectively than bleach. Pouring hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and saturating the surface may get rid of the mold, but in some cases it may be necessary simply to remove the material.
If a musty smell lingers after you finish cleaning, place bowls of vinegar, lemon water or salt water around the room until the smell is gone. This all-natural cleaning method may take at least a few days to eliminate the odor.
If necessary, hire a professional
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if the moldy area is more than 10 square feet in size, it may be time to call a professional. Mold specialists will inspect the damage by collecting air and swab samples, which are then sent to a lab so they can then make recommendations. Professionals will typically use an antimicrobial coating to treat the area, an air scrub to remove any mold spores and a dehumidifier to remove excessive moisture.
Once your house is mold-free, it is important to consider what changes you can make in your cleaning routine to prevent this problem from recurring. There are many germy spots around your house that you may not think to clean, but really should.