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cleaning black mold

Is it Safe to Clean Black Mold Yourself?

It’s time to answer one of the most persistent questions seen on MoldBlogger and other sites: Is it safe to clean black mold yourself?

Whether you’re a headstrong homeowner or you simply can’t afford professional mold remediation, you’ve certainly been wondering the same thing lately. Is the risk worth it—and what is the risk anyway? That’s what we’re about to find out!

Can Black Mold Kill You?

Yes, black mold can kill you, but there are a great many factors that must take place before that’s a possibility.

For one, the type of exposure to black mold is important. A one-time exposure may produce unbearable and debilitating symptoms for a period of time, but if the person is treated correctly and never exposed again, the chances of the symptoms becoming a chronic and eventual death threat are extremely low. That said, some one-time exposures have the capacity to become chronic if the person suffers from a weakened immune system or an immunodeficiency. They are at a greater risk of developing long-term and life-threatening mycotoxicosis symptoms (toxic mold sickness). Even a poor lifestyle—poor eating and exercising habits—can lead to a weakened immune system that is vulnerable to a great variety of life-threatening disease—not just black mold toxicity.

One-Time Exposure Black Mold Poisoning Symptoms:

  • a long, painful headache
  • a tightening in the chest
  • burning sensations in airways
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • fits of sneezing
  • nose bleeds
  • skin irritation
  • stuffy nose
  • watery or itchy eyes
  • wheezing

Repeat exposure, such as working or living in a mold-infested environment presents the greatest possibility of chronic black mold poisoning symptoms and death to both immunocompromised individuals and those at peak health. When exposure is persistent, the immune system experiences a bombardment of intense attack that affects the whole body. From the throat and lungs to the digestive system, to the bowels and skin, toxic mold symptoms act very much like a poison on the entire system. There is only so much even the healthiest of bodies can take before it becomes completely incapacitated and meets a fatal outcome.

Repeat-Exposure Black Mold Poisoning Symptoms:

  • asthma
  • autoimmune disease
  • cold and flu
  • emphysema-like disease
  • fatigue
  • memory loss
  • migraine-like headaches
  • muscle aches
  • nosebleeds
  • pulmonary hemorrhage
  • rashes and dermatitis
  • sore throat
  • vomiting and diarrhea (especially in infants)

How Long Does It Take for Black Mold to Kill You?

There have been many cases of toxic black mold sicknesses and death in public record for the past thirty years, but often, the issue is denied outright or the blame is shifted to keep landlords and businesses from being held accountable for their poor property maintenance.

In the 1990s, Cleveland, OH saw an inexplicable rise in pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs) of children. On average, such a severe affliction occurs in only one out of a million children worldwide from time to time, but when every pediatrician in Cleveland suddenly began seeing five or more patients each week suffering from the same symptoms, it was determined that cases in that region alone had risen to one in every one-thousand children. A two-year investigation into the incident identified exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum—toxic black mold—as the cause. Sadly, it took the deaths of several children before the results could be concluded. Those years were warmer and wetter than usual, and Cleveland’s general mismanagement of moisture-damaged rental buildings was to blame, yet many rose up to deny mold sickness was even possible, claiming it to be an imagined disease and downplaying the dangers of black mold. (See: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Acute pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis among infants—Cleveland, January 1993-November 1994. MMWR 1994;43:881-3.)

In 2009, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, FL lost three young cancer patients in less than a month due to mold inhalation. The cause was the hospital’s construction project that exposed and released toxic black mold into the pediatric cancer wing of the hospital. The children were trapped in poorly-ventilated rooms while microscopic black mold spores attacked their chemo-weakened bodies. Only the three deaths were admittedly due to this mold exposure, but more families are claiming their children suffered from chronic negative effects and even death due to the same negligent exposure.

Periodically, reports will come in regarding farmers, construction workers, handymen, and DIY homeowners who have been exposed to black mold and died from it. As most are usually middle-aged and very fit, the problem was repeat exposure as they worked in silos or on building or renovation projects. For some, it took years before they passed; for others, it took only months.

How long does it take black mold to kill you? As you can see, it depends entirely on your age and current state of health. Those who are most-likely to experience black mold poisoning symptoms and lose their lives because of it are:

  • infants and children
  • older adults
  • people with allergies or asthma
  • people with weakened immune systems

What complicates matters is that black mold exposure has also been linked to certain seemingly-unrelated diseases and cancers. This means that the death rate from black mold exposure could be significantly higher, but there is no way to know for sure until medical providers, landlords, and lawmakers take mold toxicity more seriously.

Is it Safe to Clean Black Mold Yourself?

Now that you have a better understanding of the dangers revolving around black mold exposure, surely you’re wondering if cleaning it on your property is worth the risk. The answer is: “Yes, but it depends.”

In most cases of illness and death, the victims did not use the proper equipment when cleaning or removing black mold from their home. Even if the cleaner wears the right protection, the other inhabitants are often exposed because not enough care was taken to ensure the issue was resolved before allowing them back in the home. If you must tackle this problem yourself, you must do it right the first time. You and your loved ones depend on every precaution being executed correctly.

Preparing the Home for Black Mold Removal

Any attempt to resolve mold issues in a home will disturb the mold and release millions—if not billions—of mold spores into the environment. These spores are invisible to the naked eye and completely unavoidable. They spread through every room within minutes—even seconds—so do not think for even a moment that your family is safe in another part of the house. Even if the spores finally settle, you can expose your family by introducing them on your clothing or opening a door and causing them to rise up again on air currents.

This is why a complete strategy must be in place before you make any removal attempt at all.

If you must do this on your own:

  • purchase the proper personal protection equipment (PPE)—wear and use it at all times!
  • have your family and pets removed completely from the home for several days
  • invest in an air purifier that combines HEPA and Activated Carbon filters
  • be willing to throw away any items that are fibrous or porous, such as wood or fabrics
  • if replacing elements of the home, purchase only mold-resistant drywall, paint, sheet rock, and other materials
  • use black mold removal products or cleaners, or make them yourself from anti-fungal essential oils—NO BLEACH!
  • document the entire process with videos, photographs, and/or journaling (in case of litigation)
  • safeguard yourself and your family with anti-fungal meals and supplements
  • maintain mold-inhibiting temperatures and moisture levels in the home

Conclusion

Cleaning black mold yourself can be a daunting task—and one that you should never take lightly. If it is at all possible, I urge you to seek professional assistance. That said, if you choose to move forward regardless of what you have read here, you are doing so with the full knowledge of what the risks are. My only advice is to be unwavering in your precautions and planning. Never move forward without the proper equipment. Do not cut corners. Do not compromise safety for “cheap” or “easy” solutions. Your life and the lives of those you love are at stake.

If you’re in need of black mold removal solutions for specific materials or situations (such as: “how to remove black mold from wood,” “how to get rid of black mold on walls,” or many other topics), please feel free to use the search bar on MoldBlogger. Every week, more topics and solutions will be posted to help you with your mold problems, so check back frequently.

If you’ve ever found black mold in your home, please share your experience in the comments below—it could greatly benefit other readers. What led you to search out the mold—did you experience symptoms beforehand? Where did you find it? What steps did you take to remove it? What black mold removal products did you use? Ultimately, do you believe it is safe to clean black mold yourself or do you think it is wiser to invest in the help of professionals?

Article by Amanda Demsky.

mold concrete block wall

How to Get Rid of Mold on Concrete Block Walls

According to the 2021 Old Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is going to be warmer and wetter than usual. Perhaps that’s what brought you here today. Is your basement collecting more moisture this winter? Have you noticed a musty smell or discoloration on your basement walls? If so, then the most-likely culprit is mold. It’s time to figure out how to get rid of mold on concrete block walls—and fast!


Why Concrete Blocks are Susceptible to Mold

Concrete blocks are made up of water, aggregate (gravel, rock, or sand), and Portland cement. The aggregate acts as a filler while the Portland cement acts as a binding agent. Many of the ingredients in Portland cement (what is commonly used in poured concrete today) are anti-fungal, such as lime.

Portland cement is created by pulverizing and measuring out specific proportions of the following materials:

– Alumina: sourced from bauxite, clay, or recycled aluminum.
– Gypsum: sourced alongside calcium oxide from limestone (below).
– Iron: sourced from clay, fly ash, iron ore, or scrap iron.
– Lime (or calcium oxide): sourced from calcareous rock, chalk, limestone, shale, or shells.
– Silica: sourced from argillaceous rock, clay, sand, or old bottles.

Cinder blocks (often confused with their concrete cousin) tend to be antiquated but can still be found in older buildings. They contained cement and cinder ash. Today, new composites of cinder blocks are being manufactured that have a special blend of concrete ingredients and volcanic pumice or coal. Volcanic pumice and coal are both anti-fungal, as well.

Fun Fact: Roman concrete was an ideal choice for building. Not only was its hydraulic-setting composition (meaning: it could pour and cure under water) unique in all the world, many of the Roman concrete structures remain to this day because the composite contains volcanic ash, which made an inhospitable environment for mold and other microbials that would have molecularly broken down the blocks over time. Sadly, the exact secret composition of Roman concrete was lost alongside the fall of the Roman Empire itself around 476 A.D.

Whether you have concrete blocks, poured cement, or old or new cinder blocks, the ingredients are relatively the same and provide the same amount of protection against mold growth within and throughout the structure itself. The problem lies in the fact that both concrete and cinder blocks allow for the re-absorption of water. Strangely enough, this actually restrengthens the molecular structures of the blocks themselves. At the same time, however, because they are so porous and have a high proclivity toward moisture, this allows for the risk of mold growth.

Thankfully, the concrete or cinder block itself does not supply mold with a food source. Unfortunately, it is the layer of dust and other contaminates that settle on the surface over time that can provide plenty of nutrients for a mold to grow.


How to Get Rid of Mold on Concrete Block Walls

Theoretically, if you kept your concrete or cinder block walls clean of dust and debris, and were able to control the temperature and moisture level of the room, your mold problem would dry up, so to speak. Unfortunately, even if these measures are taken regularly, it is still possible for mold to simply lie dormant as it waits for the ideal conditions to arise again.
Therefore, if a mold problem has already arisen, you will have to take extra mold-fighting steps in addition to maintaining the clean, dry conditions, as well.

Before we get into the specifics of how to remove mold from concrete basement walls, you will need to have the right gear. Going in unprepared could put you at risk for mold infection and toxicity. I suggest reading up about mold containment and personal protection equipment (PPE) against mold.

After you have decided on the appropriate PPE—and are wearing it!—your first task will be to remove the moisture issue in the afflicted room. Is it a spill, a leak, or just the result of the climate? Whatever it is, clean up any puddles and repair any broken pipes. Then, well-ventilate the room by opening windows or consider investing in a dehumidifier to control the humidity immediately and long-term. (Further reading: how a dehumidifier can help get rid of mold in your basement.)

Your second task will be to clean the room and concrete or cinder block walls thoroughly, clearing away dust, debris, and/or mold itself. Whether it’s mold on the surface of concrete blocks or mold inside cinder block walls, a liquid solution comprised of a mold-killing ingredient is best and you’ll need to seal it afterward with mold-preventive vinegar.

What you will need to clean mold off concrete:
• PPE (mask, goggles, gloves, etc.)
• hard bristle brush (here are some options on Amazon; don’t use a wire brush, as it will damage the walls)
• anti-fungal laundry detergent diluted with hot-water in a spray bottle (you can use a simple dilution of borax, but I highly suggest this recipe)
• white vinegar water-diluted in a spray bottle
• anti-fungal essential oils to add to the vinegar to veil the strong scent—optional
• hot water in a spray bottle
• rags and towels you are willing to throw away
• a trash bag

Please note: All spray bottles should have a misting option—not a jet spray.

IMPORTANT: While laundry detergent is suggested, please do not use anything but a detergent that specifically highlights its anti-fungal properties. This usually entails an all-natural detergent made with essential oils. If you are unable to find such a detergent, create your own from the recipe link provided, or stick strictly with borax. Any other detergent will only provide nutrients to the mold and allow it to grow back exponentially worse.


How to Remove Mold From Concrete Basement Walls, Steps 1 – 6:


Step 1: Once you have donned your PPE and brought everything on the list into the affected room, remember to keep the room well-ventilated or leave your dehumidifier running. Then, spray the walls generously with your detergent mixture, soaking them thoroughly. (There is no need to wait for a specific period of time before you go on to the next step.)

Step 2: Start at the first area you sprayed and scrub vigorously every inch of the wall until you have finished scrubbing the entire room. The bristle brush is meant to break up and pull out from the concrete pores any visible and non-visible particles of mold-food or mold growth. (While poured concrete in the floors is less likely to have mold growth, it is wise to hit that area, too. I suggest a floor-scrubbing bristle brush instead of getting on your hands and knees with a handheld brush, though. You can find those in the Amazon link provided above, as well.)

Step 3: Spray the walls (and floor) with hot water from a spray bottle in segments one by one and then use rags or towels (you are willing to throw away) to wipe the walls and floors down. Remember to replace the towels frequently between segments so that you are not merely spreading the moldy mess. (The reason for spraying hot water is that, by the time you have finished scrubbing, the detergent and debris will have dried up and you’ll need to remoisten the walls in order to wipe them away.)

Step 4: After the walls (and floor) have been wiped clean, they will most-likely still be a little moist. That is perfectly fine. Now it is time to apply the vinegar spray. This, too, should be applied generously, which is why you might want to add an anti-fungal essential oil to it, like lavender—to help stave off that awful vinegar smell.

Step 5: Remember to safely remove and throw away the bristle brush, the rags and towels, and the PPE in the trash bag you brought with you once you are finished. It might seem like a waste of money instead of washing these things, but these items have so many nooks and crannies where mold can live, that it is best to toss them out to ensure they do not contaminate the rest of your house. This is especially important if you are dealing with toxic black mold.

Step 6: Shower and scrub your body and hair thoroughly, then opt to eat a dinner infused with plenty of garlic. You can find many anti-fungal food suggestions on MoldBlogger.

If you want to be extra thorough, add anti-fungal essential oils to your hot water bottle and repeat Step 3 twice before moving on to Step 4. This will ensure that there is absolutely no residue of detergent or mold remaining.

That’s it!


Conclusion

The answer to “How to get rid of mold on concrete block walls?” is a simple one, but if you live in a hot and humid climate, you may have to repeat this process once or twice a year. There are commercial mold sprays, but I cannot in good conscience suggest them due to their highly corrosive ingredients. Some PPE will not be able to keep your mucous membranes (mouth, nose, throat, eyes) safe from such chemicals, and it would be a shame if, in the process of saving you and your loved ones from mold, you inadvertently exposed them to chemical burns via inhalation. That is a very likely outcome if you are working on an entire room that had poor ventilation to begin with.

If you are still curious as to why ingredients such as borax and vinegar are worthy mold fighters, please feel free to read these articles that can answer the following questions:

How to clean mold off basement walls with borax? (This article is all about Borax and why it is a useful and safe mold cleaner.)

Will vinegar clean mold on concrete? (This article describes how vinegar can kill about 82% of known molds and help prevent future outbreaks.)



Article by Amanda Demsky

mold in body

How to Remove Mold from Your Body with Exercise

We live in the pampered era of couch potatoes and desk jockeys. From 2-hour long commutes, to 8-hour Netflix binges, we are successfully neglecting our need for daily exercise. In the United States alone, less than 23% of the population commits to even the most pitiful of exercise standards. Picture in your mind’s eye that unwilling 77%. It’s possible that 40–60% of them are plagued with mold or biotoxin illness, which would explain their unwillingness to engage in adequate physical activity. If only they knew what you’re about to discover—how to remove mold from your body with exercise. Then, perhaps they’d feel encouraged to push through that foggy, mold malaise and commit to detoxifying their bodies by moving their bodies.

Keep on reading!

mold in crawl space basement

How to Get Rid of Mold in Crawl Spaces

Dealing with a mold problem in your home can be a daunting and scary experience. It is hard to know what to do first in situations that seem overwhelming. However, it is important to tackle a mold issue right away, so that it does not become worse and even more daunting of a problem. So what do you do if you have mold in your crawl space? This article will aim to help you break down the process and guide you in making decisions about your home and mold issues in your crawl space.

Keep on reading!

snow mold

Snow Mold in Your Lawn?

As winter melts away into spring, things may start to reappear in your yard that was previously hidden by winter’s thick blanket of snow. You may rediscover that tool that was not put away before the first significant flurries, or just the welcome signs of spring as your perennial bulbs begin to push through the surface. An unwelcome sight, however, may be the appearance of a fungal lawn disease called snow mold.
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black mold information

Black Mold 101

If there was one organism that was in dire need of a PR overhaul, it would probably be black mold. Yup, when it comes to mold, you don’t get much worse than this. Yet how much of it is over-sensationalized, and how much should we really take to heart? MoldBlogger investigates!
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mold in car

Under The Hood: Investigating Car Mold

Cars. You gotta love ‘em, right? Yet along with all their magnificence comes the potential for problems – enough, quite frankly, to Exhaust you (and your bank account).

If you’re wondering what on earth a blog dedicated to mold is doing talking about cars, then you’re in luck, as it means you’ve never experienced the godforsaken relationship between the two. For everyone else, however, you know what’s coming and it’s enough to drive you round the Benz.

Yup, that’s right. Car mold. The unsightly, smelly, unhealthy fungus encroaching on your beloved, dependable, otherwise obedient vehicle that should really, when you think about it, be mutually exclusive. Seats, carpets, steering wheel – nothing is safe – especially when you consider the perfect breeding ground that a car can become when locked up for an extended period during wet weather. It’s just not something you can afFord – especially if you’re hoping to use your car as a Pickup. “WHAT SHALL WE DO? you cry.” Pipe down, dear readers, we have – as ever – got tips by the Truckload in what we will this week call our Mold Manual.
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moldy lunchboxes

Mold and Lunchboxes: Everything you Need to Know

Moldy Lunchboxes

A spattering of particularly concerning news reports has hit good old Google recently, concerning the discovery of mold in children’s lunchboxes. There is so much wrong about this we don’t know where to start, but start we must, so here goes.

A 2016 study conducted by e-cloth found that 73% of fabric lunch boxes contain shocking amounts of bacteria, with the researchers warning that, if left uncleaned, could cause mold-associated health problems that we have come to know and, er, hate – namely things like respiratory issues, migraines and itchy eyes. Equally alarming, however, was the presence of Staphylococci and Enterococci – particularly dangerous bacteria, usually found on toilet flushes, that the NHS warns could lead to serious cases of food poisoning.
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green mold, green mold removal

What is Green Mold and How Do You Get Rid of It?

What is Green Mold?

Some mistakenly believe that any and all green molds are penicillin. Penicillin, however, is not a mold. Penicillin is an antibiotic derived from the mold known as penicillium chrysogenum. Many times over, a common statement is made in regards to foods that have mold growth: “Ah, it’s just penicillin. It won’t hurt you.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, contact with penicillium chryosogenum–like any mold–can cause serious health issues. For instance, penicillium molds often cause chronic sinus infections and inflammation within the lungs.

The truth is, there are several types of green mold–thousands, actually–and none of them are friendly. So, what exactly makes green mold, green?

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mold killer for clothes

DIY: Natural Mold-Killing Laundry Detergent

Most homes are teeming in the thousands, if not millions, of various types of mold spores and any location that offers adequate moisture will provide it the perfect home. Laundry rooms especially provide the key ingredients to what makes mold grow: moisture, decaying organic material (soiled laundry), warmth, and usually no direct sunlight. Thus, it is not uncommon to find mold on clothes.

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rubber mold

How to Remove Mold from a Washing Machine

Whether top-load or front-load, new or used, every washing machine provides an ideal habitat for mold. The high moisture content in both the machine and the resulting atmosphere, the typical poorly-ventilated laundry room with its stale warm air, and the continual supply of decomposing organic material provided by soiled laundry all contribute to an environment conducive to mold growth and its accompanying mildew smell.

Don’t wait until you experience that distinct mold odor. Because of such steady, mold-welcoming conditions, it is important to be consistent in regular maintenance. Cleaning a machine that appears to clean itself during each use might seem a little superfluous, but even washing machines could use a good wash from time to time.

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attic mold

How to Deal with Attic Mold

How often do you spend time in your attic? Perhaps once a year to retrieve Christmas decorations? If you are like most homeowners, you probably don’t visit this non-living space very often. Because of that, attics are often left out of regular home inspections and maintenance. The bad news is that attic mold (along with a multitude of other issues) can easily be overlooked. It is important that you take the time to periodically visit your attic space and give it a thorough once over. Mold attic can quickly become dangerous because it often goes unnoticed until it begins to penetrate the rest of your house. By the time that happens, there is likely quite a bit of mold and may already be affecting the health of your family.
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wall

Should you Paint over Mold?

If you have a mold issue on the walls of your home, it can be an unsightly view. The black and green spots don’t typically make for a beautiful home. Mold grows quickly so if your walls are wet, they may quickly become covered in it. Looking for a quick fix and wondering if you can paint over mold?

Painting over mold is one of the most common methods to hide mold. But that is the problem – you are only hiding the mold temporarily. Many people choose this solution because it is the quickest solution to hide the ugly signs of mold on their walls. Often, when people choose to paint over mold it is because of ignorance. They simply are not educated about the seriousness of mold in the home. However, it is all too common for landlords, propery managers and even some homeowners to paint over mold because it is the cheapest and fastest way to cover mold.
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mold in fish tank

How to Clean Mold from a Fish Tank

Is Your Fish Tank Growing Mold?

The health of fish and their owners depend on tank hygiene. This is because every fish tank provides the perfect environment for both submerged and airborne forms of fungi. General tank cleanliness, water quality, filtration, decor material, and the initial health of the fish all contribute to the growth and dispersing of mold spores. A dirty tank allows a film to build both underwater and in contact with the air above. Decomposing organic material, such as wood decor, dead fish, excrement, or the open, seeping wound (infection or injury) of a fish can all provide nourishment to underwater fungus, as well as airborne mold.
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moldy clothes

How to Clean Mold Off Clothing

Moldy Clothes

Wondering how to clean mold off clothing? Here are all of the answers you need.

Mold in the house is something every homeowner dreads and fears. Mold can be toxic and spread quickly and quietly without you even being aware of it. If you have mold in your home, you likely had water intrusion either from rain or flood water or a leaky pipe. Mold can ruin your belongings – from your flooring and walls to your furniture and even your clothing. Many times mold-damaged belongs must be discarded for your safety or because they have been permanently damaged.

If you have found mold on your clothing or there is a potential for mold growth because of a flood, you may be wondering if you can save your clothes or if you need to throw them away. The good news is that (depending on when you found the molded clothing), you may be able to save them. With a little bit of persistence and quick action, you can often rid your precious clothing of damaging mold and make them safe to wear again.
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