Mold prefers to grow in damp, damp places, such as basements and bathrooms. It also thrives where water leaks around windows, roofs or pipes. It can look like spots, grow in different colors, and smell musty.
As it grows in your home, mold releases spores into the air that can cause a host of medical issues. These problems include asthma, itchy skin, stuffy nose, breathing problems, coughing and wheezing.
Read on to find out how bleach kills mold and the types of surfaces you can clean with bleach. This article also covers bleach cleaning steps, safety precautions, non-toxic alternative methods for cleaning mold, when to call a professional, and tips for preventing mold growth in your home.
How does bleach kill mold?
Common household bleach is either chlorine-based, like bleach powder, or peroxide-based. It contains 3-8% sodium hypochlorite with sodium hydroxide added to prevent chemical breakdown over time.
Bleach is a biocide. This means that it can destroy living organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, molds, molds and algae. You can also use bleach as a disinfectant. For example, a solution containing 0.1% hypochlorite-based bleach kills the coronavirus within 1 minute of contact.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises that it may sometimes be necessary to use bleach to clean mold. However, the agency does not recommend bleach for routine cleaning. The EPA points out that in most cases, complete sterilization of the area is impossible. Mold spores will continue to grow if the moisture problem persists.
What type of surface can you clean to remove mold?
In your home, mold can grow on two types of surfaces: hard surfaces and porous surfaces.
Bleach is safe to use only on hard surfaces, which are generally waterproof and easy to clean. This includes:
- hard plastic
- stainless steel
- varnished wood
It is safe to clean these types of surfaces with bleach if mold is present. However, be aware that bleach is very corrosive to metal. Be careful when cleaning stainless steel with bleach. For varnished wood, try cleaning a small area first.
Porous surfaces in your home where you shouldn’t use bleach to clean mold include:
- grout or caulking, such as in a tub or shower
Porous surfaces have tiny holes, making it almost impossible to clean the whole mold. As a general rule, you should replace porous surfaces with mold growing on them.
Call a professional mold cleanup if you have an expensive or sentimental porous item you want to save. They can also make recommendations if you are unsure how to clean a surface.
Steps to remove mold with bleach
The key to controlling mold growth in your home is to control humidity. Repair any areas where water leaks or moisture collects before attempting to clean the mold.
Here are the steps to follow when cleaning mold:
- Remove all moisture and repair any water leaks.
- Open windows and doors for ventilation.
- Put on your safety gear, including rubber gloves, goggles, and boots.
- Mix 1 gallon of water with 1 cup (8 ounces) of household bleach.
- Use a spray bottle to apply the diluted bleach to the hard surface you want to clean.
- Scrub to remove mildew, rinse with water and dry completely.
- When finished cleaning, discard the brush and cloth.
- Throw away all porous surfaces that contain mold.
- Consult a specialist if you are unsure how to clean an item, if an item is expensive or has sentimental value.
Follow the safety instructions
Bleach is a very powerful chemical that can cause harm and even death if used incorrectly.
Carefully follow these precautions when cleaning with bleach:
- Never mix bleach with other cleaning products, including ammonia. Mixing them will produce poisonous gas.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow their guidelines.
- Open doors and windows to ensure good ventilation where you clean.
- Wear rubber gloves, rubber boots, and eye protection while cleaning to prevent accidental exposure to your skin or eyes.
Non-Toxic Alternatives for Cleaning Mold
For non-toxic alternatives, try using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
Vinegar is a common household item that can kill most mold. Also use vinegar on hard surfaces. Put on safety gear (gloves and goggles), spray the vinegar directly on the mold and let sit for an hour. Rub it in, then wipe the area dry.
Learn more about cleaning mold with vinegar.
Hydrogen peroxide is another solution you can use to kill mold on hard surfaces. In a spray bottle, pour 3% hydrogen peroxide and spray it directly on the mold. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes or until it stops bubbling. Then gently scrub the mold with a soft brush or cloth.
Learn more about cleaning mold with hydrogen peroxide.
When to Call a Professional Mold Releaser
According to the EPA, if mold growth in your home covers an area greater than 10 square feet, you should call professionals for help. Make sure the professional or contractor has experience in mold cleanup and follows EPA guidelines.
Call professional help if you suspect your HVAC system has mold. Until a professional has verified it, do not turn on your system.
If mold is growing as a result of damage from sewage or contaminated water, call in the professionals.
Consult specialists if mold grows on a sentimental or expensive item made of porous material. They will be able to tell you if catering is possible.
Finally, if you have any health problems that could result from exposure to mold, do not attempt to clean up mold yourself. Contact your doctor about your symptoms and call a professional cleaner to fix the mold problem.
The most important key to preventing mold growth in your home is controlling areas of dampness. Without water, mold cannot grow.
- Keep the humidity level in your home at no more than 50%.
- Use exhaust fans and air vents to allow air to circulate freely.
- Repair water leaks in the roof, walls and plumbing.
- Use mold removers to clean your bathrooms.
- Replace waterlogged carpets and upholstery that cannot be dried immediately.
Mold growing in your home means there is a moisture problem. Always solve the moisture problem before tackling the mold cleanup.
Bleach is a solution you can use to clean mold from hard surfaces. However, it can be toxic, and the EPA does not recommend it for routine use. If you use bleach to clean mold, wear protective gear and never mix bleach with other cleaners or chemicals.
For non-toxic options, clean with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide instead. However, if the mold growth covers a large area, it may be time to call in the professionals.