If you've noticed fuzzy white, brown, green or black stains growing in your bathroom, basement, closet or other damp household area that has little ventilation, you probably have mold. Rather than allowing this toxic fungus to take over your home and potentially cause serious illness for yourself and your family, remove the mold immediately and thoroughly.
Causes of Mold
Mold tends to occur in moist places with little air flow. High humidity levels and warm temperatures create the optimum conditions for mold growth. You can help reduce mold by preventing these conditions from occurring. Replace a solid closet door with a louvered one, open your bathroom window after showering and install a dehumidifier in your basement to remove the moisture from the air. Use an oscillating fan to prevent stagnant air and promote drying as well.
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Since breathing in mold spores can cause everything from minor nasal irritation to serious breathing difficulties, it's important to properly prepare before you remove the mold in your home. Purchase and wear non-ventilated safety goggles, a respiratory mask and a pair of rubber gloves whenever you work on mold cleanup. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends wearing an N-95 respirator that has a removable cartridge, which is especially effective in preventing the inhalation of mold and mold spores.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Solid Surfaces
To remove mold on solid surfaces like wood, drywall, tile, enamel and Formica, mix 1 gallon of hot water with 1/4 cup of household detergent -- either laundry soap or dish soap -- and mix well. Use a rough rag or scrub brush to scour away all traces of the mold. For serious growths, you may need to go over the area more than once. Allow the area to dry. Create a mixture of 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part water. Dip an absorbent rag or sponge into the mixture and thoroughly wipe down the surface you've just cleaned to disinfect the area.
While many sources recommend using chlorine bleach to kill and remove mold from surfaces, there are several materials on which it is not practical to do so. The same mixture of 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part water that you used on hard surfaces can be used on other items as well. Alcohol is particularly recommended for removing mold and mildew from leather goods like luggage, purses, jackets and furniture, fabric-covered furniture, and books.