DIY Mold Cleanup: 3 Misconceptions Busted

Mold in your home can not only be a nuisance, it can also cause health problems in some people. If your mold problem is a relatively small and straightforward, you may be tempted to complete some DIY mold cleanup. But there are many misconceptions out there about removing mold on your own, so here’s the truth about 3 of the most common misconceptions about DIY mold cleanup.

Misconception #1: “It doesn’t matter how big the moldy area is; it’s okay to clean up any size problem on my own.”

For a lot of people, the thought of hiring someone to complete a job they feel they can do themselves is hard to swallow. But in the case of mold, the problem can be more complicated than you might think. The EPA recommends that if the mold covers a surface of more than 10 square feet, you hire a professional remediation company.

The reason behind this is that professionals have the right equipment and training to get rid of the problem quickly. When homeowners try to take care of it on their own, they can end up accidentally spreading spores to other areas of the house because of the difficulty of cleaning that much mold.

There is also the chance that there may be hidden mold in places like behind wallpaper, behind drywall, under paneling, behind baseboards, and under carpet pads. If you encounter hidden mold that you weren’t prepared to deal with, the whole DIY cleanup process will get a lot more complicated.

Misconception #2: “You can use a household vacuum or standard wet/dry vacuum to clean up mold and spore bodies.”

Vacuuming is an important part of the mold cleanup process, but we don’t recommend using a regular vacuum. Household vacuums and standard wet/dry vacs aren’t effective because they don’t have the right kind of filters to properly trap the mold. Using one of these vacuums can actually spread the mold throughout your home.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums are used by professional remediation companies to trap spores and prevent them from spreading. You can purchase a HEPA vacuum for yourself; the retail versions are often marketed toward allergy sufferers to trap dust and other allergens. But these can get pretty expensive and must be diligently maintained for maximum effectiveness.

Misconception #3: “Bleach is an effective way to clean mold.”

Many online DIY mold cleanup tutorials recommend using a diluted bleach mixture to clean up mold, but believe it or not, this is not effective. You can’t kill mold with bleach—you might be able to remove the appearance of mold, but it will resurface quickly. This is especially true if the mold is on a porous material like sheetrock or wood, because chlorine isn’t able to penetrate porous materials and will actually contribute to wearing down and deteriorating these materials. Bleach is also not registered with the EPA as a disinfectant to kill mold.

Bleach is made up mostly of water, and the chlorine in the bleach evaporates quickly, meaning that you’re left with moisture that could end up restarting the contamination process. Bleach is what people have automatically reached for throughout the years, but it can actually do more harm than good. However, whatever you do, do not mix bleach with other cleaners to attempt to make it more effective–you could end up accidentally creating a toxic gas.