How to Clean up Mold

These directions are excerpted from A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home, at epa.gov/mold.
If mold is severe, we recommend finding a professional warranted service. We don’t want you to get sick!

1. Wear protective gear during cleanup. People are mainly exposed to mold by breathing spores and skin contact. Wear gloves, goggles and a respirator rated N-95 or higher. Some types have valves to make it easier to breathe. A properly fitted half-face or full-face respirator with filter cartridges provides greater protec- tion and comfort than the dust mask types.

2. Isolate work area and ventilate to outdoors. Disturb- ing mold colonies during cleanup can cause a huge release of spores into the air, so seal off the moldy areas from the rest of the house. Open windows, and don’t run the central air system during cleanup. Tape plastic over air grilles, and drape plastic in the stairwell if the second story is dry and clean. If power is on, put a box fan in a window to blow out and exhaust mold-filled air to the out- doors.

3. Remove moldy, porous materials. Porous moldy or sewage-contaminated materials should be removed, put in plastic bags if possible and thrown away. To reduce the release and spread of mold spores, it is helpful to cover moldy material with plastic sheeting before removing it.

• Remove all flooded carpeting, upholstery, fabrics and mattresses right away. It’s best to discard them, but if you hope to salvage a valuable item, have it cleaned, disinfected and dried quickly outside the home. Never reuse flooded padding.
• Remove all wet fibrous insulation, even if wallboard appears to be dry. Wet insulation will stay wet far too long, leading to the growth of hidden unhealthy mold and decay fungi inside the walls. Cut wall covering above the level that was wet; water can wick up above the flood level.
• Remove all moldy, porous materials, including gypsum wallboard, processed wood products, ceiling tiles and paper products.
• Clean and sanitize plaster, wood paneling and nonpaper-faced gypsum board walls that dried, are in good condition and have no insulation in the wall. It’s best to remove multiple layers of paint on old plaster to aid drying. There is a risk of mold on the backside, however, that can release spores into the home through air leaks in the walls. If you choose to restore these materials, seal interior gaps with caulk.
• Remove all vinyl wallpaper, flooring and any other materials that hamper drying of framing toward the interior space. All interior side plastic sheeting or foil- faced insulation should be removed.

4. Clean and disinfect. Surface mold can be effectively cleaned from nonporous materials such as hard plastic, concrete, glass and metal; solid wood can also be cleaned since mold cannot penetrate solid wood but grows only on the surface. Cleaning should remove, not just kill, the mold, because dead spores can still cause health problems.
After cleaning, you may choose to use a disinfectant to kill any mold missed by the cleaning. If there was sewage contamination, disinfection is a must. If you disinfect, follow label directions and warnings, handle carefully, wear rubber gloves, and never mix bleach with ammonia or acids. Many disinfectants, including bleach, can kill molds but do not prevent regrowth of new colonies.

5. Consider a borate treatment to resist termites, decay and mold. Solutions that penetrate wood over time are more expensive but offer better protection. Other mold inhibitors such as latex zinc paints and fungicides also may help inhibit mold regrowth during drying. Do NOT apply sealants that can impair drying. Framing materials that are difficult to clean or remove (such as “blackboard,” OSB sheathing, rough surfaces, etc.) can be painted with latex paint to “encapsulate” any remaining mold and prevent its release to the air.
6. Flush the air. After cleaning and disinfecting, air out the building. Use fans in windows to pull mold spores to the outdoors.
7. Speed dry. Dry all wet materials as quickly as possible. Close windows and air condition or heat, run fans and use a dehumidifier, if possible. If there is no power, keep windows open.
8. Remain on Mold Alert. Continue looking for signs of moisture or new mold growth. New mold can form in as little as 2-3 days if materials stay wet. Wood and other materials that may look dry can still be wet enough to support new growth. If mold returns, repeat cleaning and, if possible, use speed drying equipment and mois- ture meters. Regrowth may signal that the material was not dry enough or should be removed.
9. Do not attempt restoration until all materials have dried completely. Wood moisture content should be less than 20 percent. Do NOT use vinyl wallpaper, oil- based paint or other interior finishes that block drying to the inside.
10. Restore with flood-resistant materials. If possible, “wet floodproof” your home so it can better withstand a flood. Use closed-cell spray foam insulation in walls, or rigid foam insulating sheathing that does not absorb water. Choose solid wood or water-resistant composite materials. Elevate wiring and equipment. Consider removable, cleanable wainscoting or paneling. Use paperless drywall that does not provide a food source for mold. Use restorable flooring such as ceramic tile, solid wood, stained concrete, etc.

If you’re in California, you might want to give us a call and see about getting an assessment from Byebyemold.

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