Most molds can be safely removed yourself using common household products and tools. There are many types of mold and mildew that thrive in basement environments. It’s always the best idea to take preventative measures to stop mold and mildew from forming, and to remove mold for better optimum air quality and better health. However, it is very important to note that it is not always a do-it-yourself job. Not all molds are alike, and yet they can have a very similar appearance. At least one form of ‘toxic black mold’ Stachybotrys chartarum can be more harmful to health, and professional remediation might be necessary when dealing with black mold in your basement or home. For all other types of common household molds, these steps should give great results and protect your family and your home.
Step 1: Make sure that this is a do-it-yourself project!
If the mold is extensive it might be appropriate to seek professional mold remediation help. You may want to check the type of mold you are dealing with by having a sample tested by a professional. Look under Industrial Hygiene Consultants or Environmental and Ecological Consultants in the phone book. Or call your local public health department if you need assistance removing black mold.
Step 2: Take necessary precautions to protect yourself and the environment before starting.
- Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
- Wear a respirator approved for black mold (N-95), in addition to goggles and gloves.
- Set a fan in a window to ventilate the room while working. Tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so the spores can’t blow back in.
- Wrap and tape moldy carpeting in 6-mil plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
- To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.
- Turn off your furnace and air conditioner and cover ducts and doors to contain spores.
Step 3: Mold removal from large areas.
Clear the area of furniture and remove any carpeting. If mold is visible on walls, the affected areas of drywall needs to be removed and replaced. Vaccum any debris, and wash the area thoroughly with a 1:8 solution of bleach and water. Allow the solution to penetrate the area and dry. Then wash the floor with a household cleaner, and leave a dehumidifier running for at least 3 days. Replace affected drywall and repaint walls with a waterproof paint to prevent new mold. Seal porous wood surfaces with shellac. Alternative mold cleaners can be used including borax, tea tree oil, straight white vinegar, or quaternary disinfectants.
Step 4: Mold removal from smaller areas.
If mold or mildew needs to be removed from a smaller basement area, the removal procedure is fairly simple. Mold can form, for example, in a basement bathroom, or on kitchen area wall grout. On these smoother surfaces in smaller areas, wash the area with a 1:8 mixture of bleach and water. Use a scrub brush if necessary. A second washing might be necessary. Do not add any household cleaners to your bleach mixture.
Step 5: Mold prevention.
After mold has been removed, take steps to prevent mold and mildew from forming. Keeping the area as dry as possible is most important. Deal with any structural issues that allow water into the basement, and consider running a dehumidifier. Learn more about mold at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html.
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