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How To Remove Mold Safely (6 Critical Safety Steps)

How To Remove Mold Safely

Have you ever attempted to tackle a mold removal project on your own? 

Wondering if you took the right steps to deal with the problem safely? 

When you have a mold infestation issue in your home, its best to act quickly. This means taking action by finding and fixing the moisture issue, cleaning up small areas of mold growth yourself, or hiring a mold remediation contractor.

If the mold growth is small enough and you decide to tackle this project yourself, below we will review some of the important steps that you should take when dealing with it on your own.

Here’s How To Remove Mold Safely and Effectively


Step 1: Get the right tools and Equipment Needed

Below is a list of recommended items when planning a mold removal activity.

Shopping List:

  • Duct tape
  • Plastic sheathing; 4 mil if available
  • Contractor trash bags
  • Utility knife
  • HEPA VACUUM
  • Air Scrubber (Air Purification Device)
  • EPA listed and approved Sanitizer
  • Scrub brush
  • Zip walls (optional)
  • Hand tools
  • Disposable rags
  • Extension cord
  • Paintbrush
  • Pry bar
  • Large trash can
  • Pump Spray bottle

Step 2: Get the correct safety equipment

Activities that disturb mold growth can cause spores to disperse in the air and create respiratory hazards.

Without proper personal safety equipment, individuals may ingest or inhale mold spores, transfer molds to other areas outside the containment area, and accidentally get contaminated debris in their eyes.

Skin Protection

Rubber gloves protects your skin from contact with moldy materials and potentially irritating cleaning solutions. Use long gloves that extend to the forearm.

The gloves used should be selected based on the type of chemical used to perform the mold cleanup. Tyvek Suit should be worn when remediating mold in excessive amounts.

Eye Protection

The goggles used for mold cleanup should be properly fitted to protect the eyes. Also, they should prevent the entry of dust and small particles such as mold spores. Using safety glasses or goggles with open vent holes will offer little to no protection from mold remediation.

Respiratory Protection

Protects you from inhaling mold spores(1), contaminated dust, and bioaerosols that are released during the remediation process.

Mold Removal Safety Equipment List

  • Minimum N95 Respirator (see your doctor before using respirators)
  • Gloves (nitrile and leather)
  • Goggles
  • Tyvek Suit with hood- depending on the level of mold contamination

Step 3: Setup Containment

An important part of removing mold contaminated items from your home is the preparation of the work area.

Below we have outlined some recommendation that could be used to contain the mold spores to the area.

  1. Use a 12” piece of poly to seal off critical openings; this includes heating or air conditioning vents, return air vents, and any other openings.
  • Use a sheet of 6 mil poly over the flooring, especially if the area is carpeted. The poly should extend at least six inches above the baseboard on all sides.
  • If the mold growth is confined to a room, seal around the door by taping a sheet of plastic over the opening.
  • You can add an extra six inches at each end as an added precaution. After the sheet has been placed over the door opening, create an opening by making a vertical cut into the sheathing extending from the floor to approximately eight inches below the door frame.
  • After the cut has been made, add a flap by cutting a second smaller piece of plastic approximately 30 inches wide X 60 inches long and taping it to the previously installed barrier. See the illustration below. Note: this setup fits a standard door. For larger doors, the measurements should be increased to encompass the specific door opening.
  • If the mold growth is in a large room (living room areas), use ZIP Walls to isolate the area. ZIP-WALLs are quick and easy to install. As an alternative, the poly can be taped directly to the ceiling and secured in place by fastening a 1” X 4” piece of lumber over the plastic sheathing; this ensures the wall will not collapse.
  • Seal the plastic sheathing to the wall along the edges from the floor to the ceiling.
  • Shut off the air conditioning system and then evaluate the area to ensure all the openings have been sealed off.
  • Cover the floor leading up to the containment area to stop contaminated debris from being tracked into other areas of the home.
How To Remove Mold Safely
Picture of mold containment around door way

Step 4: Containing Dust and Mold spores

When the moldy items are being removed, contaminated dust and mold spores can be dispersed into the air. To avoid this, take care to minimize the amount of dust and particles generated by the process.

To do this, liberally mist the area when items are being removed and placed into contractor trash bags.

Some other methods that can be used to control excessive dust generation include the following:

  • Pry the items apart. Avoid using hammers and other tools to pound the moldy items.
  • Limit the use of impact power tools, grinders, and other abrasive power tools to a minimum. These power tools will create a large amount of dust and contaminated airborne particles.
  • Keep the contaminated items in the contained work area until they are wrapped or placed in trash bags for disposal.
  • When the items are bagged, HEPA vacuum the exterior of the bag to remove any contaminated dust and residual spores.
  • Always keep the work area under containment until cleanup is completed.
  • Do not track dust and contaminated debris out of the work area.
  • Carefully HEPA vacuum off Tyvek suits and other clothing when exiting the work area.
  • When leaving the work area, always remove disposable safety gear, wipe or HEPA vacuum your shoes, and other items.
  • After the mold removal is complete, clean all your non-disposable safety equipment and launder clothes worn separately (try to avoid mixing these items with your regular laundry).

Step 5: Cleaning the Work Area

Cleaning and sanitizing the work area after the mold removal is an important step to control the spread of contaminated dust and mold spores.

This is especially important because the next step involves the drying out process in which a fan or dehumidifier is used to remove any excess moisture in the building components that can promote mold regrowth after the work has been completed.

The work area should be completely free from mold-contaminated debris and visible dust.

Areas such as wood and other building materials that remain in place should be thoroughly cleaned and show no sign of mold growth.

The following steps are recommended when cleaning up after the mold removal process

  • Continually place moldy items in trash bags as they are removed.
  • HEPA Vacuum the area frequently while removing moldy items.
  • Clean tools and items used before leaving the work area – containment.
  • Practice good personal hygiene each time you exit the work area. Wash hands, face and use new personal safety equipment.
  • Vacuum poly sheathing used for setting up containment frequently.
  • After vacuuming, damp-wipe all sides of the poly and discard the towel in a sealed contractor trash bag.
  • When the area is dry, vacuum again to capture any settled mold spores and contaminated particles.
  • Visually confirm that all moldy items have been removed, and the building studs and other components are visibly clean.

Always be careful when you use disinfectants and biocides for mold cleanup

Mixing any household cleaners or disinfectants can be dangerous.

Some chemicals can produce toxic fumes and result in adverse health effects. So as a reminder, never try to combine chemicals and ALWAYS follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use.

Finally Step 6: Discarding Moldy Materials

Discarding mold-contaminated materials such as drywall, furnishings, carpeting, flooring, upholstery, and lumber can be done similarly to construction waste. However, some recommended practices should be followed.

Items contaminated with mold growth that cannot be salvaged should be double-bagged.

Larger items that cannot be placed in bags should be wrapped in 4-mil poly sheathing and sealed with duct tape to prevent any cross-contamination when the items are being transferred outdoors for disposal.

Additional steps for properly discarding moldy materials are listed below.

  • Use the Goose Neck method to seal each bag. This is done by gathering the open end of the bag slightly below the opening, then twist the bag in the same direction until a neck is formed approximately 8-10 inches long. Then fold the twisted section over on itself like you would do to a hose to stop the flow of water. Once this is done, grasp the folded neck with one hand and then use duct tape to seal around the folded neck.
  • When all bags are sealed, use the HEPA vacuum to clean the exterior of each bag of poly materials used to wrap larger items.
  • Then, damp wipe the exterior of the bag and remove it from the containment area (work area).
  • Repeat the process for each bag with contaminated material.
  • Carefully carry the materials to the exterior and place them in a dumpster or taken to a landfill. These items are not considered regulated waste; therefore, they can be placed in any landfill. If small amounts are to be discarded, the bags can be placed in the bulk trash for curbside pickup depending on your local waste management.

You now to how to remove mold safely, you can use this as guide to help you with your DIY mold removal project.


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