We hear it a lot, “I tried wiping it down with bleach” or “Oh, we”ll just spray it down with bleach.” One of the most common misconceptions regarding mold is that bleach is an effective treatment against mold growth. This is a myth. In fact, Ohio homeowners should make every effort to AVOID using bleach on mold. Even OSHA and the EPA have revised their recommendations to no longer include bleach as an effective solution against a mold problem. Not only is bleach ineffective against mold, bleach can actually make a mold problem worse. Additionally, there are several other side effects to using bleach to cleanup mold. With so many other safe and effective options out there, Cleveland OH home and business owners should put down the bleach and consider better options.
Bleach Is NOT Effective Against Mold
In very few, select situations, bleach might be a viable option against mold; BUT, the effectiveness of bleach against mold is very limited. In very minor cases of mold development on hard, non-porous surfaces, bleach might be an effective solution. However, beyond minor mold on hard, non-porous surfaces, bleach is completely ineffective. Bleach is not a product that was developed to be more than a surface stain remover and surface cleaner. The active cleaning compound in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, cannot penetrate and clean beyond the very surface of your porous building materials. This means that the disinfection capabilities of bleach are limited to hard, non-porous surfaces like hard plastic, tile, glass or finished porcelain. So, the effectiveness of bleach on mold is limited to very minor areas of mold development on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Mold growth on hard, non-porous materials is easy to deal with. The real problems occur when we start talking porous building materials. Porous building materials are the most vulnerable to serious mold problems because moisture can get locked within the pores and support continuous mold growth over time. If there is a sufficient moisture source, mold spores can begin to germinate and root themselves deep within your porous building materials. Mold spores and mold roots need to be actively removed to ensure a clean and safe environment for you and your family. This requires using a cleaner that can reach deep into the pores of wood and other porous building materials to actively remove or “pull out” the roots. As discussed, the properties of bleach prevent it from soaking into porous building materials. After an application of bleach, it may seem like the mold problem is gone. It’s not. Mold roots are still lurking deep within the pores of your building materials, just waiting to resurface.
Mold roots left behind within your soft, porous building materials may not be visible, but they are very much so viable. With time, the remaining mold spores and roots can continue to cause problems in the future. Mold spores that settle on hard, non-porous surfaces can’t root beyond the surface. That is why a minor mold contamination on a hard, non-porous surface can be a simple fix. However, when dealing with mold and porous building materials, like drywall, wood and most other common building materials, the cleanup process is much more involved. DO NOT just bleach your porous surfaces and assume that you have gotten rid of your mold problem. Mold roots left behind within your porous building materials may not be visible, but they are very much so a problem that requires proper removal.
Bleach Can Make Your Mold Worse & Cause Mold To Spread
Even worse than being ineffective, bleach can actually exacerbate the existing mold problem. Bleach is largely made up of water. Water is your worst enemy when it comes to mold development. While the sodium hypochlorite in bleach can’t soak in and clean within the pores of your porous surfaces, the water in the bleach CAN soak into your porous materials. When you apply bleach to porous building materials the water in the bleach gets absorbed by the material and will feed the embedded mold roots. When the embedded mold roots are introduced to this moisture source, the mold will root deeper, stronger and will often return with a vengeance. In time, it will reappear and become visible at the surface.
During that initial phone call with clients, we often hear, “I bleached it, but it just keeps coming back.” In a lot of cases, we get reports that the mold seems to only getting worse. In the end, using bleach only leaves you in a perpetual cycle of application and regrowth. Like Sisyphus, you will be bound to your own moldy hell.
But Wait, There’s More
Not only is bleach ineffective and it can make your mold problem worse, there is more.
- Indiscernible Efficacy– Bleach rapidly loses it’s effectiveness, meaning it becomes less and less powerful with time. Bleach is 50% less effective in 90 days, even if its container is not opened. Since you are not onsite at the time of packaging, it may be difficult to ascertain the true potency of your bleach. It may have been sitting at the store, or in your Cleveland OH home for some time, diminishing the ability to perform. Since it is hard to be certain how old your bleach may be, your bleach may not even be effective on non-porous surfaces. Even worse, you just introduced all that moisture to the environment that can feed your mold and just make things worse.
- Bleach is Caustic– Bleach creates a chemical reaction that can burn or corrode organic tissue. If Ohio homeowners are not careful, bleach can seriously damage wood and other surfaces. Bleach can breakdown the organic fibers and compromise structural integrity. Bleach is highly corrosive to skin. Exposure to bare skin creates a chemical reaction that burns your skin.
- Bleach can be Toxic– Bleach puts off fumes that can become harmful to humans and pets when exposed. Bleach also does not mix well with other chemicals or cleaning products. If you are not careful, when bleach is mixed with certain compounds (like ammonia), you can end up with a deadly gas.
- Better Options Available– Yes, bleach can be effective in very specific mold related problems limited to contamination on hard, non-permeable surfaces. However, even in those cases, bleach is not the best solution available. The safest and most effective solution against mold is mold remediation completed by a professional mold remediation company in Cleveland OH. However, if you insist on tackling a minor cleanup on your own, there are a wide variety of safe and effective products that are readily available to you. There is a wide range of antimicrobial agents that are registered with the EPA specifically for mold and have a true residual effect. Do your research! Some products are even formulated to be environmentally friendly.
How Should I Handle A Mold Problem In My Ohio Home?
If you discover a mold problem in your Cleveland Ohio home or business, put down the bleach. Call a trained and certified mold inspector in Ohio to thoroughly assess the possible contamination and provide a safe and effective mold remediation plan. Mold growth needs to be actively removed following specific mold cleanup guidelines and strict safety protocols. If you are in need of professional mold removal services in Cleveland OH, let mold inspectors and mold remediation technicians at Mastertech Environmental help.