How to Clean Mould

It’s really unpleasant when you find mould in your home. Not only is it unsightly, but it also smells terrible and more importantly, it is really unhealthy to have around. I’m going to teach you how to clean mould throughout this article.

Mould is bad news for allergy sufferers as it triggers all kinds of reactions like nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing and sneezing. It thrives in damp, badly ventilated areas and is often worse in the wintertime when doors and windows are closed.

Mould needs moisture to grow and unsurprisingly, the most common areas for it to appear are bathrooms and kitchens – both rooms where water is used abundantly. Mould comes in an array of different colours but most common types are white, black and green.

Usually, the first sign of mould is a fuzzy growth or small black spores. You’ll often see these appearing on the silicone lining around your bathtub or on window sills. Tile grouting is another common place for this nasty stuff to start. Washing machines are the perfect breeding ground for mould spores too and I recently wrote about cleaning washing machines with vinegar and keeping them mould-free.

But mould can also grow in other places in the home. Natural fabrics like wooden blinds or the backs of wooden furniture can be very prone to this issue. It can even grow on clothing and footwear in humid environments.

If you discover mould in your home, it is best to address it immediately before the problem gets any worse. The first thing to do is thoroughly inspect your home to see if there is mould anywhere else. Check behind and under furniture, look carefully at window sills, shower enclosures and around sinks and bathtubs.

If you have a mould problem in your home then as well as removing the mould, you need to treat the source of the problem by improving ventilation and decreasing moisture levels. Identifying all the places where mould is present will help you to figure out why you have mould and it will help you to decide on the best course of action for remedying the problem.

If the mould is only present in your kitchen and/or bathroom then poor ventilation is almost certainly the cause of the issue. If you don’t have electric ventilation installed in these rooms, then you should definitely consider doing so.

If you already have electric ventilation installed, then maybe you aren’t using it enough. It’s best to leave your bathroom fan running for about 20 minutes after the shower or bath have been in use and the same goes for your kitchen. After you’ve been cooking or washing up, leave the ventilator on for long enough to clear all steam from the room.

Removing Mould From Your Home

Once you’ve identified all the places where mould is present, it’s time to get rid of it. Different surfaces will require different processes and some will need different products so I’ve broken this cleaning guide down into the most common places that mould presents.

Breathing in mould spores is not good for you so it’s advisable to wear a face mask when you are clearing this stuff. If you suffer from any respiratory condition, have an impaired immune system or you are pregnant, then it’s best to ask somebody else to remove the mould for you. Better safe than sorry!

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How to Clean Mould from Silicone Sealants and Grouting

Silicone is the most popular sealant used around bathtubs, shower, sinks and on window frames. It’s often the first place the mould appears in our homes. Just like porous grout, it is an ideal breeding ground for mould. Spores can float in the air and when they land on damp silicone or grouting, they’ve found the perfect place to grow.

mould in bathroomThe good news is, it’s pretty easy to remove mould from silicone and grout and all you’ll need are some common household products; distilled white vinegar, baking soda and some household bleach. You’ll also need a cleaning sponge or a brush to scrub with.

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Baking soda and vinegar are two inexpensive kitchen ingredients which can be used for a wide variety of cleaning tasks around the house. Baking soda is well-known for its stain removing abilities and vinegar has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, making it perfect for dealing with mould, which is, of course, a fungal growth.

  1. Measure out about 2 heaped tablespoons of baking soda into a bowl or cup and gradually add a few drops of white vinegar at a time until you have a thick paste.
  2. Using a cloth or sponge, rub the paste firmly into the mouldy sealant or grout and leave it sitting on there for about 5 minutes.
  3. After this time has elapsed, give the area another rub with your sponge or cloth to loosen any remaining mould from the surface.
  4. Rinse with cool water and the mould should be gone. Pat dry with a towel or cloth.
  5. If there is still mould on the sealant or grouting after this, you may need to repeat the process a second time.
  6. Once you’ve removed all visible mould, mix a solution of one part bleach to four parts water.
  7. Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, wipe all of the silicone sealants and grouting with a cloth soaked in the bleach solution. This will kill any remaining mould spores.
  8. Leave the solution on the surfaces for a few minutes before rinsing off and drying with a towel.
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How to Clean Mould from Wooden Furniture

Because wood is a natural material, if it’s in a damp, badly ventilated environment, it can easily develop mould. Untreated wood is particularly susceptible to mould and people often don’t discover the problem for years and are shocked to find it when they have reason to move the furniture back from walls.

mould in woodIf the piece of furniture is small enough to move outside, then do so. Wrap it in plastic before moving it. This will reduce the risk of mould spores transferring to other items in your home.

You can use a vacuum cleaner to suck away the loose mould before cleaning. Wear a dust mask when doing this and make sure that you empty the dust canister into a plastic bag and seal it immediately afterwards.

Distilled white vinegar is perfect for removing mould from wooden furniture because of its anti-fungal properties.

  1. Wearing protective gloves, soak a cloth or sponge in vinegar and apply this to the wood.
  2. Rub it in gently and leave to dry outside. The vinegar will penetrate the wood and kill any remaining spores. It will also protect the wood from further mould development.

If the mould is very developed and has been present on your furniture for some time, it is possible that some staining and mould residue will remain on the surface. In this case, you are going to have to resort to bleach. Be aware that bleach could damage or lighten the wood finish.

  1. Wearing protective gloves, mix about a pint of bleach with 3 pints of water in a bucket or basin.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of washing up liquid and stir to combine the mixture.
  3. Using a sponge or a brush, apply this solution to the mouldy wood. Give it a good scrub to penetrate the wood grain. This should remove the last of the fungus and any staining.
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How to Remove Mould from Carpets

Mould can develop on carpets when the fabric gets wet and doesn’t have enough ventilation to thoroughly dry. It commonly occurs after flooding and in areas that are out of sight; under low furniture, behind sofas and in corners.

mould on carper

  1. The first thing you want to do when you discover mould on your carpet is to eliminate any source of moisture. Use an old towel to soak up any water on the carpet surface and if you can lift the carpet up, check the underlay as well.
  2. Baking soda is great for lifting the stain and the moisture from your carpet pile. Sprinkle on a generous layer of powder, leave overnight and vacuum the carpet. Make sure to empty your vacuum into a plastic bag, seal it and dispose of it carefully.

If your carpet is still stained after you’ve removed the mould, you can use a carpet cleaning detergent to improve the appearance. Vanish Gold Carpet Care spray does an excellent job of lifting stains and getting rid of the distinctive odour that mould can leave in your home.

  1. Spray a generous layer of the cleaner onto the affected area of the carpet and then remove any excess with a towel or rag.
  2. After five minutes you can blot the carpet and rub the cleaner in gently. The stain should have lifted and the smell should be gone.

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Once you’ve removed the mould, you will want to make sure that it doesn’t come back. Ensure that the area is well ventilated by leaving doors and windows open until both the surface of the carpet and the underlay are completely dry. If the carpet is very damp, you may want to rent a dehumidifier which will remove water from the air and make the drying process faster.

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HEPA Air Purifiers

Silentnight 38060 HEPA Air PurifierIf, after improving ventilation and addressing excess moisture, mould is still a problem in your home, you might want to consider purchasing an air purifier with a HEPA filter.

HEPA Filters can trap more than 99% of airborne particles which include mould spores as well as pollen, dust and even some viruses. An air purifier which uses this kind of filter can alleviate a lot of the symptoms of mould sensitivity as well as other allergies.

The Silentnight HEPA Air Purifier is designed for use in bedrooms and filters the air while you sleep removing even the tiniest particles and contaminants and reducing the spread of mould in your home.

This product is very reasonably priced and available from Amazon.

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I hope that this article has given you some practical tips for getting rid of mould for good. Even in wintertime try to open windows for at least a few minutes once or twice a week. Fresh air is mould’s worst enemy. Enjoy!

Claire has been in the cleaning industry for over 15 years. She's worked numerous jobs including both domestic and industrial cleaning. Her most recent role has been head of product testing for a major cleaning supplier. Following the birth of her second child, Layla, Claire has set up Cleaning Mentor to help people become better at cleaning, saving time and money.

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