Cleaning Black Mold

The process of cleaning black mold must be handled with care, because if it is done incorrectly it may cause serious health problems. Black mold removal is not as simple as cleaning up regular household dirt, because black mold spores are living organisms that can easily spread and multiply. If a black mold problem is present, it is essential that the problem is cleaned up as soon as possible in order to avoid serious health issues.

Basic Steps to Clean Black Mold

There are several things that need to be considered if you are going to clean black mold. First of all, it is essential to protect your health, so it is a good idea to wear protective clothing and an N95 face mask to prevent the inhalation of the mold spores. Any contact on the skin or by breathing in the spores can cause health problems. The workspace needs to be sealed off from the rest of the house using plastic sheets and duct tape in order to keep the mold spores from contaminating other areas of the house (see picture below).

Mold containment barrier

When you are cleaning black mold, any porous material will need to be discarded and replaced. The safest thing to do with fabric, such as curtains, carpets, and furniture is to throw them away and replace them with new materials. Some people think that they can just wash the fabric in a hot water cycle, but a washing machine is not an effective way to kill mold. Remember, that mold likes to grow in damp, warm environments. Simply washing the fabric in water with a little bit of detergent will not remove all of the mold in the fabric, and the mold may even be present in the washing machine and contaminate other items of fabric that are washed in the machine.

Wooden supports and studs in walls that can't be replaced should be cleaned with a wire brush and a antimicrobial cleanser such as Foster 40-80, and then encapsulated. Some professionals will sand down wood to remove all of the mold, but that is far too dangerous for any homeowner to attempt. Sanding can put millions of mold spores into the air.

For non-porous surfaces, the area should be HEPA vacuumed and damp wiped using an appropriate low toxicity cleaning product that will kill the black mold. It is important to take your time and get all of the mold. Any mold spores that are missed may begin spreading again in the future. For more on products to use to kill mold, follow the link.

Negative air filtration machine

During the whole process, it is important to use a negative air machine with a HEPA filter. This will help to catch any spores that are accidentally sent airborne, and prevent them from traveling to other parts of the home. Pictured to the right is a professional negative air filtration machine that a mold remediation contractor would use.

After all the cleaning is done, the entire work area should be HEPA vacuumed to be sure all mold spores are removed. An air scrubber should then be used for a couple of days to remove any mold spores that may be airborne. 

Getting Help

Because each situation is unique, if you're thinking about cleaning black mold by yourself, then we recommend that you read a step-by-step guide such as The Homeowner's Complete Guide to Performing Mold Remediation. Written by well-known mold expert Brian Turner, this book shares details on how each type of surface should be cleaned to remove black mold. It has important details on safe work practices and personal safety. You can read our review of this book by following the link.

The Safest Black Mold Removal

The best and safest way to go about cleaning black mold is to hire a professional who can come in and take care of the problem for you. A black mold removal specialist will have the expertise and experience needed to clean up the mold problem without putting your family in greater risk of mold exposure.

If you attempt to remove black mold yourself and don't successfully remove all of the mold, it is likely that the mold will grow back again in the future. It is important to take care of the problem correctly the first time. Most mold removal experts offer free in home consultations and inspections, so you can get some free professional advice, even if you decide to do the cleanup yourself. For a list of mold removal professionals offering free home consultations in your area, just follow the link.

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