Cleaning Up Mold Using Bleach – Does It Work?

mold check for mold detection

So, as you are dealing with the upsetting prospect that there may be a source of growing mold somewhere in your house, perhaps between the walls or the basement, the question that comes to the forefront once the mold is found is how to get rid of it. Often, as far as an easy remedy goes, the solution that comes to mind is to use bleach – regular laundry bleach – to clean up the mold from surfaces.

The question is: does it work? Is bleach, the kind that you can buy for your laundry, an effective agent against mold, or is information to that effect actually erroneous despite its widespread acceptance and the idea that doing so is as close to common knowledge as anything else? After all, using a bit of bleach to clean a surface would seem to be quick, easy, and universally known as a remedy – certainly, even a growing mold colony can’t survive a good shot of sodium hypochlorite, the technical term for the bleach that you might find on your shelf.

Alas, the truth might come as a rude awakening: according to OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration), the use of bleach as a mold disinfectant should be restricted to non-porous surfaces such as kitchen and/or bathroom counter-tops, shower glass, and tubs. Bleach is less effective in getting rid of mold inside more porous surfaces such as wood, which is where mold issues are most prevalent and persistent. This will seem counter-intuitive to anyone who might try it: bleach, after all, will take away the color of mold, thus giving the appearance that problem has been corrected. On the surfaces of drywall and wood, mold will take root inside those porous materials. A dose of bleach to clean up mold in such spots might seem effective at first, but since the bleach itself is mostly water, the mold will come back some time later in the form of much darker spots (the water therein actually feeds the mold), while the corrosive nature of the bleach that was used will actually wear down the fibers that make up this porous material. In simpler terms: using bleach on wooden walls to get rid of mold will likely do more harm than good! This is why bleach is not a product that is registered with the EPA as a means of cleaning up mold, and this is confirmed by OSHA’s Mold Remediation/ Clean Up Methods Guidelines.

In order to for true mold remediation to take place, the mold must be cleaned at its roots. Any mold remediation worth its salt will use appropriate products that effectively disinfect wood surfaces after a proper cleaning, so it’s important to be wary of any such remediation service (or landlord) that uses bleach to handle such involved tasks.

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