How to Get Rid of Black Mold the Easy and Cheap Way
What Are Those Black Patches in My Bathroom?
What is that stuff collecting in the corners? What is that mildewy smell? It must be mold again!
There are many chemicals on the market that can kill mold, but polluting your house with additional toxic stuff might be counterintuitive if you're trying to avoid health hazards. Don't worry, there are several safe and natural ways to get rid of black mold in a bathroom or carpet. Save money by using common household products you may already have in your kitchen cupboard and avoid paying expensive service bills. If you have a small infected area, you can clean it up yourself without a professional.
Is Black Mold Dangerous?
Left unchecked, it can be a health hazard, causing potential respiratory problems and severe allergic reactions. Especially if you have a pet, a baby, or elderly folk in the home, it can be detrimental to their immune system!
Step-By Step Guide: How to Get Rid of Mold
- Step 1: Find some eye goggles, a pair of latex or rubber gloves, and protective clothing that covers your whole body. Wear a filter dust mask to prevent inhalation.
- Step 2: Contain the effected area. To do this, use duct tape and a plastic sheet to seal off vents or openings where air might flow in or out. You might place a small fan in an open window to direct the mold spores outdoors. Remember, mold can easily be transported to different areas in your house on pets or on the soles of shoes.
- Step 3: Take a stiff brush and clean the area with mild soap and water. Throw away all porous items or materials exposed to the mold.
- Step 4: Apply a disinfectant (one of the solutions listed below) to the area. Don’t forget to spray the surrounding area to kill mold spores you can't see.
- Step 5: If directed, rinse the area with hot water. Let it dry completely. If there’s excess water, you can use a wet/dry vacuum to suck it up. Vacuum thoroughly after the area has completely dried.
Do not scrape dried mold, as it can be released into the air.
What Products Can Be Used to Clean up Black Mold?
Grapefruit Seed Extract
a natural and unscented anti-fungal
mix 20 drops grapefruit seed extract with 2 cups water; put in a spray bottle and spray on effected areas (do not rinse)
Tea Tree Oil
an excellent natural mold-killer
buy real tea tree oil; mix 1 tsp. with 1 cup water; in a spray bottle, shake and spray on effected areas; don't rinse
Distilled White Vinegar
safe and inexpensive fungicide
spray it straight on the effected area
toxic if swallowed it but doesn't emit dangerous fumes like some other mold killers; more effective on tiles, less so on carpet
mix 1 cup Borax and 1 gallon hot water; pour in spray bottle and spray; after a few minutes, use a scrub brush or cloth to wipe the mold away; don't rinse
higher concentrations may be hazardous and will corrode many materials, including human skin; in a lower concentration it is safe to use, doesn't damage the environment, leave a toxic residue, or produce a toxic fume; it is a bleaching agent which may cause material to fade
pour 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle; leave it on effected area for 10 minutes before rinsing
a harsh, toxic chemical; like bleach, ammonia will only kill surface mold on hard, non-porous surfaces
mix a solution of 50% "clear" ammonia and 50% water; do not mix with bleach, as this will create an extremely toxic, dangerous fume; after spray on effected area and wait 2-3 hours before rinsing
a harsh, corrosive chemical which can damage the materials it's used on, emits dangerous fumes, and leaves a toxic residue
mix a ratio of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water; spray it on and don't rinse
Wear eye goggles and a mask to protect yourself!
Cleaning Black Mold Yourself
Instead of calling in the experts and paying a hefty amount to have the mold removed, there are ways you can handle the problem yourself. Before you begin, here are some ideas for how to do it and what you'll need.
Vinegar: The Cheapest, Safest Way to Remove Black Mold
Vinegar is a non-toxic and safe alternative. According to one study, a solution of vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% mold, and 80% germs such as viruses.
Keep a spray bottle full of white distilled vinegar in your bathroom and kitchen for quick cleaning. Personally I don’t mind the smell of vinegar but if you find it too strong and unpleasant, just add a few drops of essential oil (like lavender) and you will be able to tell the difference.
Tea Tree Oil Is Also Extremely Effective!
Getting rid of black mold with tea tree oil is an extremely effective method. Tea tree is an essential oil that is safe for people and pets. It is more expensive than vinegar but a few teaspoons go a long way. I've used it successfully on a small area of the rug and a moldy shower curtain.
It does have a distinct smell but don't worry, the smell will dissipate over time. Since it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, aside from killing all types of mold, tea tree oil can be useful for treating lice, dandruff, athlete's foot, and many other conditions. It is a good idea to buy a small bottle and keep in your house. Remember, a little goes a long way.
TIP: Make sure you buy real tea tree oil, made from the Melaleuca alternifolia.
To mix the solution:
- 1 teaspoon tea tree oil
- 1 cup water
Combine in a spray bottle, shake, and spray on effected areas. You don't need to rinse. If you have extra solution left, just save it for later since it won't lose its potency.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
The advantage of using grapefruit seed extract is that it is odorless. It is also expensive and can be bought at most health food stores or online. Grapefruit seed extract will also disinfect and deodorize the area.
How to mix the solution:
- 20 drops grapefruit seed extract
- 2 cups water
Combine in a spray bottle and spray on effected areas. Do not rinse. Like tea tree oil, it has a long shelf life and can be saved.
Other Mold Removal Products
Unless you have an extremely large affected surface, these should be your last alternatives due to their toxicity. Some may even harm the surface the mold is growing on. Use these solutions with caution.
- Borax: Use a ratio of 1 cup Borax to 1 gallon water. Hot water will dissolve the Borax quicker. Although Borax doesn't give off toxic fumes, it is less effective on carpets. It is recommended on hard, flat surfaces like tiles. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray. Let it sit for a few minutes, then use a scrubbing brush or cloth to wipe the mold away. There's no need to rinse.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Pour 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Leave it on effected area for 10 minutes before rinsing. Although hydrogen peroxide is a safer alternative to bleach, it is a bleaching agent, which may cause material to fade.
- Ammonia: Mix a solution of 50% "clear" ammonia and 50% water. Do not mix with bleach, as this will create an extremely toxic, dangerous fume. After spraying the solution on effected area, leave it for 2-3 hours before rinsing.
- Bleach: Use a ratio of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Spray it on and don't bother rinsing. Bleach cannot completely kill mold growing in porous materials. It only kills the top surface and, if left in a pool, it creates a moist area that invites mold to grow back. Another disadvantage of using bleach is that it emits corrosive chemical fumes and will damage cloth and other porous materials.
Shopping List for Do-It-Yourself Mold Removal
- Plastic sheets to close openings and doorways
- Duct tape
- Spray bottle
- Eye protection
- Filtered respiratory mask
- Stiff brush
- Rubber gloves
- Disinfectant (see list of options above)
And don't forget a vacuum, fan, and protective clothing, if needed!
What Is Black Mold?
It is a growth of small organisms, particularly Strachybotrys chartarun and Strachybotys astra, which are extremely dangerous to younger kids, babies, and older people, and have been linked to many health problems, including respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma. Pets can also develop rashes and other issues when exposed.
Black mold can be found anywhere in your home, including ceiling tiles, water-soaked wood, walls, floors, and carpet. Small leaks or plumbing problems often lead to the growth of mold because the organism thrives best in moist environments. Flooding or leakage from the rain can leave carpets damp for a prolonged period of time. If your carpet has gotten wet and did not dry thoroughly, mold may bloom and spread in that damp area.
If you touch it with a gloved hand, it feels slimy. It usually looks black but may also have a shade of greenish-yellow and spreads in a spotty pattern. Black mold will have a very distinct mildew smell.
Sometimes the signs are not as evident. It may grow in places where you can't see it, like behind a wall or under a carpet. If you begin experiencing an allergic reaction or suddenly having respiratory problems, you should check for signs of black mold.
Mold Prevention Is Key!
According to the CDC, there are some preventative measures you can take to battle black mold. The following are some of their suggestions:
- Fix leaks immediately.
- Buy a dehumidifier. Maintain moisture levels in your home.
- Buy an air purifier. It can help clean the air and destroy spores.
- Make sure there is adequate ventilation. Use a fan or open the windows to your bathroom or window.
Black Mold Health Effects
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), Stachybotrys is responsible for mold allergies and over 100 cases of lung disorders. To avoid the risk of getting mold allergies, it is extremely important to remove all mold, regardless of what type you find. Your family’s health depends on it.
People who have allergies, respiratory disease, or any type of immune suppressing disease should be especially wary.
Symptoms of a Reaction to Mold
Minor symptoms include:
- Headaches, dizziness, red eyes, rashes and hives, asthma, lethargy, and/or wheezing.
Major symptoms to look for:
- Memory loss, irregular blood pressure, damaged digestion, damaged respiratory, and/or infertility.
Prolonged exposure can lead to serious health problems. You should contact your doctor immediately and get rid of the mold!
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