Mold – an indoor air quality concern: Part 2

Mold develops in moist areas in our homes such as the bathroom, basement and closets. Learn how to clean mold before it becomes a major problem in your home.

As a homeowner, one should work to keep their indoor air quality clean. Mold can be a primary contributor to poor air quality, and can have negative health effects on the individuals living in the home. If you have mold in your home, what should you do to get rid of it?

Once mold has formed, it should be cleaned up quickly before it spreads further. If the moldy area is less than 10 square feet and you are not sensitive to being near the mold, you can clean it up yourself. However, if the mold area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, you may want to consider contacting a professional who is willing to follow the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings recommendations.

There are commercial products for cleaning mold in most hardware or grocery stores. You can also remove mold from hard surfaces with a mixture of soap, water and bleach. Put no more than one cup of bleach in a gallon of water with a dish soap of your choice. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners; mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes. Open windows and doors to provide fresh air. Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear. Thoroughly wash the infected area with the bleach solution and dry it well.

To avoid the growth of mold in your home, the Center for Disease Control recommends the following:

  • Keep humidity levels as low as you can, no higher than 50 percent, all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
  • Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
  • Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
  • Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
  • Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
  • Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.

For more information on home maintenance and home ownership topics, go to the Michigan State University Extension website.

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