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How to Clean Mold and Mildew

One of the most common and difficult issues facing homeowners today is how to deal with mold and mildew.

These tips will help you eradicate mold from inside your home, but first let’s talk about the differences and similarities between these two plagues.

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Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are types of fungi, and each thrives in warm, humid environments, such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and crawl spaces. Mold is usually black or dark green, slimy and smells musty. Downy mildew is most often gray or white and has a powdery, fluffy texture.

Mold usually grows on damp surfaces, so it’s easier to clean than mildew, which tends to grow in and behind surfaces, including walls and ceilings. There is also another important difference: prolonged exposure to mold can cause all kinds of health problems, including migraines, respiratory failure, fatigue, joint pain, depression, heart problems and eye irritation and of the throat. Mold is not as invasive or dangerous as mildew, but in some cases exposure will cause respiratory and nasal irritation.

The good news? Most mold can be eliminated by first reducing excess moisture, then cleaning and killing the fungus with an appropriate cleaner.

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Reduce humidity

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Excess humidity can be introduced into a home in several ways, including a leak, very high relative humidity, or inadequate ventilation. If you find mold on the roof rafters or the underside of the roof sheathing, check for water penetration from a nail hole or damaged flashing in a valley, around a chimney or where a side wall meets a roof plane – and it doesn’t. t take much of a leak to promote the growth of mold and mildew; a surface just needs to stay moist to support the fungus.

Larger leaks, such as those caused by a broken water pipe or baseboard heater, can cause a lot of damage, especially to ceilings and walls. Mold will grow quickly in dark, damp spaces, so it’s important to cut out and remove any water-damaged drywall and soggy insulation between wall studs and ceiling joists. Leave the wooden frame exposed for a few days, so that it can dry out. You can speed up the drying process with electric fans.

During long periods of high humidity, excessive moisture in the air can cause mold to grow on damp surfaces, including drywall, ceramic tile, fabrics, upholstery, and even wallpaper. . The easiest ways to reduce high humidity are to run air conditioning and use dehumidifiers.

⚠️Make sure the dehumidifier tank does not overflow or it will flood the floor creating a new humidity problem.

Also, have your air conditioning system checked annually by an HVAC technician to confirm that it is working properly and efficiently. An out of tune air conditioning unit can pump too much moisture into the home.

Another effective way to reduce humidity is to increase ventilation. This is especially important in today’s energy-efficient homes, which are nearly airtight. A surprising amount of moisture is released into the air during many daily activities, including cooking, showering, washing dishes, and even exhaling. And if this excess moisture is not removed from the home, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew.

So be sure to turn on the bathroom fan every time you shower and let the fan run for at least 10 minutes after you shower. And check that the fan ducts are directed outside; it should never just blow warm, moist air into the attic.

Always use the range hood when cooking, including when boiling water. And, again, make sure the hood vents to the outdoors. A recirculating range hood, which simply draws air through a filter and then returns it to the kitchen, is completely useless for removing humidity, smoke and odors from your home.

Cleaning mold and mildew

The tile joint is cleaned of dirt and mold with a sponge

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There are several types of anti-mold products available online, at home centers and hardware stores. Most of these cleaners work pretty well, just be sure to read the label carefully to confirm you’re using the correct type. Some products are general purpose cleaners, while others are specially formulated for tub and tile surfaces.

However, you can make an effective and affordable cleaner with bleach, which has been proven to not only kill mold and mildew, but also kill the spores to prevent them from growing back. Now, you can use regular liquid bleach to clean mold, but I suggest using powdered oxygen bleach instead. Oxygen bleach costs a bit more, but if you spill it on your clothes, carpets, or upholstery, the color won’t fade. More importantly, however, oxygen bleach does not evaporate as quickly as chlorine bleach, so it stays on the surface longer and kills more effectively.

⚠️Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection when cleaning with bleach.

To kill light to moderate growth of mold and mildew, pour one cup of oxygen bleach into one gallon of hot water. To remove stubborn stains, use two cups of bleach to one gallon of hot water. Mix well until all bleach crystals are completely dissolved.

Pour the bleach mixture into a quart-sized spray bottle or, for larger jobs, a three-gallon pump garden sprayer. Saturate mold and mildew stains with the bleach solution, then wait at least 30 minutes.

Then, use a stiff-bristle nylon scrub brush to scrub the stains. Wait for the surfaces to dry, then check that they are clean. If you see even the smallest speck of mold or mildew, spray the area again and repeat the process.

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