How to Get Rid of Mold in Your House

How to get rid of black mold: step by step

Black mold is an issue you should address if you find it in your home, including when you’re cleaning the bathroom.

‘Mold can dry out and become inactive, but it doesn’t go away,’ says Marina Vaamonde, the founder of HouseCashin (opens in new tab). ‘The EPA says that you can probably fix small areas for yourself. If the moldy and/or damp areas are large, or if the mold is near HVAC returns, you should consult an EPA-certified professional.’

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
  • Soap
  • Disinfectant (see list of options above)

And don't forget a vacuum, fan, and protective clothing, if needed!

Video

Scrub Moldy Surfaces With Mold Cleaner

  • Scrub the surface mold stains from walls and wood trim with a mixture of one quart water and 1/2-cup bleach mold cleaner to kill the mold.
  • Use a soft brush and work until signs of the mold disappear.
  • After scrubbing the surfaces, allow the bleach solution to continue to penetrate the surfaces and dry.
  • Wipe off, but DO NOT RINSE these surfaces.
  • Set trim in direct sunlight to dry. Scrub concrete with TSP or automatic dishwasher detergent.

Natural remedies: how to get rid of black mold

If you tend to opt for more natural household solutions that are kid- and pet-friendly, use one of these simple remedies:

  • Tea tree oil—This natural fungicide is less corrosive than bleach or ammonia and effectively gets rid of mold and mildew in your home. Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle, spray the solution on affected areas, and let it sit for several minutes. Wipe the toxic black mold away with a disposable towel.
  • Baking soda—For lighter mold situations, baking soda is a great removal option. Create a 50/50 mix of baking soda and water to form a paste, apply it to the affected area, and let it dry. Scrub the area with a sponge or cleaning brush and wipe away any excess with a paper towel.
  • Vinegar—White-distilled vinegar is a cheap and easy solution to get rid of mold—and it’s much safer than bleach or ammonia. Pour vinegar onto a rag and wipe the mold-covered area until the mold has been completely removed.
  • Grapefruit seed extract—Similar to tea tree oil, this is a natural and non-toxic way to disinfect, deodorize, and kill mold. Put 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract in a cup of water and spray the moldy area. Allow the solution to soak for 10 minutes and then wipe off any excess debris with an old towel.

2. Assess the size of the problem

The answer removing black mold may be to do it yourself. ‘Small amounts of mold can be removed by an individual in the home, like in the shower,‘ advises Michael Rubino, president of All American Restoration (opens in new tab), and author of The Mold Medic.

However, getting rid of black mold might require calling in a professional. The tricky part about mold is that it can grow deep into substances,’ Michael explains. ‘For instance, if there’s mold on a wall, it could be growing deep into that wall and the foundation of the home. Once that mold starts growing, it’s also releasing spores into the air, increasing the odds of another moldy location starting somewhere else in the home. 

‘It’s best to have a mold inspector come in to assess the situation first to help determine how bad the mold problem is. Then you can determine if it’s a project you can tackle on your own.’

How to get rid of mold on shower tile and grout

Shower tile and grout can be a difficult area to keep mold free because the wet and warm conditions make it a prime breeding ground for mold. However, small areas of mold can be removed with a grout cleaner (try one of our above favorites!), a mold remover, or a bleach-and-water solution.

  • Spray the grout, let the formula penetrate, and rinse. In some cases, there’s no scrubbing needed: In our tests, Clorox Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover spray killed 99.9% of mold and mildew germs and bacteria in only five minutes.

Open Up Moldy Walls

  • Pry off baseboards and trim from contaminated areas with a pry bar and block of wood.
  • Probe heavily stained or moisture-swollen walls using a screwdriver to discover and open up moisture damage and hidden mold in the insulation and wall framing.

How to get rid of mold on fabric

Those damp towels or gym clothes forgotten in a bag create an environment where mold can flourish if left too long. If you spot mold on these fabric items, here’s how to nix it:

  • Bring the item outside and brush off the excess mold to prevent the mold spores from getting inside your home.
  • If the fabric is machine washable, rub in liquid laundry detergent and wash it on the hottest setting possible according to the care instructions with chlorine bleach or non-cholorine bleach, as specified by the care instructions.
  • If the fabric is not machine washable, dry cleaning or hand washing will remove the mold.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda Black Mold Removal Getty Images

Baking soda is one of the greats. It’s a safe substance to have around your kids and pets, and it’s also effective at preventing mold and absorbing mildew odors.

Stir together a mixture of 50/50 baking soda and water until it forms a paste. This concoction is best used to remove lighter mold stains and prevent future growth. After applying it to the problem area, use a small brush to scrape away any mold-stained spots. (You know the spray bottle is coming, so you might as well buy one if you don’t already have it.) Next, combine 2 tablespoons baking soda with 2 cups of water, mix it up, and pour it into that trusty spray bottle. Give it one more shake before spraying it over the area you just cleaned. Let it dry into a protective layer to prevent future mold growth.

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 kitchen.

How to identify black mold

While most molds are green or gray, toxic black mold is easily identified by its dark black or greenish-black color. You can also identify black mold by its musty, mildew-like odor.

Black mold thrives in warm, humid, and damp areas. Be sure to check basements, bathrooms, HVAC units, attics, and crawl spaces for signs of mold and inspect any areas with water damage. It can also grow on materials with a high cellulose content, like wood, paper, and dust.

The path of resistance

Initially, Mike’s landlord tried to fix the problem himself, bleaching the moldy walls. “We call that ‘spray ‘n' pray’,” said Scott Armour of the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, a global industry body for remediators. They, along with the EPA, advise against bleach for a variety of reasons, namely that fumes can be dangerous and it’s usually ineffective.

Hydrogen Peroxide

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Mix one part 3% hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water and in a spray bottle. If you really want to avoid purchasing a spray bottle (although seriously, get the bottle!), you can also soak a towel in this solution and wipe it directly over mold growth. Let the solution sit for up to 10 minutes, and then scrub the area with a small brush or toothbrush. Wipe any remaining mold away with a towel and let the area dry.

Tips to Keep Black Mold Away Longer

  • Reduce moisture levels in your home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, humidity levels in homes should not exceed 60 percent.
  • Repair leaks that keep surfaces wet.
  • Add a dehumidifier and use heating and air conditioners to help reduce moisture levels.
  • Install moisture barriers in basements.
  • Clean mold-prone areas regularly to keep black mold growth in check.

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