Can you clean mold yourself?
After removing the moisture source, you’ll want to remove the mold itself.
If the area with mold is smaller than about 10-square feet, it’s OK to clean it up on your own, per the EPA. Shower grout issues, for instance, are fine for you to tackle, says Marc Baldwin, owner of Utah-based Delta Restoration Services.
But do take the mold removal seriously. The EPA recommends wearing an N-95 mask, gloves, and goggles throughout the clean-up process.
To remove mold, scrub with a cleaning detergent and hot water. You can also use vinegar or make a paste from baking soda and water. For small areas, Doebler recommends using dish detergent and a damp towel, and then following up with an EPA-registered fungicide. As for bleach, the EPA does not recommend its use for routine mold cleanup. (Benefect offers an effective, all-natural line of mold cleanup products, says Doebler.)
After cleaning, let the area dry completely. Do not repaint or regrout until the area is mold-free. If you still see visible signs of mold, it’s possible you haven’t fully resolved the issue. “The only way to know for sure if the mold is non-viable is to have a mold test done, which can be performed by an industrial hygienist,” Doebler says. If the mold has infiltrated a porous material or surface—think rugs, furniture, grouting, and so on—you’ll likely need to discard it.
When do you need professional mold remediation?
Calling in the experts is sometimes your best bet. You might not be able to identify all the areas with mold, or may only tackle the surface, without realizing there’s a bigger issue below or behind it. Plus, mold spores reproduce rapidly and “can spread quickly through the air to other unaffected areas of your home,” says Doebler.
Professionals should deal with any mold that covers more than 10 square feet, per the EPA, but the size of the job isn’t the only factor. If you have a moisture-creating condition in your home—say, dry rot on the exterior—it’s worth calling in the pros to see if the rot may have spread inside, leading to mold growth. That’s true even if you can’t see or smell the signs of mold. “It’s time to call in professionals if you can’t determine where the source of the moisture is coming from,” Doebler says.
The cost will depend largely on the situation. Cleaning and regrouting a tub is a smaller task than removing and replacing drywall in your living room, for instance. “If mold is growing on the structure of the home, it can be removed with thorough cleaning as long as it hasn’t compromised the integrity of the material,” Doebler says. Depending on what led to the mold growth, your homeowners insurance may offer some coverage for remediation. But potential coverage depends on your specific policy. Reach out to your insurance agent for more information.
Unless the problem is quite severe or an extensive area needs to be contained, you’ll likely be able to live in your home during the remediation process, notes Baldwin. An exception would be if the mold is affecting your health. Immunocompromised individuals and those who suffer from asthma are at highest risk, along with very young children and the elderly, especially those with respiratory ailments or other illnesses.