Mold is a fungus that grows in a wet or damp environment. It reproduces and forms ugly black spots on your tile grout or your shower curtain. When left untreated, it gradually destroys the look, smell and structural integrity of your home.
Mold can cause health problems, too, such as allergic reactions and even asthma or lung infections. By keeping surfaces dry and clean, you'll prevent damage to your home, save money and avoid potential health problems.
So, how do you kill and remove mold in your home? Clean with the right products like bleach and vinegar. They can both kill mold, so which is best?
Bleach is a popular cleaner because it's powerful and leaves a surface looking clean and bright. Yet, using bleach is only effective on mold that's growing on non-porous materials, such as tile and glass. Bleach can't penetrate mold that's growing on surfaces like concrete, wood, drywall and unsealed tile.
Unfortunately, using bleach on some materials kills the mold above the surface but the mold continues to grow underneath, which can cause it to return and grow faster. Another disadvantage of bleach is that it can damage the materials it's used on as it is a harsh and toxic chemical.
For killing mold with bleach, use a ratio of one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners, as it will produce dangerous, toxic fumes. Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect your skin and eyes. Open windows and doors to ventilate the room.
Although the active ingredient in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is the main ingredient in many mold removal products, there's a non-toxic alternative — vinegar.
Vinegar is a mild acid that's effective for killing mold and can actually help prevent future mold growth. While not as strong as bleach, you can use vinegar to clean porous surfaces like concrete, wood, drywall and unsealed tile.
Don't use vinegar to clean marble or granite because it can eat away at the surface and cause discoloration. To clean these fragile materials, the Organic Consumers Association suggests using rubbing alcohol or vodka with water.
To clean mold with vinegar, just spray it on the moldy surface and leave it. Repeat this every few days to prevent mold from growing back. Vinegar is a natural all-purpose solution for killing germs and removing odors. Combine it with some orange peels to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray and use it to clean everything in your home, from your bathroom to your kitchen counters.
Because of its non-toxic nature, vinegar is usually the best cleaning product to use on mold. If vinegar isn't strong enough, use bleach and heavily dilute it (about 1 part bleach to 10 parts water).
Cleaning mold with vinegar is safe and effective, but large quantities of mold should be cleaned with specialized equipment. If you have extensive mold growth, call a professional to tackle the job. If you're renting and find mold in your apartment, contact your landlord immediately, take photos and keep records of any health problems that you encounter.
The CDC provides these suggestions for cleaning up mold in your home:
The best way to fight mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Keep your bathrooms, kitchen, basement, storage rooms and other areas of your home well ventilated. Humidity levels in your home should be no higher than 50 percent. Here are some things you can do to reduce the moisture and keep your home mold-free.