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Black mold, or Stachybotrys Chartarum as it is known scientifically, is a particular variety of microfungus that is characterized by a green or black appearance. It is most often visible on damp walls or building materials, especially if they are rich in cellulose. Mold thrives in warm, moist environments- specifically in the parts of the house which have a vicinity to water. Walls are not, however, the only place mold can grow. They can grow on wood and even paper.
Mold grows in clusters. The spores are interdependent and fuse with each other to form colonies that expand over time.
Black mold is often toxic, especially to the people with any underlying health conditions. The spores release toxins, that may intensify with the passage of time and come to harm healthy individuals.
The removal of black mold can seem difficult if one lacks accurate information, which is what I hope to provide with the aid of this article.
Before the removal of black mold can commence, let us talk about how one can identify it first. In an apartment or house, the identification process is relatively simple, there are a few common spots that you must check.
- Keep an eye out for black clusters in the corners of the floor or ceiling.
- Keep a tab about which part of the home triggers your allergies, or causes you to sneeze without seemingly no reason. Even if the mold is not visible to the naked eye, it is highly likely that mold growth is underway in these locations.
How to Clean Mold
Ammonia does a pretty good job of mold removal, as long as you restrict it to hard non-porous surfaces. It is not recommended for porous surfaces like wood and concrete. Ammonia is unable to penetrate these surfaces enough to completely eradicate the mold.
Pro Tip: Wear gloves!
2. Baking Soda + Vinegar
The non-toxic alternative to its predecessor, a baking soda and vinegar mixture does a pretty bang-up job when it comes to the removal of mold.
Ammonia is a harsh chemical, responsible for giving off toxic fumes which can prove to be lethal in non-ventilated environments.
Bleach truly is a multitasking marvel when it comes to household cleaning, and the removal of mold is just another feather in its hat.
It is easily available, inexpensive, and does a capital job on most surfaces.
Bleach is however, not suitable for eradicating a root level mold growth. The chlorine (the chemical responsible for killing mold) does not permeate the surface to the depth of the roots. An added disadvantage is that cleaning with the aid of bleach sometimes leaves behind moisture in its wake, which can only aggravate the problem.
An ideal cleaning solution that implements bleach is to mix a proportional amount of water with the bleach and use this solution to scrub the walls/ceiling with a bristled brush.
4. Tea Tree Oil
More expensive options than the others on this list, tea tree oil brings with it a lot of benefits. It is non-toxic and is a natural fungicide known for its effectiveness is keeping mold and mildew at bay.
A small amount goes a long way and the compound has greater permeable properties than both bleach and ammonia. It also does not release any toxic fumes. It is advisable to dilute it with a little water, although a solid concentration has been proven to show the best results. Apply the liquid to the affected areas and wipe clean after an hour or two.
Pro Tip: Gloves are recommended.
5. Baking Soda
The best possible option for mild mold growth and/or small diameter, baking soda is another household ingredient you can use to clean mold.
There are many ways to go about a cleaning procedure that involves a baking soda and water paste- you could spray it and let it dry without rinsing (the mixture continues to cleanse and deodorize), or you could use a damp cloth to wipe off the residual after it has dried. A stubborn stain can be dealt with by using a brush and scrubbing in circular motions.
White-distilled vinegar is a readily available household product that you can use to clean mold spores. It is slightly acidic and is also anti-bacterial. It is ideally implemented to clean sinks and plumbing in the bathroom and kitchen.
You don’t need to dilute vinegar with water prior to application. You can directly spray onto the affected area, or apply it with the help of a brush or towel. Air-drying is a necessary step. Follow up by either using a brush or another towel to wipe off the residual.
Pro Tip: Use an old toothbrush to reach the crevices or grout lines.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleach, is non-toxic, and does not adversely affect the environment. You can use it for porous surfaces, such as clothing and wood.
A spray bottle is perhaps the easiest way for application- mix 2 parts and 1 part of hydrogen peroxide. Allow the mixture to sit for ten minutes. Some judicious scrubbing might be in order, depending on the growth of the mold.
Wipe off with a damp towel.
Side-effects of a Mold Infestation
Mold can be harmful to human health if unchecked. It triggers and aggravates a host of problems like chronic coughing, breathing problems, dermatitis-related ailments, and fever. People with underlying health conditions are especially vulnerable to mycotoxicosis.
“Mold poisoning” starts off in a seemingly harmless manner, with symptoms such as headaches, sneezing, itchy eyes, etc, which people do not immediately correlate to mold. People with immunodeficiency disorders should be especially careful around the mold.
[Mold poisoning is diagnosed with the help of either a blood test or a skin prick test. The latter involves the application of minuscule amounts of mold to the skin. It is also an allergen test, that is used to determine if the subject is allergic to mold.]
As the old adage attests, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Never truer than in this particular scenario, here a few pointers to keep in mind while keeping mold growth at bay in your home.
- Take the trash out! What might seem to the reader like an obvious point, accumulation of junk and/or materials, in confines is often the cause of mold growth.
- Fix the leaks. As mentioned earlier, moisture is a leading cause of mold.
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the home.
- Do away any mold-infested items to stem the possibility of further growth.
- Cut and replace mold-damaged drywall in a room.
- Clean and vacuum your home regularly.
- Invest in a dehumidifier. Keep the indoor relative humidity below 50 percent.
- Ensure that the drainage systems in your home are working as they should.
- Make sure you check the ventilation in your basement, in the attic, and in other crawl spaces inside the house.
How To Prevent Mold from Coming Back?
Mold has a predisposition to coming back. Even if you clean rigorously, there is a considerable likelihood that the affected areas are not totally mold-free and might start to look moldy in the future. There are, however, a few things one can do to ensure that the mold does not come back.
- Try and regulate the steam being generated in the house. This could mean failing to dissipate the steam from a bathroom after a hot shower, or a poorly ventilated kitchen which remains heated long after the cooking is over. Open a window, if you are not equipped with an exhaust fan system.
- Use moisture traps inside the home, especially on glass doors and windows.
- Keep upholstery, drapes, and shower curtains in the home clean.
- The usage of anti-mold and anti-condensation paint in the home provides adequate protection against the formation of mold.
Mold may seem like an innocuous problem to start with, but is quite serious and needs to be dealt with quickly and effectively. It is a fast grower and can attack almost any surface- be it walls, wooden furniture, or carpets. I have attempted to make the process of mold removal easier for the average reader, and hope that it aids and abets in the said process.