Mold Clean Up
Cleaning Mold in Your Home
Once you have discovered a source of indoor mold using your MoldCheck™ Mold Test Kits and The Building Detective Guide™, you’ll need to carefully clean it up as soon as possible – using extreme care when cleaning in order to protect your lungs and eyes and not to spread the tiny mold spores.
Danger: Read before you clean up mold
- STOP – Once you’ve found the source of growing mold the biggest mistake you can make is to haphazardly clean it up or pull out moldy materials.
- Do not try to dust, brush, blow or vacuum the mold – this will only spread the mold spores.
- Do not let an allergic or asthmatic individual do the clean up or remain in the room during the mold clean-up.
Make a Repair Plan:
- Repairing water leaks and replacing building materials is ordinarily routine work. However, the most important part of the repair of mold contaminated areas is the initial careful cleaning of the visible surface mold and the proper covering, removal and disposal of the contaminated material in order to protect the worker, inhabitants and the rest of the building from contamination (see Health and Safety below).
- Therefore prepare an action plan to conduct this work. This plan will guide you in the cleaning and repair or serve as the basis of your contract with your repair contractor. In order to protect yourself against improper, inadequate, or unnecessary mold remediation repair, you may want to hire a home inspector (found in the Yellow Pages) to conduct your investigation and to specify, in writing, the work needed to be done to correct the water problem and repair the damaged materials.
Health and Safety:
- In order to protect your health during a mold clean up or repair project, the work must be done properly so you do not release mold spores into the air and accidentally contaminate new areas or injure yourself or others.
- Require that your contractor conduct the mold clean up and sanitization part of the job according to the “New York City Department of Health, Guidelines on Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments (Section 3 – Remediation).” This information can be located here
- Don’t procrastinate. All mold, whether toxic or not should be cleaned up the same way – carefully and safely to protect your health and not spread harmful spores into the air. If you find mold growing on a surface, plan to clean it up right away. Learn how to carefully clean up the surface mold prior to conducting the leak or other problem investigation.
Educate yourself first by reviewing these educational guidelines:
- Moldcheck.com/Clean-Up Guide
- “A brief guide to mold, moisture and your home.” Click here to view guide.
- Big Jobs: For big jobs (more than 10 sq. feet) read “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.” Click here for more info, or call (800) 438-4318 for a free hard copy.
- Another standard industry reference is the NYC Department of Health’s “Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation in Indoor Environments.” Click here for more info.
* If you use a contractor, make sure the contract states that the contractor will use the appropriate health and safety recommendations set forth in the New York City Department of Health Guidelines referred to above to protect you and the workers.
Safety Dress for Cleaning:
- Wear long rubber gloves, old clothes, protective goggles (to keep spores and splashes out of your eyes) and OSHA recommended filter-face mask rated N-95 or better. This mask costs about $4.00 – $5.00 US dollars in a hardware or paint store and are essential when cleaning up mold.
- The key thing to remember when cleaning mold off any surface indoors, is to gently, slowly moisten the mold with the cleaner so it does not get brushed off the surface onto the floor or into the air.
Soap and Water:
- If the mold is on a hard, non-porous surface like plastic, tile or metal, any household cleaner is adequate to remove the thin film of surface mold. Mold growing on hard non-porous surfaces is usually the result of high humidity at the surface.
- If you are going to discard moldy cardboard boxes and other mold-contaminated materials, mist everything down with a detergent cleaner so that spores do not become dispersed into the air.
- If you have discovered a water leak in the wall and you are going to remove the wet, moldy wallboard, then detergent and water household cleaners are good enough to clean and wet down the surfaces (front and back) before you bag and discard the material.
- Porous, cleaned surfaces, which will remain in place after the remediation, cannot be effectively cleaned by a household cleaner. Thousands to millions of “live” spores will remain on wooden beams and wall studs, etc., even after they are completely dried out. These spores are dormant but ready to begin growing into colonies again as soon as the humidity gets high enough for long enough on the surface. Therefore, you may choose to sanitize the surface or seal the surface with a mold retarding paint or coating.
- Sanitize the area using commercially available sanitizers for mold and mildew such as Tilex™ or Behr™ “Mold and Mildew Cleaner” or a mixture of bleach in water (one cup of bleach per gallon of water is adequate). CAUTION: Do not use any other cleaning product containing ammonia – ammonia may produce harmful gases when mixed with bleach cleaners. Bleach is also known as sodium hypo chlorite. Remember to protect your hands, lungs and eyes. Keep plenty of fresh air circulating in the room. Keep windows open; put a fan in a window blowing toward the outside. Take frequent fresh air breaks. Follow the safety guidelines of the manufacturer.
- Apply the sanitizers as directed, gently and completely moistening the mold with the sanitizing applicator. Gently mist and wipe so mold spores and particles do not escape into the air. Example: Moisten a paper towel with sanitizer and press it onto the visible mold growth – then wet the towel with a gentle mist spray or sponged on sanitizer. Allow the area to stay wet with sanitizer for at least ten to fifteen minutes.
- Apply sanitizer two or three times to assure the greatest effect.
- Let the area air dry – do not blow dry! If the wood was wet for a long time, you must let the wood completely dry out – otherwise remnant mold spores may begin to grow again if the area is sealed too soon.
- If the mold was growing on a moist, porous material which is still moist under the surface, the sanitizer cleaning will not likely have penetrated deep enough to kill all the hidden “root-like” parts of the mold colony called hyphae.
- The mold will continue to grow back until the material is completely dried out or replaced.
- Place the paper towels, clothes, sponges, etc. into a plastic bag and seal it before you leave the clean up area and then discard in the trash.
Water Leak Search:
- HIDDEN MOLD / HIDDEN LEAK – Large quantities of mold can grow behind wallpaper, in damp walls, ceilings, under rugs and linoleum, or in wet insulation due to a hidden leaky pipe, gutter, roof flashing, etc.
- The Building Detective GuideTM is designed to help you find the source of the water leak, drip or condensation, which may be causing the mold to grow in this area.
- Once you find a source of mold you may have to remove some building materials to get at the source of the leak. CAUTION – (see Removing Moldy Materials below).
Repair – Removing Moldy Pieces and Drying Out:
Read before you clean up mold
- STOP – Before you start to remove moldy materials make your overall repair plan (see Make a Repair Plan and Health and Safety above).
- If the mold is on wood paneling, wallpaper, wallboard, carpeting or some other porous material you should discard it. You (or your contractor) must isolate the area with plastic tenting, prior to removing and bagging or wrapping the affected material to prevent the spread of spores into the air in the rest of the room (see Health and Safety above).
- Don’t remove any moldy materials from a room unless they are bagged in plastic or wrapped in plastic and taped shut (i.e., a rug).
- If you must remove the materials, use the same safety procedures for protecting your eyes, lungs and skin as you did while sanitizing (see Safety Dress above).
- Sanitize again – once you have removed moldy wallboard, wall paneling, ceiling tiles or wallpaper, etc. you must re-sanitize and let the area air dry – do not use blowers.
- Now repair the leak or the cause of condensation.
Post Repair Cleaning:
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter to clean up the immediate repair area and the protective plastic before you remove the plastic. If you do not have use of a HEPA vacuum for cleaning then wipe down the plastic with the sanitizer and fold it up while it is still wet, place in a plastic garbage bag and discard.
- Use a HEPA vacuum to clean all the surfaces in the room in which the repair occurred.
Re-Test After Cleaning and Repair:
- After you have completed your sanitization, cleaning, repair and final HEPA vacuum of all the room(s) surfaces on which mold spores may have settled prior to and during clean up, you may want to re-test the air to confirm a reduction in the spore count.