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How to Remove Mold and Mildew

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Chances are that you've seen mold or mildew before. The fungus can grow on old food, develop on your bath and shower walls, and work its way into the floors of your home after a flood. But don't worry - this doesn't mean you've done a poor job keeping your home clean. It's a natural substance that grows in areas of moisture. 

While it's normal to come across mold and mildew from time to time, it's still important to make sure the fungus is removed properly. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that some people have no reaction at all to the spores, but others aren't as fortunate. People who are sensitive to the fungus can experience nasal irritation, coughing, wheezing, skin rashes and even mental effects like depression and forgetfulness. Here's how to remove the fungus if you discover it in your home.

Use gloves when removing mold.Use gloves when removing mold.

Wear Protective Gear
Even if you don't think you're sensitive to mold and mildew spores, you'll want to err on the side of caution. Wear eye goggles, gloves and a face mask to reduce your exposure to the fungus and don't inhale its irritating spores. Even just rubbing your eyes after accidentally touching the substance can cause discomfort.

Bring it Outside
Unless it's an item that can't be transported, the first thing you should do when you see mold on an object is to bring it outside. You'll want to brush off the mold and shake it out so it doesn't spread around your home. For small areas of fungus growth, take an old toothbrush to it, as the hard bristles will lift spores that are buried deep in the fabric. Be sure to discard the toothbrush after use. 

Vacuum it Up
If you spot mold or mildew on a rug or carpet, vacuum the area to lift some of the spores from the floor. This won't necessarily remove fungus completely, but it can serve as the initial step in getting rid of the irritant. Be sure to discard the bag after use, as you don't want it to continue to grow in an item you use around your home.

"Before using bleach, be sure to do a spot test."

Use Bleach
Before using bleach on any object, be sure to do a spot test. Apply a drop to a hidden area on the item, wait a few minutes and blot it with a towel. If the color is unaffected, you can apply it to the area of mold or mildew. Whenever using bleach, be sure you're not simultaneously using a product that contains ammonia, as the combination of substances can create a hazardous environment for you and those in your household.

Consider Alternative Cleaners
If you'd prefer to use natural ingredients to clean your home, try using hydrogen peroxide in place of bleach and other harsh household cleaners. The substance can reduce mold and mildew without hazardous fumes or chemicals. Pour a cup of it into a spray bottle and generously apply it to the area of fungus growth. Let it sit for several minutes, then wipe away with a towel. Discard the towel after use so you're not spreading it around your home afterwards.

Get Help
If the area you're treating is larger than 10 square feet, the CDC recommended referring to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings." It can serve as a reference for proper mold and mildew removal to ensure that you're not leaving any irritating spores behind. It may also be helpful to contact a professional who can assist you further.