When you’re in the middle of a renovation project, you might stumble on all kinds of issues that bring your progress to a sudden halt. For example, if you discover the presence of mold, you’ll need to deal with the problem immediately or risk facing a growing health hazard.
The presence of mold isn’t always obvious. In fact, it often thrives in dark, damp areas that most people overlook, ranging from basements and crawl spaces to areas beneath sinks and around windows.
What should you expect when dealing with mold? And what’s the best way to manage the situation?
Dangers of Mold
The first thing to keep in mind when you see mold is that you’ll need to approach it with caution.
Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. However, regardless of your sensitivity level, it can cause irritation in your lungs, throat, eyes, and nose, according to WebMD. It can also cause skin irritation.
Exposure to mold can be much more problematic for people who are allergic to it, as well as people with weakened immune systems. In these severe cases, touching or inhaling mold can lead to symptoms such as:
- Running nose
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes
Keep children and elderly individuals away from the area, as mold can be especially harmful to them.
What to Wear
If you intend to clean up the mold yourself, you’ll need a few types of protective accessories.
Protective gloves: Whether you decide to go with rubber, vinyl, or some other material, you’ll want to keep your hands covered as you clean up mold. If spores get on your hand, it’s easier for them to spread. Make sure you dispose of the gloves when you’re finished. You’ll also want to wear a long-sleeved shirt that sufficiently covers your arms. Once you’re done cleaning, you can put this shirt, along with the rest of your clothes, in a separate bag to wash later.
Googles: When you disrupt the mold, the spore count in the air will increase. Goggles that completely cover your eyes are an essential item to have. You don’t want to risk any spores getting in through gaps on the glasses. A full-face respirator will combine eye protection with mouth protection.
Respirator: Even if you decide to skip out on a full-face respirator, you should at least use a half-face N-95 respirator. This type of mask filters out at least 95 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size, according to the FDA. For comparison, most mold spores tend to be anywhere from 3 to 100 microns. Be aware that if you have a lot of facial hair these masks might not fit as intended. If there are gaps in the way the respirator hugs your face, spores can still get through.
Examining the Area
Because mold is often a sign of water damage, you might want to take the time to examine the building’s structure. You might notice wet floors or obvious water marks on the ceiling. Stay clear of slippery floors or sagging ceilings.
Also take note of where the mold is growing. Are there places in the room where it hasn’t reached yet? This could help you pin down the origin of the growth.
In some cases, you’ll want to prep the area before you begin cleaning. Water on the floor or in the carpet can be removed with the help of a wet vacuum. If possible, open the doors and windows to help with airflow, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can also use a dehumidifier to manage excess moisture, but using a fan could potentially help the mold spores to spread.
Begin scrubbing hard surfaces by using a disposable rag. A mix of detergent and water will get the job done, but when dealing with porous structures, such as drywall, you should avoid abrasive cleaners, warns Home Depot. Some items in the room, such as porous ceiling tiles, might simply need to be disposed of rather than cleaned. Have a garbage bag nearby to toss items like these away immediately.
Dry surfaces when you’re done and throw out the rags.
When it comes to cleaning solutions, you have multiple options. You can buy pre-made formulas that are intended to kill mold as effectively as possible. You can also create a solution by mixing a cup of bleach and a gallon of water. Add in some dish soap when you need to clean porous surfaces. If your cleaner includes dish soap, you’ll need to rinse it afterward.
A simple 50/50 mix of ammonia and water can also help you remove mold. Allow it to sit on the area for several hours before your rinse it. Avoid mixing ammonia and bleach. The combination can lead to dangerous fumes.
Another cleaning option is undiluted white vinegar. You don’t need to mix this with anything. Just spray it onto the surface, let it sit for about an hour, and then wipe the area down.
When handling cleaning solutions make sure you’re already wearing your protective gloves.
If you’ve noticed mold on the side of your building, you’ll want to take care of that as well. Apply a mixture of bleach and water, let it sit for around 20 minutes, and then use a hose to rinse it all away. You might need to use a bristle brush to clean stubborn patches.
As long as you take preventative steps, you shouldn’t have to repeat the cleaning process in the future. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to manage indoor moisture levels. Rely on exhaust fans to increase ventilation. Keep an eye open for leaks, and take care of them as soon as possible. Avoid using carpeting in high-moisture areas, and replace any carpeting that you can’t dry in a timely manner. The same rule applies to upholstery.
Kat Helgeson comes from a ten-year career in social media marketing and content creation. She takes pride in her ability to communicate the culture and values of an organization via the written word. Kat is also the author of numerous books for young adults. Her titles have received the Junior Library Guild Award, the Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year Distinction, and been featured on the Illinois Reads selection list. Her work has been translated into Dutch and German. She has written several informative and educational pieces for Pure Maintenance Nevada, a mold remediation company located in Reno, Nevada. Pure Maintenance Nevada provides demolition free mold remediation, disinfection & sterilization, and odor removal.