Mold is not only unsightly, it is dangerous, and some people are allergic to virtually all varieties. And a few species of black mold are toxic for everyone. Remediation is simpler when the mold is growing on a non-porous surface, such as tile, when it is growing on a porous one, such as drywall. In both cases, though, you need to kill the mold, and bleaching it is not always the best means to do this.
Bleach Does Not Kill Mold
Health authorities recommend bleach for killing mold, but it doesn’t do this, says D. Douglas Hoffman of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors. The main ingredient in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is an oxidizer. It removes discoloration, giving you the belief that the mold is gone, but it doesn’t destroy the spores, meaning that the mold can grow back. Bleach does sanitize by killing a host of damaging germs, and it temporarily rids your walls of mold, but utilizing it means breathing toxic fumes, which is not required when effective alternatives are available.
Vinegar and Borax Are Safer
Two typical household items can do exactly the same task as bleach with less potential for adverse health effects are borax and vinegar. Borax is a mineral generally considered secure unless ingested, and vinegar is completely safe. Vinegar does have an unpleasant odor, however, the odor spreads fast. You can make use of these cleaners separately; mix a cup of borax using a gallon of water and spray it on the mold, followed by a spray program of full-strength vinegar. You can also produce a one-step spray solution by mixing 2 tablespoons of borax in a 1/4 cup of vinegar and adding 2 cups of warm water.
Dealing With Mold-Infested Drywall
Removing mold from tile as well as other non-porous surfaces is a simple procedure, but it can be trickier to eliminate it from porous materials, such as drywall. Mold tends to harden drywall, and once that happens, the only way to make sure that you’re rid of it would be to replace the affected drywall. When you eliminate the old drywall, spray the vinegar/borax solution on the framing; the combination sanitizes, and as soon as the vinegar evaporates, a thin film of borax remains that guards against further mold growth. A bleach/water solution also sanitizes, but since bleach evaporates, you must paint the framing to prevent further growth.
Preventing Mold Growth
Mold needs water to live, so that the best way to keep it from growing is to remove all sources of moisture. When it’s growing because of a leak, stop the leak and allow the wall dry out before treating the mold. Similarly, if the condensation and humidity are to blame, address these problems first. In the restroom and other places where humidity control is impossible or impractical, spraying the walls frequently with vinegar is one way to prevent mold from growing. Let the vinegar on the wall; then rinse and wipe with clear water.