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If you see or smell mold, it’s time to clean up.

Try to determine how much of an area has a mold problem. For a larger area (greater than 10 feet square) you need to pay attention to personal protection. Use goggles, gloves and breathing protection, such as an N95 dust mask.

Isolate the work area as much as possible. Cover heat vents. Close the door or hang plastic across open doorways and seal with tape. Open a window or use an exhaust fan.

Cover all furniture in the area. Sheets or paint drop clothes can be used. For a large area of mold, move all belongings to another place before clean up. Sort articles for later clean up. See below for cleaning household articles.

Remove severely mold-damaged materials by putting them in bags and throwing away.

Scrub the area with a mix of dishwashing liquid and water or liquid laundry detergent (no bleach) and water. Use just enough detergent to make the water a little sudsy. It is important to physically remove all molds!

Thoroughly dry the area. It is not necessary to use bleach. Bleach can be harmful to your health. Be sure that you scrub away mold with detergent first. If you do use bleach, a mix of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water is enough, or about 1 cup bleach to a gallon of water. Wipe this lightly over the previously moldy area, let sit for 20 minutes, then wipe dry.

Give the entire area a good cleaning. Vacuum floors and wash bedding and clothes if needed. Consider hiring a professional if the area is larger than 10 square feet, or roughly the size of a full sheet of newspaper.

Belongings should be sorted into three categories:

  • Permeable and washable: Clothing, bedding and other washable items should be run through the laundry.
  • Non-permeable and washable: wood, metal, plastic, glass and ceramics. First try scrubbing clean with a liquid soap. If that does not work, use one cap of bleach to one quart of water. Spot test to check for spotting from the bleach. Wipe down items, let sit for 20 minutes and then dry.
  • Permeable but not washable: Beds and furniture fit into this category. If items such as mattresses or couches are moldy, you should consider disposal and replacement. If not take them outside; give them a good vacuuming and let them air out. If you do not see or smell mold on the items after this, they should be okay.

Watch for any new mold growth or health effects. Carpeting and upholstered furniture, if not too badly damaged by mold, can sometimes be cleaned by a professional using hot-water extraction or steam-cleaning. Rental rug-shampooing units are usually ineffective for proper removal of mold and in some cases may cause more mold to grow.