Dealing with Mold

Putting Out the Mold Welcome Mat

As mentioned, mold spores are part and parcel of the world around us, both inside and outside our homes and other buildings. For the most part, they don't present too much of a problem. But they don't need much to become one. All it takes are the following:

  • Nutrients. As mentioned, molds ingest organic materials. Different molds will attack different kinds of materials.

  • A favorable place to grow. Most molds favor relative humidity levels above 60 percent and temperatures between 50 to 90 degrees F. They also like poorly ventilated areas with little air movement.

  • Moisture. It's impossible to get rid of all indoor mold and mold spores since they travel through the air. However, mold can't grow without water. As such, controlling indoor moisture levels is the best way to keep mold in check.

Keeping Mold at Arm's Length

You can be exposed to mold in one of three ways: by breathing spores (the most common), touching moldy surfaces, and eating it. For this reason, it's important to wear protection-at a minimum, a dust mask and gloves-when you're cleaning moldy surfaces and materials. For the best protection, experts recommend the following:

A Fine Mess

Never apply a bleach solution to any surface on which you used an ammonia-based cleaner. Doing so can cause a toxic chlorine gas to form. Always use bleach in well-ventilated areas. Test it on a small spot or corner before use;bleach is corrosive and can mar or damage the finish on some surfaces.

  • Rubber gloves.

  • Eye goggles.

  • Pants with long legs and shirts with long sleeves.

  • A medium- or high-efficiency filter dust mask or an N-95 respirator. You can find them at most hardware or home stores.

You also want to minimize the spread of mold spores and protect others from breathing in moldy air by doing the following:

  • Isolate the area you're working in by draping plastic over door openings. Tape plastic over air vents and other openings.

  • Put all moldy materials you're discarding into plastic bags, or wrap with plastic sheets, before carrying through the home. Better yet, put a large, lidded garbage pail in the area you're working in, and throw everything in it.

  • Remove your clothing in the work area. Bag and dispose of it or wash it separately from your family's wash.

If you moved moldy objects to a dry area for cleaning, wash down the entire area you worked in after you're done.

If you're cleaning a basement from a sewer or other type of leak, what you've already done will go a long way to keep mold growth down.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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