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Black Mold: When (and how) to DIY and When to Get a Professional Mold, Fire, and Water Restoration Company

You’ve likely heard of black mold and know that it’s bad, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Knowing what black mold is helps to protect your property and your health, and learning how to tackle this issue the right way is important. And if you can’t tackle the problem, the next step is to contact APEX Restoration DKI, your mold, fire, and water restoration company in Memphis. 

Whether you’ve found it in your shower, attic, or basement, these simple steps will help you clean and kill your black mold problem.

Black Mold vs Mildew

Mold and mildew are both fungi spread by spores. They like damp conditions and continue to grow if the issue is not addressed. The differences are vital or, some might say, even deadly.

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Mildew usually has a powdery appearance that ranges from white to gray to light brown. Mildew is a surface fungus and can more easily be removed than black mold, which penetrates surfaces. It is less aggressive than black mold and easier to manage.

So, what does black mold look like? Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is usually black, dark gray, or very dark green and has a musty, damp smell. It looks fuzzy. You’ll most often find it where there is moisture, such as where there are pipes, windows, or roof leaks. Black mold also enjoys damp paper products, carpets, upholstery and drywall, insulation, ceiling tiles, and wood. In short, there’s no place where damp mold won’t grow.

If you’re wondering if you have a black mold problem, the odds are that you’ll either see or smell it, but likely both.

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The Dangers Of Black Mold

Black mold is notorious for damaging people’s health. It releases trichothecenes that can cause a range of health issues, from red or itchy eyes and a stuffy nose to asthma attacks or even hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

An allergic reaction to black mold causes allergy symptoms like throat irritation or watery eyes. Mold poisoning is different and much more serious. Mold poisoning causes symptoms flu-like symptoms and:

  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Sinus and respiratory
  • Infections

How To Clean (And Kill) Black Mold

There are three major steps to getting rid of black mold: prep the area, clean it, and find the source.

Your safety comes first. Make sure that you take steps to protect yourself when cleaning black mold. This means covering your skin by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and trousers, using safety goggles to protect your eyes and gloves for your hands, and, most importantly, using a respirator to prevent black mold spores from entering your lungs.

Prepare The Area

When you remove mold, you disturb the spores, which are then released into the air. To avoid inhaling or spreading the spores around your house, it’s important to prepare the area. You can do this by opening external windows and doors, using a fan to circulate the air outside, and sealing internal doors with plastic sheeting and tape.

Use plastic sheeting to cover your floor so that the spores don’t settle in your carpet. It is also useful to cover or remove items like couches and rugs that are made of materials that black mold loves to grow in. These steps will help prevent mold spores from spreading through your home and also give you proper ventilation as you work with cleaning solutions.


Your first step in cleaning black mold is to pick your cleaning solution. There are many options to choose from that will help you remove and kill black mold growths. Some of these solutions include:

  • Ammonia
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide

The following are more natural options:

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Lemon Juice

Check the ratio of water to the cleaning solution and prepare a bucket worth to help you clean the black mold.

Never mix cleaning solutions. You risk causing a chemical reaction that could release dangerous fumes that cause lasting damage to your health. Stick with only one cleaner at a time.

Rinse And Scrub

Once you’ve picked your cleaning solution and filled a bucket, use a firm bristled brush to clean the area. Be sure to dip the brush often to help remove the black mold and prevent it from releasing spores. Scrub and rinse several times to remove as much black mold as you can.

Soak And Scrub

Next, spray your cleaning solution onto the area and let it soak for several minutes. This will help the cleaning solution penetrate stubborn spores. Scrub the surface as before until clean.

Find The Source

Now that your area is clean, it’s time to find the source. Start with the obvious options. If black mold was under your kitchen sink, check the sink and pipes for leaks. If the mold was in your attack, you’ll most likely want to look for a roof leak.

Your next step is to address the issue. Make repairs where you can, or contact a professional for help. Once fixed, keep an eye on the area to make sure there is no more mold growth.

How To Prevent Black Mold

Preventing black mold requires some diligence, but the steps are simple. To prevent black mold, try to:

  • Fix any internal and external leaks
  • Prevent humidity by using a dehumidifier or air conditioner when it’s humid
  • Ideally, you’ll want to keep your humidity between 30-50% throughout the day
  • Ventilate your home. Proper ventilation, like bathroom extractor fans, will help remove moisture and circulate fresh air
  • Consider installing a moisture barrier in your basement
  • Address mold issues as soon as you see them to avoid unchecked growth

What Is Mold Remediation?

If you find that you have a lot of black mold, or that it’s beyond your ability to remove it, contact a professional like Apex Restoration DKI for mold remediation. Our certified professionals know how to tackle the mold that comes with Tennesse humidity, and we have the experience to tackle any mold problem.

A good rule of thumb is that if the affected area is bigger than 10 square feet, a professional mold remediator should be used. Contact us today to find out more about our mold remediation services.

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