According to research, about 70% of homes have mold. Any homeowner will freak out at the sight of mol, and for good reason. Not only is mold unsightly, but it can also cause a whole host of health problems, from respiratory problems to skin irritation. Many people are unaware of the dangers of mold and how prevalent it can be in homes.
So, what is mold, and in what environments does it thrive in? Are there different types of mold that require different removal methods? More importantly, how do you completely eliminate mold from your home? Even better, how do you prevent mold from coming back into your home and threatening your health? This guide will answer all of those questions and more.
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that can grow both indoors and outdoors. Depending on the type of mold, it can range in color from white to black. Some mold is even invisible to the naked eye. Mold thrives in damp and humid conditions and spreads by releasing spores into the air. When these spores land on a wet or moist surface, they can start to grow and form mold colonies
It can often be found in areas such as the bathroom, basement, or kitchen. When mold spores become airborne, they can cause a number of health problems, including allergies, asthma, and respiratory problems. In extreme cases, mold exposure can even lead to death. If you suspect that you have mold in your home, it’s important to take action immediately to get rid of it.
Is There a Difference Between Mold and Mildew?
Mold and mildew are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. Mold is a type of fungus that can cause serious health problems, while mildew is a type of fungus that typically only causes cosmetic damage. Mildew is usually white or gray in color and has a powdery texture. It’s often found on surfaces that are damp, such as shower walls or humidifiers.
While mildew is not as dangerous as mold, it can still cause health problems for some people, particularly those with allergies or asthma. If you have mildew in your home, you should take steps to remove it as soon as possible.
What Causes Mold?
Mold can be caused by a number of different things, but the most common cause is water damage. Basically, mold will thrive in any environment that allows it to, with catalysts including:
Moisture: Mold needs moisture to grow. Water provides the perfect environment for mold to thrive, whether from a leaky pipe, rainfall, or condensation.
Spores: Mold spores are everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. All it takes is for these spores to land on a wet or moist surface for mold to start growing.
Warmth: While mold can grow in cold environments, it will grow more quickly in warmer temperatures.
Oxygen: Mold needs oxygen to grow.
Organic matter: Mold will also consume organic matter, such as wood, paper, or fabric.
Types of Mold
There are a number of different types of mold, and each one requires a different removal method. The most common types of mold include:
Green mold is one of the most common molds you’ll find in your home. There are three common types of green mold, which are:
These molds are often found on food and in damp areas such as basements. Green mold is relatively easy to remove and can be killed with certain home cleaning solutions
Also known as toxic mold, black mold is one of the most dangerous types of mold. It’s often found in homes that have had water damage, as well as in basements and crawl spaces.
If you come into contact with black mold, you might experience a number of serious symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor immediately. In some cases, black mold exposure can be deadly.
White mold is often mistaken for mildew. While they’re similar, white mold is often fluffier and cottony looking. It also has a root system that can penetrate deep into surfaces.
This type of mold often grows on wood, paper, and insulation. You might also find it in air conditioning systems and on damp clothes. White mold is often accompanied by other types of mold, such as black and green.
Red mold is one of the trickiest to spot because it’s usually overshadowed by black or green mold. You’ll mostly find it on natural materials, but you may also find it under carpets and vinyl flooring. It’s also easy to find it on food like white mold, especially on bread. It’s not as toxic as black mold, but it’s not without its health consequences.
How to get rid of mold in Your house
Getting rid of mold can be a tricky process, but there are a few things you can do to get rid of it for good. The first step is to identify the source of the mold. If you can find where the mold is coming from, you can often stop it from growing back. Mold often grows in damp, dark places.
Once you’ve found the source of the mold, you need to clean it up. Mold can be cleaned with a variety of different solutions, including:
Ammonia is another effective mold removal solution, but it should only be used on non-porous materials as it cannot penetrate porous surfaces. Ammonia produces toxic fumes when mixed with bleach, so it should never be used alongside bleach products. Ammonia is a corrosive substance so take care not to damage the surfaces you are cleaning.
How to Kill Mold With Ammonia
- Use a ratio of 50% ammonia with 50% water
- Apply the solution to the surfaces with the solution
- Leave it to dry
Borax is a natural and effective mold removal solution. It is a white powder made from the mineral boron. Borax is often used as a laundry booster or cleaning agent. It kills mold by interrupting its cell structure. The Borax solution can be applied to both porous and non-porous materials. Borax is safe to use around children and pets and doesn’t give off harmful fumes as bleach does. It is also inexpensive and easy to find in stores
How to Kill Mold Using Borax
- Make a solution of 1 part Borax to 10 parts water
- Vacuum any loose mold with a HEPA-filtered vacuum
- Scrub the remaining mold off using the solution
- Wipe off excess moisture and leave to dry without rinsing
Bleach is a strong and effective mold removal solution but it should only be used as a last resort. Bleach is corrosive and produces toxic fumes so it should be used in well-ventilated areas. It is also important to take care not to damage the surfaces you are cleaning.
Additionally, bleach only kills the mold on the surface and does not penetrate porous materials so it is important to remove moldy materials completely if they are heavily contaminated.
How to Kill Mold Using Bleach
- Use 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water
- Apply your solution to nonporous materials using a sponge or spray bottle
- Apply the solution on the surface completely
- If the surface may come in contact with kids or pets, rinse with warm water
- If not, leave it to dry
Vinegar is a mild acid that can kill 82% of mold species. It can be used on most surfaces without causing damage. Vinegar is also effective at removing mold spores and preventing future mold growth. However, like bleach, it is only effective on non-porous materials. It cannot penetrate porous materials to kill mold growing beneath the surface.
How to Kill Mold With Vinegar
- Put vinegar in a spray bottle without diluting it
- Spray it on the surface and let it sit for about an hour
- Wipe away and leave the area to dry
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that can be used as a natural mold removal solution. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties which make it effective at killing mold. Tea tree oil is safe to use around children and pets and doesn’t give off harmful fumes.
How to Kill Mold Using Tea Tree Oil
- Make a solution of 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil to one cup of water
- Spray the solution on the mold surface
- Wipe away any excess moisture and leave the area to dry
Mold Cleaning Tips By Surface
Mold can form on both porous and non-porous materials. You may throw away some of the porous materials with severe mold infestations. Things like carpets and drywall are easily replaceable if not salvageable. Still, some may need a little cleaning to get back their shine, but the cleaning process will vary with materials. You also must keep in mind that mold spores travel by air, so ensure they don’t travel and reinfest other areas of your home. Also, be careful not to get sick in the process.
If the clothing is machine washable, you should use the hottest setting possible when washing them. If they are delicate or hand-wash-only items, you can soak them in a mixture of vinegar and water before scrubbing them with a brush. Afterward, launder as usual. If the stains persist, you may need to repeat this process.
Upholstered Furniture and Carpeting
Vacuum all of the upholstered furniture and carpeting in your home, especially if they are in areas where mold is present. This will help to remove any loose spores that could potentially cause problems later on. If the vacuum doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you may need to shampoo the carpets and have the upholstered furniture professionally cleaned.
Mold and mildew love paper because it’s full of cellulose. If you have any books that have been affected, you will need to clean them as soon as possible. Start by taking them outside and giving them a good shake to remove any loose mold spores.
You can then wipe down the covers with a damp cloth. If the mold is extensive, you may need to use a vacuum with the brush attachment to remove it. Once you’ve removed as much of the mold as possible, place the books in a sealed plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight. This will kill any remaining mold spores.
Mold loves damp, dark places, so it’s no surprise that it often shows up on walls. To clean mold from painted walls, start by washing them with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. You can also add a little detergent to this solution if you need to. Once the mold has been removed, rinse the area with clean water and dry it completely. If the mold return, you may need to repaint the area.
Mold can also grow on wood, so you’ll need to be careful when cleaning it. You don’t want to damage the finish or the wood itself. Start by scrubbing the area with a brush and soapy water. You can also use a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Rinse the area with clean water and dry it completely. If the mold is extensive, you may need to sand the area and refinish it.
Carpeting can be a breeding ground for mold if it’s not cleaned regularly. To clean your carpets, start by vacuuming them thoroughly. You can then shampoo them with a carpet cleaner or a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Let the carpet dry completely before vacuuming again. If the mold is extensive, you may need to replace the carpet.
When to Call in the Professionals
At some point, you may realize that the mold problem in your home is too big for you to handle. If this is the case, you’ll need to call in a professional mold remediation company. These companies are trained and equipped to deal with mold infestations of all sizes. A professional mold remediation expert will be able to assess the situation and develop a plan to get rid of the mold for good. Situations that warrant calling a professional include:
- When mold has infested a large area in your home
- When you have a mold allergy or sensitivity
- When mold is causing health problems for you or your family
- When traditional cleaning methods are not working
If you’re not sure whether or not you should call a professional, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Mold can cause serious health problems, so it’s best to leave it to the experts.
Preventing Mold in the Future
The best way to prevent mold is to keep your home clean and dry. Clean up any spills or leaks right away, and make sure your home is well-ventilated. You should also check for leaks in your roof and around your windows and doors.
If you have any areas in your home that are prone to mold, such as a basement or laundry room, make sure they are well-ventilated. You can also use a dehumidifier to help keep the air dry.
How to Kill Mold in Your House: A Complete Guide
Mold is a common problem in many homes, but it’s one that you can easily take care of. With a little elbow grease and the right cleaning products, you can get rid of mold for good. If you have a serious mold problem, you may need to call in a professional. But with a little preventative maintenance, you can keep your home mold-free. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy, mold-free home.