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Best ways to eliminate mold, according to a cleaning expert

Not all mold is bad. If you are a cheese connoisseur, you probably realize a little bit of mold can be quite tasty. And if you've ever been sick, you know that mold-spawned drugs can make you better or even save your life. But exposure can also cause a great deal of suffering in mold-sensitive people. When you find it inside your home, your best plan is to remove it and try to diminish the conditions that allowed it to thrive.

Ketia Daniel, founder of BHM Cleaning Co., is BestReviews cleaning expert. She has an abundance of information that can help you identify, remove and even prevent mold growth in your home.

In this article: Microban Disinfectant Spray, Zinsser Mold Killing Primer and DampRid Pure Linen Refillable Absorber.

What is mold?

Mold is a living organism that can be found nearly everywhere. "Mold is fungal growth, and it can appear on any surface," Daniel said.

It begins as tiny yet impressively hardy spores that settle on a surface to feed and grow. These spores can remain dormant for years until the right conditions — the presence of food (organic matter, such as cellulose, wood and more) and water — are present for growth. As the mold grows large enough to become visible, it produces spores that are released into the air to find a new home where it can also thrive.

Where do you typically find mold in your home?

Mold thrives in a dark, cool and damp environment where food is present. This is why mold is such a problem after a flood. Mold can grow on wood, drywall, wallpaper, insulation, carpet, upholstery, paint, dust and more.

"In a typical home, mold is always found in the bathroom," Daniel said. "While it can be bad all year, it is prone to be at its peak in the summer, especially in places, such as basements, garages and other areas where moisture is likely to get trapped."

Is mold dangerous?

"Mold can cause several symptoms," Daniel said. "As mentioned by numerous health departments, it can cause watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itching, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, headache and fatigue."

If you are sensitive to mold, it can trigger asthma attacks and be very dangerous. However, mold affects different people in different ways, so there are many myths floating around about how dangerous it is.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Not all fungi produce mycotoxins and even those that do will not do so under all surface or environmental conditions." 

The CDC also says color is not an indication of how dangerous a mold may be: black mold is no worse (or better) than any other color. Additionally, a link between the presence of toxigenic mold in the home and rare health conditions, such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss, has not been proven.

Still, if you have mold in your home, the recommended course of action is to remove it.

What to do if you have a mold problem

If you have mold, Daniel said you need to scrub and clean the mold off of tile and other hard surfaces where you find it. You can use bleach or a mold-removing product. However, she cautioned that getting rid of visible mold is only a temporary solution. You must also look at why the mold started growing in the first place. If you do not make any changes after removing mold, it will simply grow back.

How do you prevent mold from coming back?

"In order to prevent mold from coming back, you must get rid of the source," Daniel said. "For example, if it’s due to lack of ventilation, it will keep coming back once you get rid of it. You must make sure there is adequate ventilation in places like bathrooms and kitchens. And consider using mold-resistant paint and a dehumidifier."

Creating ventilation and using a dehumidifier only helps prevent or control the spread of mold, Daniel said. It will not get rid of it.

If you have windows in a room where there is mold growth, keeping the curtains open to allow sunlight in can also inhibit the growth and spread of mold.

Best products for removing and controlling mold 

Microban Disinfectant Spray

This EPA-registered spray is a multi-purpose cleaner that sanitizes, disinfects, deodorizes and prevents mold and mildew. Microban is suitable for hard surfaces, and once applied, is effective for up to 24 hours.

Sold by Amazon

Lysol Mold and Mildew Foamer

This can be used on the tub, tiles, the toilet, sinks and the shower. Besides cleaning all of these surfaces, it kills up to 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. It also prevents mold growth for up to a week.

Sold by Amazon

Wet and Forget Moss, Mold, Mildew and Algae Stain Remover

This can be used on sealed nonporous surfaces, such as the patio, roof, siding, deck, vinyl and more. Since it is a concentrate that must be diluted, one container goes a long way. To use, just apply and let sit. One to two weeks later, even stubborn stains will be gone.

Sold by Amazon

Zinsser Mold Killing Primer

This primer is specially formulated with an EPA-registered antimicrobial that kills mold, mildew, moss, fungi and more, simply by painting over it. It is suitable for covering up to 160 square feet, is water-based and dries to the touch in 30 minutes.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

DampRid Pure Linen Refillable Absorber

DampRid is the compact solution for eliminating odors and excess moisture in small dark areas where mold tends to grow. It can be placed in closets, pantries, laundry rooms, pantries, bathrooms and more. Each container in this four-pack lasts up to 60 days.

Sold by Amazon

Midea 1,500-Square-Foot Energy Star-Certified Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, making it hard for mold to thrive. This model can remove up to 22 pints of water from the air each day, making it a good choice for the bathroom, bedroom, basement or any other area up to 1,500 square feet.

Sold by Amazon

CLR Mold and Mildew Clear

This is a powerful bleach-free stain remover. This foam spray works on everything from tents to tiles. The trigger spray handle lets you have a more direct and even application, while the foaming action reduces splash-back.

Sold by Home Depot

Other mold-reducing products worth checking out 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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