Where is that musty, mildew smell coming from? Nope, it's not your gym clothes sitting in the hamper -- it could be black mold. An easy way to check for mold is to look for small black spots that are nestled in areas that experience prolonged exposure to humidity and moisture. These locations include basements, under-sink cabinets, bathrooms and recently flooded areas. Also, if you've had a roof leak, mold can be found on your ceiling as well.

There are many chemicals on the market that can get rid of mold, but these usually contain air polluting chemicals and pose serious health hazards. Not to mention professional mold removal services can be quite expensive. However, there are cheap and natural ways for removing dreaded black mold.

What Is Black Mold?

black mold on white wall

Black mold is a growth of small organisms, specifically Strachybotrys chartarun and Strachybotys astra. Unlike other forms of mold, black mold produces mycotoxins, which can be very harmful when inhaled or ingested.

These spores are especially dangerous to younger children, babies, older people, and pets. In addition, people with allergies, pre-existing respiratory diseases or any type of immunosuppressive disease are especially affected by mold. The symptoms of a mold reaction depend on the amount and duration of exposure, they include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Red eyes
  • Rashes and hives
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
Severe symptoms include:
  • Memory loss
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Damage respiratory system

Testing For Mold

woman looking at black mold on wall

Burdun Iliya/Shutterstock

While it can usually be detected through sight and smell, sometimes black mold isn't always evident. This is the case when it's hiding in under carpets, behind drywall or behind wallpaper. To mention, black mold can look very similar to other types of mold; therefore, it can be very difficult to pinpoint. That's where at-home testing kits come in handy. Mold testing kits are inexpensive and easy to use. All you have to do is take samples of the air or affected areas and send them to a testing facility that will inform you which type of mold is present.

Getting Rid Of Mold

Step 1:

Did you know that a single mold spore hitting your eye could result in blindness? Yikes! Therefore, it is crucial that you take some safety precautions first. Make sure to wear goggles, gloves, disposable overalls and a safety mask. This protective gear will reduce the risk of developing health issues that come with exposure to mold.

Step 2:

Locate where the mold is. As explained, it is usually hiding in areas with high levels of moisture and small spaces such as corners and under the sink. It smells like dirt or rotting leaves, so it is oftentimes easy to detect with your nose. This fungus survives off moisture, so it has a slimy texture when touched (with gloves, of course). A flashlight is helpful for small spaces and dark corners.

Step 3:

After you spot the mold, it's time to annihilate it with a mold-fighting solution, the types you can use are listed below. All you need for this is a spray bottle, a solute (vinegar, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract oil, etc.) and water.

Step 4:

Shake your solution thoroughly and saturate the affected area with the solution. Allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes to give the mold-fighting properties to work through the spores. Be sure not to scrape dried mold, as it can be released into the air.

Step 5:

With a nylon bristle brush, scrub the surface to lift the mold. Scrub the area carefully so you aren't splashing the mold everywhere; even dead mold spores can pose health hazards. After scrubbing, wipe the area clean with an old rag or paper towels. If the mold won't budge, repeat this process. Be aware that a faint stain will remain when the mold is removed.

Step 6:

Don't rinse the area with water, as the solution acts as a mold-fighting agent that prevents the mold from returning. Instead, lightly spray the area with your solution and let it air dry.

Step 7:

Dispose of your protective overalls and paper towels in a plastic bag, seal it tightly and throw it in the trash. Wash your scrub brush and rags in hot water or throw them away with your protective overalls as a precaution.

Mold-Killing Solutions

Vinegar

white vinegar in a glass bowl

DPRM/Shutterstock

Vinegar is a safe and affordable alternative to removing mold. In fact, a study found a solution of vinegar is extremely effective in killing mold, bacteria and viruses. All you need is a spray bottle, vinegar and water. Combine equal parts of water and vinegar in your spray bottle, shake vigorously and cover the affected area in the solution.

Baking Soda

Another mold fighting agent is baking soda. This mild mineral powder is safe to use and may even be found in your kitchen cabinet. Add one-quarter of a tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle of water and shake until it is dissolved.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial agent that kills mold effectively. Unlike other solutions, you don't have to dilute it with water, just pour 3 percent concentration hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.

Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil in a brown glass bottle

AmyLv/Shutterstock

Not only does tea tree oil have healing properties, but it also has mold-fighting properties as well. Because it's all-natural, it is safe to use compared to commercial mold-removing products. For this solution, mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil and one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake thoroughly to blend the oil and water. The strong scent will eliminate the odor mold can leave behind.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Unlike tea tree oil, grapefruit extract is odorless; however, it is more expensive. It can be bought online or at your local health food store for as much as $10. If you choose to use grapefruit seed extract for your mold-killing needs, all you will need is 20 drops of oil and two cups of water. Combine in a large spray bottle, shake well and saturate the affected areas.

Borax

Borax is a classic multi-purpose cleaner. To use it to kill mold, mix one gallon of hot water and one cup of Borax. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake. Keep in mind that this solution works best on flat, hard surfaces such as tile. Therefore, this makes for a great way to get rid of mold in your shower.

Preventing Mold

Dry Wet Areas Right Away

Mold can grow within two days under the appropriate conditions. Therefore, it is important to keep moisture-prone areas of your home dry. Basement seepage after a heavy rainfall, water aggregation from a leaky pipe, or a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. Along with these measures, be sure to not to leave wet items such as towels or wet clothes lying around and be sure to towel dry your shower after each use.

Use Proper Ventilation

Speaking of shower, it is essential that you run the ventilation fan during and after each shower. Use dehumidifiers in humid and damp locations in your home, especially your basement or kitchen.

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