Once you’ve seen the first signs of discoloration, you need to figure out how to remove mold from walls fast to keep it from spreading and causing both health and structural issues. Follow these tips and use the mold removal spray recipes below to get your mold situation under control.
Inspecting for Wall Mold
Just about every home develops mold at some point. Surprisingly, newer homes get it more often than older ones.
That’s because mold occurs in areas of higher humidity, and the tighter seals around windows and doors in new home construction keep in more moisture than drafty old homes.
Signs of Mold Growth
The most obvious sign of a mold problem is finding green, brown, orange or even black spots. But there are other, less apparent signs:
- Cracked or peeling paint
- A recurrent “soot” or black streaks, specks, or dots
- A musty, damp smell
Where You’ll Find It Growing
Mold on basement or exterior walls occurs when water vapor in the air meets a cold surface and turns the vapor into a liquid.
Bathrooms and laundry rooms develop mold because they’re typically very humid.
Other humid areas include the walls and ceiling near humidifiers and any room with a hot tub or jacuzzi improperly installed indoors.
Mold also grows where there is (or has been) a water leak. Places like the cupboards under sinks are very prone to it. Once a pipe has leaked, there’s a good chance mold will grow unnoticed within the wall until the problem requires expert removal.
How to Remove Mold on Walls
- Protective clothing
- Old towel
- Spray bottle
- Cleaning rags
- Scrub Brush
- Plastic sheeting (for larger areas)
- Painter's tape or masking tape (for larger areas)
Natural Mold Remover
- 2 tablespoons Borax
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups hot water
Stubborn Mold Remover
- 1/4 cup chlorine bleach
- 2 cups cold water
- Wear Protective Clothing. Mold can cause severe respiratory symptoms and skin irritation. Wear a face covering, so you don't breathe in mold spores while you remove them.Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from contact with mold spores.Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants that can be laundered in hot water to kill any spores they pick up.
- Prepare the Area. Mold spores easily travel in your home's air. Close the door to the room where you'll be working, or use tape to hang plastic sheeting to block off the area.Remove all decorative objects, curtains, and other items from the area where you'll be working. If you can't remove something like heavy furniture, cover it with plastic sheeting. Tape the plastic down, so it stays in place. Place an old towel on the floor where you'll be working to catch any drips. If the area is carpeted, tape a piece of plastic sheeting in place to prevent stains.
- Removing Mold from Paint or Wallpaper. Use this method for finished, painted or wallpapered surfaces. For unfinished surfaces, skip to the steps below to remove mold from drywall. Use the Natural Mold Remover Spray recipe. Spray the area well then immediately scrub with a clean cloth or brush to remove the surface layer of mold.Reapply the spray, lightly this time. Use only enough to dampen the area — you don't want it to drip. Wait 10 minutes, then wipe with a clean, fresh cloth. Do not rinse. Let the area dry overnight.
- Removing Mold from Tile, Stone, Concrete, and Cement. Wait at least 24 hours after using the Natural Mold Remover Spray to apply the Stubborn Mold Remover Spray. They are not safe to combine.Open the windows to ensure adequate ventilation. Use the Stubborn Mold Removal Spray recipe. Apply the spray and immediately scrub the area with a clean rag or scrub brush. Then, lightly reapply the spray and wait 15 minutes.Wipe the area with a clean cloth dampened with water. Let the area dry overnight.
- Removing Mold from Drywall or Popcorn Ceilings. These surfaces are porous, which means the mold grows on the surface but may also thread its way into the structure of the drywall/ceiling material. Use the Stubborn Mold Remover Spray recipe. Spray the surface until it's damp but not dripping. Wait a few minutes for the drywall to absorb the spray then apply more. Wait 15 minutes.Get a clean cloth damp with the Stubborn Mold Removal Spray and scrub the area. Do not let the cloth come into contact with other surfaces, or you may spread the mold spores.Wipe the area with a clean cloth dampened with more Stubborn Mold Removal spray. Do not rinse. Let the area dry overnight. Do not use a fan to dry it — the spray will continue killing mold as it dries.If the any discoloration remains, apply an oil-based primer (like Kilz 2) to seal the stain. Use your preferred paint to cover the area once the primer is completely dry.
How to Stop Mold from Growing on Walls
To get rid of mold on walls permanently, remove it using the steps above. Then, adopt the following practices to keep it from returning.
- Open curtains daily. Sunlight is a natural mold killer.
- If your basement has windows and doors, open them a few minutes each day to allow air to circulate.
- Use fans or space heaters to circulate air in basements without windows.
- Use bathroom fans after every shower or bath for at least 10 minutes.
- Use a mold-prevention spray or squeegee after every shower. (Related: Homemade Daily Shower Spray.)
- Keep shower doors open to allow air to circulate. Plastic shower curtains should be shaken well to dislodge water droplets then left partially open.
- Replace damaged caulk or grout in your shower and tub immediately.
- Clean your bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room weekly. Look for signs of moisture or leaks in cabinets.
In the Rest of Your Home
- Keep your home’s humidity levels in check. Overly humid air contributes to mold and mildew growth.
- Visually check your roof after severe storms for loose shingles or other damage that could allow water to enter your attic or home.
- Keep debris and junk away from your home’s foundation so water does not collect there and seep into your basement or under your home.
- Watch for signs of cracks in your foundation and contact foundation repair specialists immediately if you see any.
- Inspect your washing machine hose quarterly and replace it every five years even if it does not show wear. (Many homeowner insurance policies will deny claims for water damage if you don’t!)