There is a fungus among us – and it is mold! Mold spores are everywhere all around us, indoors and outdoors, and in every type of climate. Some types of mold are extremely beneficial to us (for example, Penicillin: a group of antibiotics originally obtained from Penicillium molds) while others can be quite dangerous to our health and damaging to our homes.
Finding those black spots in our shower or inside the washing machine can be alarming. Luckily, a small amount generally won’t make you sick but knowing how to get rid of mold and prevent it can keep it from becoming a bigger issue.
Is It Dangerous Mold – Or Is it Mildew?
Mold and mildew are definitely fungus cousins, but there are a few striking differences. Both are attracted to moist, warm areas where they might thrive and sprout their homes. They can also both grow on a vast array of surfaces, from the tile walls of your shower to the drywall in your basement, to ceiling tiles and paper products. And, of course, mold and mildew are both two types of fungi that no homeowner likes to see in their home. However, mold and mildew have striking differences when it comes to color, texture, and size.
Mildew is a surface fungus that can be easily recognized as a patch of gray (or even white) fungus that’s lying on the surface of a moist area, like in the bathroom and on fabrics and booked stored in damp basements or garages. If mildew isn’t removed promptly, it can oftentimes turn black or brown and can sometimes look like soil accumulation. Mildew is usually easily removed and treated.
Mold, on the other hand, can be green or black and is often the result of a much larger infestation. This type of fungus can appear fuzzy or even slimy in nature. If you detect a strong, musty odor anywhere in your home, then it’s likely you have a high concentration of mold. It can come from places like a leak under the kitchen sink, carpets that have mold growing in the padding, a damp crawl space under your home, or even a neglected hamper filled with damp towels.
Should You Hire a Professional?
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 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 10 or more square feet. Removing large mold colonies requires specialized equipment and tools. Local public health departments can offer advice on mold testing and refer you to an expert mold remover. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to major mold issues.
Safety Precautions & Materials Needed for DIY Cleanup
If mold and mildew infestations are caught early, you can easily tackle them with the right materials and a little bit of elbow grease. There are a few basic precautions everyone working in moldy areas should follow. First, always avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. Undisturbed, mold isn't likely to be airborne. But during cleanup, spores will float on air currents and can enter the lungs unless precautions are taken. A disposable respirator (such as an N95), will provide suitable protection for light cleanup. It’s also a good idea to wear heavy-duty work gloves and safety goggles or other protective eyewear without ventilation holes, as well as a hat if you'll be cleaning up mold on ceilings. Those who suffer from respiratory issues or a weakened immune system should avoid entering the space entirely.
Finally, you need the right product to tackle mold and mildew. Think of Vital Oxide as your secret weapon to combat fungus. 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.
Without further ado, here’s how to remove mold and mildew from…
Appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, coffee makers, and humidifiers, as well as other machines that combine moisture and heat (the perfect combination to feed mold) need frequent cleaning. Clean washers by running a hot water cycle with 1 cup of Vital Oxide (no clothes) at least once monthly. To inhibit mold growth on front-load washer door seals, spray with Vital Oxide after every use and let air dry.
Vital Oxide also does a great job cleaning refrigerators, dishwashers, coffee makers, and humidifiers, and helps to inhibit mold growth.
...Tile & Grout
The combination of bathroom humidity, warmth, and organic material (like dust and dead skin cells) creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to flourish. To bust mold in the shower, start by spraying shower walls and tub with hot water. Next, scrub with scrub brush (or a clean toothbrush) to remove all visible mold and mildew and then rinse with hot water. Spray tub and grout lines liberally with Vital Oxide (full-strength, do not dilute for mold removal) from a distance of 12 inches until visibly wet and allow to air dry.
To make your bathroom a less attractive environment for mold and mildew, consider adding an exhaust fan or using a dehumidifier to help eliminate excess moisture.
In areas like the kitchen, where there's higher humidity from cooking or running the dishwasher, you may find mold on your wood cabinets if there is poor ventilation. Mold can also grow on wood furniture and paneling if it's humid and the air circulation is low. To remove mold from wood cabinets, paneling, or furniture, start by using a HEPA vacuum to vacuum the loose spores with the soft brush attachment. Next, mix a few drops of dish soap to a gallon of warm water. Using a cloth, wipe the wooden surface to remove the mold but do not saturate it. Finally, spray with Vital Oxide from a distance of 12 inches and allow it to dry naturally. Ventilating the room and using a fan will help to speed up drying time.
...Fabric, Linens, & Clothing
If the contaminated item is machine washable, first spray with Vital Oxide, let sit for 10 minutes, and then wash in a hot water cycle with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent along with a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Vital Oxide (depending on the size of the load) and dry as usual.
For other items that cannot be washed in the washing machine (such as upholstery) spot treat small mold or mildew stains with Vital Oxide and a damp microfiber cloth. Keep in mind that if your upholstered furniture has water damage and a substantial amount of mold growth, it should be replaced. Additionally, silk, wool, or vintage clothing and upholstery should only be cleaned by a professional.
...Interior Walls, Flooring, & Carpet
If the mold is black and fuzzy, the infestation might be much more serious than a minor nuisance. First, the area should be opened to check for structural damage. Any building materials that need to be removed should be bagged in heavy-duty plastic bags and disposed of properly. Allow the area to dry out thoroughly and make any needed repairs.
To clean porous surfaces like wood, concrete, and drywall, apply Vital Oxide full-strength from a distance of 12 inches until visibly wet and allow to air dry.
To clean and remove mold from synthetic carpet such as nylon, olefin, or polypropylene (always seek professional help for wool carpets), first vacuum with a HEPA-type vacuum cleaner and then use a steam cleaning machine or extractor machine to remove excess soil. Next, apply Vital Oxide to the carpet (first test for color fastness in an inconspicuous area) and allow it to dwell for 10 minutes. Do not rinse, instead use an extraction wand and dry stroke carpet to remove excess moisture. Allow carpet to air dry, or use fans to speed up drying time.
Carpets with a severe mold infestation should be removed completely and properly disposed of. Use a wet/dry vacuum to thoroughly clean the underflooring and then spray with Vital Oxide and allow to air dry for several days before replacing flooring.
...Exterior Home Surfaces
Vital Oxide is quite effective at cleaning all types of house siding: concrete, brick, and stone, and also metal, vinyl, or wood surfaces like front doors and garage doors. First, spray down the area with the hose and remove visible mold, dirt, and debris with a scrub brush (a deck brush does wonders!). For extra grimy areas, add a little dish soap to the scrub brush and scrub, rinsing with the hose as you go. Spray any stubborn stains with Vital Oxide and scrub in a circular motion. Rinse the area with the hose, and then spray with Vital Oxide from a distance of 12 inches and let air dry (do not rinse). And voilà: the exterior of your home is clean and free from mold.