Exposure to mold can cause severe health problems. Needless to say, it
is unsafe to live in homes where any level of mold exists. Children, the
elderly, pregnant women and people with respiratory sensitivities are
at higher risk than other people when exposed to its harmful effects.
To avoid health problems related to mold, the process of mold removal
should be initiated as soon as its existence is suspected.
Take the necessary steps to protect yourself during mold removal by using
a mask or respirator that filters out mold spores (particles). Wear protective
eye glasses, rubber gloves and clothing that can be discarded as soon
as you are done. If the damage is extensive and requires several hours
of cleanup, work over short periods of time and rest in a fresh air location.
One room at a time
To prevent mold spores from spreading, before cleaning an area, seal it
off as best you can with plastic sheeting and duct tape to cover doorways,
vents, and other openings. Dampen moldy materials before removal in order
to minimize the spreading of mold spores. Each affected area should be
What can and cannot be saved
Since it is impossible to completely eliminate mold from porous materials
such as paper, sheetrock (drywall) and carpet padding, these materials
should be discarded. Mold can be removed from hard surfaces such as plastic,
glass, metal and counter tops. For structural wood, scrubbing may not
completely remove mold growth, therefore, sanding is recommended.
If the surface to be disinfected is dry, lightly mist it with water before
removing the mold. (dry mold spores can become airborne). Then, thoroughly
clean the affected area with soap and water to remove as much of the mold
as possible, including surfaces that do not show visible mold –
it can be too small to be seen by the naked eye. Next, disinfect the area
using a bleach and water solution. The recommended amount of bleach per
gallon of water varies depending on the severity of the case. Usually
one part bleach to four or more parts water, depending on the concentration
of the bleach, will do the trick. The surface must remain wet for about
15 minutes to allow the solution to disinfect. Finally, rinse the entire
area with clean water and rapidly dry the surface.
Carefully discard mold and mold-infected materials into sealed, sturdy
plastic bags. Do not transport the bags throughout the house in order
to avoid infecting other areas; use the nearest door or window. Air out
the area after the mold removal process is completed.
A special note about carpets
Generally, it is not recommended to install fixed carpets over concrete
floors; they trap mold more easily than other materials. If carpets smell
slightly moldy, vacuum them, brush in a large amount of baking soda and
leave for three or four days; thoroughly vacuum the area again. You can
also steam clean carpets lightly and dry them rapidly. Be sure not to
soak the carpets as it will stimulate mold growth. Instead of carpets,
area rugs are more practical as they can easily be removed and washed.
If you plan to install carpeting over a concrete floor, use a vapor barrier
(plastic sheeting) over the concrete, covered with sub-flooring (insulation
covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem. Whenever possible,
lift the carpet to ensure that it is dry beneath.
A step-by-step recap of an effective mold removal process:
1. Protect yourself
2. Clean surfaces to remove mold
4. Rinse and dry
5. Discard any hazardous material
Mold removal is not a difficult undertaking when the mold is not widespread.
If the above steps fail or if the mold growth is too severe, contact a
certified contractor to help you deal with the problem. The presence of
mold in your home should be taken seriously and addressed immediately
upon its discovery. Whether you undertake the work yourself or seek help
from a mold removal expert, proceed with meticulous caution: your health
may depend on it.