Cleaning Black Mold

Learn how to clean black mold, prevent its spread and guard against its return.
A detail shot of a black moldy corner.

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A detail shot of a black moldy corner.

Photo by: Anja Peternelj

Anja Peternelj

By: Sean McEvoy

Black mold is scary stuff — it can be expensive to remove, and it can even contribute to a host of health problems, some of them serious. Cleaning black mold is an important step in the process of evicting this fungal menace from your home.

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The first step in cleaning black mold is to identify the source of moisture that's feeding it — it could be a pipe, roof or foundation leak, or condensation from an appliance. Stop any leaks, and dehumidify any areas affected by mold growth.

Next, seal off the room where the mold is located — shut doors tightly and cover vents, doorways and other areas where air can escape with plastic and duct tape. Place an exhaust fan in front of any outdoor-facing windows or doors to vent the space and push spores outside. Note: Be sure to wear a N95 respirator or mold-spore-rated facemask and cover all exposed skin, including hands, when cleaning black mold.

Lightly spray the mold with water to limit the amount of spores that will become airborne. Scrub the mold with a brush, rag or sponge and soapy water. Be sure to scrub all adjacent areas as well, as not all spores will be visible. Finally, thoroughly scrub the area with bleach, a professional mold removal product or vinegar. Note: Never mix cleaning agents as this could create a toxic gas, use only one product at a time. 

After cleaning black mold, place all equipment and debris in a heavy-duty trash bag, and, if possible, exit through an outdoor opening rather than the main home area, to prevent distribution of spores inside.

Taking these steps while cleaning black mold should help to eradicate the problem and ensure that the process is safe and effective.

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