As soon as you become aware of mold growth in your home, take steps to control and remediate it. Black mold exposure can cause serious health problems and damage the structure of your home if not treated quickly. Learn how to get rid of black mold and prevent it from reappearing.
What Is Black Mold?
Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum) is a greenish-black mold that releases reproductive seeds, or spores, when disturbed. The mold itself is not toxic, but the mycotoxins is produces are poisonous. These mycotoxins attach to the mold spores and migrate to other surfaces where they can be inhaled by humans and animals.
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If ingested, these spores can cause severe health issues, including chronic fatigue, excessive coughing, irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, nausea, vomiting, and even bleeding in the lungs. If you have one or more of these symptoms, you could be experiencing black mold poisoning. To prevent side effects from getting worse, seek medical treatment immediately and create a plan to get rid of the toxic black mold in your home.
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.
How To Get Rid of Black Mold
Once you’ve identified mold in your house, follow these six steps to remove black mold:
1. Wear protective gear—Before beginning the removal process, take necessary safety precautions to prevent allergic reactions and possible health hazards. Always wear a face mask or respirator when removing black mold to avoid breathing in mold spores. Protect your skin by wearing a long shirt, pants, and rubber gloves.
2. Seal off the affected area—Cover doorways and vents to prevent mold spores from traveling to other areas of your house. You can tape a plastic sheet over these openings to firmly seal them off.
3. Remove moisture source—Throw away any materials, including towels, clothing, and furniture, that have been affected by mold. Repair leaky sources, such as a sink or window, that could be causing mold buildup. If an area retains any moisture, there is the possibility for mold growth to recur, so be sure to leave spots as dry as possible.
4. Wash away the mold—Use soapy water and a sponge to remove black mold from any affected surfaces.
5. Use a disinfectant product—After washing away the mold, use a disinfectant product to remove any remaining mold spores. We recommend chemical solutions like RMR-86 Instant Mold Stain & Mildew Remover or MoldSTAT Plus to remove mold fast. When using these products, be sure to keep them away from children and pets.
In addition to these commercial products, a simple bleach solution (one cup of bleach mixed with one gallon of water) can help eliminate mold. Avoid mixing bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners since the combination can cause hazardous fumes. Regardless of which disinfectant product you use, make sure to spray the infected spots and the surrounding area to fully eliminate mold spores that may have spread.
6. Remove used cleaning materials—To prevent any more mold exposure, place all used sponges, towels, and other cleaning materials in a garbage bag and throw them away. Wash your hands and clothes immediately after the mold removal process.
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.
When To Call in a Professional
If these methods don’t work—or you experience a moldy area larger than 10 square feet—you may want to call in a mold remediation expert. Look for specialists who have proper accreditation and refrain from pitching you their products. A trustworthy professional will investigate the toxic mold before doing any extensive treatment and will follow-up with a mold removal plan. The professional should be able to explain the source of the mold and go over any necessary procedures to keep it from coming back.
Consider a sewer line warranty or a home warranty from a reputable provider like Select Home Warranty to keep your home moisture-free.
While mold remediation tends to be pricey, the earlier you catch it, the cheaper the removal process will be. Simple black mold removal can run as little as $500, while extensive mold remediation can cost upward of $6,000.
Black Mold Prevention Tips
To prevent future black mold infestations, consider the following:
- Keep moisture levels in your house low by purchasing a dehumidifier to control humidity levels.
- Use exhaust fans to properly ventilate your home.
- Clean damp parts of your home regularly to prevent mold from appearing.