Hurricanes: Mold - Safe Clean Up

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Mold growth is likely to occur in homes after flooding. It's very important to clean and thoroughly dry any areas of the home that have gotten wet from floodwaters.  

Mold - What Is It?

Molds are simple microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. When molds are present in large quantities they can cause allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen.  

What Can I Save? What Should I Toss? 

Porous materials can trap mold. Items such as paper, rags, wallboard and rotten wood should be thrown out. Harder materials such as glass, plastic and metal can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected.  

Removing Moldy Materials:  

  • Wear a filter mask and gloves to avoid contact with the mold. 
  • Remove porous materials (ex: ceiling tiles, Sheet-rock, carpeting, wood products).
  • Carpeting can be a difficult problem - drying does not remove the dead spores. If there is heavy mold, disposal of the carpet should be considered. Allow areas to dry 2 to 3 days before replacing damaged materials.
  • If Sheet-rock, or wallboard, is flooded, remove all Sheet-rock to at least 12 inches above the high water mark.  

General Mold Clean-Up Procedures:

  • Identify and correct the moisture source.

  • Remove all water and fix any leaks before cleaning. 

  • Clean, disinfect and dry the moldy area.  

  • Bag and dispose of any material that has moldy residue, such as rags, paper, leaves or debris.  

Soap Cleanup  

  • Wear protective gloves and a filter mask. 

  • Use non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner in hot water.

  • Scrub the entire area affected by the mold using a stiff brush or cleaning pad. Rinse with clean water.   

Disinfect Surfaces  

  • Wear a filter mask and protective gloves when using disinfectants.  
  • After thorough cleaning and rinsing, disinfect the area with a solution of 10% household bleach (1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water).  
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia - the fumes are toxic!  
  • Let disinfected areas dry naturally overnight to kill all the mold.  

Be aware that exposure to mold can occur during cleanup.  

To minimize exposure, consider using a breathing mask or respirator, wear rubber gloves and take breaks in a well-ventilated area.