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Do It Yourself?

So, you see a little mold or maybe you’ve not been feeling too well. You look up the signs and symptoms of mold and find they correspond to what you see or are feeling. What should you do? You may think, I can just clean that up and get rid of it with some bleach.

Many homeowners are interested in trying to clean up the mold themselves and fail to realize not only do they need to clean it up but also remove it. In some cases, it makes sense to handle a household mold problem yourself. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to call in professionals who know how to inspect, sample, and properly and completely remove mold.

A very small spot may be able to be cleaned and removed on your own. However, are you comfortable with that? Will you always wonder, be nervous, feel anxious - Did I get it all? Are there mold spores in the air? How would I know? Am I in danger? Is my family going to get sick? Am I doing it correctly? What should I use?

Cleaning up mold yourself may be do-able if the mold is only in a small area and is on easy to clean surfaces such as tubs, sinks, glass, metal, or tile. If it’s on other types of surfaces which are hard to clean then it must be removed. Another factor is your health. Certain health issues can be made worse with mold exposure. In that case, it should never be attempted.

Mold spores occur naturally in the air. However, breathing in these large amounts of the spores while cleaning can be harmful. Doing it yourself can make the situation a lot worse in a few different ways. This mold growth could be on wood, papers and walls and can be dispersed into the air while cleaning. Allergy symptoms may start during and after this disturbance and could cause coughing and wheezing.

Hardware store test kits don’t really help much - they do not identify airborne mold. The kits might grow some spores, however since they are always present in indoor air, these kits can’t guarantee the number of spores in the air. Meanwhile, these kits don’t confirm the presence of dead spores, which can be very harmful too, and they do not offer a baseline for comparison.

Cleaning is not enough with mold. It needs to be removed. Once disturbed, mold spores move around and spread fast. As they move around in the air they will land somewhere and may start to grow again. During the cleaning process, you could actually make it worse by spreading the mold into other areas. Cross contamination can occur from wiping the mold, instead of vacuuming or air scrubbing, which spreads the mold spores around and could make the situation much worse. Also, If the source is not addressed, mold will likely start to grow again within a few days.

Containment is a great way to prevent the mold spores from spreading during the cleaning process and is what the professionals do while taking on the mold. The affected area is sealed off using equipment and barriers which stops the spread and reduces the risk.

Mold is not always visible so sometimes smelling it can be a way to know it’s there. But mold may not always smell so you cannot depend on that to know for sure. You need to inspect with your nose and your eyes. Since one square inch of space in your home or business may have 1 million mold spores this is not something to take lightly or push off to another time.

If you do attempt to clean up a little mold, you need a reliable product to use. Many people think bleach is an effective mold treatment. But actually, it isn’t. Bleach is a strong chemical which can harm your health. Also, it does not get rid of all the mold, it only changes its color. After a few weeks of bleaching, there is still a big possibility that the mold will come back.

Bleach does change the color of mold for a time but it is not certain that it kills all types of mold or penetrate your porous surfaces for a complete job. Also, bleach can speed up the mold regrowth rate, if the source of moisture is not taken care of and handled properly. The best way to be sure is to hire a mold inspection and testing company and then a remediation company if needed.

Things to avoid while attempting mold remediation on your own:

  • Do not use bleach since it does not completely kill mold. Bleach is ineffective because it only helps mask the mold for a short period. When you put the bleach on a porous surface, the mold color goes away and the normal colors of your surfaces return. However, there are mold roots which continue to grow inside beyond the surface. Also, bleach does not stop harmful mold spores from spreading within the house. The best way to clean mold is by using natural products.

  • Cross-Contamination is a big concern and you must take protective measures before you begin. Once you start scrubbing off the mold from the surface, some of the spores will become airborne. This means that your entire home can be exposed to mold infestation. Thus, it is essential to contain the area and dispose of all the cleaning materials and clothing you used to prevent cross-contamination.

  • Don’t forget about finding the source of the moisture. No matter how hard you clean the parts of your home infested by mold, it will just keep coming back until you address the moisture problems. After the cleanup, you may want to speak with a professional to help determine the causes of water problems or leaks in your house.

In many situations, it is better to call in a mold inspection/sampling professional for some advice. Cleaning mold yourself is not a good idea if:

  • The mold covers a big area which is greater than 10 square feet or approximately a 3 ft. x 3 ft. area - according to the EPA.

  • You smell mold but you don’t see it.

  • You have moldy wood which cannot be removed for some reason - it would need to be sanded and encapsulated.

  • If there is mold inside your walls and you don’t know how to remove and replace them.

  • You had flood water that could be contaminated with sewage or something else hazardous or unhealthy.

  • There is mold in your heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system.

  • You have asthma or allergies that could be made worse by mold exposure.

As a home or business owner, it’s a good thing to know the dos and don’ts of cleaning and removing mold so you can be successful in your endeavor. Learning what kills mold spores effectively is key. Buying cleaners that do not work is a waste of money and can make it worse. If you are unsure about the process or the project is too big to take on, that’s when you should call an expert in the field. They have the knowledge, training, tools and equipment to get the job done safely and effectively.

The best way for your peace of mind in dealing with a mold problem is to call a professional. You can get a qualified licensed person to inspect and sample the area. A certified inspector would come to your home or business and discuss your concerns. Then they would proceed to inspect and sample the areas. In a few days you would have a full report with the lab results and recommendations on what to do if you have mold. If you do not have above normal levels of mold then you will probably have a great feeling of relief. Whatever you decide, as long as you follow the suggestions and protocols for mold, you will be able to feel you did all you could for you and your family.


*Health Comes First - BNF Consulting, Inc. - 914-297-8335*

BNF Consulting specializes in providing:

Mold Survey, Asbestos Survey, Lead Water Testing,

Air Duct Cleaning, Environmental Survey, EMF Survey


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