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Preventing and Cleaning Mold in a Home

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Preventing Mold Growth

The most important tip to eliminate mold growth is to prevent water and moisture issues in any and all parts of a home. Some mold spores will always be present in a home by way of coming from outdoors, however if there are no water or moisture issues present indoors, these will not be able to grow and develop into a nuisance. If for reasons beyond a person’s control (such as flooding) water gets collected in a home, it is recommended that the issue be fixed within 24-48 hrs of its occurrence, to inhibit any growth of mold. If the corrective action does not occur timely and mold does get formed, and if it is cleaned thereafter, but the water issue is left as such, the mold will grow back again. Thus, to reiterate the only way mold can be eradicated from growing is to fix all water and moisture related issues in a home.

Tips to prevent growth of mold in a home are as follows (CDC, n.d.; OSHA, 2013):

1. Relative -humidity levels should not exceed 50%. Use a dehumidifier if you live in a warm/hot and humid climate.

2. Kitchen and bathroom exhaust plus the dryer vent must exhaust outside the home.

3. Add mold inhibitors to all paint before using it in the home.

4. Change all carpets/upholstery that has gotten awashed by water and cannot be dried completely and immediately.

5. Bathrooms tend to have high moisture levels and hence mold formation chances are always high. Bathrooms should be regularly cleaned with products having mold killing ingredients.

6. Any wet or damp spots that are discovered in the home must be cleaned and dried within 48 hrs.

7. Any kind of leaks (especially plumbing ones) in the home structure should be fixed immediately.

8. Sufficient and appropriate drainage should be provided around the exterior of home. All drainage should slope away from home.

Further, in addition to water mold requires food to multiply and grow. Since, mold is of several types, some grow well in cooler locations while others prefer warm temperatures. In the presence of water/moisture mold can grow anywhere- books, paper, clothing, wood, carpets, plastics, metals, concrete, insulation etc.

Cleaning Mold After it Has Formed

If you find your home has a mold problem, you would most likely have two immediate questions: first if you need to sample the mold and determine what species it is, and second whether you should clean it yourself or hire professional services? To answer the first question CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) does not recommend sampling and species identification because irrespective of type of mold its health effects on an individual can vary greatly depending upon multiple factors. The most crucial thing is that any and all types of mold is removed from a home as quickly as possible.

Regarding the cleaning and removal of mold, a homeowner can use following guidelines to make decisions:

  1. If the area infected with mold is less than 10 square feet in size, a homeowner can clean up on one’s own (EPA, 2010).
  2. If the infected area is more than 10 square feet, depending upon the situation, any of the following options could be chosen for clean up (EPA, 2010):
    • If the extent of water damage is high, EPA recommends following the document- Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, which is applicable to all buildings including homes. This document lists specific actions for different items where mold can grow. Clean up action depend on the nature of surface of the item where mold is growing. The document also specifies the kind of protective gear that should be used for the clean-ups.
    • Hire professional services, if the water damage has occurred due to sewage or any kind of contaminated water. Make sure the services are experienced in such work.
    • If you do not want to do the clean up yourself, and prefer hiring professional services irrespective of how the water damage was caused, make sure:

i. The contractor is experienced.
ii. Check references.
iii    Ask, and make sure the clean-up is not done randomly and some kind of professional kind of guidelines such as Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings are followed.

    •  If the mold infected area is near the intake of the home HVAC system- it warrants special attention. To prevent mold contamination in the entire home, the HVAC should not be operated until mold has been completely cleaned. A homeowner can refer to Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? for guidance on further action.


CDC. (n.d.). Mold Prevention Tips. Retrieved February 02, 2015, from

OSHA. (2013). A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace: Safety and Health Information Bulletin. Retrieved February 02, 2015, from

EPA. (2010). A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from