Black mold thrives in areas with poor air quality and moisture problems. Breathing in spores can cause fatigue, headache, chronic coughing, rash and sneezing. The worst cases of mold growth may cause serious health problems. Black mold, which appears black or green, occurs in dark and moist areas, though basements and kitchen and bathroom window sills show the most mold growth. In addition to increasing ventilation and exposing affected areas to sunlight, householders must take steps to remove mold growth.
Several options exist for cleaning moldy areas. Home improvement and hardware stores offer many cleaning agents targeted specifically at mold removal. Choices include all-in-one cleaning agents and substances that require mixing. Many products remove existing mold and prevent its return by eliminating the nutrients needed for mold growth. A number of these products advertise increased safety for humans and pets compared to older solutions.
Householders wishing to mix their own mold-killing solution often look to bleach and water. One cup of bleach mixed with one gallon of water delivers strong mold-killing action. The bleach works best to kill mold on non-porous surfaces such as glass, tile, bathtubs and countertops.
Those not comfortable with using bleach might consider a one-to-one ratio of vinegar and water. Vinegar, a mild acid, does not give off dangerous fumes and is inexpensive. Householders should wipe the affected area with the solution and leave it for an hour before wiping clean with water. The strong vinegar smell will disappear within a few hours.
Another environmentally conscious alternative to bleach is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide effectively kills mold on clothing, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances and floors. It is also good for bleaching the mold stains left after mold is killed. Experts recommend pouring a 3-percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and saturating moldy areas. After 10 minutes, the area should be scrubbed to remove mold and stains and then wiped to remove any remaining spores.
Baking soda holds a reputation as a safe and effective household cleaner. It also contains considerable mold-fighting ability. Additional benefits include deodorizing capability and moisture removal. Householders should add ¼ tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water and saturate moldy areas before scrubbing with a brush. Following a water rinse, the area must be re-sprayed to prevent mold return.
Many people swear by tea tree oil, considering it the most effective home remedy for killing mold. Two teaspoons of tea tree oil diluted in two cups of water in a spray bottle provides an effective concentration. Spraying affected areas with the solution and leaving for 15 minutes should work to kill mold. The area must be wiped clean with a damp cloth and then sprayed again. Allowing the area to air-dry will kill any remaining mold spores.
Those working in mold removal should wear a mask capable of filtering out mold spores, eye protection, rubber gloves and protective clothing. Care should be taken to ventilate the area. Pregnant women, elderly people and those with respiratory difficulties should not attempt to clean mold on their own.