What Can I Do If My Apartment Has Black Mold?

Nobody likes to find black mold spores growing in a living space, but you can do something about it.

Health Risks

Try contacting your landlord first to see if you can make arrangements to eliminate the problem, otherwise you will have to take matters into your own hands.

Black mold spores can cause of variety of health problems, particularly for children, elderly people and people who have weakened immune systems, asthma, cystic fibrosis or a family history of asthma or allergies. Prolonged exposure to black mold, or any kind of mold, can increase your risk of developing an allergic reaction to the mold. A reaction to black mold may include headaches, nausea, dizziness, asthma attacks, fungal growths in the nasal cavity or fungal infections in the lungs, rashes, fever and persistent cough, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Preparation for Cleaning

Block the exchange of air between the area affected by mold growth and the rest of the apartment. Close the door to the area and stuff a towel in the gap on the bottom of the door, or tape plastic covers over doorways and other openings. Close the air vents and turn off the air conditioning or furnace until you have finished cleaning. Make sure to wear clothes you can remove and wash immediately, and keep plenty of trash bags nearby for your clothes and anything you cannot scrub clean.

Cleaning up Mold

Before you begin to clean up mold, spray it with water using a spray bottle, keeping the mold spores from becoming airborne and spreading. You cannot scrub black mold spores from porous surfaces that you cannot put inside a washing machine, so you must throw away carpet padding, drywall and similar materials. Make sure you seal the trash bags. Use a non-ammonia based soap and stiff bristle brush to clean hard surfaces, then cleanse the area with a combination of 1/2 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water. Let the bleach and water mixture sit on the surfaces for 15 minutes, then rinse the area with clean water.

After Cleaning

Even though you have cleaned the black mold spores from the affected areas, you must not provide the perfect environment for the spores to crop up again. Rather than letting the surfaces you made wet by your cleaning air dry, set up fans to dry the room quickly and open windows to facilitate the circulation of air. If you cannot open a window in the room, run a dehumidifier. Make sure to run the bathroom fan or leave a window open after taking a shower or bath.