If you intend to clean up mold, disinfectants and biocides may kill mold spores or take away their ability to reproduce. However, these products should not be used alone in addressing a mold growth problem - you must also eliminate the source of moisture. We have provided the content below for your information; Maida Services, Inc. does not provide removal, abatement, or the remediation of Mold.
This page is written for the "do-it-yourselfer": home owner or tenant. Although one of the most commonly available antimicrobial is bleach, bleach is no longer recommended - especially for large surface areas. Alternatively, you should specifically purchase a fungicide from a local retailer. Professional abatement companies, cleaners or remediator may use methods not covered here. They may also use a more potent Fungicide which is recommended to professionally kill mold. Whatever product you choose to use, be sure the product label specifically states it kills mold.
Remember: Remember even though you kill the mold/mold spores, the allergens in them may remain allergenic for years.
BE CAREFUL: Some molds should not be abated, or cleaned up by the average homeowner. Some molds are highly toxic or pathogenic and can cause severe health problems in some individuals. If you are not sure of your sensitivity levels to molds, or, aren't sure what type of mold you are cleaning up, seek advice from an Industrial Hygienist or a Mold Abatement Specialist.
Where To Start
The key to mold control is moisture control; you must first identify and correct the source of moisture. Water in your home can come from many sources including floods, roof leaks, plumbing leaks and seepage through basement floors. These water leaks can encourage biological pollutants to grow (including bacteria). Water in the basement can result from the lack of gutters or a water flow toward the house. If water is entering the house from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing. (The ground should slope away from the house.)
If your home has not had known plumbing leaks, etc. and you see signs of mold, you should follow up by reducing humidity levels. Steamy showers or cooking contribute to high humidity [moisture in the air]. The amount of moisture that the air in your home can hold depends on the temperature of the air. As the temperature goes down, the air is able to hold less moisture. This is why, in cold weather, moisture condenses on cold surfaces (for example, drops of water form on the inside of a window).
- Keep your home's temperature between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels less than 50%.
- Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture, and vent your clothes dryer to the outside (not into the attic).
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, but be sure that the appliances themselves don't become sources of biological pollutants.
- Circulation carries heat to the cold surfaces. Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation.
- Open doors between rooms, (especially doors to closets which may be colder than other areas).
- Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses; use insulation or storm windows. (A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed on the outside.)
- Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawls paces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. Be sure crawls paces are well-ventilated.
Once you have identified and eliminated the water source, it's important to dry water damaged areas and items as soon as possible (within 24-48 hours to deter mold growth). Items such as glass, plastic, or metal that have been affected by mold can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected. Absorbent materials that are porous which can trap molds (such as paper, rags, wallboard, and rotten wood) that become mold-contaminated should be carefully removed from the building and cleaned thoroughly. Unfortunately, not all materials will be salvageable - some will need to be completely replaced.
Remember: Exposure to mold can occur during cleaning - mold concentrations are likely higher and spores are easily released when handling mold contaminated materials and when moldy material is dried out.
Protect Your Health
- Ensure excellent ventilation in the area - air your house out well during and after the work
- Wear protective gloves
- Use appropriate face mask when performing cleanup. Respirators can be purchased from hardware stores; select one for particle removal (sometimes referred to as a N95 or TC-21C particulate respirator). Respirators are not as effective removing bleach fumes, so minimize your exposure when using bleach or other disinfectants.
- Wear clothing that can be discarded
- Try cleaning a small test patch of mold first. If you feel that this adversely affected your health, you should consider paying a licensed contractor or professional to carry out the work.
- Ask family members or bystanders to leave areas when being cleaned
- Work over short time spans and rest in a fresh air location
- Be sure to read labels of any products you choose to use - don't use an ammonia product before bleach.
Removal of Moldy and Water Damaged Materials
- Clear the area of stored items and furnishings
- Whenever possible, materials should be bagged and then discarded
- Whenever possible, do not carry contaminated items through another living area (through the house)
- If flooded, remove all sheetrock to at least 12 inches above the high water mark. Visually inspect the wall interior and remove any affected materials. (This step may have to be carried out by a licensed contractor).
- Large areas may need to be left to dry before applying cleansers or disinfectants; aggressively dehumidifying these areas can speed up the process
Soap Before Bleach
Depending on the surface and size of the affected area, you may want to clean the area with a non-ammonia soap to remove as much of the mold (and food its food source) as possible. Be sure to use hot water and scrub the entire area affected by mold - use a stiff brush or cleaning pad for porous or uneven surfaces like block walls. Try to avoid excess amounts of runoff. Then, allow the area to dry thoroughly before applying disinfectant. This step seems a little more time consuming, but it's best practice; bleach will likely be less effective if the visible mold or underlying dirt is not removed first.
Make a Bleach Cleanser by mixing one part chlorine bleach, four parts water, and a few drops of non-ammonia dish washing detergent to cut leftover surface grease and grime.
Mold Cleanup with Chlorine Bleach
Again, depending on the conditions of the affected area, and, how successful you were removing the topical mold growth and its food source, you could bathe the stains in full strength chlorine bleach. Be sure to keep the affected areas soaked for an extended period of time - this step is important to completely kill the mold. Then, carefully wash down the entire area with bleach cleanser. Always avoid excessive amounts of runoff or standing bleach. Rinse the area thoroughly with clean hot water, and dry quickly (a wet/dry vacuum is handy for this).
Chlorine Bleach for Mold Patches
If you find one patch of mold, conduct a thorough search of your house for others. Kill all the patches with chlorine bleach and then, using the recommended bleach cleanser, conduct an old-fashioned, top-to-bottom “spring cleaning” — whatever the season.
Mold in Carpets
Generally, we do not recommend the installation of fixed carpets over concrete floors. When water intrusion occurs, attempting to clean moldy carpets and carpet pads is a difficult process because they can trap more mold and moisture than any other material serving as a haven for biological pollutants to grow. The challenge you face in dealing with carpets and carpet pads when they become wet is, the carpet and carpet pad need to be lifted and separated so that they and the floor underneath can dry thoroughly. With fixed carpeting, you'll find it's very difficult to separate and dry these quickly enough to prevent mold growth. Further, if mold growth has already started, you should remove the carpet for cleaning and drying. And, any carpet pad that contains mildew will likely need to be discarded - it’s nearly impossible to clean and destroy all the mildew in a carpet pad. In many cases, you'll find it's impossible to save the pad and the carpeting even after cleaning. When it comes to fixed carpets, the thicker, hence, more dense the carpet is, the harder the cleaning/drying process becomes and often, both end up being discarded. We recommend installing ceramic tile over concrete and area rugs that can be easily washed often, removed or replaced.
In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
If you've cleaned and dried your carpets but they smell slightly musty, start by vacuuming them as thoroughly as possible. Then, try applying a large amount of baking soda. Baking soda is pretty inexpensive - don't use the stuff that's been sitting in the fridge - you should use enough fresh baking soda so that you can't tell what color your carpet is. Leave the baking soda in the carpet for several hours or overnight (you'll need to cut down on foot traffic during this time). The next day, or as long as you can let the baking soda set, inspect for clumps; this is a good indication as to if the carpet was actually dry. If the baking soda is clumpy after it sets, this can be a little more work to vacuum up. And, if you've already reinstalled the carpet, you should aggressively dehumidify the area to prevent recurring mold growth. It may take a little while to vacuum up such a large amount of baking soda, but if there are no clumps, the baking soda should vacuum up easily and odors should be reduced or eliminated. Alternatively, you can steam clean carpets lightly and dry them rapidly - Do not soak!
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