General Mould Clean Up Procedures
The following is intended as an overview for homeowners or apartment dwellers.
We recommend that you consult a professional or one of several more thorough documents currently available as guidance BEFORE attempting any remediation on your own.
Elements of the Clean-up Procedure:
- Identify and eliminate sources of moisture
- Identify and assess the magnitude and area of mould contamination
- Clean and dry mouldy areas – use containment of affected areas
- Bag and dispose of all material that may have mouldy residues, such as rags, paper, leaves, and debris.
Clean up should begin only after the moisture source is fixed and excess water has been removed.
Assessing the Size of a mould Contamination Problem
There will be a significant difference in the approach used for a small mould problem – i.e. where the total area affected is less than 1 M^2.
In this case of a relatively small area, the clean-up can be handled by the homeowner or maintenance staff, using personal protective equipment (see below).
However, for cases of much larger contamination problem, where the area is more than 10 M^2, it is advisable that an experienced, professional contractor be used.
For in-between sized cases, the type of containment and personal protection equipment to be used will be a matter of judgment.
Can cleaning mould be hazardous to your health?
Yes. During the cleaning process, you may be exposed to mould, strong detergents, and disinfectants. Spore counts may be 10 to 1000 times higher than background levels when mould-contaminated materials are disturbed.
Take steps to protect you and your family’s health during cleanup:
- When handling or cleaning mouldy materials, it is important to use a respirator to protect yourself from inhaling airborne spores.
- Half-face respirators can be purchased from hardware stores; select one that is effective for particle removal (sometimes referred to as an N-95 particulate respirator). However, respirators that remove particles will not protect you from fumes (such as cleaners or mycotoxins – additionally a vapor adsorbent cartridge will be needed to trap these). Minimize exposure when using cleaners by ensuring good ventilation of the area.
- Wear protective clothing that is easily cleaned or discarded.
- Use disposable rubber gloves.
- Try cleaning a test area first. If you feel that this activity adversely affected your health, you should consider paying an accredited remediator to carry out the work.
- Ask family members or bystanders to leave areas that are being cleaned, especially remove infants or the elderly.
- Work for short time periods and rest in a location with fresh air.
- Air out your house well during and after the work.
- Never use a petrol engine indoors (e.g., water pump, pressure washer or generator), as you could expose your family to toxic carbon monoxide – deaths have been reportedly caused by this oversight
Removal of mouldy materials
Clean up should begin after the moisture source is fixed and excess water has been removed.
- Wear the above PPE when handling mouldy materials.
- Discard porous materials (for example, ceiling tiles, plasterboard, carpeting, and wood products).
- Bag and discard mouldy items; if properly enclosed, items can be disposed with household trash.
- Dry affected areas to less than 15% WME.
Spores are more easily released when mouldy materials dry out, hence it is advisable to remove mouldy items as soon as possible.
If there was flooding, plasterboard should be removed to a level 1.5 M above the high-water mark. Have an expert inspect the wall interior and remove any mould-contaminated materials.
What can I save? What should I toss?
You should discard mouldy items that are porous and from which it will be difficult to remove mould completely: paper, rags, wallboard, rotten wood, carpet, drapes, and upholstered furniture.
Contaminated carpet is often difficult to thoroughly clean, especially when the backing and/or padding can become mouldy. Solid materials – glass, plastic, and metal – can generally be kept after they are thoroughly cleaned.
When attempting to clean less porous items (i.e., solid items such as floors, cabinets, solid furniture), the first step is to remove as much mould as possible. A HEPA vacuum cleaner is effective for this purpose. Wear gloves, mask and eye protection when doing this cleanup.
We recommend the following Mould Cleaners:
- 80% white whine vinegar (by volume), plus
- 20% water
- 70% methylated spirits (by volume), plus
- 30% water
CAUTION: Flammable substance - keep away from flames or ignition sources
Rinse cleaned items with water and dry thoroughly.
A wet/dry vacuum cleaner is helpful for removing water and cleaning items.
Disinfection of Contaminated Materials
Disinfecting agents can be toxic for humans, not just moulds. They should be used only when necessary and should be handled with caution, especially the methylated spirits which is also flammable.
Disinfectants are intended to be applied to thoroughly cleaned materials and are used to ensure that most microorganisms have been killed. Wear gloves, mask and eye protection when using disinfectants
- Keep the disinfectant on the treated material for the time prescribed time before rinsing or drying, typically 10 minutes is recommended for a vinegar solution
- Cleaner fumes can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and damage clothing and shoes. Make sure working areas are well ventilated.
- When cleaning a large structure, make sure that the entire surface is wetted (for example, the floors, joists, and posts).
- Properly collect and dispose extra cleaners and collect any runoff.
- Never mix cleaners; toxic fumes may be produced.
Can air ducts become contaminated with mould?
Yes. Air duct systems can become contaminated with mould.
If you suspect that your air conditioning is contaminated, call us or an accredited HVAC specialist with a mould certification.
REMEMBER: If the mould is more extensive than 10 M² in total area throughout your site, you should engage an expert.
This article by choice and provides some additional information on mould cleanup that may be useful.
This article by choice provides some useful information about HEPA Filters on Vacuum Cleaners
This article explains the danger of mixing household chemicals and why it should be avoided.