If a flood occurred in your home or if a part of your home was exposed to standing water for any length of time, chances are the area has mold growing. While mold is relatively easy to deal with in some areas, it’s not always a simple process to make sure your home is safe and habitable again.
Follow this basic guide to get rid of mold in your home so you don’t have to worry about it polluting the air you’re breathing inside.
1. Get Rid of All Standing Water
It’s probably a no-brainer, but the first thing you need to do is get rid of all standing water in your home and make sure the area is dry. If it’s not particularly humid outside, one of the best things you can do to help moisture evaporate and hard surfaces dry is to simply open your windows.
You’ll also want to turn on any fans or heaters you can to help dry the area up, as circulating air will help the water dry faster. This is particularly important on surfaces like hardwood, where moisture may be present even after standing water is removed.
2. Remove Soft Surfaces
Soft surfaces like rugs are commonly damaged after a flood. In many cases, homeowners choose to simply throw water damaged rugs away, but if you have a particularly expensive piece, repair may be worthwhile.
Begin by simply taking your rug outside and allowing it to dry in the sun for about 24 hours. In cool weather, a heavy rug may need more time in the sun to fully dry. The sun naturally helps kill mold, though you should have any items like rugs, tapestries, or pillows professionally dry cleaned to be on the safe side.
3. Clean Your Walls
Mold has the potential to negatively affect your walls, and it’s not something you want growing where you can’t see. To remove mold on the walls, combine 1 part distilled white vinegar with 9 parts water in a spray bottle.
After spraying the walls with your solution, gently wipe down the walls with a sponge. After you’ve scrubbed the mold off, wipe it away with a paper towel. It’s important that you spray the walls again with just white vinegar and let it sit for up to an hour, depending on the severity of the mold. This will get the mold at its roots and help prevent it from returning.
When cleaning your walls, aim to wash about 12-inches higher than the water damage to be sure you’re killing all bacteria.
4. Clean Wood Furniture
If you’re like most homeowners whose homes have flooded, the base of your furniture pieces will be damaged. If they aren’t warped, you can make sure to kill mold spores by wiping them down with a clean rag and denatured alcohol. While denatured alcohol generally doesn’t affect wood finishes, you should test the alcohol in a small surface before rubbing the whole piece down.
Once cleaned with denatured alcohol, wood pieces should be allowed to dry fully before being sprayed with a standard store-bought disinfectant.
5. Clean Soft Surfaces
Items that are subjected to standing water like towels, clothes, and even cushions are usually salvageable if they aren’t left to soak for too long. To clean these soft surfaces, check the care tags and wash the items at the highest possible temperature that they will allow.
Doing what you can to get rid of mold is a good idea after any type of water damage, but it may not get rid of everything. However, if you’re unsure of the cleaning process, it’s best to consult a professional to make sure the mold is all gone, especially if standing water was present in your home for more than 48 hours.
Still, cleaning your home on your own can kill basic mold and stop it from spreading, allowing you to inhabit your home until a professional can verify that all traces of mold have been removed.
Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. With kids, she knows how important it is to keep your home safe and healthy and employs these tactics when there may be a risk of mold. She works with www.Ovlix.com, helping others find their dream homes.