Mold spores can pop up anywhere. There are lots of ways to deal with this persistent problem that are cost effective and really work. Dealing with mold requires elbow grease, patience, and mold know-how. Do not give up; the effort is well worth it.
Numerous cleaning products specializing in mold control are available. The active ingredients in these products that are effective against molds are bleach and ammonia. So why should you pay a premium for anti-mold preparations when you can readily prepare the mixture at home for a fraction of the cost? As long as you are aware of the fabric fading effects and the potentially caustic nature of these cleaning materials, there should be no problems. Limited areas of mold collection (as occurs in the bathroom) can be cleaned with a bleach solution. An old toothbrush and bleach work wonders on the dark mildew that often collects between the tiles. If there is carpet in the bathroom (ideally there shouldn't be since this is a "moisture trap" for mold), be careful not to drip the bleach on the carpet! Regularly using a "squeegee" along with a bottle of dilute bleach will help keep the mold spores under control.
Shower curtains present a special problem for mold control. Once the curtain is stained with mold spots, it might be worth a wash and rinse cycle with bleach. Usually, however, by the time you can see dime-size deposits of mold on the plastic shower curtain, it's probably not worth the effort. At this point, it would be better to purchase a vinyl curtain with a mold inhibitor. (These are available for use in motel rooms.)
Larger areas, especially under the house, should be treated with either Orthocine, Captan's powder (8 oz in a gallon of water), or bleach (mix 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water). These products are available in hardware stores. Using rubber gloves, scrub the affected areas and repeat the process in 2 hours.
For even more extensive molds under the house, buy a 5 lb. bag of Bordeaux mixture (mostly copper sulfate) from any regular nursery and mix it with 15 to 20 gallons of water in a large tank sprayer. Spray the areas under the house, the ground, and all wood thoroughly at least 3 to 4 times a year for the first several years.
If the Bordeaux mixture is unavailable or does not control the problem, Ziram can be used in a 1-2% spray solution. Mix 3 ounces of the concentrate to 1 gallon of water. Ziram can also be used in the home for walls and floors. When applied to some fabrics, it may produce a slightly yellow color. Protective clothing should always be used when spraying this fungicide. One application of Ziram is usually sufficient for mold control. Do not store fungicides near fire or open flames. Always be sure there is good ventilation during use since many of theses substances are toxic!
Indoor Mold Control - Other Measures
- Lower the humidity level in the house.
- Use fans for proper ventilation.
- Clean visible mold from walls and ceilings.
- Keep firewood outside since the bark is covered with mold.
- Add mold inhibitor to paint before applying if it will be used in a damp environment, especially on brick and cinderblock walls in a basement or shady areas.
- Mold tends to grow in closets, as they tend to be dark and damp. Dry shoes and boots before storing. Consider a chemical moisture remover (desiccant) such as calcium carbonate flakes or crystals. One brand is Dri-Out Dome, which is readily available through allergy catalogs and home improvement stores.
- Do not carpet the bathroom.
- Mold grows in refrigerators. Keep them clean and defrosted. Remove spoiled food, preferably before it gets that way!
- Correct seepage or flooding problems and remove water- damaged carpet.
- Carpet and pad should not be laid on a concrete floor since this is a great place for moisture to accumulate, resulting in a flourishing population of dust mites and mold.
- Remove moldy stored items from the basement and keep it clean.
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Last Editorial Review: 8/5/2002