Can Common Household Products Kill Mold?
Have you found mold in your home? Sometimes it's easy to see in moist places like the corners of a shower. At other times, it's harder to find. It might be hiding beneath window sills or even under the refrigerator. Wherever it's hanging out, it's a good idea to get rid of it.
Mold loves to feast on surfaces like wood, upholstery, and sheetrock. The damages that result can add up quickly. Not only that, but mold spores lower indoor air quality. They can even affect your health, especially if you have asthma or are allergic to mold.
How to recognize mold
There are thousands of varieties of mold growing throughout the world. Most of the time they do an important job in breaking down organic matter. In homes, they can live on everything from soap scum to dust. They come in a rainbow of colors including black, gray, green, yellow, orange, and white. Common mold textures range from slimy to furry to powdery. They may have no odor, or they might produce earthy or musty odors.
Some types of mold are more dangerous to your health than others. However, they're all dangerous to your home and household goods. Nature's breakdown crew can actually affect the structural integrity of your house. No matter what kind of mold has invaded your home, it should be evicted as soon as possible.
Mold loves moisture
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, "The key to mold control is moisture control." So, the first thing you want to do is get rid of any excess moisture in your home. That moisture might be from leaky pipes or cracks in the caulking around your windows. Even high humidity in a basement, crawlspace, or attic is enough to let molds thrive. To get started at removing mold, follow the EPA's recommendations below.
First steps in getting rid of mold:
- Take care of any leaks first. Remember, controlling moisture is the best way to control mold.
- Keep children and pets out of the area.
- If you can, seal off the area with plastic and tape.
- Wear the proper protective gear. The EPA recommends wearing an N-95 respirator, gloves, and goggles while cleaning up mold.
- Use detergent and very warm water to scrub mold off of hard surfaces.
- Porous materials like carpet offer plenty of hiding spaces for mold. Either dispose of them or have them professionally cleaned by a mold expert.
- Thoroughly dry all the affected surfaces.
- Bag up and throw away any sponges, rags, or other porous items you used in the clean-up.
Can household products kill mold?
Some people recommend using household products like Clorox Wipes, laundry bleach, or vinegar to kill mold. Do they really work? They can if your mold problem is fairly minor.
- Laundry detergent mixed with very warm water does a good job of cleaning mold off hard surfaces.
- Does vinegar kill mold? No one seems to know for sure, but you can try wiping moldy areas with vinegar (6% acetic acid) and see what happens.
- Clorox Wipes are expensive. Try using a spray bottle filled with a bleach/water solution (1 TBSP. bleach/quart of water) instead.
- Do you have a dishwasher or laundry detergent with borate as an ingredient? Apply a borate solution and let it dry without rinsing. Borate is effective at keeping mold from returning. Of course, this only works in areas where you can leave the borate solution in place.
So, is bleach or vinegar better to kill mold?
There are pros and cons to each product. We'll discuss them so that you'll have a better idea of how you want to tackle your mold problem.
The main active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. In clinical studies, this mild acid has shown a remarkable ability to kill dangerous bacteria like E. coli. It even kills the mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis and leprosy. Given these results, it's worth at least trying it against mold.
- Vinegar has killed bacteria in clinical studies. This might carry over to other microorganisms like molds.
- Vinegar is non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. This makes it perfectly safe to use.
- It's always best to try the least toxic option first before using stronger cleaners.
- There's little to no data showing vinegar's effectiveness against molds.
- Even a mild acid like vinegar might damage delicate materials. You should always test it in an inconspicuous area first.
- Vinegar has a particularly strong scent that tends to linger.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggests using laundry bleach to kill mold after natural disasters like floods. They recommend cleaning surfaces. Then use 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water to kill mold and disinfect.
If your mold situation isn't quite that drastic, use a solution of 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water. Apply it too hard surfaces and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then reapply it and wait another 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
- There's a lot of data to show bleach's effectiveness against mold, including black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum).
- Bleach is one of the strongest household cleaners available.
- It's easy to find and fairly inexpensive.
- Household bleach is toxic and not really environmentally-friendly.
- Take extreme care to keep bleach away from any product that contains ammonia. Together, bleach and ammonia produce deadly chlorine gas!
- You should always wear protective gear when using a strong bleach solution.
- Bleach will not only remove the color from many items, but it may also eat right through them. It also pits and permanently discolors many metals.
Do you need professional help?
Is your mold problem extensive or do you have health issues that make it difficult (or even dangerous) to deal with mold yourself? If so, it's time to call in the professionals. Mold experts have the equipment, supplies, and experience to handle even the worst mold problems.
Using cutting-edge technology, we'll locate where mold is hiding in your home. Then our certified professionals will get to work removing every trace of it. Contact AdvantaClean and let us take care of all your mold problems today!