Mold Questions, Answers, and Facts (cont.)
Mold Cleanup Guidelines
Tips and techniques
The tips and techniques presented in
this section will
help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may
use methods not covered in this publication. Please note that mold may cause
staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that
its original appearance is restored.
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon
as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and
water, and dry completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles
and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on
or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may
be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold (see
discussions: "What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas" and "Hidden Mold").
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the
mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces
is likely to peel.
- If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if
the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a
specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art
restoration and conservation,
carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are
commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look
for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.
What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas
Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. In order to limit your exposure to
airborne mold, you may want to wear an N-95 respirator, available at many
hardware stores and from companies that advertise on the Internet. (They cost
about $12 to $25.) Some N-95 respirators resemble a paper dust mask with a
nozzle on the front, others are made primarily of plastic or rubber and have
removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores from entering. In order
to be effective, the respirator or mask must fit properly, so carefully follow
the instructions supplied with the respirator. Please note that the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that respirators fit properly
(fit testing) when used in an occupational setting; consult OSHA for more
information (800-321-OSHA or osha.gov/).
Wear gloves. Long gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm are
recommended. When working with water and a mild detergent, ordinary household
rubber gloves may be used. If you are using a disinfectant, a biocide such as
chlorine bleach, or a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made
from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC (see "Cleanup and
Biocides"). Avoid touching mold or moldy items with your bare hands.
Wear goggles. Goggles that do
not have ventilation holes are recommended.
Avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.
How Do I Know When the
Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?
You must have completely fixed the water or
moisture problem before the cleanup or remediation can be considered finished.
- You should have completed mold removal. Visible mold
and moldy odors should not be present. Please note that mold may cause
staining and cosmetic damage.
- You should have revisited the site(s) shortly after
cleanup and it should show no signs of water damage or mold growth.
- People should have been able to occupy or re-occupy
the area without health complaints or physical symptoms.
- Ultimately, this is a judgment call; there is no easy answer. If you have
concerns or questions call the EPA Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse
IAQ INFO at (800) 438-4318.
Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips
Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks or spills
occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48
hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building
foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain
lines unobstructed and flowing properly. Keep indoor humidity low. If
possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50
percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture
or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes
QUICKLY to dry the wet
surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.