Should I use bleach to clean up mold?
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
The use of a chemical biocide (chlorine bleach, for example) that kills organisms such as mold is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. Also, bleach does not fully penetrate porous surfaces.There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use.
But in most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores continue to be remain. But the spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced. Also, dead mold can still cause allergic reactions in some people; so it is not enough to just kill the mold. It must also be removed.
Here’s the ten things that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says you should know about mold:
- Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
- If mold is a problem in your home, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
- Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
- Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
Also, see our blog posts Is mold contagious? Can mold spread to my home if there is a nearby house with mold? and Should I buy a house with mold?
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