Is It Safe to Clean Black Mold Yourself? 3 Big Reasons NOT To

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We all want to be able to do everything ourselves. Of course we do! Doing something yourself usually saves money (even if it doesn’t save time). I’m very guilty of this — I do all my yard work myself because I don’t want to have to shell out the money for someone else to do it! Even if it might save me time.

BUT… some things can be dangerous to try to do by yourself. Like building your own house without the proper tools or knowledge. Cleaning black mold is one of these things. We’re Cleaner Guys, mold removal experts with more than 20 years of experience, and we’re here to tell you why it is a really bad and potentially dangerous idea to try to clean black mold by yourself.

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3 Reasons Not to Try to Clean Black Mold Yourself

While it’s very tempting to just try to scrub off the mold in your home yourself, it’s highly, highly inadvisable. It can be toxic, you probably don’t have the right methods and materials for the job, and it might be too big for you to handle anyway! Let’s break down all these problems into the following three points.

1: Toxic Black Molds

While most molds are just allergenic — meaning they can give you cold-like sickness symptoms — a couple of species of molds can be extremely toxic. The most common of these is a black mold called Stachybotrys Chartarum. It looks basically just like other black molds, but instead of just giving you cold symptoms, prolonged exposure to this toxic black mold can cause vomiting, neurological damage, nose bleeds, lung damage, and even hemorrhaging.

The trouble is, for an untrained layperson, it’s almost impossible to tell apart from regular mold. The only thing that really differentiates it from other molds is a stronger smell, but if you don’t spend a lot of time sniffing molds, you wouldn’t know!

This is the main reason why it’s highly dangerous and therefore highly inadvisable to try to clean black mold yourself. You can’t know if it’s the toxic kind, and if it is, it could hurt you or someone else living there.

The 3 molds on the left are just allergenic. Only the one on the right is toxic. They’re extremely difficult to tell apart.

2: The Right Mold Removal Methods

The very best way to 100% kill mold so that it never comes back is to remove the moldy materials entirely. The second best way is to spray the mold with highly concentrated fungicide solutions or commercial-grade bleaches. Unfortunately, both of these mold removal methods should not be attempted by anyone other than professional, trained mold removers. You do not have the knowledge and training to remove moldy materials safely.

Home decor magazines and other such unprofessional publications on the internet regularly toute vinegar and bleach as great DIY mold cleaning solutions, but unfortunately, they are often not good solutions at all, in our experience as mold removers. Household bleach is toxic and usually causes a lot of unnecessary damage to surfaces it’s used on, and it doesn’t penetrate deeply enough anyway. Vinegar is milder, but it’s so mild that it can’t successfully clean more than a tiny amount of mold.

Click the links to learn more about why we don’t recommend bleach for mold cleaning, and why we only recommend vinegar in very specific circumstances.

3: Size Matters

We can hear your groans at the title of this point, but in this case, it’s true! In our decades of mold removal experience, if the mold has spread further than an area of 1 square foot, you will not be able to successfully and safely clean it on your own. This is because mold roots deeply into whatever material it’s on. That means that almost always, however much mold you can see on the surface, there’s a lot more underneath the surface, that has spread much farther.

Publications on the internet that are not mold experts often say that vinegar and bleach can be good DIY mold cleaners, because they disappear the mold on the surface. And it does look like it’s gone! But because bleach, vinegar, and other household cleaning chemicals don’t penetrate deeply enough, there is almost always still mold growing inside the wall where you can’t see it.

So besides the fact that cleaning black mold yourself is dangerous because it could be toxic… you probably also can’t clean it thoroughly enough by yourself.

The One Time When You Might Be Able to Clean Black Mold Yourself

There is one instance when you might be able to clean black mold yourself. It’s when there’s black stuff that looks like mold in your shower! This is because mold in the grout and caulk of your shower is a species of mold called mildew. Many people think that they’re the same thing. They are both fungi, but they grow differently. Mildew doesn’t root deeply like other molds do, so it likes to grow on hard, non-porous surfaces, like plastic, tile, grout, and caulk. Because mildew does not root deeply, it’s easy to clean by yourself! You can use vinegar or any household cleaning chemical to scrub and wipe mildew away.

Then, check out our guide here on how to prevent mold and mildew from ever growing in your bathroom!

Who Do You Call to Clean Black Mold?

So, if it’s unsafe to clean the black mold yourself, who do you call to do it? You call a professional mold removal company! A professional mold removal company is certified to safely and effectively remove all kinds of mold, because they have the training and the equipment to know how to do it the best way possible.

But there are a lot of different mold removal companies! How do you pick the right one for you? You have to know how to carefully vet each company near you. We wrote a whole guide to help walk you through choosing the best mold removal company for you. Read it here!

Does Black Mold Ever Go Away?

No, black mold does not just go away on its own. It’s an organic, living thing — a fungus — and like all living things, it will only grow and spread if given the chance. It is very dangerous to notice mold in your home, and ignore it, and just hope it will go away. If you do this, as the mold spreads, it will take more and more money to get rid of it. It might take only a couple hundred dollars to have someone remove a small area of mold, but if it grows to cover a large area, like your whole attic or a whole wall, then it can cost a few thousand dollars to fix! Get black mold removed as soon as you see it.

Is It OK to Be in a House With Black Mold?

Staying in a home infested with black mold is generally not advisable. While it may only cause minor health problems for some, it may cause severe and dangerous reactions in others, as we’ve already discussed. If you can, it’s best to bring in professional mold removers as fast as possible and stay somewhere else until the mold is gone. But if you can’t stay somewhere else, at least close off the room with mold in it from the rest of the house, and don’t go in that room if at all possible until the mold is removed.

A photo of a few technicians of the Cleaner Guys team

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.

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