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Can you clean up mold yourself?

Yes, but you should realize that there will be a significant difference in the approach used for small amounts of mold in a sink cabinet and a large, contaminated area, such as mold growing in the walls. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a homeowner wearing personal protective equipment may handle small cleanup areas. Spring cleaning with Clorox and sponges, opening all the windows, and cleaning all the bathtubs and showers are examples of small cleanup areas. For larger areas, the EPA advises hiring an experienced, professional contractor. Any home that has sustained major water damage or flooding needs to be inspected by a qualified water loss specialist.

If you decide to take on the task yourself, remember that you will be exposed to potentially toxic mold and strong detergents and disinfectants. Disinfecting agents can also be toxic to humans. They should be used only when necessary and should be handled with caution. Disinfectants should only be applied to thoroughly cleaned materials. Do not use disinfectants instead of, or before, cleaning with soap or detergent. Take steps to protect human health during any cleanup. Remove and discard moldy items as soon as possible to prevent further release of spores. Ask family members or bystanders to evacuate areas that are being cleaned and minimize exposure to disinfectants. Contain and thoroughly ventilate the work area. Wear protective clothing that is easily cleaned or discarded, and use rubber gloves. Wear a respirator with a P-100 filter to prevent inhalation of airborne spores. Use non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner, in hot water, and scrub the entire area that is affected by the mold. Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on cement-block walls or rough surfaces. Make sure the entire surface is wet, and allow the disinfectant to remain on the surface for the prescribed time before rinsing. Rinse and dry cleaned items, dispose of any sponges or rags used to clean the mold, and properly dispose of extra disinfectant and runoff. The cleaned areas and house should be thoroughly dried and ventilated for several days after the work. If mold returns after a cleanup, it may indicate an undetected problem, such as a leak. If mold contamination is extensive or if you are unsure of yourself during the cleaning process, consult a professional mold abatement company.