Mold spores are everywhere, but fortunately, moldy surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected using household cleaners. Mold and mildew are typically found growing where moisture, warmth and poor air circulation are present, so checking those areas will help you to locate mold.
Step One: Take the Surface Into Consideration
Whether you can clean the mold depends on where it is present. Mold feeds on organic materials, and can work its way into a porous material (such as carpet or wood), making it difficult or impossible to clean. As a general rule, mold can be cleaned from non-porous, hard surfaces. Walls and wood may require treatment with special products to kill the mold spores below the surface. Carpet and upholstery are hard to clean, due to the difficulty of killing the spores below the surface and sometimes must be discarded.
Step Two: Choose Cleaning Products
The type of mold cleaning products you use depends upon your personal preferences. Chlorine bleach is commonly used to clean mold. On smooth surfaces, bathroom and window cleaning products will work, as well. Or, you can purchase cleaning products specifically designed to clean mold.
If you prefer to use more natural products, non-toxic products can be used to clean mold. A few companies offer organic mold cleaning products, which can be purchased online. White vinegar is another natural way to clean mold, since it can kill a large percentage of the mold spores. Even though vinegar is non-toxic, it can irritate your nasal passages. Avoid inhaling the fumes and use it in a well-ventilated area.
You will need towels, a spray bottle, measuring cup, bucket, gloves, safety gear and plastic bags for disposal. To prevent mold spores on your rags from causing mold regrowth, contain and discard them properly.
Step Three: Take Health and Safety Precautions
Cleaning moldy surfaces will release mold spores into the air, where they can be inhaled. If you have allergies or asthma, cleaning mold could cause an allergy or asthma attack.
Use eye protection (goggles) and a respirator to cover your nose and mouth while cleaning. Rubber gloves will protect your hands from mold and cleaners. Never mix bleach and ammonia (found in household cleaners) because the combination creates toxic fumes that are hazardous to your health.
Step Four: Mold Cleaning Procedure
Lay out your cleaning supplies and mix your cleaning formula, if necessary. A formula of one cup of bleach to a gallon of water is sufficient to kill most mold. For white vinegar, mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with one quart of water in a spray bottle. If you’re sensitive to vinegar fumes, mix the solution in a bucket and apply it with a sponge to reduce irritation.
Apply the cleaning product to the mold and let it sit for fifteen minutes before wiping it off. Wipe off all visible mold, changing towels frequently. Place the towels in a plastic bag immediately to contain any live mold spores on them. Rinse surfaces thoroughly with a water sprayer or wet sponge and dry the area with a clean towel. Ask your landlord to fix the source of the moisture, if it’s coming from a leak, and keep air circulating to prevent mold regrowth.
Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.