Getting Rid of Mold

How to sell your home and make a faster, more profitable sale

Black mold on a corner wall.Before you tackle black mold like this, read about it!

Getting rid of mold should be a priority when you're preparing your home for the real estate market. The presence of mold can greatly lower the value of your home and most likely ruin any potential home sale!



Mold is a type of fungus that produces spores. These spores are always floating around us, inside the home and outside. Most people know that mold spores thrive in warm, damp environments.

If you are planning to sell your house, check for mold in bathrooms, the basement, crawl space, attic, windows, ceiling tiles, walls, floors, carpeting, wood furniture, under sinks and inside closets. Sometimes a musty smell will alert you.

Do it yourself mold test kit.Do it yourself mold test kit.

Mold grows practically anywhere if it has a supply of moisture, oxygen and an organic food source.

Mold will eat away at its victim, eventually destroying it. It's vital that you contain it during mold removal and properly dispose of it to avoid sending additional spores throughout your home.

Certain molds, like black mold, are extremely toxic and can cause serious health problems. You must wear appropriate protective clothing and gear when you're getting rid of mold. 

Some molds contain toxins, called mycotoxins that can set off allergic reactions in many people. Inhaling or ingesting mold or mildew can trigger asthma or allergies, bronchitis, headaches, pneumonia, lung infections, and irritation of the eyes and throat.

Black mold is particularly dangerous to the elderly, young children and babies. My husband developed asthma while working in the crawl space of a moldy house.

If you're unsure of the type of mold you have, a home mold test kit allows you to do your own testing and will guide you on the proper steps to remove it.

Your mold cleaning arsenal

Wear protective clothing while cleaning up mold.Wear protective clothing, a mask and eye protection when cleaning up mold.

SUPPLIES

  • Eye protection (for black mold)
  • face mask or respirator
  • disposable protective suit (for black mold)
  • rubber gloves
  • hard bristled scrub brush
  • sponges, rags
  • Garbage bags for mold disposal
  • Vacuum with a HEPA filter
  • Surfactant (Soap) Use something like Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • Disinfectant of your choice

Basic steps for getting rid of mold

First assess the situation...how much mold do you have? What kind of surface is it covering? Can you identify the type of mold?

The type of surface will make a huge difference. For instance, a porous surface, like drywall, wood or acoustical ceiling tile may need to be carefully cut out and replaced. Why? Because surface cleaning won't penetrate into a porous surface because the mold has set down roots.

Mold can be easily wiped away from a non-porous surface like glass.

Some professionals recommend that any contaminated area larger than 10 square feet shouldn't be undertaken by a non-professional.

A mold removal company will not only remove the mold, they will take care of any moisture problems by fixing drainage and ventilation problems, as well. 

People with compromised immune systems should NOT be cleaning up mold! Even cleaning one square foot may be dangerous for their health. When in doubt, contact a professional mold remediator. 

How to remove mold

1.  The first step to getting rid of mold involves scrubbing the affected area with soap and water to clean up most of the mold. Use a detergent or soap, like Dawn dish soap.

2.  Next, apply your disinfectant of choice over the affected AND SURROUNDING AREAS. Spray thoroughly and allow the disinfectant to dry. 

3.  Dispose of all the supplies you used to clean up the mold; this includes sponges, rags, disposable clothing, gloves, etc. Seal tightly in a plastic bag to prevent any spores from escaping. Vacuum the area thoroughly to catch any remaining mold spores.

If mold persists in spite of your best efforts, call in a professional mold remediator.

Natural cleaning products for removing mold & mildew

Tea tree oil is a noted anti-bacterial and fungal fighter.Tea Tree Oil is a noted anti-bacterial and fungal fighter.

There are plenty of commercial products effective at getting rid of mold, but some are quite toxic and will often damage surfaces. If you prefer using “friendlier” products, take a look at the natural alternatives below.

Tea Tree Oil - Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil with a strong smell akin to turpentine or camphor-- a few drops goes a long way. It's a noted anti-bacterial and fungal fighter. It does wonders on toe fungus, cradle cap, cuts, burns and eczema.

To make an all-purpose cleaner with tea tree oil, combine two teaspoons of tea tree oil with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on affected areas. Let dry.

White vinegar - Vinegar is another proven bacteria and virus killer. Plus, it’s really cheap and can be applied to most surfaces. A 5% solution of vinegar and water has been proven to kill 99% of bacteria, 82% mold, and 80% of viruses. Fill a spray bottle with water and 5% vinegar, shake and spray on the mold. For heavy mildew stains, use full strength. Let dry.

Baking Soda - Add 1/2 cup baking soda to your washing machine (along with your regular detergent) to remove mold from a shower curtain and liner. Add 1/2 vinegar during the rinse cycle. Hang dry.

Fresh lemons can remove mildew from clothing.Fresh lemons can remove mildew from clothing.

Lemon juice - For mildewy clothing, mix up a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub into the mildew affected area. Allow to dry in the sun. (This may lighten clothing on the affected areas.) Repeat if necessary.

Grapefruit seed extract or GSA - This product, along with tea tree oil, can be found at health food stores, or online at my favorite online health food store, the vitamin shoppe or Amazon.

To make a cleaning solution, fill a spray bottle with two cups of water and 20 drops of GSA. Spray on affected areas without rinsing. Let dry.

Bioclean - Bioclean is an all-purpose cleaner containing natural products such as, grapefruit seed and orange peel. You can buy this affordable and great smelling product at biokleenhome.com. (Only shipped in the U.S.)



Hardcore products for getting rid of mold

Mold Armor Rapid Clean Remediation kills, cleans, and prevents mold and mildew.
RMR-141 disinfectant and cleaner kills 99% of household bacteria and viruses.

RMR-141 - Voted one of the best mold removal products for 2021, RMR-141 Disinfectant and Cleaner kills 99% of Household Bacteria and Viruses, Fungicide Kills Mold & Mildew, EPA Registered. Find this product at Lowes or Amazon.

Mold Armor Rapid Clean Remediation - Also voted one of the best mold killers for 2021. It kills, cleans and prevents mold and mildew. Find this product at Home Depot or Amazon.

Chlorine Bleach - Bleach is a cheap and well known slayer of bacteria. It kills mold, spores and allergens on hard non-porous surfaces, (like tiles and countertops) but may not get all the mold in porous surfaces, as the mold may have embedded itself deep within.

Be sure to work in a well ventilated area when using chlorine bleach. Wear gloves, protective clothing and eye wear.

Mix together one cup of bleach to one gallon of water in a bucket. Pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray onto affected surface and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse with warm water, using a sponge or rag and allow to air dry. Repeat if necessary.

Ammonia - In a spray bottle, combine 50% ammonia to 50% water.

WARNING!

Never mix ammonia with bleach, as this will create mustard gas, a toxic fume!

In a well-ventilated area, spray the ammonia mixture on the affected surface. Leave on for two to three hours before rinsing off.

Johnson’s Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner - will kill up to 99.99% of common bacteria and does a fantastic job removing pink mold in bathroom showers, toilets and bathtubs. This product does most of the work for you and requires very little scrubbing. I use it to remove black mold on windowsills, as well.

Hydrogen Peroxide - In a spray bottle, mix a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water. Spray on affected area and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off and allow to air dry.

Borax - Borax is useful for getting rid of mold and mildew from fabrics and upholstery. Make a solution of 1/2 cup of borax dissolved in two cups of hot water. Soak a sponge in this solution and rub the affected areas. Let the affected article soak in this solution for two hours, or until the stain disappears. Rinse well. 

How to kill black mold

Black mold on drywall.It looks like someone was trying to scrub the mold off the drywall in this picture! The only solution is to cut out the affected areas and replace with new drywall.

Black mold, or Stachybotrys Atra, is the toxic mold that sends home buyers scurrying back to their cars faster than anything else!

As a former real estate agent, I can attest to that. I had a client ready to sign the papers until she discovered the smallest patch of black mold in the upper corner of a bedroom closet.

How do you know if you have black mold? You can identify it by its musty smell. In appearance, it looks black and spotty, or greenish-black. The greenish-black color is not typical in other types of mold. 

Black mold is caused by moisture build-up in your home. You often find it in houses where the heat has been turned off for a period of time.

The first thing you need to do is find the source of the moisture problem and repair it. The area should be dried thoroughly with a shop vac and/or dehumidifier. 

One reader asked me if she should sweep the mold with a broom. NO...NEVER sweep mold inside the house! This will disperse deadly mold spores all over your home.

Before you tackle the cleaning, seal off the area with plastic sheeting and duct tape to prevent spores from spreading to other rooms in your home. Cover any open vents as well.

If the black mold is on a porous surface, like drywall, you may need to replace it and the area surrounding it to make sure you got it all.

If it's just a tiny bit of surface mold, after cleaning, paint over it with Zinsser Mold Killing Primer.

If you suspect you have dangerous black mold in your home, contact a mold remediation service to inspect it for you, especially if your home is greatly affected.

Removing pink mold

Pink mold isn't really a mold, it's an airborne bacteria called Serratia marcescens. The pink color is caused by a biofilm, or colony of bacteria.

Pink mold is fairly harmless to most people, but can be dangerous for those with compromised health.

Exposure through the eyes, mouth, or cuts in the skin can cause respiratory infections, conjunctivitis or urinary tract infections.

Pink mold loves a moist environment and can be found around the edges of showers and bathtubs, in tile grout, sinks and toilets.

Pink mold feeds on moisture and shampoo and soap residue, but thankfully, it's fairly easy to get rid of. 

Pink mold in the bathroom.Pink mold lives in bathrooms on tile grout, in showers, sinks and toilets.

Cleaning supplies for pink mold:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda

  • Sponge or rags
  • Container for pouring water
  • Old toothbrush
  • Chlorine bleach powder
  1. Pour vinegar on a sponge or rag and scrub at the pink mold. Remove as much mold as possible. Rinse off with water.
  2. Mix hydrogen peroxide and 3 oz. of baking soda into a paste. Dip the toothbrush into the paste and scrub the mold. This should remove any remaining mold left behind after the first step. Rinse with water.

Disinfect

After removing the pink mold, you will want to disinfect the area with bleach to keep the mold from returning. 

Mix a solution of six ounces of chlorine bleach powder and warm water and pour into a spray bottle. Shake, then spray directly onto the effected areas that you just cleaned. Allow the solution to set for 10 minutes. Scrub with a soft-bristle brush, rinse, then dry the surfaces with a clean towel.

Quick cleaning solution for pink mold

Once again, "Johnson Scrubbing Bubble Bathroom Cleaner" is my cleaner of choice! Spray onto hard, non-porous surfaces, let it sit for five minutes or longer, wipe off. Rinse and repeat, if needed.

Run your bathroom fan for at least 20 minutes after showering to remove excess moisture.



Getting rid of mold and mildew in the basement

Unfinished and creepy basement laundry room.A moldy basement like this can be a health hazard!

SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED TO GET RID OF MOLD IN YOUR BASEMENT:

  • respirator or dust mask

  • rubber gloves
  • bleach
  • detergent
  • large sponges
  • eye protection
  • dehumidifier or fan
  • shop vac (if you have a lot of standing water)

Vacuum and sponge up any water in the basement. Make necessary repairs to fix the source of the leak. With a dehumidifier or fan, ventilate the basement to remove excess humidity. 

Throw everything out that has absorbed water and become moldy; carpets, books, papers, clothing, and so on.

Scrub all non-porous surface, such as, metals, plastics, solid wood and concrete with a detergent and water mix. Clean up your wash water with a wet shop vac or sponge. 

Prepare a solution of 10 percent bleach with water. Spray this disinfectant on the same non-porous surfaces and let it set for 10 minutes. Rinse, then vacuum or sponge up excess water.

Keep an eye on the cleaned surfaces for a couple days for any signs of new mold growth. Keep the dehumidifier or fan running until your basement or cellar is dry.

Getting rid of mold before painting

If you've discovered mold where you plan to paint, you need to kill it before doing so. 

If you add your beautiful paint colors on top of the mold, it will come back to haunt you! The same is true of cigarette residue.

Watch the video by BenjaminMoore Paints below for tips on getting rid of mold before painting.

Get rid of musty mildew odors

If a musty odor persists in your basement, even after drying out, try sprinkling the basement floor with some chlorinated lime. Chlorinated lime is a bleaching powder and disinfectant, available at most hardware stores.

When the odor has disappeared, sweep up the powder and dispose of it in a plastic bag and seal. Avoid contact with your skin and keep pets out of the basement.

For odors coming from tiled surfaces in bathrooms, or cement, scrub with a solution of sodium hypochlorite or chlorine bleach . Sodium hypochlorite is a compound used for water purification, bleaching, odor removal and water disinfection. You can find it wherever pool supplies are sold. It has more than twice the cleaning power as regular household bleach.

Use 1/2 cup of bleach, or 1/4 cup of sodium hypochlorite to a gallon of water. Rinse with clean water and wipe dry. Keep the room well ventilated until everything is thoroughly dry. 

Getting rid of mold on other surfaces

Mold around the ventilation system can be deadly, sending mold spores throughout the house.Mold around a vent can be deadly, sending mold spores throughout the house!

Tile grout - Mix equal parts of bleach and water in a spray bottle. Spray this solution on the grout and let it sit for about 15 minutes. With a stiff brush, scrub, (a lot!) then rinse off. Be sure to reseal the grout after it dries.

Shower curtains - For white shower curtains and liners, add 1/2 cup of bleach and 1/4 cup detergent to your washing machine. Wash in warm water, then let hang dry. For colored shower curtains, add 1/2 cup baking soda to the wash cycle, then 1/2 vinegar during the rinse cycle. Hang dry.

Wood exterior siding - First, wet down the siding with a hose. Then spray or brush on with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach in two gallons of water. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse off. If stubborn mold persists, you may have to scrub with a long handled brush. Repeat if necessary.

Cement and stucco exterior siding - Make a mixture of one cup bleach in two gallons of water. With a stiff brush, scrub the surface with the solution. If this doesn’t work, try scrubbing with 1/2 cup of sodium carbonate dissolved in two gallons of warm water. Sodium carbonate is NOT baking soda; it's a compound used in making soap powders, glass and paper.

Arm & Hammer makes a product called “washing soda," which you can find in the spa section at home improvement centers. Look for 100% sodium carbonate. Sodium carbonate can damage the skin and eyes, so wear eye protection and gloves.

TSP is a great product that removes cigarette stains from walls.

Wood - Combine 1/2 cup of TSP, (trisodium phosphate) with one gallon of hot water in a bucket. Trisodium phosphate is available at any home improvement store.

Stir the solution well. Wearing rubber gloves, dip a scrub brush into the mixture and scrub the wood on the affected area. Keep dipping and scrubbing the wood surface, making sure to get into every crack and crevice. Rinse well with a hose then place in sunlight to dry. 

NOTE: If  mold is growing under the surface of the paint or varnish, you'll need to strip the paint or varnish off before treating the mold.

Clothing - Getting rid of mold and mildew from clothing is really difficult. If moldy, it's better to just throw it away, because mold will stain fabrics and the smell never seems to go away.

You can often save mildewed fabrics, but it takes persistence. Wash mildewed clothing by adding 3/4 cup white vinegar to a load of wash. Repeat if necessary. Do a final wash with detergent to thoroughly clean your clothing. Dry outside in the sun.

Upholstered Furniture and Mattresses

1.  Wearing breathing protection, take the item outside to brush off as much loose mold as possible. DON'T do this inside, as you'll release spores inside the house. Use a broom or small brush. 

2.  Second, with a vacuum cleaner attachment, vacuum over the surface of the affected item to release even more mold. (Remove the vacuum bag outside, seal and toss.) 

3.  Next, sponge the item lightly with a mixture of water and detergent and wipe clean with a clean cloth. Don't saturate the article--try to get as little water on the fabric as possible. If you have a sunny day, allow the article to dry outside. If not, use an electric heater and fan for drying. 

4.  Another option is to simply wipe your furniture with a cloth dipped into a mixture of one cup rubbing alcohol to one cup water. Dry thoroughly.

Leather - Wipe leather with a cloth dipped into a solution of one cup rubbing alcohol to one cup water. Turn fans on the item to dry.

If the problem persists, wash with detergent and water or saddle soap. Wipe with a clean damp cloth and allow to dry. You can buy saddle soap at Amazon.com, walgreens.com, or any store that sells equestrian products. Look for Kiwi Outdoor Saddle Soap.

Mold killing primer paint will kill mold, mildew, and odor causing bacteria.

Sheetrock/Drywall - First, determine whether the surface of your sheetrock is sealed (painted) or unfinished. Cover the area with plastic sheeting and tape into place. As usual, wear protective goggles, mask and gloves.

Painted or Sealed Drywall: Choose a mold cleaning product, either natural or chemical. Natural solutions will be milder in comparison. 

  • Pour your cleaning solution into a spray bottle and shake to combine. 
  • Spray a small amount of the solution onto the mold, taking care not to drench the area. (Too much moisture can make the mold problem worse.) Spray again, but not to the point where the solution begins to drip.
  • Scrub the area with an old sponge or toothbrush. Continue to scrub until the mold stain is no longer visible.
  • Dry the area with a fan. Don't go on to the next step until the area is completely dry.
  • Apply a stain-blocking primer paint. 

Unpainted Drywall: Unpainted moldy drywall should be cut out and replaced with an entirely new piece. The cut out portion should be larger than the size of the mold stain to make sure you capture any surrounding mold.

Before applying the new piece, paint inside the affected wall cavity and on the backside of the new piece of drywall with Kilz or Zinsser mold killing primer. These are water-based fungicidal coatings that are supposed to kill all existing fungal organisms.

Vacuum the entire area with a HEPA vacuum. Mold spores could have been released during the removal process and landed on the surrounding walls or flooring. 

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