Mold can be found in just about any environment that contains moisture and oxygen. Unfortunately, mold doesn’t tend to stay in one place. Microscopic mold spores can quickly spread and multiply. This means that the longer you wait after discovering it in your house, the more difficult it will be to remove.
Keep reading to learn what to do if you find mold in your house.
Types of Mold
There are an estimated 1,000 species of mold in the US and more than 100,000 species globally. Some are prone to growing indoors, spreading as microscopic spores through the air before landing and reproducing on the surfaces in your home.
The CDC identifies the most common indoor molds as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Cladosporium, although Stachybotrys Chartarum (commonly known as “black mold”) is among the most hazardous to human health.
- Aspergillus – The most abundant type of household mold in the US, with approximately 180 known species, Aspergillus can appear in a variety of colors, including brown, black, yellow, and green, and often grows on dust, food products, damp building materials, and other household items.
- Penicillium – A diverse genus that contains more than 300 species, Penicillium almost always appears green and spreads easily, growing on food products and sometimes on carpets, insulation, and other building materials.
- Cladosporium – Comprising over 30 species of mold, Cladosporium is a genus that typically appears as dark clusters of black, green, or yellow dots. It most commonly grows in basements, bathrooms, and attics and on faucets, fabrics, and furniture.
- Stachybotrys Chartarum – Often called “black mold,” Stachybotrys Chartarum typically grows in moisture– and cellulose-rich environments, most commonly basements, cooling systems, crawl spaces, insulation material, drywall, carpets, and upholstery. It usually appears greenish-black and is accompanied by a musty or earthy smell.
Know the Health Risks of Mold Exposure
It’s well-known that prolonged exposure to mold isn’t good for you. But the severity of potential symptoms can be impacted by a number of factors such as the duration of exposure, the type of mold in your home, and individual risk factors. Some of the most common symptoms of mold exposure include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain while breathing
- Sinus infections
- Chronic coughing
- Decreased appetite
- Skin rashes
- Itchy eyes
While many people never experience any unpleasant symptoms due to mold, certain populations are at a greater risk. Older people, children, and people with chronic illnesses or suppressed immune systems are more likely to be affected.
Signs That You Have Mold Growth
Fortunately, there are many signs you can look out for to determine if you have mold in your house and catch it early. Some common signs of mold include:
- Musty odor
- Dark splotches on furniture or wall surfaces
- Water damage
- Peeling wallpaper or paint
- Darkened tile grout
- Spotty fabric
It’s important to note that water damage is one of the most common causes of mold. So if your house has sustained damage from a leaky roof, pipe, or window, it’s important to take steps to prevent mold from developing.
Actionable Steps To Take If You Find Mold At Home
So what should you do if you find mold in your apartment or house? Here are some actionable steps to take to remove mold in your home and prevent future damage.
Step 1. Have mold testing done.
Professional mold testing and analysis can help you identify mold in your home and provide reliable results that will empower you to make decisions about how to proceed. You can collect your own mold sample and get it tested at an accredited laboratory like JSE Labs.
Step 2. Identify and address the cause.
In most cases, mold growth is due to excess moisture. Inspect the affected area to find the cause. Whether it’s a damaged pipe, cracked window, or leaky roof, make sure to fix the problem to keep the area dry and prevent further damage.
Step 3. Isolate the area.
Mold spores can travel to other areas of the house. Try to seal off the affected room as much as possible by closing windows, vents, and doors, and placing a barrier such as a towel on any gaps in your doors or windows.
Step 4. Wear protective gear.
You’ll want to limit further exposure or inhalation of mold spores during removal. Be sure to wear a mask such as an N-95 respirator, long gloves, and goggles to prevent unnecessary contact.
Step 5. Remove severely damaged materials.
Mold can impact household items such as furniture and rugs. Removing mold from porous materials is much more difficult than non-porous surfaces like drywall or tile. If certain items have been seriously damaged by mold, it’s usually best to simply remove and replace them.
Step 6. Thoroughly clean the area.
Mold can generally be removed from hard surfaces using soap and water, household cleaning products, or a bleach solution containing no more than a cup of laundry bleach per gallon of water. Always wear protective gear and avoid getting bleach on nearby areas of your home. It’s also important not to mix bleach with other chemical solutions.
If you’re looking for non-bleach options for mold treatment, keep reading!
Keep in mind that, according to EPA, any mold-affected area that’s larger than 10 square feet should be removed by professionals.
Step 7. Keep the affected area dry.
Moisture is the primary issue when it comes to mold. In order to keep your home free of mold, it’s essential to keep high-risk areas clean and dry. To help prevent mold from growing, try to maximize airflow in your home and consider using a dehumidifier. Cleaning with mold-killing products and fixing leaks as soon as they occur can also help.
Natural Remedies to Treat Household Mold
Soap and water, cleaning products, and bleach can all be used to treat mold. There are also a variety of more natural remedies that can be effective in stopping mold growth, especially when used in conjunction with other practical steps:
- Tea Tree Oil – Add approximately 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil to a spray bottle filled with water and apply the mixture to any affected areas or places in your home that are prone to excess moisture. Allow the mixture to saturate and reapply as needed.
- Baking Soda – Mix a generous amount of baking soda with water in a spray bottle and apply to the affected area before scrubbing using an abrasive brush and rinsing.
- Vinegar – Spray or spread vinegar directly onto moldy areas and leave it on the affected area.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract – Add the extract to a spray bottle, apply to the area, and leave to soak.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – Spray hydrogen peroxide directly on the affected area and let it soak for approximately 10-15 minutes before scrubbing and wiping clean.
Once you’ve removed any mold in your home, you may also want to take steps to prevent mold from growing in the future, especially during the winter months or after flooding or other water damage has occurred. This involves controlling moisture, air circulation, and humidity in your home.
JSE Labs Provides Mold Testing and Consulting You Can Trust
At JSE Labs, we provide accurate, safe, and convenient same-day mold testing and results. We’re an accredited environmental laboratory in Portland, Oregon that has been serving homeowners and commercial property owners in the Pacific Northwest since 2002.
If you suspect you may have mold in your home or commercial building, we’re here to deliver expert detection of mold and other contaminants. Contact us today to get started.
Jennifer is the Laboratory Manager of JSE Labs, and holds a BS in Environmental Studies & Science from Portland State University. She is an avid learner and enjoys exploring new topics related to natural processes and the environment. She has experience analyzing hazardous materials, including asbestos and lead, and is committed to promoting safe and sustainable practices in the workplace and beyond. When not in the laboratory, Jennifer can be found exploring the Pacific Northwest with her Catahoula Leopard Dog, Oliver, or volunteering locally.