How to Get Rid of Mold in Your Basement

By Amanda Lutz Updated December 15, 2023

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Mold is a health hazard that requires serious action, and many homeowners struggle with how to properly address it. Read below for our step-by-step guide on how to get rid of mold in your basement, when to seek professional help, and how to prevent mold from returning.


Prepare

Wear protective equipment while assessing your mold issue. Mold can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and respiratory issues. Mold exposure is especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems, asthma, chronic lung disease, or a mold allergy.

 Here’s what you need to safely examine potential mold growth in your house:

Your first task while addressing a potential mold issue is to locate the moisture problem that allowed mold to grow. This could be water seeping through your foundation, clogged gutters, high humidity, burst or leaky pipes, excess condensation, or a sewage backup. Tackling the underlying basement water problem will make it easier to dry out the area and prevent mold from returning.


Isolate Affected Areas

Once you have put on your safety gear, use 6-mil polyethylene sheeting to create a barrier between the mold-infested area and the rest of your home. Consider using a double layer for large areas or areas that are host to extensive mold growth.

Affix the sheeting to the floor and ceiling with duct tape. Seal all air vents, doors, and windows. Cut a slit through which you can enter and exit the basement, then cover the slit with another flap of sheeting. Maintain negative pressure in the area by running a fan that exhausts outside. The fan should have a HEPA filter.Next, identify the extent and severity of your mold problem. Mold often thrives in unseen places, such as behind drywall, underneath carpets, within wall cavities, around pipe chases, and inside HVAC systems.


Acquire Cleaning Agents

The type of surface on which the mold has grown and the degree of mold growth will dictate which cleaning agent you should choose. Below are your available options:

Mixing cleaners can be dangerous. If you plan to use bleach, for instance, avoid using anything that contains ammonia, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or other acids, as the resulting chlorine gas can be lethal. Vinegar should not be used with hydrogen peroxide because it creates peracetic acid that can be toxic and irritate the throat, lungs, eyes, and skin.


Scrub Visible Mold

Gather your supplies, don protective gear, and ensure the affected area is well-ventilated before you begin scrubbing. 

Use a stiff brush to vigorously scrub moldy surfaces, then wipe away the excess cleaning solution and loosened mold with a damp cloth or sponge. A second round of scrubbing may be necessary if you can still see signs of mold. Use a mop, sponge, or wet-dry vacuum to remove excess water when you are done.


Dispose of Cleaning Materials

Dispose of items you used during the mold-removal process once you have removed all visible signs of mold. Read on for information on how to handle each item:

Wash your hands and any exposed skin after disposing of contaminated materials.


Dry the Area

Mold can begin to regrow within 48 hours if moisture persists, so begin drying the area as soon as you finish cleaning. Use dehumidifiers to pull excess moisture from the air and turn on fans to circulate the air. Strategically place fans near corners and hard-to-reach areas, and point the airflow toward open windows and doors.

Running your air conditioning can help if you don’t have any fans or dehumidifiers. Hidden areas, such as wall cavities, may require extra attention.


Implement Prevention Strategies

Mold spores are everywhere and can make it impossible to remove all traces of mold from your home. The key to preventing a household mold infestation is to eliminate the conditions that allow mold to grow. Consider these steps:

Regularly inspect your home for signs of water damage, musty smells, and moisture build-up. Monitor humidity levels and invest in a dehumidifier for persistently humid areas.


Seek Professional Assistance

Homeowners may need professional help to remove mold or address sources of moisture. It’s best to call a professional if the mold covers an area larger than 10 square feet, if the mold is the product of contaminated water, or if you’ve recently experienced a flood or sewage backup. Mold remediation specialists have the equipment and expertise to safely handle extensive or hazardous mold infestations. 

Seek professional assistance if you have concerns about the safety of your home or family. Consult experts if you believe water damage may have compromised the structural integrity of your home or if any of your family members are experiencing severe health symptoms.


Our Recommendation

Effectively dealing with a basement mold infestation requires thorough cleaning, drying, and adherence to safety measures. You will need to determine the source and extent of the problem and whether professionals need to help remove the mold. Remember to follow your mold remediation with proper ventilation and humidity control.

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Getting Rid of Mold in Basement FAQ

What kills black mold in basements?

Household chlorine bleach will kill black mold in basements. Scrub surfaces with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water; rinse with clean water; and dry the area. Then disinfect the surface with a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water.

How do I prevent mold in my basement?

Mold spores require moisture to grow, so you can prevent mold in your basement by keeping it dry. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air or an exhaust fan to send moisture outside. Repair plumbing leaks promptly and consult a professional if you experience severe or persistent moisture issues.

Can mold in a basement be fixed?

Yes, mold in a basement can be fixed. You can clean hard surfaces with a bleach solution, thoroughly dry the basement, and use mold- and mildew-resistant paint. However, you will need to throw away porous materials, such as drywall or carpet.