So there is some black mold in your basement, laundry room, bathroom or around that pesky damp spot in your ceiling. No problem, just grab some of that mold killer you bought at the local grocery store, spray the black stuff and in a few minutes it turns brown, then vanishes – voila! You have killed the mold and have nothing more to worry about – right?
No, you bleached it you didn’t kill it. Chances are it is still there and growing like crazy. Don’t get me wrong, bleach kills mold just fine on hard surfaces like counter tops, shower tiles, etc. But on porous surfaces like walls, ceilings, concrete and wood, the chlorine gets the top of the mold, but the roots (called, “hyphae”) just go happily on, reproducing at a furious rate.
The chlorine you use around the house is only 6% chemical, the rest is water, and guess what mold roots like best? Yup, the 94% water you just fed them!
I know it sounds totally counterintuitive to everything you have learned (or seen), but even the EPA (who rates the chemicals and processes that kill mold) won’t give chlorine bleach products their seal of approval as a mold killer.
The mold remediation pros have known about this for a long time and they avoid the stuff (except sometimes as a biocide – bacteria killer).
And worse, chlorine eats everything it touches, skin, nasal membranes, it discolors many metals, fabrics and carpets. You already know what happens when you spill bleach on your favorite pair of slacks or antique area rug, but some folks think they might be able to use it on furniture. Unfortunately, much of our modern wood furniture is made of a nice veneer over particle board. Particle board swells when it is exposed to water – the same water that makes mold so happy.
One restoration professional told us about a home owner who decided to mix ammonia with bleach to really give black mold a run for its money. The mold didn’t seem to mind much, but the home owner ended up being the one on the run. In World War II they mixed ammonia with chlorine to make a deadly, eye burning, throat searing gas that drove the enemy out of the trenches!
In other articles we tell you more about what you can do to prevent mold, treat mold and avoid turning wet mold into clouds of airborne particles (like what happened in a government building when workers created a “sick building syndrome” from what started out as a simple case of black mold that got dried out and “fed” into the building’s air system!) But for now, just keep in mind that chlorine bleach is okay for hard surfaces only, and only when it is used by itself (no chemical cocktails!)