Have you ever noticed around your window or window-installed air conditioner, a black substance growing around the seal? If so, you’ve got a black mold problem. Black mold must be dealt with immediately, as it can be extremely dangerous to your health if inhaled too much.
Black mold, scientifically known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is a fungus that usually forms on cellulose-based surfaces, like window sealant, drywall, and certain kinds of flooring. There are many different kinds of black mold, and only some are dangerous. The kind that grows in a house releases harmful toxic spores when moist that can seriously harm your health if not treated properly.
Some symptoms of mold sickness include respiratory symptoms (wheezing, coughing), nasal and sinus congestion or runny nose, and eye irritation. If you’ve noticed any of these things over a long period of time after spending a while in a certain area, you’ve probably got a mold infestation. Here are some ways you can eliminate the mold in your house.
1. Get rid of the source of moisture.
Mold cannot grow in dry areas. If you locate your problem, you need to first deal with how humid the area is. Try using a dehumidifier if the mold is growing in your carpet or drywall. If the mold is around a window frame, it would help to reseal the window using a caulking gun.
You should keep areas in your home dehumidified anyway, as too much humidity could possibly rot the structural integrity of the wood in your house. However, you should definitely dehumidify your whole house if you have a persistent black mold problem.
2. Ventilate the area.
Make sure whatever area you’ll be working in is well ventilated. This will help keep you safe from the mold itself and the potentially harmful cleaning products you may use. Bleach, for example, can be dangerous if its fumes are inhaled.
A good way to do this is to have your window open with a fan blowing air in the direction of the window. This will help keep the mold spores and cleaning product fumes away from your body and face.
3. Wear protective gear! All the gear, all the time.
When cleaning black mold and the area surrounding it, it is very important to wear the proper personal protective gear. You will need protective eye goggles, a respiratory mask, rubber gloves that cover your entire forearm, and a long sleeve shirt.
The goggles will protect your eyes from the harmful spores released by the mold, which could result in a serious eye infection if not protected. The respirator mask will purify the air you are breathing in, so that you do not ingest these dangerous spores into your respiratory system. Keep your skin covered at all times to prevent further contact.
There is no excuse to not wear protective gear when dealing with any potentially dangerous substances!
4. Bleach technique.
Now that you’re all suited up in your personal protective gear and the affected area has been dehumidified and dried out, it’s time to get to work on getting rid of that mold. For most surfaces, a mixture of chlorine bleach and water will effectively kill mold, but oxygen bleach is a safer option since it doesn’t contain the toxic chemicals that chlorine-based bleach has.
You will want to pour one quart of water and a half a cup of bleach into a spray bottle. Spray the affected surface with the mixture, then, with a stiff-bristled brush, scrub the mixture well and buff it into the affected surface.
Using bleach has its setbacks, though – it will not soak into porous surfaces such as wood or carpets, so it really only works on windows, curtains, and glass.
5. Alternative remedies.
Though it can often be effective in killing black mold, the EPA does not recommend using any kind of bleach to kill black mold, as the bleach can also be dangerous to your health. Instead, many experts suggest using natural treatments including tea tree oil and white vinegar.
Tea tree oil, though a little more expensive than other treatments in this article, is probably the most effective way to naturally kill black mold. Tea tree oil is a natural fungus and germ killer, so applying a ratio of 1 teaspoon of oil to 1 cup of water should be a very effective way of eliminating black mold from most surfaces. Simply mix into a spray bottle and scrub away.
Tea tree oil also works for porous surfaces, like tile and wood. If left on for a while, the oil can soak in and work its anti-septic magic after you’ve removed the mold.
A spray bottle of white distilled vinegar also works well to kill black mold on porous and non-porous surfaces, and there is no need to mix the vinegar with anything. It is an acidic, anti-bacterial agent, so it has many good cleaning uses. It may make the house smell for a short amount of time, but I think we can agree it’s better than having mold all over the house.
6. Install new windows or carpets.
If you have older windows and/or carpets, it may be time to replace them if your mold problem persists. Wooden window frames can rot out due to humidity over time, and there may even be more potentially dangerous fungi growing within the wood.
Replacing windows and carpets is usually a very expensive process, but it will definitely benefit your health and the overall value of your home. If you are in the process of this, consider re-flooring your rooms with laminate or hardwood instead of carpet, and consider installing aluminum-made window frames instead of wooden ones.
So, there are a handful of options for eliminating a black mold problem, but the bottom line is that it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Extreme cases of mold infestation have led to death and permanent breathing and sinus issues. If you’re feeling a frequent head cold often and it doesn’t seem to go away, you may need to search high and low for a black mold infestation and deal with it immediately.