When attempting to clean mold yourself, it’s important to limit your exposure to the extent possible. This includes the actual mold on surfaces as well as mold spores in the air that you cannot see.
Clothing and Protective Gear
- Masks: If you know that your home has a mold problem, you may want to purchase and wear an N-95 respirator when you will spend any extended time in the area. These are available at most home improvement stores or on-line. Also, if you are doing the actual clean-up yourself, breathing in the mold and cleaning chemicals can be hazardous. Masks and respirators are available at many hardware stores and Internet sites. The cost is relatively nominal for the safety provided. Be sure to follow manufacturers instructions to ensure a good fit and proper use.
- Gloves: Do not touch mold, or moldy items, with your bare hands. Allergic reactions can occur and mold can be transferred from one location to another. The type of gloves you choose will depend on the cleaning solution you are using. For detergent and water, simple household cleaning gloves are sufficient. For stronger chemicals and biocides, gloves made of natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC are recommended. Make sure that gloves cover hands and as much of forearms as possible.
- Safety Goggles: To protect your eyes from mold and chemical fumes, wear unventilated safety goggles. Getting mold in your eyes can cause an allergic reaction or lead to infection. Strong chemicals can irritate your eyes or lead to blindness.
- Clothing: Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Long sleeves with collar and long pants are the best options. Do not wear clothing that you don’t want ruined. Any clothing worn for mold clean-up should be washed in hot water and laundry detergent and dried on high heat. Do not wash with other items.
Detergents and Biocides
There are several detergents and biocides available commercially that are intended to kill mold on nonporous surfaces. Often all that is needed is water and detergent. If you need something stronger, be sure to completely read the instructions for use and warning label. Do not mix chemicals and use with ventilation.
There are mixed opinions about the use of bleach and whether it is effective in cleaning mold. Many experts state that mold will not be killed by bleach because it is predominantly made of water. It may remove the stain from the mold, but the actual mold will not be destroyed. If you choose to use bleach be careful not to allow it to mix with any other chemicals.