This year has had wetter- and warmer-than-average conditions for much of the country, which, when combined, create the ideal conditions for mold to thrive. If there is a mold infestation in your home, eradicating the mold promptly is crucial so it doesn’t become a continuing hazard to your family’s health and your home. Mold can be invasive, stealthy, and very hard to get rid of – especially without the proper tools and knowledge. Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of five common mistakes homeowners make when trying to eliminate mold (and what to do instead) so you can have a better understanding of how to keep your home environment mold-free.
1. Using Products That Don’t Kill Mold
A common misconception is that spraying mold with bleach will kill it. Unfortunately, this is false. Spraying bleach on mold doesn’t kill the mold; it simply discolors it and leaves spores behind. Not to mention, removing mold with a solution of bleach and water can allow mold to regrow even faster. Additionally, prolonged exposure to bleach only makes indoor air quality worse and could potentially cause symptoms like respiratory irritation, blurred vision, watery eyes, and nausea, among others.
When faced with a mold problem, reach for a product that will destroy mold from its roots, like Vital Oxide. Think of Vital Oxide as your effective sidekick in your fight against mold. Vital Oxide is an EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectant and mold killer that eliminates mold and mildew on a molecular level – neutralizing spores and inhibiting fungal growth – without damaging the surfaces treated. Unlike bleach and other harsh products that are only effective on hard, non-porous surfaces, Vital Oxide can also penetrate surfaces like carpets, upholstery, drywall, concrete, and wood – and destroy the roots of tough mold and mildew. Read more about using Vital Oxide for mold remediation here.
2. Not Addressing Mold Quickly
A common myth about mold is that it can take weeks to grow and spread. In reality, mold and mildew will develop within 24 to 48 hours of water exposure and will continue to grow until the source of moisture is eliminated and the spores are destroyed. Even a small water spill over a seemingly harmless area, like on a bathroom shelf, can turn into a moldy mess if left unattended.
The moment you spot mold around your home, it’s time to take action. For small areas of household mold, first, find and repair any sources of excess moisture and make sure the room is adequately ventilated. Next, remove all visible mold (a scrub brush, water, and Vital Oxide works well) and thoroughly rinse with water. Finally, spray the affected area liberally with Vital Oxide (full-strength, do not dilute for mold removal) from a distance of 12 inches until visibly wet and allow it to air dry. Vital Oxide has a residual effect on mold and mold spores for up to one month on fabrics and one week on hard surfaces with a single treatment.
3. Painting Over Mold
Although you may see “mold-resistant” paint at your local hardware store, applying it over mold-affected surfaces will not kill the mold and can cause more issues in the long run. Instead of painting over mold, remove as much mold as possible from a surface with Vital Oxide and make sure the area is entirely mold-free and dry before painting over it. If you do end up using mold-resistant paint, just keep in mind that these paints don’t guarantee mold won’t grow on surfaces, but they can help prevent it temporarily.
4. Ignoring the Root Cause of the Mold
Moisture is the leading cause of mold infestations. So, even if you effectively eradicate mold, it will come back if there is excess moisture from a leak (even a tiny one!) or if the room is humid and poorly ventilated. To help prevent mold from growing in the first place, follow these tips:
- To prevent mold growth, humidity levels should never exceed 50%. Adding a dehumidifier to a damp room can help.
- If there is a leak in your home, it’s imperative to repair it as soon as possible.
- Vent moisture-generating sources (such as bathrooms and clothes dryers) to the outside.
- Seal bathroom grouts regularly (usually every one to two years) to help waterproof your walls and floors.
- Ventilate your bathroom during and after showering by opening the doors and windows or running the exhaust fan to let moisture escape.
- After showering, leave your shower curtain liner spread open to help keep it dry.
- Avoid storing items in damp rooms, which may mean keeping upholstered furniture, linens, books, or clothing out of your basement or attic.
5. Exposing Yourself to Harmful Mold
If you’re tackling a mold issue yourself, it’s essential to remember that mold spores can travel in the air when cleaning, so you’ll want to limit your exposure by wearing protective gear. When dealing with mold, always wear long rubber gloves, eye protection, and a mask to avoid breathing in mold spores. Those with respiratory issues or a weakened immune system should avoid entering the space entirely.
For extensive mold problems, consider hiring a professional who is trained in mold cleanup. Some molds are highly toxic, and even less dangerous molds can cause problems for people with allergies, asthma, or those with compromised immune systems or respiratory issues. Generally, the rule of thumb is to seek the help of a professional if the mold covers ten or more square feet. Removing large mold colonies requires specialized equipment and tools.