Across Michigan, the weather’s getting warmer. And you know what that means: Spring cleaning is in full swing! Getting rid of a winter’s worth of dirt and grime helps us welcome spring with open arms, but there’s always a chance you could discover something sinister that’s been growing all season: Mold! Underneath a floor mat, behind your bathroom drywall, inside your eaves, around uninsulated ductwork – mold can grow anywhere where there’s moisture and reduced air flow, which means it’s often well out of sight. But don’t panic! Here’s what to do when you find mold during spring cleaning.
Don’t Ignore It
If you suspect a dark/discolored spot could be mold, deal with it right away. Mold has a tendency to multiply rapidly when conditions are right, turning a small spot into a much larger problem. The last thing you want is for a tiny growth to take over your entire room!
Whenever you deal with mold, it’s important to wear proper mold protective gear. Gloves and a mask at the bare minimum! Also, if you or anyone in your home is allergic or reacts negatively to mold, call a professional rather than deal with it yourself.
There are lots of different types of mold, some of which look a lot like standard dirt or soiling. On porous surfaces especially, it’s important to know if what you’re dealing with is mold, mildew, or just dirt.
Mold vs Mildew
While they share many of the same characteristics (like to grow in dark and moist areas, comes back after cleaning, both are types of fungi), it’s possible to tell the difference between mold and mildew. According to mold-advisor.com, mold is “usually fuzzy in appearance”, while mildew “may appear powdery or downy.” Both can cause damage to your home, and both can adversely affect your family’s health, so it’s best to remove both when you see it.
To determine on your own if a dark spot is mold, there are many different types of test kits available. Make sure to carefully follow all directions to get the most accurate results.
However, it’s always advised that you get a professional evaluation whenever you suspect mold is growing in your home.
There are two options when you find mold during spring cleaning: DIY, or have a professional remove it. Each option has its advantages:
If the spot is relatively small and you know exactly what you’re doing, you might be able to tackle it yourself. You may have tried to clean the spot with standard cleaners, and if it’s mold, it has grown back. Soap and regular cleaning products don’t adequately deal with the spores that mold produces, leading to the growths reappearing – no matter how hard you scrub. That’s why using the correct mold-killing product is essential. Here’s how to use the three most popular mold-killing products. Please note that these products will only kill the mold they come in contact with, so use them only on non-porous surfaces. If you have mold on porous surfaces, like drywall, contact a professional mold remediator!
How to kill mold with Bleach: Mix 1 part bleach with 10 parts water and apply the solution to the mold growth using a spray bottle or washcloth. Let dry, repeat as necessary.
How to kill mold with Vinegar: Take undiluted vinegar and apply it to the mold growth using a spray bottle or washcloth. Let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then rinse with water. (The vinegar smell will dissipate quickly with adequate air flow)
How to kill mold with Borax: Using a HEPA filtered vacuum, vacuum up the loose mold and mold spores. Mix 2 parts borax with 5 parts water and scrub the mold growth with the solution. Let dry, repeat as necessary.
Hiring a Professional Mold Remediator
It’s always advised that you hire a professional mold remediation company whenever you encounter mold in your home. An professional will be able to accurately determine the extent of the mold problem and offer you expert evaluation on what it will take to completely remove the mold growth. Another benefit is that a seasoned professional will know what steps to take to prevent the mold growth from coming back, including spore containment and air purification, so that you don’t have to keep dealing with the same problem. For your own peace of mind, hire a professional at the first sign of mold!
Killing the existing mold found during spring cleaning is only the first step in having a mold-free home; you also want to prevent mold from growing in the future, so that you’re not dealing with the exact same issue next spring!
There’s a reason you found mold growing where you did, and if you don’t limit the factors that contributed to the growth, guess what? It’s going to come back, and you’ll be starting from square one all over again! Nobody wants that!
When considering the mold found while you were spring cleaning, keep in mind the three factors that mold needs to thrive:
- Organic Material
Since Oxygen is everywhere in your home, the last two are the factors you want to focus on. Mold uses Organic Material as a food source, drawing energy from plants, animals, droppings, old food, you name it. Limiting Organic Material is as simple as keeping the area clean, although this may be more difficult in hard-to-reach areas.
That’s why controlling Moisture is so important. If you can keep an area dry, it’s much, much less likely that mold will be able to grow and proliferate. Locating the source of the unwanted moisture will go a long way toward preventing your mold problem from coming back next spring: check your flashing and plug any holes, look for leaks in your plumbing, run a dehumidifier in the basement, and make sure your bathrooms are properly ventilated.
Air flow is key, especially for naturally humid areas of your home (like bathrooms and basements). With melting snow and increased rainfall, spring time is the worst time for unwanted moisture and humidity!
With these tips in mind, clean your home without fear! If you find mold during spring cleaning, you’ll be confident that you will know the best way to get rid of the unwanted intruders, and who to call if things look too complicated. While it’s always best to call a professional, you’ll know what to do when you encounter mold with this guide and other resources available on this site. Happy Spring Cleaning!