Mold and mildew are serious problems that need to be addressed and removed as quickly as possible from your facility. They are major concerns for any organization because of the health issues associated with their presence. Not only do they give the impression that your facility is not well taken care of, but they pose a real risk for anyone who spends time in your building, including your tenants, your patrons, your customers, your staff, and yourself.
Finding mold and mildew is sometimes tricky because they can be hiding in areas that are not immediately visible: behind paneling, in ceiling tiles, in access areas (like basements or breezeways), and in heating and cooling spaces. To locate where mold and mildew are lurking, check areas of your organization that may be damp and exposed to warmth.
Mold and mildew put off a distinctively musty smell, and you can use that smell to help you locate them. If you are unable to identify all the locations of the nuisances, it is absolutely worth it to hire a professional to help you. It must be facility management’s first priority to ensure the safety and health of patrons, staff, and visitors.
In this article, we will outline everything you need to do to address this issue in your organization, and what steps you can take to make sure these dangerous pests never return.
Your first cleaning or maintenance step should always be to deal with the water leak or source of the dampness that caused the mold or mildew to grow in the first place. If you don’t address this first, then you and your staff will only have to rectify the situation again and again because the root source of the problem is still present. However, once you have that under control, you can begin to truly address your facility’s mold and mildew issue.
Generally when people talk about mold, they mean versions of black mold or even toxic mold. These types can be removed from hard surfaces, but if they have affected anything porous, such as carpet and ceiling tiles, these must be disposed of and replaced when the mold has been removed. The pores in these materials make complete removal of the mold impossible. Disposal for these affected materials is generally the same as any building debris: simply bag and place in your organization’s trash receptacle.
For surfaces you can clean—like walls, floors, fixtures, and more—consider the following steps:
1. Clean your moldy surface using a detergent, like our Liquinox: Critical Cleaning Liquid Detergent or Citranox: Liquid Acid Cleaner and Detergent. Make sure that the detergent you use for this task is one that is designed for your surface and will not mar it. If necessary, test the product on an inconspicuous area first.
2. Dry the surface as soon as possible using fans, dehumidifiers, or anything designed to remove water expeditiously.
3. Use a biocide, such as Pure Bright Sanitizing Bleach, or other agents that kill microscopic organisms. Bleach might be the most available, as you more than likely use it for other portions of your organization’s cleaning routine. If you do decide to use bleach, mix it with water in a 1 to 10 ratio and spray the bleach solution on the affected area. Let the solution sit and then wipe. You may need to repeat this multiple times to ensure the complete removal of the mold.
Mildew is a white fungal growth that occurs on damp surfaces. It is characterized by a particularly bad musty odor. While not discussed as much as mold, it can be just as harmful to the health of your visitors and staff. The removal of mildew and the cleaning of the affected surface are both different than the respective procedures for mold. Your course of action will vary depending on the nature of the area as well.
Any fabric surface that has been exposed to mildew can be washed in the laundry. However, note that there are a few special considerations for fabrics with mildew on them. Simply running them through your usual laundry routine will not completely remove the mildew. Here are the steps you should take to wash your facility’s fabrics that have been invaded by mildew:
1. Wet the mildew and rub a small amount of detergent into the affected area. Check our selection of laundry detergents here to find one that’s right for your material.
2. Wash item(s) in the hottest water the fabric will allow with 1 ½-2 cups of bleach. If for some reason your fabric can’t be washed with traditional bleach or hot water, soak it for an hour in a bucket with warm water and an oxygen bleach product, like our Oxygen Dry Bleach, in a 1 to 64 ratio. After that, launder in the usual manner.
3. Check for any mildew smell or stain. If these are still present, start from the beginning and launder the item again using either hot water and traditional bleach or warm water and Oxygen Dry Bleach.
For hard surfaces, a different course of action is needed. Here, you can’t rely on the heat of the washing machine and dryer to kill the fungus. For areas like grout, cement, stucco, and siding, use a product like our Attack Mildew and Stain Remover, which contains industrial bleach as a biocidal agent. This property will remove odors and stains associated with mildew.
Once you have finished cleaning the area(s) affected by mold and mildew, make sure that you have completely destroyed the mold or mildew organism before you repaint or re-caulk a surface. If any of the invaders are left, they will be trapped underneath your work and the paint or caulk will peel and be compromised.
We’ve just discussed how to remove mold and mildew to make your facility cleaner and healthier for your guests. Once you’ve removed them, however, it’s important to ensure that they’re gone for good. To do so, consider making some of the following enhancements to ensure your space is as unwelcoming to mold and mildew as possible.
Commercial-grade dehumifiers or desiccants remove dampness from areas such as basements, laundry facilities, pools, and locker rooms. Dehumidifiers will remove moisture before it can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
Add fans or other measures to increase airflow through your building. This will help to dry out any areas prone to dampness. If you have recently had a plumbing leak, adding blower fans to the affected area will help the water dry in no time.
Check to make sure that any evaporative moisture isn’t allowed to pool anywhere in your system, as that can cause mold growth and transportation of spores throughout your building. You may need to hire a specialist to investigate and repair this problem.
Mold and mildew require addressing by your facility team immediately and head-on. If you believe you have mold or mildew at your facility, remove them quickly and completely with the help of a professional or with our tips above.
If you have any concerns or questions about cleaning your mold and mildew, email us. We are always happy to help!
Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings