How to Clean Mold and Mildew Off Painted Walls

Once you’ve seen the first signs of discoloration, you need to figure out how to remove mold from walls fastto keep it from spreading and causing both health and structural issues. Here’s how.

Signs of Mold Problems on Walls

The most obvious sign of a mold problem is finding green, brown, orange or even black spots. But there are other, less apparent signs:

  • Cracked or peeling paint
  • Discoloration
  • A recurrent “soot” or black streaks
  • Bulging
  • A musty, damp smell

Places Most Prone To Mold

Mold often grows in areas where condensation forms from water vapor in the air meeting a cold surface which turns the vapor into a liquid. This usually takes place on exterior walls or in basements.

Very humid areas in the home are prone to mold, too. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are two common places to find mold growing, particularly on grout lines or shower walls. Other areas include the walls and ceiling near humidifiers and any room with a hot tub or jacuzzi improperly installed indoors. In these places, one of the best ways to prevent mold is to decrease humidity by opening windows and running fans regularly. (Read more about managing your home’s humidity.)

Mold also grows where there is (or has been) a water leak. Places like the cupboards under sinks are very prone to it. Once a pipe has leaked, there’s a good chance mold will grow unnoticed within the wall until the problem requires expert removal.

How To Remove Mold From Walls That Are Painted

As with many cleaning challenges, it’s best to start with a natural, mild approach and move onto stronger methods only if necessary.

Use the vinegar/borax/water method first and wait two days to see if the mold returns. If it does, move on to using the bleach/water approach. (Bleach is very irritating to the lungs, eyes, and skin, so I prefer avoiding its use whenever possible. And be sure you don’t combine cleaning products.)

Whether you use the non-toxic method or use bleach, protect your skin from coming in contact with the mold by wearing rubber gloves. Remove them the instant you’re done, so you don’t spread the spores throughout your home. Also, wear old clothing and wash it in HOT water to kill any mold spores that wind up on your clothes, and ventilate the area well while you’re working, so you aren’t inhaling the stuff.

If anyone in your house has a compromised immune system or a mold allergy, get them out of the house while you do this if possible. If that’s not an option, you can minimize their exposure by closing doors between rooms and by changing your clothes before you leave the room in which you’re treating the mold.

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