Monthly Archives: August 2016

Mold removal guide – Removing mold with common household cleaners

Mold Removal Products

There are several common household cleaning items that can be used to remove mold from your house. Some of these cleaning agents are quite strong while others are moderate. Depending on the mold quantity and the underlying surface on which the mold has grown, you need to select the right cleaning solution.

Here is a list –

  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Tea tree oil
  • Grapefruit seed extract

1. Mold Removal with Vinegar

Vinegar contains acetic acid which is a mild acid, but is capable of killing most mold species that are commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens. Vinegar has the advantage of being a natural cleaner that is non-toxic and safe for any kind of use.

Vinegar works quite well on tiles, vinyl and porcelain surfaces. If there is mold on the tiles or on the vinyl door in the bathroom then you can clean it with just vinegar.

Fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar and spray vinegar on the mold affected area. Leave for a few minutes and then wipe using a sponge. The mold would easily come off along with the dirt and water stains. Its as simple as that.

Keep cleaning till all the mold is gone and the whole surface is looking bright and clean. Vinegar also acts as a disinfectant which kills other kinds of germs and microbes as well. It should be your first choice when cleaning mild and regular molds in kitchen and bathroom.

To make the cleaning even better, try adding lime or lemon juice to the vinegar.

If you are using it in the kitchen then make sure not to spill it on granite or marble floor or countertops. The acid in vinegar can corrode stone surfaces.

Vinegar can also be used to clean mildew from clothes. Clothes left wet for many days often develop a musty smell and mildew growth. Simply wash the clothes with warm to hot water with laundry detergent and a cup or two of plain white vinegar.

2. Mold Removal with Detergent and Water

Usual laundry detergent can also be used to clean up mold from a variety of surfaces. Prepare a solution detergent and water and use it to scrub the mold. This will work on wooden surfaces, ceramic tiles, porcelain and vinyl surfaces.

If you are cleaning mold on walls, then prepare a stronger detergent solution with more detergent and less water. Walls will also need more time and effort to completely clean away the mold.

3. Mold Removal with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a very common household cleaner that is natural and non-toxic. Though it is not a very strong cleaner, it can still be used to clean small amounts of mold in the house. Baking soda in solution is alkaline (pH 8.1) in nature so it can be used on surfaces that need an alkaline cleaner. Moreover its safe for humans and pets.

Add about 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 spray bottle and fill it with water. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dishsoap. This will enhance the cleaning power of baking soda. Shake and mix the solution well.

Now spray this solution whatever mold surface and scrub and wipe with a sponge or scrubber. Repeat the process till all the mold is gone. Baking soda solutions are good for use on stone surfaces like marble and granite and also polished wooden surfaces.

For tiles and vinyl doors, vinegar and lime juice will always be more effective.

4. Mold Removal with Borax

The next mold cleaner we are talking about is Borax. Borax is a natural cleaning agent, but is toxic if consumed. However borax is still safer as it does not emit toxic fumes like bleach or ammonia. In water solution borax is alkaline with a pH level of 9 (higher than baking soda). So it has a similar cleaning effect like baking soda.

Borax is quite useful for cleaning toilets and drains. It has disinfectant properties and acts as a insecticide, herbicide and fungicide. This makes it a good cleaner for mold as well. It is cheap as well.

Using borax to clean mold

Prepare a solution of about 1 cup borax in 1 gallon of water. Add 2 tablespoon of liquid dishsoap to the solution.

It is advisable to vacuum the area before cleaning with borax solution. Use a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to pull out all loose mold and mold spores in the air. This will make cleaning easier and better.

Now apply this solution on the mold area in plenty and then rub with a scrubber. The mold should start falling off.

After cleaning, let the surface dry completely. Vacuum once more to make sure that no particles or mold spores are left behind. If it is indoors, then ventilate the place well with open windows and fans.

5. Mold Removal with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is yet another effective cleaner that can be used to remove mold. It has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties which make it a good disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a mild bleach but is a lot safer that chlorine bleach. It does not give out any toxic fumes and is much safer on humans and pets. It can be used to remove mold from floors, walls, tiles, fixtures etc.

You can purchase hydrogen peroxide from your local drugstore. Most of the commercially available hydrogen peroxide has 3% concentration, which is safe for household usage.

Fill a spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide. You can also use 5% hydrogen peroxide.
Spray it on the moldy surface in plenty to make sure that all the mold is covered by the hydrogen peroxide. Leave it for around 10 minutes so that the peroxide can do its job of killing the mold. Then scrub away the entire surface with a sponge or scrubber.

Repeat the process till all the mold is wiped away. After cleaning you can vacuum the surface to ensure that all the mold spores have been eliminated away and there is none left.

6. Mold Removal with Bleach

Bleach is perhaps the strongest chemical that you can use to kill and remove mold. It completely eliminates mold from whatever surface it is applied to.

However, bleach is a toxic and strong chemical that needs to be handled with great caution. Bleach should be used only as the last resort when all other cleaners fail to do the job. If you are cleaning mold from some outdoor wooden structure that is large in size and does not clean well with vinegar or detergent, you may have to use bleach.

Bleach comes in two different variants, namely chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach. For indoor usage like bathrooms, oxygen bleach is a safer options. Oxygen bleach is less powerful than chlorine bleach but is effective in cleaning mold.

Precautions when using bleach

When using bleach, make sure that you use hand gloves and face masks to protect yourself from the fumes. Also keep in mind that never mix anything with bleach without proper knowledge. A number of chemicals like vinegar or ammonia react with bleach and produce highly poisonous gases which can be fatal if inhaled even in small quantities.

How to Kill Mold with Bleach

First prepare a solution of 1 part water with 10 parts water, or about a cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Preferably use a medium sized tub or bucket that can be carried safely without spilling.

Now use a large sized sponge to soak the solution and then apply it on the moldy surface. Rub as much as you like till the mold is completely gone. Repeat the process as necessary.

For outdoor structures, do not rinse with fresh water. Let the bleach remain on the surface so that it has effect for as long as possible.

7. Mold Removal with Ammonia

Like bleach, ammonia is also a very strong chemical agent that can up mold. It can be used on glass, tiles, countertops etc. Ammonia is strongly alkaline in nature.

Ammonia is a harsh, toxic chemical that should be handled with great caution. Also make sure to never mix anything else with ammonia like bleach or vinegar. This will result in highly toxic gases to be released that can be fatal if inhaled.

Additionally, although ammonia can kill surface mold, dead mold and dead mold spores are still allergenic so you will need to make sure to remove them afterwards.

How to Kill Mold with Ammonia

To kill mold using ammonia, create a solution of 50% clear ammonia and 50% water in a spray bottle and spray it on moldy areas.

Make sure the ammonia you use says “clear ammonia” on the label.

Leave the area for a few hours before wiping and rinsing.

Often detergents or mold cleaning products will contain ammonia. In that case just follow the directions on the label and be sure never to mix it with bleach.

Mold Control with Tea Tree Oil

So far we have discussed some of the most effective way of cleaning the mold away. Now its time to apply something that will hold the mold back from growing again.

Tea tree oil is a natural and effective solution to hold the mold from coming back for some time. It may not be the best solution to clean large amounts of mold, but after you are done cleaning using bleach or vinegar, try applying tea tree oil to prevent mold growth for some time.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is mostly safe on the skins of humans and pets. However it is toxic if consumed. When used sparingly in diluted form it has strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

The best quality tea tree oils are derived from a plant called Melaleuca Alternifolia which is very commonly founds in Australia.

Applying Tea Tree Oil

First of all you should clean away as much mold as you can using vinegar or lime juice. Use a little baking soda if necessary.

Now prepare a solution of 1 teaspoon tea tree oil with 1 cup of water. Fill it in your spray bottle.

Spray the solution on the moldy surface very generously. Saturate the whole area with oil solution. Do not rinse or wipe the area, let the solution sit over the mold surface so that it can keep doing its work and hold the mold from returning.

However, bear in mind that natural remedies like these will work only on small places that are otherwise well ventilated. For outdoor structures that are more exposed to water and moisture you better call in professional service.

Mold Control Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit seed extract is another oil extract similar to tea tree oil that has anti-fungal properties. It is inexpensive and safe on humans and pets. Unlike tea tree oil, it does not have any
odor.

The citric acid in the grapefruit seed extract acts as a strong disinfectant that kills microscopic molds and spores. It also deodorizes the whole surface.

Again, just like tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract is also not a cleaner. First you should clean the mold with cleaning solutions of vinegar or bleach and then apply grapefruit seed oil.

Also this technique is useful only for indoor areas that are small in size. For a large scale mold treatment you would need to use commercial mold inhibitor solutions or call professionals.

Applying Grapefruit Seed Extract

Prepare a solution of 10 dropts grapefruit seed extract in 1 cup of water. Fill your spray bottle with it.

Shake the bottle well and then spray the solution onto the mold area. Spray in plenty to fully cover the whole mold ridden area.

No need to wipe or rinse. Let the solution stay on the surface like that. It will do its work and hold the mold from coming back for several weeks. Depending on how soon the mold reappears, you can spray the solution again after a few weeks to keep it in effect continuously.

Conclusion

Tackling mold can be a grueling task. If you are doing it for the first time then you need to first cleanup the mold completely using all possible measures.

Next you have to take necessary steps to control the mold from reappearing soon. Although this is not easy and there is probably no solution that will hold the mold forever. Most mold control solutions stay in effect from few days to few weeks, after which you have to treat the surface again.

Using the above mentioned methods you can get rid of mold pretty easily using common household cleaning supplies that are not very expensive.

If you have any questions or feedback then do let us know in the comment box below.

What are the health symptoms caused by black Mold

Mold and related health symptoms

Although most forms of indoor mold is kind of harmless in small quantities, they can cause serious health problems if allowed to spread beyond limit. If you have or had mold in your house and are suffering health problems then you may want to investigate further to check if it has been caused by the mold.

The major health symptoms that mold cause include the following –

  • Allergic and irritant symptoms
  • Toxic symptoms
  • Infections

Allergic Symptoms from Mold Exposure

The most prominent symptoms caused by mold are those affecting the respiratory symptom or breathing. When you breathe in air that is contaminated with mold spores, the immune system responds to it by creating allergic reactions. These reactions are the immune system’s defense against foreign particles that enter the body through the respiratory system.

If the person is sensitive to such allergies, the reaction could be more than just mild allergies. Prolonged exposure to mold spore contaminated air can also increase the allergy levels. This can cause the reactions to reach a severe level requiring medical attention.

Some of the symptoms that are caused by mold allergy include the following –

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Cold or flu like symptoms
  • Blocked nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Irritated, itchy throat
  • Sinus congestion
  • Sinus headaches
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritation or rashes or hives
  • Watery eyes
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy ears
  • Hair loss, baldness
  • Hay fever symptoms

Check the wikipedia page on mold health issues to learn more –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold_health_issues

Toxic mold and related health symptoms

There are about 16 mold species that are toxic to humans and animals. The release toxic chemicals call mycotoxins in the air which if inhaled can cause serious health problems. Stachybotrys chartarum is one such black mold that releases toxic chemicals in air.

The health symptoms caused by such toxic molds can be much more severe than minor allergic reactions. Some of these symptoms include bleeding, damage to respiratory organs and system, and in extereme cases even cancer. They can also affect the mental health of a person.

However, such cases are rare given the fact the most individuals are conscious enough to detect theme and take action on time.

Infections caused by Mold

Sometimes mold spores that enter a person’s respiratory system through breathing, might begin to grow or cause infections to the sinus, skin or digestive system.

Mold infections usually don’t occur in young healthy people with a strong immunity system. Elderly people or those having weak immune systems are more prone to such infections. Species of mold that cause infections include Trichoderma, Penicillium marneffei and Aspergillus fumigatus.

Medical examination of mold symptoms

Physical Examination for Mold Symptoms

There are a number of tests available to determine if a patient is suffering mold allergies. Such tests can be performed by yourself or a medical professional.

Doctor’s would conduct a simple physical examination to identify the mold allergies. They will study and discuss the visible physical symptoms and be able to tell if the reactions are caused due to a mold allergy.

Skin tests for mold symptoms

In case of skin complications, there are specific skin tests to tell if its a mold allergy. The test involves applying purified mold allergens to the surface of the skind and observe the reactions. Then the doctor will diagnose if the symptoms have been caused due to mold allergy or not.

Skin tests are believed to be more reliable than blood tests though neither may be very accurate to detect all types of mold allergies.

Blood Tests for Mold Symptoms

Apart from physical examination and skin tests, the other most effective way to diagnose mold allergies is through blood tests. Sample of blood is taken from the patient’s body which is then analyzed.

One such blood test is the MELISA – Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay test. The MELISA test can detect allergies to chemicals, toxins, and mold, including toxic molds like Aspergillus and Penicillium.

The MELISA test does not measure the amount of mold’s toxin or allergens present in the patient’s body. It can only tell if the patient is allergic to mold or not.

Besides MELISA, other blood tests that can detect allergies include ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and the RAST (radioallergosorbent) test.

Treatment for Mold Symptoms

Avoid and get rid of Mold

The best way to eliminate mold related health issues is to completely avoid exposure to mold and mold spores to the best possible extent. At home, you should do a careful inspection and cleanup of all mold affected areas to remove the mold completely.

Mold commonly appears in the wet areas of the house like bathroom, kitchen, and walls that have moisture or damp problems. Clean mold using proper chemical agents and also use vacuum to fully dry the affected place.

If necessary, repeat the cleaning process regularly to ensure that the mold does not come back. Call a professional for proper removal and mold treatment. It will cost money but save on medical expenses in the long run.

Avoid mold on food items

Besides walls and furniture, another place where mold grows is rotten and decaying food items. Though the mold species that grows on food items is different from the one that grows on walls.

Food items catch mold quickly during humid climates like rainy season. Certain food items like bread, cheese catch mold even faster than others. It is very important to take care of your kitchen and the food during the humid and rainy seasons.

Avoid eating anything that is too old or shows the slightest sign of rotting. Rotting food generally smells bad. Do not keep food in open for too long. Keeping food inside the refrigerator can keep them free from mold and germs for a longer time.

Medication

If you have been affected by mold and symptoms are becoming prominent, you might consider taking medications to keep things under control. There are several prescribed drugs and pills for controlling allergies. However you should always consult a doctor first and take medicines only as recommended by the doctor.

However, keep in mind that most medicines and drugs will only counter the allergy symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. Ideally you should work towards improving your immunity as well as the hygiene of the environment.

Conclusion

By now you should have a good idea of what health risks are caused by mold and how you can deal with them to save yourself from any complications.

The best treatment of mold is to clean and remove it. Atleast inside your house, you should take utmost care to make sure that no mold infestation occurs anywhere and treat them at the first sign.

In some places, mold might occur more than usual due to climatic conditions or construction problems. Then you should definitely call a professional to get a proper mold treatment for your house.

If you have any other questions, let us know in the comment box below.

What is Mold

What is Mold

Mold (also called mould) is a fungus (microscopic plants) that grow on various things like damp places, food items etc. Ever noticed those scary looking growth on rotten fruits, vegetables or the black spots in the bathroom. That is mold.

Mold grows in places where there is moisture (or damp), lack of fresh air and moderate temperatures. They cannot grow under direct sunlight. Bright sunlight inhibits the growth of mold.

Mold survives and draws nutrition from the very surface it grows on. It grows most commonly on decaying and rotting organic matter like fruits, vegetables, wood etc. Inside the house mold grows in many more places apart from just organic substances.

Where does mold grow

Mold appears quickly on damp ridden walls, ceilings, wooden structures and all places in the bathroom for example. Where-ever there is water contact or moisture staying for long time, mold finds a conducive environment to thrive.

Apart from walls and wooden structures, mold can even grow on clothes, carpet and similar things. If you leave the carpet wet for long and do not give it a wash once every few days, it would start smelling bad and eventually develop mildew growth.

Mold on walls

Mold on walls

Mold appears even on the outdoors. Just like the inside of the house, wooden and wall structures on the outside of the house also develop mold growth when there is too much damp or water contact persisting for a long time.

What causes mold to grow

Most species of mold need moisture and moderate temperature to grow. You would rarely see mold growing in dry places. Moisture or damp problem is fundamental to mold growth. There are a number of reasons why moisture may become a problem inside your house.

Some of the common reasons include, humidity, water leakage through water pipelines or from faulty roof ceilings.

Some mold species are Xerophilic in nature and can grow in places with little or no moisture by only humidity. For example the mold that grows over bread which has been left to rot. However most of the mold species need accumulation of moisture to be able to grow.

Mold growing on fruit

Mold growing on fruit

Besides moisture, the other key factor that favors mold growth is moderate temperature. Apart from very hot and very cold temperatures, mold can grow under all other temperatures. There are some mold species that can even lie dormant under cold climates and start growing again when the temperature is right. Mold can grow at temperatures as low as 2 degree celcius. However very hot conditions generally inhibits the growth of mold and kills it.

Mold Biology and cellular structure

Mold grows in colonies. A mold colony is considered a single organism. The main body of a mold colony is called mycelium and it is made of a network of multi-cellular filaments called hyphae. It is only when the mold colony becomes large enough, does it become visible to the naked human eye.

The tips of the hyphae release enzymes that breaks down the compounds present in the underlying surface on which the mold is living. The mold then absorbs the nutrients from the underlying surface and continues growth.

Mold spores

Under favorable conditions of temperature, oxygen levels and available nutrients, the mold produce spores at the end of the hyphal cells. These spores act like seeds, and reproduce the mold elsewhere.

The spores are carried away by air flow elsewhere and if they land on a surface that is suitable for growth of mold, the spore will germinate into a new hyphal cell and begin the growth of a mold colony.

If mold starts growing in one corner of the house, the spores originating from it can float to other parts of the house and spread pretty fast. Since they are not visible it can be difficult to clean and remove them completely without proper inspection. More over some of the spores are resilient enough to stay dormant for years before they find suitable environment to grow.

What is Toxic Mold

Now that we have understood the basics of mold, it is now important to learn about it toxicity and what it is dangerous to humans. There are thousands of species of mold and about 16 of the are known as toxic mold which release mycotoxin, a toxic chemical that can cause harm to humans and animals.

Some of the toxic mold species include –

  • Aspergillus
  • Fusarium
  • Paecilomyces
  • Penicillium
  • Stachybotrys
  • Trichoderma

However, not all black mold is toxic. If you suspect that mold somewhere in your house is causing your health problems, then it is advisable to get proper inspection done, to identify the mold species.

Toxic Black Mold Problems and Sick Building Syndrome

Mycotoxins produced from toxic mold is considered to be a major cause of sick building syndrome in places that have unhealthy working conditions. Work places and offices receive less of cleaning attention compared to homes and as a result mold infestations persist for a long time. If you are facing similar problems in your work environment then it might be time to take necessary steps.

The increasing problem of Mold

The problem of mold inside homes is increasing over time. This is partly due to the construction of the buildings and also due to the maintenance done by the home owner. Newer buildings focus more on compact designs and layouts and focus less on ventilation and letting sunlight inside the house.

This causes stagnant air and moisture getting trapped easily inside such constructions leading to favorable conditions for mold growth. Furthermore, home owners are resorting to air conditioners for fresh air instead of their windows. Air conditioners tend to spread the mycotoxins and spores even more indoors and the quality of air is never the same as natural air.

More over the life style of home owners, is becoming busier by the day and people put in lesser time on cleaning their homes.

Conclusion

So the above article should have given you a fair idea about what mold is and how it affects your house and your health. Any kind of organic growth is seen as a symptom of decay and bad energy and should be eliminated from the house at the earliest.

In upcoming articles we shall talk about how to clean and remove mold from your house. If you have any questions or comments, then let us know.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycelium
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycotoxin

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