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. Here’s how.
Just about every home gets the stuff. Surprisingly, newer homes get it more often than older ones. That’s because mold occurs in areas of higher humidity and tighter seals around windows and doors in new home construction keep in more moisture than drafty old homes.
How To Remove Mold From Walls
First, determine if it’s mold or mildew. Yes, it matters. Mildew, though nasty, won’t damage your structure, so it requires less aggressive methods than those listed below.
Signs of Mold Problems on Walls
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
- 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 usually 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 places, one of the best ways to prevent mold is to decrease humidity by opening windows and running fans regularly. (Read more about managing your home’s humidity.)
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 From Walls That Are Painted
As with many cleaning challenges, it’s best to start with a natural, mild approach and move onto stronger methods only if necessary.
Use the vinegar/borax/water method first and wait two days to see if the 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. And be sure you don’t combine cleaning products.)
Whether you use the non-toxic method or use bleach, protect your skin from coming in contact with the mold by wearing rubber gloves. Remove them the instant you’re done, so you don’t spread the spores throughout your home. Also, wear old clothing and wash it in HOT water to kill any mold spores that wind up on your clothes, and ventilate the area well while you’re working, so you aren’t inhaling the stuff.
If anyone in your house has a compromised immune system or a mold allergy, get them out of the house while you do this if possible. If that’s not an option, you can minimize their exposure by closing doors between rooms and by changing your clothes before you leave the room in which you’re treating the mold.
NATURAL MOLD REMOVER
- 2 tablespoons borax
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups hot water
Combine the ingredients above in a bowl, stirring until the borax dissolves. Pour into a spray bottle and liberally apply on painted walls, tile or other non-porous surfaces. Scrub thoroughly and wipe clean. Spray again and let sit 10 minutes before wiping dry.
BLEACH-BASED MOLD REMOVER (for more stubborn mold)
Bleach kills mold but does not prevent new colonies from forming. To kill existing mold, use this solution then follow the steps below to prevent it from returning.
- 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 thoroughly and wipe clean. If any mold remains, reapply and let sit 15 minutes before scrubbing. Spray again then wipe clean.
NOTE: Do NOT use this bleach method immediately at the same time, or even on the same day, as any other cleaning product. There are some cleaning products you should never mix, and bleach is one of the most dangerous among them.
How To Remove Mold from Cement
Basements are common sites for mold growth. If your home has a basement, it’s a good idea to inspect the walls and floor several times a year, particularly in your area’s wet season. Basement mold usually gets discovered after it’s been growing for some time which means you’ll probably want to go straight to the bleach-based method of mold removal above.
How To Remove Mold From Drywall
Mold can grow on unpainted surfaces like drywall and popcorn ceilings, too. These surfaces are porous, which means the mold not only builds on the surface but also 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 dry thoroughly. 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.
- Keep glass shower doors open to allow air to circulate. Plastic shower curtains should be shaken well to dislodge water droplets and left partially open.
- Hang up towels immediately after use.
- Use vinegar-based homemade bathroom cleaners and homemade floor cleaners to kill mold spores regularly. NOTE: Never combine vinegar with bleach or ammonia!
- Spray your shower with a mold-killer and tub daily.
- Clean bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms weekly.
Remember: regular prevention means you’ll never have to know how to remove mold because it won’t happen. So, run those bathroom fans, monitor your home humidity, and treat leaky pipes immediately to keep mold away.