Getting rid of mold is any renter’s nightmare. It seldom responds to bleach, antiseptic, detergent, or most household cleaning agents. What’s worse is that it takes a little over two weeks (18 to 21 days) for mold to become visible and hideously coat your surfaces. Other than the off-putting appearance and smell of mold, it can also cause a world of trouble for your health. Mold exposure symptoms include headaches, eye, nose, throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and sinus congestions. These symptoms are caused by mold spores, which take as little as 24-48 hours to form.
Furthermore, mold spores significantly affect the indoor air quality of your apartment. This can cause diseases and breathing complications to high-risk individuals like people with respiratory complications, pregnant women, children, and old folks.
The best remedy for mold is to prevent it from forming in the first place; we show you how. But if you already have mold in your apartment, there are sure ways of eliminating it. Read on to get rid of mold from your place forever!
Where is that moldy smell coming from?
It is not uncommon to have a musty room and not see any mold. Most of these mold-infested surfaces are hidden, and by the time you discover the mold hideouts, it will have spread, sometimes even to other rooms. Mold is a fungus that thrives in moist conditions. This means that where there is water/moisture mold will shortly follow.
To find out if you have a mold problem, inspect areas that are damp or prone to water damage such as your basement, bathroom surfaces, vents and kitchen sinks. Mold can also form behind walls making it hard to detect. Peeling wallpaper or paint is a sign of moisture behind your wall, leading to mold formation if it hasn’t already formed. The screwdriver test is one way of finding out if you have mold behind your walls. Gently jab a screwdriver on your wall, and if things are soft and soggy, there are high chances of rotting caused by mold.
Mold can also grow on food that is exposed to moisture and unrefrigerated. Damp clothes also attract mold, when left for long without drying.
How can I get rid of mold?
Like most people, you’ve probably found yourself reaching for a bottle of bleach to take care of mold only for it to reappear a few days later. Bleach is made up of 80-90% water, meaning that you are actually feeding the mold since the chlorine evaporates pretty fast.
Besides, bleach might work well in discoloring white walls blackened by mold, but it does not get the job done on other surfaces like in between tiles or on sink sealants. To permanently eliminate mold, you need a solution that will kill the mold down to the roots deeply embedded in the porous material.
- White distilled vinegar
The best non-chemical solution to permanently kill mold is by using vinegar. White distilled vinegar can kill up to 82% of mold species! Mix white vinegar with baking soda, and you can say bye-bye to black mold.
However, using vinegar to kill mold does is not effective in removing the hideous black stains on your surface. Vinegar is also not the ideal solution for dealing with widespread mold.
- 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another natural remedy for mold. It gets down to the porous material and attacks mold from its roots. Just like vinegar, this is not the best solution for large areas covered in mold.
- Antimicrobial solutions
This brings us to the best remedy for mold, using an antimicrobial compound. These kill mold, including its roots preventing it from regrowing. Antimicrobial solutions are also great for removing extensive mold and are even used on a professional level.
Concrobium is an example of an antimicrobial compound that is effective, easily available and affordable. Spray the concrobium on the affected surface and leave it to dry, and just like that, your mold problem is solved.
However, there is one problem with using concrobium; it does not clean the affected surface, so you will have to do some scrubbing afterward.
- Licensed mold professional
If you have a severe mold problem, say widespread mold covering an entire wall or spreading to other rooms, you best bring in the professionals. Here’s why. Dead or alive, mold is very harmful to our health, so it needs to be removed even after killing it.
Small patches of mold in your bathroom, kitchen or basement can easily be removed after killing the mold. However, extensive mold requires professionals to remove effectively. Take, for example, mold that has spread widely behind your wallpaper or carpet. Your first instinct is to rip off the carpet or wallpaper, sending millions of spores into the air! Professional help might be expensive, but it is the surest bet in tackling extreme mold problems.
Preventing mold from forming or recurring
When it comes to mold, prevention is always better than cure. To keep mold from forming or recurring, you need to detect and kill the moisture source. Mold requires three things to thrive, moisture, humidity and a food source (porous surface). The easiest and most effective to get rid of is moisture. That said, below are some tried and tested mold prevention techniques.
- Keep an eye on the humidity levels
High humidity equals more moisture in the environment, which equals mold formation. You want to make sure that the humidity levels in your home are not too high and be able to regulate them back to normal.
For this, you will have to invest in a hygrometer and a dehumidifier. A hygrometer measures the level of humidity while a dehumidifier regulates humidity levels to optimum. The optimum level of indoor air humidity should be below 60% to prevent mold formation. Luckily, almost all dehumidifiers are fitted with a hygrometer making it easier to monitor indoor humidity levels.
- Vent out indoor moisture
Some rooms, like your bathroom and kitchen, are more susceptible to mold due to the excess moisture content. Installing exhaust fans to vent out the moisture will help in the prevention of mold formation. Make sure you switch on your fan for 15 to 30 minutes after a hot water shower or cooking. This will ensure the room dries off properly.
The same goes for your washing machines and dryers. Make sure you leave your machine/dryer door open to vent out moisture until completely dry.
- Find and fix leaks immediately
Mold damage from unrepaired leaks is unsightly. It would be best if you fixed any leaks as soon as you spot them. After repairing the leak, go ahead and apply some antimicrobial solution to ensure mold does not form.
If the damage is enormous, say, a broken pipe in the wall, make sure you get it repaired by professionals who, in most cases, will take steps to prevent mold formation.
You do not have to wait until leaking starts to take action. Regularly inspecting your sinks and pipes will help in arresting the issue before it erupts. Also, make sure to reapply sealants on your sink to prevent small leaks that might go undetected.
- Inspect and clean crawl spaces and your basement
Make a habit of cleaning out your basement, attic, garage, crawl spaces and other hidden areas that mold can easily go undetected. Mold growing in these areas is often unnoticed and can quickly spread to the other rooms.
- Completely dry your clothes before storing them
Mold is tough to get off clothes. Moreover, it might take a while to realize that your clothes are the culprit behind the mold growth. To prevent mold formation in your clothes, make sure you dry them out completely. This also applies to your bathroom face towels and washcloths.
Permanent mold removal takes place on a deeper level. Detergents and bleach only remove the upper layer of mold, leaving behind the roots, which will regrow. It is also essential to keep in mind that dead mold is as dangerous as a live mold, so make sure you remove or clean away mold even after killing it. Lastly, keep your apartment moisture-free to ensure mold does not get a chance of forming.