Finding mold on your walls isn’t necessarily a cause to panic, so long as you know how to remove mold from walls. Just about every home gets the stuff, and surprisingly newer homes get it more often than older ones. That’s because mold occurs in areas of higher humidity; tighter seals around windows and doors in new home construction keeps in more moisture than in drafty old homes.
Signs of Mold Problems on Walls
The most obvious sign of a mold problem is finding mold itself: green, brown, orange or even black spots. But there are other, less apparent signs of the moisture problems that lead to mold.
- Cracked or peeling paint
- A recurrent “soot” or black streaks
- A musty, damp smell
Places Most Prone To Mold
Mold often grows in areas where condensation forms from water vapor in the air meeting a cold surface which turns the vapor into a liquid. This often takes place on exterior walls or in basements.
Very humid areas in the home are prone to mold, too. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are two common places to find mold growing, particularly on grout lines or shower walls. Other areas include the walls and ceiling near humidifiers, and any room with a hot tub or jacuzzi improperly installed indoors. In these areas, one of the best ways to prevent mold is to decrease humidity by opening windows and running fans regularly.
Mold also grows where there is (or has been) a water leak. Places like the cupboards under sinks are very prone to mold. Once a pipe has leaked, there’s a good chance mold will grow in the wall without being noticed until the problem requires expert removal.
Removing Mold From Painted Walls
As with many cleaning challenges, it’s best to start with a natural, mild approach and move onto stronger methods only if necessary. My personal recommendation is to use the vinegar/borax/water method first and wait two days to see if mold returns. If it does, move on to using the bleach/water approach. (Bleach is very irritating to the lungs, eyes and skin, so I prefer avoiding its use whenever possible.)
Whether you use the non-toxic method or use bleach, it’s important to use rubber gloves to protect your skin from coming in contact with mold. Wear old clothing so you can wash it in HOT water to kill any mold spores that wind up on your clothes, and be sure to ventilate the area well while you’re working so you aren’t inhaling the stuff.
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Mold Remover #1
- 2 tablespoons borax
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups VERY warm water
Combine the ingredients above in a bowl, stirring until the borax is completely dissolved. Pour into a spray bottle and liberally apply on painted walls, tile or other non-porous surfaces. Scrub well and wipe clean. Spray again and let sit 10 minutes before wiping dry.
Mold Remover #2
- 1/4 cup bleach
- 2 cups warm water
Combine the ingredients above in a spray bottle and liberally apply on painted walls, tile or other non-porous surfaces. Scrub well and wipe clean. If mold remains, reapply and let sit 5-10 minutes before scrubbing. Spray again then wipe clean.
Removing Mold From Drywall
Mold can grow on unpainted surfaces like drywall and popcorn ceilings, too. Since these surfaces haven’t been sealed they’re porous, which means the mold not only grows on the surface but threads its way into the structure of the drywall/ceiling material, too. In those situations, try either of the two removal mixtures above and allow the area to thoroughly dry. If mold returns, you’ll most likely need to replace the drywall. A professional mold-removal service may be able to treat the ceiling, however.
How To Prevent Mold
Whether you’ve just battled a mold infestation or want to prevent one from occurring, there are a few steps you should take:
- Use your bathroom fans after every shower for at least 15 minutes.
- No bathroom fan? Leave the bathroom lights on for at least 30 minutes.
- Keep shower doors open to allow air to circulate.
- Hang up towels, preferably in another room.
- Use vinegar-based bathroom cleaners and floor cleaners to kill mold spores regularly.
- Spray your shower and tub daily.
- Clean bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms weekly. (See my printable cleaning checklists here.
Remember: regular prevention means you’ll never have to know how to remove mold because it won’t happen!