Can you use bleach to kill mold?
Mold and its spores can be found almost anywhere, but active mold growth requires moisture. You may initially notice the presence of mold due to its musty scent, or by spotting patches of black, brown, yellow, pink, green, fuzzy growths.
You can use bleach to remove traces of mold on tub and tile surfaces, which are hard and impermeable. However, bleach can’t kill mold on porous surfaces, such as those made of wood.
That’s because mold spreads its roots deep into porous surfaces. Even after applying bleach and wiping away mold from these surfaces, the mold will continue to grow beneath the surface and will return to the area you cleaned in a short amount of time
Never mix ammonia with bleach
Mixing ammonia with bleach will result in the release of toxic chlorine gas. Inhalation of this gas can cause serious symptoms and is potentially deadly.
Please note: Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold, it must also be removed.
Mold can become problematic if it’s not addressed quickly and thoroughly. While bleach may be a solution for nonporous surfaces, it can’t get to the root of mold and kill it entirely on porous surfaces, such as drywall and hardwood floors.
Luckily, there are a number of alternative at-home solutions to clean mold on these surfaces. Hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and tea tree oil are all ingredients you can use to develop mold-eliminating solutions.
- The key to mold control is moisture control.
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold (see discussions: What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas and Hidden Mold).
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.
Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present).
In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain – these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.
In basements and crawl spaces:
- If you have a sump system get a Basement DefenderTM that monitors humidity levels in your basement or crawl space and will notify you if your humidity level goes above 50%.
- Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawl spaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. If there is standing water or the soil is wet, dry it out with fans before covering the floor.
- Be sure crawl spaces are well ventilated by using fans and having vents installed in outside walls if necessary.
- Consider painting concrete floors and using area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet in basements. If you plan to install carpet over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.