How to Clean Up Mold?

by / Tuesday, 10 September 2013 / Published in Environmental Testing, Healthy Building Inspections & Testing
Mold Clean Up - When to Call in Professional Remediators

Most of this blog on how to clean up mold is from the “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home” guide from HUD. We generally suggest hiring an established remediation company with professionals certified by the IICRC… but many cannot afford to pay for that service or don’t feel it’s necessary.

How to clean up mold

Mold Clean Up PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Mold

Protect yourself when cleaning up mold. Wear long sleeves and pants, shoes and socks, rubber gloves, goggles to protect your eyes, and a N-95 respirator. Open a window to let in fresh air while you’re working. Professionals have protocols that call for “donning” full body suits that cover their shoes and even have a hood to cover their hair. There is an order to “don” and “doff” PPE, and that is part of what IICRC Mold Remediation classes cover.

What to Throw Away if Moldy?

Throw away things like carpet or mattresses, wallboard (drywall), ceiling tile, insulation, or cardboard boxes that have been wet for more than two days. Wrap anything you’re going to throw away in plastic to stop mold from spreading. Cleaning up mold puts the spores in the air so it’s a good idea to wear a respirator. Keep small children, elderly and sick people, and anyone with allergies or asthma away during cleanup.

Clean hard surfaces with a mix of laundry detergent or dishwashing soap and water. You may have to scrub with a brush. Rinse the area with clean water and dry quickly by wiping away the water and using a fan. Chlorine bleach will kill mold growing on surfaces. It does not kill mold spores in the air and dead mold can still cause allergic reactions. If you use bleach, follow these steps:

• Scrub the surface first with water and detergent.

• Water down the chlorine bleach—use about one cup bleach to ten cups of water.

How to clean up mold

Mold Clean Up – When to Call in Professional Remediators

• Spray or sponge the bleach on the moldy area. Leave it on about 15 minutes, then rinse the area and dry quickly.

Never mix chlorine bleach with products that contain ammonia or acids because you will make a deadly gas.

• Keep chlorine bleach out of the reach of pets and children.

• Remember, chlorine bleach takes the color out of most fabrics and rugs. Be careful not to spill or splash.

The Cooperative Extension Service or your local or state health department can provide more information on how to clean up mold. Renters should talk to their landlords. Some home insurance policies will pay to fix mold damage. Fire and Water Damage Restoration professionals can help you fix the damage. Cleaning up a big mold problem may cost several thousand dollars or more.

Mold Remediation for Contents

Good mold remediation companies know how to clean up mold in such a way that is safe for workers and residence, and doesn’t cross-contaminate other contents or parts of the building. Remediation often

How to clean up mold

Cleaning Moldy Contents – Books

involves dealing with “contents” within a mold contaminated space. Common contents include computers and televisions, pots and pans, clothes, furniture, area rugs, books, etc. Each of these categories of items have their own specific and rigorous cleaning regimen. Often, hard as it is, the cost of cleaning contents properly exceeds the value of the items and an honest mold remediator would simply recommending discarding non-valuable or non-sentimental items. Contents are often inventories, carefully packed up, and cleaned and stored offsite until mold clearance testing verifies remediation is complete.

The books in the photo to the left would cost a lot of money to have professionally cleaned. Unless they are a valuable asset… they will probably be discarded once the owner sees the estimate to have them professionally remediated.

Mold Sensitivity or Asthma

There must be a HUGE disclaimer for those with asthmatics in the building or anyone suffering from mold sensitivities. Almost all mold spores are allergenic. “How to clean up mold,” is probably the wrong question for this population to be asking. Even a moldy piece of fruit on the counter could be enough to wreak havoc on people with asthma or mold sensitivities. [Pick up slowly, carefully place into a plastic bag, seal bag and dispose of immediately, wash hands and immediate area.] More likely,

Mold and Sensitive Populations - Children and Asthma

Mold and Sensitive Populations – Children and Asthma

this group of mold sensitive individuals should be asking who can safely clean up mold without creating a bigger problem or cross-contaminating other parts of the building.

Hopefully these tips are useful for those dealing with small OR large amounts of mold.

Unlike asbestos, lead and radon – the government doesn’t have specific remediation guidelines for how to clean up mold. Non living things like asbestos and lead get “abatement,” and living things like bacteria and mold get “remediated,” but how this is accomplished varies greatly depending on the city/state of the project, scope of work, remediation company hired, and what team shows up at your door that day.

Some states are implementing more stringent guidelines and standard for mold remediation, but in many ways it remains the wild-west when it comes to mold remediation. Many state courts have decided in favor of using the IICRC S520 – Standard and Reference Guide for Mold Remediation as the “standard of care” by which remediators are held accountable.


Please be safe with cleaning up mold!

13 Responses to “How to Clean Up Mold?”

  1. Alex Stadtner says :

    Using chlorine bleach to treat mold is controversial – even within our company. The EPA and NY guidelines disagree on this matter. In general, we do not think dangerous chemicals are needed to “kill mold.” Even “dead” (non-viable) mold can be hazardous to your health, so good remediation is all about physical removal. It’s about elbow grease and perhaps a very mild detergent to make the physical cleaning more effective. In general we do not suggest the use of biocides or chlorine bleach… but others will disagree. Much has been written on this subject and most experts tend to agree that biocides are not the answer… because they can cause their own set of problems.

  2. Jade Brunet says :

    I am glad to learn that chlorine bleach can be helpful when removing mold. I appreciate what was said about keeping this product out of the reach of pets and children. Hiring a professional would be a good thing to do because they are familiar with using possibly dangerous chemicals and will make sure the job is done safely.

  3. AB says :

    food grand hydrogen peroxide kills mold

  4. Hello Frndz…..

    Your blog has always been a good source for me to get quality tips on blogging. Thanks once again.

    – GTA Restoration | Water Damage Restoration Mold Removal.

  5. website says :

    This post truly made my day. You cannot imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks. Great advices and tips!

  6. Alex Stadtner says :

    There are many common misunderstandings about mold. Hopefully this clears up one:

    “Killing” mold should not be the goal of mold remediation. Even “dead” or “non-viable” mold can cause harm. The single most important aspect in a good mold remediation job is the physical removal of mold. It’s about cleaning, not killing.

    Any credible expert – and any credible reference standard – will tell you the same thing. It doesn’t matter if the mold is dead or alive. What’s important is that it’s handled properly and removed from the premises without cross-contaminating other spaces or harming workers or occupants. If someone has a “mold problem,” simply wiping it down with tea tree oil is not fully addressing the issue at hand.

    But I’d rather use a natural oil than chlorine bleach, so thank you for the note. While I haven’t seen any official studies, anecdotally I hear tea tree oil does “kill mold.”

  7. Faith Grant says :

    I wanted to post another tip for killing mold, tea tree oil! Kill even toxic mold. Don’t remember the amount so would need to google it but we are currently living with my in-laws while my hubby finishes school so we don’t have to rent and I help take care of my disabled MIL and we are helping them fix the house up a bit and they had a mold issue. We got rid of the mold with tea tree oil and lots of cleaning

  8. Jhake Turner says :

    Molds are multi-cell (comprise of more than one cell) filamentous parasites generally having a fluffy or cottony delicate presence when they develop in territories in your homes. They may be white, dull or in any shade. They process spores normally agamically and in extensive numbers which implies they emerge and inherit from a solitary guardian. Agamic generation is the essential manifestation of propagation for single-celled living beings, for example, microorganisms and organisms. They are light, impervious to drying and can without much of a stretch spread through the air and pollute any territories.
    All the more regularly, a rotten odor could be the main intimation that there is a concealed mold development far from your house. Never disregard mold smells on the off chance that you can’t see any mold or else this could be the principle reason of diseases inside your gang. You ought to completely investigate your home before any mold issues deteriorate. You can discover how to assess your house for mold at certified mold inspection

  9. Scott says :

    Contents can be the worst source of mold. Some people inherit items and have a hard time parting with them. But they’ve come from a loved ones moldy attic or basement and are now sitting in another damp basement. It is best to follow these tips so a homeowner doesn’t need a professional mold removal company to remediate a basement or attic at a later time.

  10. IVan says :

    This article should be printed for educational purpose. People often try to remove mold without any knowledge or skill.

  11. […] blog got too long… so please see the next one on how to clean mold for the DIYers. If you have questions or are worried about mold in your house or office, we can help by providing […]

  12. Alex Stadtner says :

    Hi TL,
    Thanks for the note! You are so right! Most of the info from this blog came straight from our governmental free resources, but in general I discourage against using chlorinated cleaning compounds such as bleach. For mold, the key is carefully REMOVE the mold without aerosolizing the spores and cross-contaminating other areas or endangering the remediator. Since the mission is about CLEANING, not killing, it can be done with any non-toxic substance. Many consider it a best practice to use a mild soap-and-water solution too. We need to do a post on Green Cleaning – where we could really praise all the amazing attributes of simple vinegar!
    Thanks for following and commenting,

  13. T L says :

    Vinegar works as well as bleach and is non-toxic. Sunlight also works but obviously has its limitations.

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