Five Principles of Mold Cleanup

There are five general principles of cleaning up-or remediating-mold. These guidelines will help you deal effectively with small areas of mold contamination (e.g., less than 10 square feet). Leave larger areas to professionals with special training and who will apply these same principles in performing their work. Moldy houses are a health hazard.

Mold has been associated with allergic rhinitis, asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and infections such as histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis. Mold mycotoxins can also produce toxin-related illnesses.

Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as an N-95 respirator (available from home improvement stores), gloves, and goggles, to reduce your exposure to mold spores and fragments.

 

№1 Professional cleanup

Major contamination — best handled by professionals — requires special steps. These may include extra-protective garments and respirators, “full containment” such as sealing off the mold zones with polyethylene sheeting, running HEPA filtered fans to create negative pressure and airflow so no contaminated air escapes from the moldy area or affects clean areas, and sealing off HVAC ducts to prevent spreading mold spores throughout your home.

№2  Some Details An effective mold cleanup starts with knowing the extent of contamination

This means inspecting the area thoroughly, and knowing your home and the materials involved. In addition to a visual and “sniff” inspection (mold often has a distinct accompanying odor), questions to answer include: What materials are contaminated?

How large an area — visible or hidden — is affected? Have all the sources of moisture been identified and corrected? Thorough documentation will help you when it comes time to file an insurance claim, and should be performed and maintained throughout a major cleanup project.

№3 Contain Mold  Mold contamination should be controlled and contained

When mold spores from infestations become airborne they are harder to capture, unhealthy to breathe, and can spread mold to other areas.  Start by covering moldy areas awaiting cleanup with polyethylene or clear plastic sheeting to prevent airborne dispersal of spores.

Other source containment methods including keeping surfaces wet during initial cleanup to minimize dust, using vacuums equipped with HEPA filtration to capture spores and fragments, and running HEPA air purifiers close to the work areas. If an entire area can be ventilated or continually flushed with fresh air without moving contaminated air into clean areas — then this is also appropriate. More elaborate containment for large and complex cleanups is best left to professionals.

№4 Remove Mold  Mold contamination should be physically removed from your home and never just “killed” and covered up

In some cases — for example, deeply mold-infested carpet, upholstery or drywall — complete removal and disposal of the affected material is necessary. On non-porous washable surfaces, homeowners may use a borax and water solution for cleaning up small areas (test first to be sure it is compatible with the surface).

Hydrogen peroxide or bleach (with good ventilation) properly diluted with water can also be used (test first since bleach can damage some materials). After cleaning and drying, surfaces should be visibly free of dust. Running a clean, dry white or black cloth over cleaned surfaces will help determine whether or not residual mold dust remains.

№5 Keep Your Home Dry 

Since mold spores are always present at background levels under normal conditions, mold growth is virtually inevitable if moisture is not controlled. To prevent this, moisture problems should be identified, located and corrected or controlled as soon as possible.

In other words, keep your home dry to prevent mold growth or recurrence.