How to Get Rid of Mold in a House: Your Comprehensive Guide

how to get rid of mold in a house

Mold is an invasive and nasty fungus. It is something you really don't want to see in your home. And if you do see it, your immediate reaction is to find out how to get rid of mold in a house. You have probably heard all the horror stories of mold destroying homes and making people sick. But, don't cover your home in plastic and imagine a team in hazmat suits gutting your house just yet. It's actually not as horrible as it may seem.

The air around us always contains mold. It is everywhere, which means it is always present in your home no matter what you do. It is only when mold finds a good breeding ground that it becomes an issue. Some mold is simply a nuisance while other types can be dangerous and destructive. Finding out what type of mold you have can help you to understand better how to get rid of mold in a house.

What Is Mold?

mold stains on a wall

You can't learn how to get rid of mold in a house until you understand what mold is. Medical New Today defines mold as a fungus. It grows pretty much anywhere with the right conditions. What is in the air around you are spores, which mold grows from. These spores need a moist environment in which to grow. Moisture and humidity are essential for mold to take root and spread. However, the spores can survive in almost any condition, so they just float around until they find a good home to settle and grow.

Mold can grow on many different types of surfaces, from smooth to porous. It also comes in a range of colors. Most mold found in the home is dark in color, ranging from green to blue to black. It sometimes looks like a stain and often discolors the surface of whatever it grows upon. The texture may range from smooth to fuzzy.

Types of mold

Damage caused by damp on a wall in modern house

There are many different types of mold, but there are a few specific ones usually found in homes. As you learn how to get rid of mold in a house, knowing what type of mold you have can be very helpful. Here is a look at the five most common.

Alternaria

This type of mold is what you would often find in your shower and probably the easiest one you will learn to remove as you learn how to get rid of mold in a house. It likes high humidity places, like the bathroom. AER Industries explains this mold is usually green and has a velvet texture. It can cause allergy-like symptoms. But often, it is just a nuisance.

Aspergillus

This mold is what you typically see growing on food, but it also likes building materials, such as insulation. It comes in a range of colors and grows in thick layers. Aspergillus may produce aflatoxins and can cause allergy-like symptoms.

Cladosporium

It's a mold that looks like pepper, according to HGTV. It grows on painted surfaces, wood and fabric, and you may find it growing on your toilet tank. Cladosporium can grow in cool or warm areas and has a suede texture. It is green or brown. This mold may cause lung and skin irritation.

Penicillium

Penicillium may have a familiar name because it is the mold used to make the antibiotic penicillin. However, in its natural form, this can cause respiratory irritation, which makes it one of the molds to target as you learn how to get rid of mold in a house. It spreads quickly and usually grows in water damaged areas. Penicillium is green or blue and has a velvet texture.

Stachybotrys

It's perhaps the most notorious mold, which is also known as black mold. Stachybotrys is the one that you may not be able to handle on your own as you learn how to get rid of mold in a house because it is difficult to remove. It produces mycotoxins, which can cause a range of health issues. Although, the extent of its effects on human health is not completely known. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes researchers need more study to understand how dangerous it is and exactly what medical problems it may cause. It thrives in high humidity, has a slimy texture and is green or black. Do note the slimy texture is how you can distinguish it from other types of mold typically found in the home.

Are mold and mildew the same?

powdery mildew on leaves

You may wonder as you gather information about how to get rid of mold in a house about mildew. You probably have this growing in your bathroom, and it looks a lot like mold. Mildew is very similar to mold. According to HGTV, it is also a fungus. Family Handyman explains that it is a surface fungus, though. It doesn't damage whatever it grows on as mold does. Also, it is not as hazardous to your health. Like mold, it loves moisture and needs it to grow. You will also find that what you learn about how to get rid of mold in a house also applies to getting rid of mildew.

Distinguishing between mold and mildew is fairly easy. Mildew is usually light in color, either gray or white. It is easy to remove, and the texture is flat. Mold appears darker and usually has a fuzzy or raised texture. It is harder to remove and may be impossible to remove in some cases.

How Does Mold Get Into a Home?

Mold in the corner of the windows.

One reality you must face as you learn how to get rid of mold in a house is that you can never remove all mold in your home. Regardless of what you do, it always exists in the air. That's how it gets into your home. You cannot see the small airborne spores, but once they take root and grow on surfaces, you will spot them or at least smell them.

You cannot stop mold spores from getting into your home. They can come inside through open windows and doors, through your ventilation system or even by hitching a ride on your body. Mold growth, though, as you will learn as you study how to get rid of mold in a house, is preventable if you stop the conditions needed for the spores to grow.

How to Spot Mold Growth

Woman cleaning the house

You may be thinking that to know how to get rid of mold in a house, you have to figure out how to spot mold in your home. The reality is it is difficult to see mold because the problem is often underneath the surface. However, you may still spot it growing around your home. More often, though, you will notice its musty smell. You may also notice an increase and persistence of allergy-like symptoms. It also helps to keep an eye on areas mold is likely to grow. U.S. News and World Report explains it likes damp areas that are also dark. ABC News suggests looking for water damage, as this will typically lead you to mold.

Reasons to Learn How to Get Rid of Mold in a House

You may wonder why you should even worry about how to get rid of mold in a house. There are actually many solid reasons to do so. These include health issues that could become serious, and the toll mold takes on your home.

  • Health issues

Mold may cause health issues. Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to the effects of mold. However, some mold may affect even healthy adults. Most often, the health effects are respiratory in nature. They might lead to worsening of asthma and allergies or other respiratory conditions. Some people may have mold allergies that lead to severe allergic reactions.

  • Damage to home and possessions

Mold is unsightly. It stains surfaces and ruins items it grows on. FEMA explains that porous items, such as furniture, carpet, and clothing, may be completely ruined by mold growth. It rots woods and also drops your property value. Often, insurance will not cover mold damage, so it also may be expensive to deal with. It is much cheaper to learn how to get rid of mold in a house once and for all.

How to Get Rid of Mold in a House

One of the first things to note about how to get rid of mold in a house is that you may not be able to handle the job yourself. If you have a small mold issue, then you can follow the advice below. Otherwise, extensive problems need professional cleaning. Some molds may be too difficult for you to remove as well, requiring professional services. The second thing is that to really tackle the mold issue, you must remove all the mold and fix whatever caused the mold to grow.

woman holding a bucket with cleaning supplies

Prep work

Before you attempt any mold removal, you need the right safety gear. You should wear clothing that you can throw away when you finish. Also, wear a face mask, gloves and goggles. You want to ventilate the room. Open windows and add in fans to move the air around. It is a good idea to section off the room where you are doing the cleaning with plastic to avoid spores getting into the rest of your home.

woman wiping the windows

Assessment

Another step before you start the cleaning step of how to get rid of m old in a house is to assess the mold damage. You usually cannot save mold-damaged fabrics, carpet, and other porous materials if they have extensive mold. So, you should remove them from the space. Wrap them in plastic to dispose of them. Before you start ripping things out, though, spray the mold lightly with water to stop spores from going airborne.

You may also want to test out any wood or drywall for rot. You can cut a section of drywall to see how extensive the mold growth is. Remove all the drywall needed to get to the mold. For wood, stab it with a screwdriver. If it splits or breaks easily, that is a good sign of rot. You need to remove any rotted wood.

woman moping the wood floor

Clean

Now, you can start the actual cleaning part. Hard surfaces are the easiest to clean. Just wipe them down with a bleach and water mix of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water. You may also use commercial products to clean these surfaces. Make sure when you use any cleaner to follow all label instructions and never mix cleaning solutions.

For walls, make sure to remove all mold-covered drywall. Clean any mold underneath with a bleach and water solution. Make sure to remove all the mold and let the area dry before hanging new drywall.

You may be able to clean some porous items. For clothing, you can use bleach to pretreat. If you can't use bleach, Today suggests trying white vinegar or lemon juice and laying the item in the sun to dry, which will naturally bleach it. Wash clothing as usual after treatment. You will usually only be able to save furniture and carpet that has just a small spot of mold. Try treating the spot with hydrogen peroxide, a three percent solution, and steam clean after.

Preventing Mold

As you can see, there isn't always a good process for how to get rid of mold in a house. Sometimes, you can't save mold-damaged items. The better approach is preventing mold from growing. Luckily, mold is fairly simple when it comes to what it needs to grow. The main key is moisture control.

Look at the sources of moisture in your home and ensure they don't leak. Check around faucets and plumbing. Caulk where needed or make repairs to ensure there is no water leakage. Don't forget to check your windows. Make sure they have tight seals. Caulk to close gaps. Clean your gutters as well so water runs away from your home instead of leaking into it. If you have a leak, fix it right away and inspect for damage. Leaving behind any water damage gives mold the opportunity it needs to grow.

  • Check around faucets and plumbing
  • Check windows and seals
  • Clean gutters
  • Control humidity
  • Manage ventilation
  • Clean more often
  • Use mold-inhibiting paint

Another key point of how to get rid of mold in a house is to control humidity, which is moisture in the air. Do this through managing ventilation. Make sure you have a good working exhaust fan in the bathroom. Open windows to allow better airflow in areas that tend to get too humid in your home.

A few other things to keep in mind when it comes to preventing mold and how to get rid of mold in a house, including cleaning more often in areas where you have mold growth, such as the bathroom. You can also use mold inhibiting paint. When using paint, never paint over mold. Always clean mold completely before painting.

Wrapping It Up

The steps for how to get rid of mold in a house are not always easy and not always a final solution. You can clean many times and remove all the mold, but if you do not take steps to prevent future mold growth, you will just have to repeat the cleaning again. The bottom line when it comes to how to get rid of mold in a house is to understand mold growth is all about moisture. Find the moisture, and you'll find the mold. Clean the moisture source, and you will stop the mold growth.

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