How to Clean (and Prevent) Mold in the Basement

How to Clean and Prevent Mold in the Basement

We’ve spent a lot of time in the basement over the past few months. The main inspiration was a little bit of flooding in the basement. The same basement that stayed dry though Superstorm Sandy, but that’s just how it goes. We were mainly lucky that we had everything off the ground from Sandy. That saved us a lot of problems.

But now it’s getting warmer, and we’re getting ready to take on mold from any leftover water or moisture down there. Maybe you need to be doing the same. This article will already assume that if you’ve had water or excessive moisture in the basement, then you’ve taken the necessary steps to fix the problem. Sadly, it’s also safe to assume that you have might have conditions left over for mold that will continue to grow even in a dry environment. Here are some tips for removing mold and preventing it from coming back….  [photo via eieihome]

Locate the Mold

Look for mold on every exposed surface and in any crack or crevice surrounding the source of the water or moisture. Wherever you find it, be sure to investigate a wide radius since spores are tiny and can travel further than you think.

Finished basements may require a professional cleaning owing to all the places the mold can go. Unfinished basements are much easier to clean. Remove cardboard boxes, plastic bags or anything else that has been stored in the affected area. Cover as much as you can in plastic. If possible, take everything out of those containers and place them in plastic bags for temporary storage.

Clean all Affected Objects and Surfaces

When working with mold, you should always wear a sheetrock mask to prevent inhalation and goggles to protect the eyes. Protect your hands with rubber gloves. Fill a bottle with a 1:4 solution of borax and water, or you can use straight vinegar. Spray all walls, floors, pipes, windows and any other permanent fixtures. Coat everything thoroughly with the cleaning solution. Let the solution set for at least two hours (longer is better). Do not walk through your house wearing contaminated clothes or protective gear.

Take all the bagged items outside and away from any windows or doors. Throw away any cardboard or paper products and anything else that could absorb the mold. Use your best judgment on what stays and what goes. Anything metal or plastic will need to be individually cleaned with the vinegar or borax solution. Let them dry out in the sun.

When you go back into the basement, take the same safety precautions. Spray all surfaces again with your cleaning solution and hit a perimeter that extends past the area of contamination. Scrub walls and vertical surfaces like doorframes and windows with a brush, rinsing frequently. Wipe down cleaned surfaces with rags and throw them in a plastic bag when done. Soak the rags in the vinegar or borax solution, then launder.

Keeping the Mold Away

Once the basement is dry, use a broom to sweep the floor and a clean duster on vertical surfaces. Buy a cheap duster for this purpose then just throw it away. If possible, vacuum the entire area with a shop-vac that has a HEPA filter. Careful placement of resin bags and a dehumidifier are your best defense against re-contamination once the area is completely clean.