If you suspect that you might have black mold somewhere in your house, it needs to be taken care of differently than other types of mold. Some species of black mold are toxic, which means that they can be very harmful to your health. Extra care must be taken when trying to remove it from your home, and you need to be cautious to prevent yourself from experiencing any adverse health effects or letting any mold spores spread.
What Should You Do First?
You should first try to identify the mold to make sure you're actually dealing with a species of black mold. Black molds are not completely black; they have dark purple and/or green hues, and it will appear more slimy than fuzzy because of its moisture requirements.
With black mold in the house, your first priority is to contain it. This prevents the mold from growing any more or spreading spores.
- Locate the black mold. Black mold requires a lot of moisture, so it will be in places that are constantly wet and dark.
- Let the area dry and bring in dehumidifiers to help. Don't use fans; the wind will cause spores to fly.
- Seal the room with plastic sheets and tape. This will help isolate the mold to just the room it's in, and will help the room dry out faster.
While mold won't go away on its own if you dry out the area, it will prevent it from growing anywhere else. Once you have it contained, then you can move on to cleaning and black mold removal.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
If there's even a small chance that the mold you're dealing with is toxic, you should take care to protect yourself. For this part you will need gloves, a long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, shoes and a face mask. Wear clothes that you wouldn't mind having to toss in the garbage if necessary. Your primary goal is to avoid inhaling any spores.
How Do You Remove The Mold?
The first thing you need to do is remove the source of the mold, which is the main growths. You may have spores elsewhere in the room, but if you get rid of the main growths first, you can focus on the smaller details later.
Start by gently spraying the mold growths with water. This might seem counter productive, but by weighing down the mold with water, you lessen the likelihood that spores will drift away once you start removing the growth.
Next, using a sponge, water and either bleach, vinegar or ammonia -- choose one, don't combine them -- gently scrub the mold growth off the surface. As you go, place the mold you have removed into a plastic bag that you can seal completely when you are done.Make sure to scrub the area completely clean, then dispose of the sponge.
What Comes Next?
After the main source of mold is removed, you need to clean everything else. Everything from the furniture and walls to the floor and clothing in the room with the mold growth must be thoroughly washed. Walls, tiles and flat surfaces can easily be washed, but you will need to be more careful with porous surfaces like cloth furniture and carpets. For these, use a carpet shampooer to thoroughly clean them; make sure to buy or rent one that has attachable tools and a hose so you can reach into narrow cracks and clean your furniture.
If you have any porous items with mold growing directly on them, like clothes or furniture cushions, place them in a sealed bag immediately. They can be cleaned, but will need to be cleaned separately from your other belongings to reduce the risk of spreading spores.
Should You Consult Professional Help?
Because black mold is so dangerous, hiring a contractor to remove the mold itself can be a safe idea. If you do this, be prepared for the possibility that you may need to temporarily move out of your house while it is cleaned.
However, if you do hire professional cleaners, there are still some things you can do. Seal off the contaminated area as soon as possible to minimize the potential of spreading spores. If you have clothes, stuffed animals, or other items that were in the area but didn't have mold growing on them, place them all in sealed plastic bags to wash thoroughly later. Make sure to seal off the vents to your HVAC system to prevent spores from moving through your ducts. If you start to notice any negative health effects, leave your home immediately. The effects will gradually wear off, but only if you are free from contaminated air.