How to Safely and Effectively Get Rid of Mold In Your Home11:36 AM
Something scary happened at our house this year. After dealing with headaches, fatigue, and other troublesome symptoms, we discovered that one section of our home was not venting properly and mold was starting to grow under the carpet in our boys' bedroom, along one wall, and inside the window sill.
We had always known that my husband had a mold allergy, so we took great care to make sure that things were dry, but living in Nebraska (where outdoor mold is common, usually lurking under damp leaves or in the wooded area behind our house) makes it impossible to avoid. Learning that there was mold spores inside our home, however, was frightening. We took quick action to get it under control and get rid of mold right away.
(Note: This is not a tutorial on how to remove dangerous levels of mold, toxic mold, or black mold from your home. You should probably leave that to an expert. But if you have a manageable amount of mold in just one area that is caused by a small leak, improper ventilation, etc, there is a lot you can do on your own to make it better. These tips are what worked for us. Remember that the process to get rid of mold that can disrupt it and cause a reaction in those who are allergic. Try at your own risk, and always use a mask and proper ventilation.)
Get Rid of Mold in Your Home
Remove anything that has been exposed to mold for treatment or disposal.
For us, this meant cutting out the carpet in the boys' room, removing the water-damaged subfloor material, and the tar paper (yes, our home is old.. there was tar paper for a moisture barrier.) Make sure you're following protocol for legal disposal of these things; don't just chuck them into your city trash collection if it's not allowed.
Other items that may need to be tossed include shower curtains, shower curtain liners, curtains that have been stained by mold, wood trim or furniture made from particle board. If you can wash items (clothing, stuffed animals, etc.), read on....
Wash what you can.
We found an amazing product that does an incredible job of removing mold from everything, and it's made by Mineral Methods. It's rather pricey, but it is a more natural approach to do the job, and it made me feel better about treating areas that my kids would be exposed to. It smells very much like vinegar, at first, and you'll want to always wear a mask when removing mold, anyway. Follow directions for how to apply, and do NOT rinse! I love that no mold has come back in the places that we treated with this non-toxic cleaner!
(Note: If you have a stinky dryer -- especially a front-loader -- you'll want to use this to get the smell out!)
Clean the air.
If you're finding yourself tire, congested, or achy from what is probably a reaction to air-borne mold spores, you'll need to clean the air ASAP! While we've used traditional HEPA filter products in the past, our new love is the *Airfree Onix 3000 Air Purifier. It has no filters, you never have to clean or handle filthy replacement parts, and it is completely silent.
How does it work? Airfree applies the same concept as boiling water by using heat to destroy microorganisms and attains 100% efficiency at the Airfree air outlet. It gets rid of mold, allergens, dust mites, bacteria, viruses, pollens, pet dender, tobacco, ozone and other organic pollutants. I love that there are no dangerous moving parts, and it's warm (but not dangerously hot) to the touch. You never have to replace expensive filters, and it works on a room size of 650 ft². We move it around our house, currently, but we use it in any room that has had mold, and we also use it in our bedroom where my husband sleeps (as he is most prone to mold reactions.) *Thanks to the kind folks at Airfree for allowing us to try out this must-have gadget!
Keep Things Dry.
Most mold can be prevented with a few common-sense tips. While our problems were a combination of a leak, improper ventilation in our home crawl space, and poor quality of materials, we took steps to rectify it as soon as we figured out what was going on. I recommend you:
- Ensure proper airflow in your basement, attic, and crawlspace. We installed a few of these vents in the block of our home foundation, as it was built with insufficient number of vents. The job took my husband a day or so.
- Keep your bathroom well-vented. Wipe down moisture on windows and mirrors right away. Consider a small, countertop de-humidifier (like the one we use in our home) to remove additional moisture in humid months.
- Make sure your dryer is vented outside. Ours was vented into our garage when we moved into our home, causing the initial humidity problems. Dryer kits are cheap and easy to put in, so don't delay on this important step!! If you live rural, and worry about critters getting into your dryer vent hose, you can get this no-pest dryer vent hood. We use it because we also have a few small cats that will try to get into the house if not deterred!!
- Clean up spills right away. This is a no-brainer, but an overflowing dehumidifer was what initially alerted us to mold problems. You'll also want to keep water off of the bathroom floor (which is where many mold problems occur), fix leaky toilet bases right away, and discourage messy bathtime play.
- Skip the carpet, if you can. While any really wet floor material may have to be replaced, carpet is notorious for hiding mold problems. Consider that we have a large family, pets, and a farm. We were steam-cleaning our carpet almost weekly for awhile there. What we didn't know was that all that wet carpet, paired with inadequate venting under our floor boards, was leading to a big mold problem. If you can get rid of carpet, do so. You'll not regret the decision.