When you have mold hidden in your home, often a moldy smell might be the only clue. Don’t ignore mold odors, even if you can’t see any discoloration or debris. Whether your home has sprung a little leak under the kitchen sink, or been inundated with several feet of flood-water, every wet surface is susceptible to mold. In order to preserve your possessions, you must get the water dried up as soon as possible and then get aggressive about preventing the growth of mold.
What is mold?
Molds are organisms which are neither plant nor animal; they are part of the fungi kingdom. Unlike plants, molds do not get their energy from the sun through photosynthesis. In fact the sun’s ultraviolet light inhibits mold growth. The role of mold is to break down decaying organic matter such as dead plants, leaves or dead animals. So, molds also digest or “eat” the material they are growing on. “Food” can include wood, fabric, sheet-rock and more. And mold is efficient and quick! If a suitable material in your home is wet for more than 24 hours then you run the risk of mold starting to grow.
How to stop mold?
To interrupt the life cycle, take steps to remove moisture, increase airflow and expose to sunlight. When it is impossible to get the area into direct light, use a product to inhibit growth. Chances are that you already have some inexpensive options in your home right now.
Safe and natural solutions
Natural and non-toxic, vinegar’s acidic pH level can kill up to 80% of types of mold. (Spray full strength onto suspect areas, allow to dry. Any vinegar smell will fade as it dries.)
Hydrogen peroxide kills mold since it is anti-fungal as well as antiviral and antibacterial. A safe alternative to chlorine bleach, it doesn’t damage the environment nor does it leave behind toxic residue or produce toxic fumes like chlorine bleach does. However, spot checks to see if it will remove color from your materials. (Use hydrogen peroxide from the drug stores of 3% concentration, allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before removing liquid and debris.)
Baking soda is also harmless to your family and any pets. In addition to killing mold, baking soda also deodorizes and can get rid of the smell mold leaves in your home. Baking soda also absorbs moisture to help keep mold away. Vinegar is often used along with baking soda when cleaning up a mold problem since vinegar kills different species of mold to baking soda.
More aggressive action needed?
Borax is a natural cleaning product and although it is toxic if you swallow it, borax does not emit chemicals or dangerous fumes like some other mold killers. Borax, a white mineral powder, has a pH level of about 9 (baking soda is pH 8.1 and pH 7 is neutral) and a low toxicity.
Borax is commonly used as a deodorizer as well as for cleaning toilets and drains. Borax is also used as an insecticide, herbicide and fungicide and it can be mixed with water in a solution to kill and remove mold. It is a natural mold inhibitor. You can buy borax in supermarkets for a few dollars from the laundry section. (Use a solution of 1 cup to 1 gallon of water. Wipe up the surface and any particles, let air dry.)
Bleach can kill virtually every species of indoor mold that it comes into contact with, along with its spores, leaving a surface sanitized and resistant to future mold growth. However, using bleach is only effective if the mold is growing on non-porous materials such as tiles, bathtubs, glass and countertops. Bleach cannot penetrate into porous materials and so it does not come into contact with mold growing beneath the surface of materials such as wood and drywall. Using bleach on these materials will kill the mold above the surface but the roots within the material will remain and the mold will soon return. (Use use a ratio of one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Only needs to be rinsed in food areas.)
More likely than not, you are going to want to call in the help of certified and insured professionals who can determine where the source of the mold is coming from and get rid of it safely and quickly. A lot of at home remedies are not going to eliminate the source of the problem and mold will return. Always consult with professional mold remediation companies that can help! Stover’s is a highly experienced mold restoration company that can and will help. Contact Stover’s in Emporia for more information on proper mold cleanup and mold removal.