Mold is present all around us – even in the air that we breathe – though we’re not usually aware of it. Its presence at low levels is typically harmless. There are about 100 species of mold that are known to cause various infections in people at higher levels, however. Those with allergies, suppressed immune systems (HIV/AIDS, for example) and asthma and other respiratory conditions can be particularly vulnerable. In any case, mold is unseemly; and most homeowners are eager to be rid of it when they see it. In many cases, this can be accomplished without the help of a professional.
You may consider calling a mold removal expert if you have any allergic reactions, if your home is particularly infested and/or you suspect that the species of mold you’re dealing with is particularly dangerous. Heavy water damage is a particular concern, as this is a favorite haunt of the more dangerous variety of black mold (Stachybotrys). Since most molds look very similar at a glance, you can’t accurately identify yours by comparing what you see with your naked eye to a photograph. If you have doubts, leave the job to professionals.
Most molds can be scrubbed away from typically affected surfaces – such as bathrooms, siding and decks – by hand, however. To do this, start by mixing a solution of 1 part bleach and 8 parts water. Wear some sturdy hand gloves. A deck brush works well for scrubbing hard surfaces, though the abrasive side of a sponge can be used in most instances.
If mold growth is extensive, you should wear more protective clothing. This should include clothes that you can either immediately launder or else throw away. Wear a face mask/respirator and goggles as well. Oftentimes, illnesses that people contract from mold are the result of inhaling its spores – and you run the risk of stirring these up into the air as you work. Clean all of your protective gear thoroughly after you’re done.
If you have moldy carpeting and/or other debris, it should be disposed of in double garbage bags. Once an area has been thoroughly cleaned you should set out fans and dehumidifiers to dry it if the infestation had been extensive. Allow at least three days for drying. Mold thrives under moist conditions, which is why it is most often found in damp areas of the house such as basements and bathrooms.
For this reason, good aeration and sunlight are its natural enemies. In order to prevent recurring mold in areas that you have cleaned, do all that you can to provide good ventilation and – if possible – sun exposure. Most types of mold can be removed fairly easily, but they’ll be quick to return if conditions remain optimal for them. Deny mold the moisture that it needs to spread and it won’t be able to get a foothold within your home again.