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Can I Use Bleach to Kill Mold?

March 15, 2016 @ 9:56 am

technician finding mold


A random web search about mold removal methods will produce several “use chlorine bleach” comments extracted from various websites. Unfortunately, those statements can be misleading. Below we explain why using chlorine bleach to kill mold is not recommended. We also discuss the recommended mold remediation method.

What is mold?

In order to understand how to effectively treat mold, it is important to first know what mold is. Representatives of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define mold as “fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors.”

Mold can be dangerous for many reasons:

  • Mold spores can attach themselves to hair, skin, clothing, furniture and fur.
  • People living with allergies, asthma, and other ailments are particularly sensitive to various forms of mold.
  • Prolonged exposure to mold can cause mild to severe symptoms such as watery eyes, sinus issues and shortness of breath.

What are the most common types of mold found in homes?

The most common types of household mold forms are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus.

  • Cladosporium thrives in places where water condensation can go undetected, which include window sills and basements. This particular mold form is identifiable via small, dark spots that appear on surfaces.
  • Penicillium typically grows on spoiled food, compost and water damaged wood and other porous building material. It is often fuzzy and white or blue-green in appearance, and it has a very pungent earthy odor.
  • Alternaria is often found in outdoor gardens and tends to thrive on vegetable plants. It is commonly referred to as “black rot” due to its color.
  • Aspergillus can be found indoors and outdoors. It frequently grows on dead plants and pantry items that have been exposed to moisture such as spices.

How does mold grow?

Mold grows in warm, damp, dark spaces. Surfaces that are in close proximity to water pipes and heating and cooling appliances are particularly susceptible to mold infestation.

Some mold forms can go undetected for a period of time because they are not visible to the naked eye. Thankfully, one telltale sign of most mold forms is a musty odor.

Why chlorine bleach shouldn’t be used to kill mold?

Representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) do not advocate using bleach to kill mold because of its properties, its lack of effectiveness and its potentially detrimental effect on human and animal life.

Chlorine bleach is a disinfectant. It could be argued that this is the main reason why some people assume that it can be used to remove mold. Unfortunately, bleach is more than just a disinfectant, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

OSHA associates have stated that bleach is “toxic to animals and humans” because it contains biocides, which are seen as poisons. Biocide literally means, “destruction of living tissue or living species.”

In addition to containing biocides, bleach cannot effectively eliminate mold because mold is a fungus. Fungi are not considered living tissue because they are neither animal nor plant.

How does bleach interact with mold?killing mold with bleach

Bleach can create the illusion of remediation and provide property owners with a temporary fix for a serious problem.

Hypochlorous acid, one of the bleach’s properties, only whitens surfaces. Any mold beneath the surface that bleach is applied to will remain. The mold simply won’t be visible because hypochlorous acid removes pigmentation.

Bleach is only capable of removing topical mold. Mold that is found on porous items will quickly return until the moisture issue is correctly identified and treated. Additionally, the water in bleach provides mold with the very thing it needs in order to spread.

What is the best way to get rid of mold?

Hiring a professional mold technician is the safest way to handle mold infestations. At Trademark Restoration Services we are a Better Business Bureau-accredited water damage restoration company with skilled employees who adhere to industry standards. We use EPA-approved products that have been specifically created for mold remediation. In addition to offering round-the-clock emergency service, we also provide prospective customers with free estimates. Contact us today at 702-749-9999 for immediate assistance.

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