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How to Get Rid of Mold in Your Home Safely

Aug 02, 2023Aug 02, 2023

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From tile grout to fabric, these tips will help you remove — and prevent! — mold spots.

If you think black spots of mold only pop up in dark, dank basements, think again!

Any room in your home can be susceptible to these unsightly spores if there’s uncontrolled moisture. And while a small amount generally won’t make you sick, it’s important to get rid of mold quickly. “If left untreated, mold can spread to other household items and cause health problems for family members," says Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab.

The best thing you can do in your home is stop mold before it starts. The key to prevention is keeping the rooms in your house dry and cool. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves staring at those stubborn spots. When you’ve got a mold situation at home, here’s everything you need to know to handle it yourself quickly and easily.

Mildew is typically more visible during early stages and pops up as white or gray powdery dots. It may turn yellow or brown, but generally remains pretty flat. Mold appears darker, often in shades of red, green or black and can have a fuzzy texture. While mildew is typically less dangerous than certain types of mold (think black mold), both microscopic fungi can cause health problems and damage to your home. While the mold and mildew can be treated in similar ways, read our guide to getting rid of mildew if you suspect that's the issue at hand.

Expert Tip: Mold spores can travel through the air when cleaning. Always wear long rubber gloves, protective eyewear and a face covering to limit your exposure when you’re treating mold yourself. If the moldy area is larger than approximately 2 square feet, call in a pro to have it removed safely.

Mold breeds in warm, wet conditions, which can make it difficult to keep the shower tile and grout free of these stubborn spots. If they appear, you can erase them quickly and easily with the right cleaner.

When mold strikes your shower curtain, it can be tempting to just toss it and start fresh. But there’s another way. Actually, there are two easy ways to save your plastic shower curtain or liner from these unsightly spots. (If your curtain is fabric, follow the steps for removing mold from fabric, below.)

Expert Tip: If you don’t have a handheld sprayer or the time, you can wash a plastic shower curtain or liner in your washing machine. Choose the delicate cycle with warm or hot water, then add laundry detergent and fabric-safe bleach. Wash it with some old towels to help with scrubbing and to keep it moving in the machine. Place it in the dryer on low heat for only a few minutes (Be sure to watch it!) to remove excess moisture, then re-hang it to finish drying.

If you spot mold on walls or ceilings made of sheetrock or plaster, you can make them disappear without replacing any materials. But if mold appears on a very porous surface, such as a ceiling tile, it's best to replace it right away.

Expert Tip: It’s important to wear eye protection to prevent cleaners from splashing in your eyes when removing mold from ceilings or overhead areas.

When clothing, towels or stored fabrics are exposed to humidity or dampness for a prolonged period, mold can appear and flourish. Follow these steps when you find mold on fabric items that are machine washable.

Expert Tip: If you find mold on fabric that is not machine washable, take it to your dry cleaner for help removing these stubborn spots.

In areas where there's higher humidity and poor ventilation — such as the kitchen, bathroom or basement — you may discover mold on cabinets, vanities, furniture or paneling made of wood, especially if the surface is losing its finish or seal.

1. Vacuum up any loose spores. Apply your protective gear and make sure the area is well-ventilated. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, go over the spots a few times with the soft brush attachment.

2. Sponge on a soapy solution. Mix a few drops of dish detergent with some water and dab the solution onto the surface with a sponge, being careful not to saturate the wood. Rub gently to remove mold spots.

3. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth. Dip a cleaning cloth into clear water and wring it out well before wiping the surface clean.

4. Follow with a clean, dry cloth. You don’t want the wood to stay wet for long, which could damage the finish, so work quickly and wipe dry any remaining moisture.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.” Even if you clean the mold, it will come back if the room is humid and poorly ventilated or if there is excess moisture from a leak — even a small one.

That means prevention is the only permanent remedy for mold. After you've repaired the leaks and gotten rid of any moisture problems, you can create an environment where mold can’t grow with these tips:

If you're looking for a natural solution to remove mold, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are two options to try. Keep in mind, though, that they may take more time to work than bleach and may not remove stains or be as effective on all types of mold or on all surfaces:

If the moldy area is widespread and larger than approximately a 2-foot by 2-foot area, call in a pro to have it removed safely. When you’re contending with more than a few mold spots, it could be a sign of a bigger moisture problem. Call a contractor who specializes in water damage restoration or waterproofing to assess and address the issue.

Jamie Kim is a consumer products expert with over 17 years of experience in areas of product development and manufacturing. She has held leading roles at both mid-size consumer goods companies and one of the most notable and largest apparel brands in the world. Jamie has contributed to several of the GH Institute Labs, including Kitchen Appliances, Media and Tech, Textiles and Home Appliances. In her free time she enjoys cooking, traveling, and working out.

Taryn Mohrman is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience writing for major consumer magazines, retailers and digital outlets, including buybuyBABY, Woman's Day, Parents and Redbook. She also specializes in content strategy and business development for B2Cs and startups, and has served as a consultant for companies in the home, fashion, beauty, tech, kids and gifts industries.

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Expert Tip: Take safety precautions. Spray cleaner on mold spots. Watch and wait before you scrub. Rinse the area with hot water. Expert Tip:Spray with cleaner from inside your shower. Wait up to five minutes for the stains to disappearUse a handheld showerhead to rinse completely.Leave it halfway open to dry. Expert Tip:Clean the surface. Rinse and let dry.Follow with a solution of water and bleachLet sit for five minutes, then scrub. Rinse completely and air dry. Expert Tip: Brush off the excess mold. Treat spots with liquid laundry detergent. Air dryVacuum up any loose spores. Sponge on a soapy solution. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth. Follow with a clean, dry cloth.Add a dehumidifier or two to your homeVent moisture-generating sources to the outside. Open doors and windows during showers. Dry or squeegee the shower after useLeave your shower open after showering. Stretch out the shower curtain Reseal bathroom tile grout lines. Avoid storing items in damp places.Hydrogen peroxideVinegar