Under many common conditions mold can be serious, and given time could possibly lead to severe health complications. In this five part series I hope to tackle and explain some of the biggest misconceptions about mold.
Misconception 2 of 5 – If you have a mold problem bleach will get rid of it, always and forever.
I hear this one a lot. If a mold problem develops, many will grab some bleach, pour it on, and think they’ve kissed their mold problems good bye. If this is the typical scenario, their battle with mold has only just begun.
Building materials are either porous or nonporous. If bleach is used on a non porous material, such as bathroom tile, you may encounter issues (see this article). However, if it is used on porous materials such as drywall, which is the most common use of bleach on mold, it will come back stronger and stronger every time it’s treated. Why? Because of its molecular structure, bleach cannot pass beneath the surface of porous materials, where as the water in the solution soaks right in, feeding the mold and bringing it back with a vengeance. As for the bleach on the surface, sure it discolors and kills the visible mold, but that’s all it does. In fact, the only way to get rid of mold in drywall is to cut the drywall out, fix the water leak, treat the framing (depending on the extent of mold) with a fungacide, and replace with new drywall. Once mold develops roots in drywall, that’s the end of the drywall. It may be a process, but when you’re done you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing that the mold is completely gone.
If you need help identifying the mold, you can pick up a mold test kit at the hardware store, or ask a professional mold tester. Make sure the professionals testing the mold do not perform mold remediation in order to avoid conflicts of interest. If you want to take care of the issue yourself the EPA advises that it is safe for a competent person to take on a project that is 10 square feet or less.
Bleach is a toxic substance. If you need more information you can read this article. As far as cleaning non porous surfaces such as tile, sealed stone, ceramics… there are a number of cleaners that can be used. My personal favorite has been Vital Oxide because it is effective and completely oderless. A number of other alternatives that I have heard about are borax, vinegar, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, tea tree oil, and grape fruit seed extract.
Stay safe and get rid of mold! For more in this series: