getting rid of mold
by Michael Kirwan
With fall bringing the usual dosage of rains and increased air moisture, many Toronto homeowners again discover the unpleasant black or green stains of mold in their homes. This doesn’t necessary mean a sign of a bad housekeeping. In every home, miscellaneous parts break over time and sometimes it takes a while to notice it. That’s usually when mildew crawls into your lovely home, unnoticed, until you either discover the well-known unpleasant smell or you spot the atrocious growing stains. For some homes, mold is an ongoing problem in places like kitchens or bathrooms due to the increased moisture and humidity in these areas. Nevertheless, the solution to this problem is the same, whichever the case.
DIY or Professionals
Of course there are plenty of companies out there that would happily solve this problem for you, but since many people think twice before spending money on work they can do themselves, here’s some DIY, eco-friendly solutions. Having said that, should you discover that the area affected by mold is rather large (i.e., over 10 sq. ft. or so), calling a professional would be a good idea.
Protection is a Must
Even though most types of mold are harmless to humans, there are certain kinds (like black mold) that are rather toxic. So before you start any cleaning, arm yourself with a pair of strong rubber gloves and an N95 respirator. If you want to be extra careful, you could purchase a test kit from a hardware shop and send a sample of the mold to a lab. This would be especially useful if anyone from the household was suffering from allergy.
The one detergent that ranks number one in both affordability and eco-friendliness, and one you most likely have at hand already—white vinegar. Just like it will drive away ants (as we recently mention in the first issue of Toronto homeowner’s guide), it will not only kill the fungi, but also bacteria; it will even dissolve lime scale. Distilled white vinegar is a 100% degradable detergent that can compete with all those expensive anti-fungal sprays on the market, without emptying your wallet.
Elimination and Prevention
Getting rid of mold long-term is not a one-time project. Since mold will only appear where it finds a convenient environment, it is necessary to first clean the invaded areas. Then it is important to make the environment in your home less mold-friendly.
When cleaning hard surfaces such as tile or ceramic, linoleum, tile grout, or plastic such as shower curtains, wet the affected area so that the spores don’t become airborne, then simply give it a good scrub with a detergent of your choice. Dry the surface thoroughly.
Porous surfaces, on the other hand, such as fabric, drywall, wall paper, or wood, are very difficult or impossible to clear of mold. You are better off replacing such objects.
Prevention is pretty straightforward. Mold loves hot and humid environments, so it is important to repair any possible water leaks and to monitor the relative humidity in your home (a hygrometer will help you with that). Simple preventative steps such as frequent airing are essential.
Humidity over 60% will guarantee the return of mold. In the summer months, an air conditioner will help to keep the humidity under control (make sure you regularly clean the filters—dirty filters are another great place for mold). For colder months, you might need to invest in a dehumidifier.