Bleach and Mold Cleanup
A misconception exists about the use and effectiveness of chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in the removal of mold. Bleach, commonly referred to as laundry bleach, is generally perceived to be an acceptable solution to remove mold. Health departments and other government agencies helped with spreading the myth. The Environmental Protection Agency no longer endorses the use of bleach and a suitable solution to clean areas affected by mold
So, does chlorine bleach kill mold or not? The answer is yes, but with a condition. The Clorox Company, the manufacturer and distributor of Ultra Clorox® Regular Bleach. state that their Tech Center studies supported by independent laboratories show that “…3/4 cup of Clorox liquid bleach per gallon of water will be effective on hard, non-porous surfaces against… Aspergillus niger and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (Athlete’s Foot Fungus)”.
Whether or not chlorine bleach kills other molds and fungi, the company did not say.
The “hard, non-porous surfaces” part of the sentence is the condition. Mold removal involves the need to disinfect wood and wood-based building materials, all of which are porous materials. Thus, chlorine bleach should not be used in mold remediation as confirmed by OSHA’s and EPA’s updated recommendations and suggested guidelines. The use of bleach as a mold disinfectant is best left to kitchen and bathroom counter tops, tubs and shower glass, etc.
Chlorine bleach is corrosive and clearly stated on the product label. The properties of chlorine bleach prevent it from soaking into wood-based building materials and prevent it from getting at the deeply embedded mycelia (roots) of mold. The object to killing mold is to kill its “roots”. Beware of any mold inspector, mold remediation contractor or other individual that recommends or uses chlorine bleach for mold clean up on wood-based building materials.
New mold and mildew removal products are on the rise on store shelves. Most are dilute solutions of laundry bleach. The labels on these mold and mildew products state that they are for use on hard, non-porous surfaces and not for wood-based materials. Instructions where not to apply the products are varied. A few examples where the branded products should not be applied include wood or painted surfaces, aluminum products, metal (including stainless steel), faucets, marble, natural stone, and, of course, carpeting, fabrics and paper. One commercial mold and mildew stain remover even specifically states it should not be applied to porcelain or metal without immediate rinsing with water and that the product isn’t recommended for use on Formica or vinyl.
Before you buy a mold and mildew product, read the advertised purpose of that product. Correctly follow the use instructions printed on the label. The labeling claims on these new products can be confusing — some say their product is a mold and mildew remover while another says their product is a mildew stain remover and yet others make similar ‘ambiguous’ claims. If your intention is to kill mold, make sure the product does exactly that and follow the directions for usage. Consumers may find that mixing their own diluted bleach solution will achieve the same results when used on surfaces recommended by manufacturers of commercial mold and mildew cleaning products — keep in mind that the use of chlorine bleach is not for use on mold infected wood products including wall board, ceiling tiles, wall studs, fabric, paper products, etc.
Chlorine bleach solution IS an effective sanitizing product that kills mold on hard non porous surfaces and neutralizes indoor mold allergens that trigger allergies, however, laundry bleach is not an effective mold killing agent for wood-based building materials and NOT EFFECTIVE in the mold remediation process.
OSHA is the first federal agency to announce a departure from the use of chlorine bleach in mold remediation. In time, other federal, state and other public safety agencies are expected to follow OSHA’s lead.
CAUTION: DO NOT MIX CHLORINE BLEACH WITH OTHER HOUSEHOLD CLEANING AGENTS. DOING SO CAN CAUSE SERIOUS HARM TO HUMAN HEALTH AND EVEN DEATH. For example, mixing chlorine bleach with cleaning products that contain ammonia or acid (vinegar, as one example) releases chlorine or chloramines, gases which are highly TOXIC.
Jerry Adams the owner and mold and mildew inspector at Green Air Technology in Panama City, Florida is available for property mold assessments, mold testing and sampling to determine levels of potential mold contamination and corrective actions. Some mold remediation can be successfully completed by the property owner. Detailed information can be obtained by contacting Jerry at 850-769-1700 or by email at email@example.com.