Finding those black spots of mold in your shower or basement can be alarming. Luckily, a small amount generally won’t make you sick but knowing how to get rid of mold and prevent it can keep it from becoming a bigger issue.
You’ll want to tackle the mold while it’s a small area because if left untouched it can spread to a larger area. "It can ruin household valuables and even trigger an allergic reaction," says Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.
Keeping the rooms in your house, like the bathroom, dry and cool can help prevent mold from growing, but despite your best efforts, mold can still grow in unwanted places. If you find yourself with a mold situation, here’s everything you need to know.
First, can I remove mold myself?
You can, but mold spores can travel in the air when cleaning, so you’ll want to limit your exposure by wearing protective gear. Wear long rubber gloves to protect your hands and forearms. It’s also best to wear eye protection, like goggles, to prevent bleach or other cleaners from splashing in your eyes, especially when removing mold from ceilings or overhead areas.
If the mold problem is severe and more than a few spots, it could be a sign of a bigger moisture problem. If the area is widespread and larger than approximately a 2 x 2 foot area, you'll want to call in a pro to have it removed safely.
What products are best for removing mold?
These are our Cleaning Lab's favorite mold-removers, no matter the job:
Are there any natural remedies for removing mold?
If you're looking for a natural solution to remove mold, one of the below options will work. Keep in mind, though, that they may take more time than bleach and may not remove stains:
Hydrogen peroxide: Grab a spray bottle and pour 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. Spray the affected area, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then scrub the mold away.
Vinegar: Pour undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the moldy area. Let it sit for an hour and then wipe the area clean with water and allow it to dry.
How to get rid of mold on shower tile and grout
Shower tile and grout can be a difficult area to keep mold free because the wet and warm conditions make it a prime breeding ground for mold. However, small areas of mold can be removed with a grout cleaner (try one of our above favorites!), a mold remover, or a bleach-and-water solution.
Spray the grout, let the formula penetrate, and rinse. In some cases, there's no scrubbing needed: In our tests, Clorox Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover spray killed 99.9% of mold and mildew germs and bacteria in only five minutes.
How to remove mold from shower curtains and liners
If your shower curtain or liner is plastic, a mold and mildew spray that’s safe for plastic, like Clorox Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover, can be used to get rid of mold. Simply spray on, wait until the stains disappear and rinse off.
Another option: Wash your plastic liner in the washing machine on the delicate cycle with warm water, laundry detergent and bleach. If the shower curtain is fabric, it’s best to wash it on the warmest setting possible according to the care instructions.
How to remove mold from walls and ceilings
The bad news: If the surface is very porous, like a ceiling tile, it's best to replace it. The good news: If you find small areas of mold on walls or ceilings of sheetrock or plaster, you can stop mold when it starts if you act fast. Here's how:
Clean the surface with detergent and water using a sponge or brush and let the surface dry completely.
Follow with a water and bleach solution: Mix ¾ cup of chlorine bleach to a gallon of warm water. Wearing rubber gloves, apply the water-bleach mixture to the stains with a sponge or brush.
Let sit five minutes, scrub, rinse, and air dry.
How to get rid of mold on fabric
Those damp towels or gym clothes forgotten in a bag create an environment where mold can flourish if left too long. If you spot mold on these fabric items, here's how to nix it:
Bring the item outside and brush off the excess mold to prevent the mold spores from getting inside your home.
If the fabric is machine washable, rub in liquid laundry detergent and wash it on the hottest setting possible according to the care instructions with chlorine bleach or non-cholorine bleach, as specified by the care instructions.
If the fabric is not machine washable, dry cleaning or hand washing will remove the mold.
How to remove mold from wood
In areas like the kitchen, where there's higher humidity from cooking or running the dishwasher, you may find mold on your wood cabinets if there is poor ventilation. Mold can also grow on wood furniture and paneling if it's humid and the air circulation is low. To remove mold from wood cabinets, paneling, or furniture, follow the steps below:
Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter , vacuum the loose spores with the soft brush attachment.
Then, mix a few drops of dish detergent, like Dawn Platinum, with a gallon of water and use a rag to apply the solution. Wet the surface to remove the mold but do not saturate it.
Follow-up with a cloth dipped in clear water, wring it out well, and wipe the surface dry. Don't let the wood stay wet for too long as it could damage the finish.
How to prevent mold growth in the first place
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.” Even if you clean the mold, it will still come back if the room is humid and poorly ventilated or there is excess moisture from a leak, even a small one. Humidity levels should never exceed 50% to control mold growth.
That means prevention is the only permanent remedy for mold. After you've repaired the leaks and gotten rid of any moisture problems, moving forward, create an environment where mold can’t grow with these tips:
Add a dehumidifier or two to your home. It’s best to keep indoor humidity levels between 30-50% to stop build-up — make sure to buy one that’s sized for the area you are treating.
Open bathroom doors and windows or turn on the exhaust fan during and after showering to let moisture escape.
Leave your shower curtain or liner spread open after showering to help keep it dry.
Vent moisture generating sources, such as bathrooms and clothes dryers, to the outside.
Avoid storing items in damp rooms, which may mean keeping linens, books, or furniture our of your basement or attic.
Seal bathroom grout lines every year if you have tiling. This will help waterproof your walls and floors.
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