How Do You Get Rid of Mold in the Basement?

By PropertyClub Team
Apr 14th 2024
Does that musty smell in your basement make you wrinkle your nose? It could be mold, a sneaky enemy that can damage your home and threaten your health. But don't despair!  Before you call in the hazmat team, this guide will show you how to tackle basement mold yourself for smaller infestations. 

hash-markWhat Causes Mold in Basements?

Basements are prone to mold growth due to their inherent moisture. Common causes include leaks, condensation from humidity and cold temperatures, or flooding. Poor ventilation traps moisture-laden air, creating a perfect environment for mold spores to thrive.

hash-markNatural Ways to Remove Basement Mold

1. White Vinegar

A readily available and effective option. Mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply to the moldy surface, let it sit for an hour, scrub with a brush, and dry completely.  Vinegar is best for non-porous surfaces like tile, concrete, or glass.

2. Tea Tree Oil & Water

Tea tree oil has natural antifungal properties. Mix 1 part tea tree oil with 10 parts water in a spray bottle. Apply the solution, let it sit for 10 minutes, scrub, and dry thoroughly.  Tea tree oil can be irritating to skin, so exercise caution.

3. Grapefruit Seed Extract & Water

Grapefruit seed extract has some anti-fungal properties.  Mix a solution of 1 part grapefruit seed extract concentrate with 10 parts water. Apply, scrub, and dry like the tea tree oil solution. Note that grapefruit seed extract has limited research on mold removal.

hash-markRemoving Mold in Your Basement Using Chemicals

1. Bleach (Use with Caution!)

Bleach can be effective on hard, non-porous surfaces like tile or concrete. However, it  doesn't kill mold spores and may release harmful fumes if mixed with ammonia, sometimes present in mold.  Never mix bleach and ammonia!

2. Concrobium

A popular commercial mold removal product containing various disinfectants.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for dilution and application.  Concrobium is effective on a wider range of surfaces than bleach, but can still have some respiratory risks.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide (Good for Smaller Areas) 

A milder option that kills mold on contact. Mix a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with water in equal parts. Apply, let sit for 10 minutes, scrub, and dry completely. Hydrogen peroxide is less effective for larger areas and may not kill all spores.

4. Borax

A natural option that can be mixed with water to create a mold removal solution.  Wear gloves as it can irritate skin.  Borax may not be as effective as some commercial products.

5. Commercial Mold Removers

Many effective commercial mold removers are available.  Choose one according to the surface type and severity of the mold infestation.  Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for dilution, application, and safety precautions.

hash-markWhat You Will Need for Mold Removal?

Mold removal requires an  approach to ensure your safety and proper remediation of the mold spores. Here are the tools and materials you'll typically need for DIY mold removal on small mold infestations:

  • N-95 respirator mask: Protects your lungs from inhaling mold spores.

  • Safety glasses: Shield your eyes from mold spores and cleaning chemicals.

  • Rubber gloves: Protects your hands from mold and cleaning chemicals.

  • Disposable coveralls: Protects your clothes from mold spores.

  • Drop cloths or plastic sheeting: To contain the mold and prevent spores from spreading to other areas.

  • Duct tape: To seal off the contaminated area.

  • Mold removal solution: There are commercial mold removal products available, or you can create a solution with borax or white vinegar. Never mix bleach and ammonia, as this creates toxic fumes.

  • Spray bottle: To apply the mold removal solution.

  • Scrub brush: To scrub away mold spores.

  • Shop vacuum with a HEPA filter: HEPA filters trap mold spores and prevent them from circulating in the air.

  • Trash bags: Dispose of mold-contaminated materials in sealed trash bags.

  • Moisture meter: To identify and address moisture sources that may be causing mold growth.

  • Dehumidifier: Helps control moisture levels and prevent future mold growth.

hash-markHow To Get Rid of Mold on Different Materials?

To get rid of mold, first you need to know how it grows on different surfaces. Here's how to remove mold from various types of surfaces:

Mold Removal on Hard, Non-Porous Surfaces (Tile, Glass, Metal)

Safety First: Wear protective gear (N-95 respirator, gloves, goggles) and ensure good ventilation.

Containment: Use drop cloths and duct tape to seal off the area and prevent spores from spreading.

Mold Removal Solution: Mix a solution of water and either white vinegar (50/50) or borax (1 tablespoon per gallon of water). Never mix bleach and ammonia!

Apply & Scrub: Spray the solution on the moldy surface, let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely.

Dehumidify: Use a dehumidifier to control moisture and prevent mold from returning.

Mold Removal on Porous Surfaces (Wood, Drywall, Carpet)

Safety Measures: Same as above.

Containment: Crucial! Isolate the area and remove/replace severely mold-infested materials (like drywall sections).

For salvageable items: Try the vinegar/water solution or a commercial mold remover. Scrub, rinse, and dry completely.

For heavily affected materials: Unfortunately, porous materials like porous drywall or carpeting often require removal and replacement to ensure complete mold eradication.

hash-markHow To Prevent Future Basement Mold?

Here are some key strategies to prevent future basement mold growth:

Control Moisture: This is the ultimate defense against mold. Here's how:

  • Enhance Ventilation: Increase airflow by opening basement windows when weather permits and running exhaust fans during showers or laundry.

  • Invest in a Dehumidifier: Maintain a basement humidity level below 60% by using a dehumidifier, especially in humid climates.

  • Use Exhaust Fans: Ensure proper ventilation in moisture-prone areas like the kitchen and bathroom by using exhaust fans that vent outside.

Minimize Water Intrusion: Address potential sources of water entry:

  • Waterproof Basement and Crawl Spaces: Seal cracks in foundation walls and floors to prevent water seepage. Consider a waterproofing system if necessary.

  • Fix Leaks Promptly: Don't delay repairs for leaky roofs, windows, or pipes. Address them swiftly to prevent water accumulation that can lead to mold growth.

Take Additional Preventative Measures

  • Dry Wet Items Thoroughly: Avoid storing damp objects in the basement. Allow wet items to dry completely before storing them.

  • Promote Air Circulation: Don't overcrowd your basement with stored items. Leave space for air circulation to prevent moisture build-up.

  • Clean Up Spills Immediately: Address spills promptly to prevent moisture from soaking into floors or walls.

  • Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your basement for signs of mold growth, leaks, or excessive moisture. Early detection allows for prompt action to prevent further problems.

hash-markShould You Hire a Professional for Basement Mold Removal?

Consider hiring a professional for basement mold removal if the infestation is large, you're unsure about the type of mold, or it keeps coming back - their expertise and equipment ensure a safe and thorough removal.