Mold Cleaning: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Removing Mold

Mold growth in the home is a common problem that many homeowners will encounter at some point. When visible mold is spotted, it’s tempting to tackle removal yourself through DIY methods. However, mold removal is not as simple as scrubbing the affected area with bleach. Attempting mold remediation without the proper knowledge and techniques can actually make the problem worse and spread mold to other parts of the home.

In this blog post, we’ll outline 5 of the most common mistakes homeowners make when trying to remove mold on their own, and how to avoid them. With some key points in mind, you can safely and effectively remove small areas of mold growth in your home. However, extensive mold problems are best left to professional mold removal specialists. Let’s dive in and look at mistakes to avoid when removing mold.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Removing Mold

1. Using Bleach as a Mold Remover

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to kill and remove household mold is assuming that bleach is an effective cleaner. While bleach can disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces, using it to try to scrub away mold growth is not recommended. The EPA warns that dead mold and bleach can react to release chlorine gas and other hazardous byproducts into the air.

Spraying bleach onto moldy surfaces will not kill mold or stop it from spreading. The chemicals in bleach simply cannot penetrate porous materials like drywall or wood that have been infested by mold growth. Using bleach to try to remove mold will inevitably fail while putting your indoor air quality and health at risk. It’s important to know that no common household cleaner or DIY solution will actually kill mold or remove mold spores.

Instead of dousing visible mold with bleach, focus on fixing any moisture issues fueling the growth. Cutting off the water supply prevents further mold spread. Then, small areas of mold can be removed by scrubbing with hot water and unscented detergent, and thoroughly drying surfaces. For more extensive mold removal, a professional mold remediation company uses special vacuums and containment systems to remove mold without dispersing spores throughout the home.

2. Painting Over Mold

Another instinct many homeowners have when spotting mold is to simply paint over the moldy patches. Mold often appears as black spots or fuzzy growth on walls, ceilings, or other surfaces. Painting over visible mold might seem like an easy DIY solution for covering up the problem. However, this is ineffective and can actually help mold spread behind walls.

Paint is unable to kill mold or stop it from growing. Mold can thrive and spread underneath layers of paint. Painting over mold just hides the surface level symptoms of mold while the hidden mold continues to get worse. Moisture penetrating painted walls will allow the mold to keep spreading and releasing spores into the home.

Before painting over any surface with prior mold growth, it’s essential to fully remediate and dry out the area. First fix any water issues, such as leaks, that allowed mold to develop. Remove all affected porous materials like drywall that may be contaminated. Let replacement materials thoroughly dry before painting to prevent trapping moisture and mold under the paint. A coat of mold-resistant paint can help prevent future mold, but should only be applied after complete remediation.

3. Ignoring the Root Cause of Mold Growth

Trying to scrub away mold with household cleaners without addressing what’s causing the mold is unlikely to prevent regrowth. Mold needs consistent moisture to grow and spread. Common culprits for indoor mold include water leaks, flooding, high humidity, condensation issues, and poor ventilation.

If the underlying moisture source is not identified and fixed, mold will inevitably return and continue spreading in the home. Inspect any moldy area for possible moisture issues. Look for leaks, signs of water damage, musty odors, and humidity. Mold regrowth after cleanup indicates an unresolved water problem that needs to be addressed.

Fix any plumbing leaks or roof leaks that could be feeding mold. Reduce indoor humidity levels through ventilation, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning. Identify and eliminate the moisture source, or mold will recur in the area. Any visible mold removed is pointless if high moisture levels persist to foster regrowth.

4. Attempting Extensive Mold Removal Without Proper Equipment

When dealing with a serious mold infestation covering more than 10 square feet, the cleanup process requires more than just scrubbing with household products. Extensive mold growth should be remediated by trained professionals with specialized equipment to contain and remove mold.

Trying extensive do-it-yourself mold removal without proper personal protective gear and tools actually spreads mold throughout the home. Scrubbing or disturbing moldy drywall, carpets, insulation, or other porous materials releases mold spores into the air. Mold spores are microscopic and float easily through the indoor environment, contaminating surfaces and circulating through ventilation systems.

DIYers lack the specialized tools like HEPA vacuums, air scrubbers, and dehumidifiers that professionals use to properly remove mold while containing spores. Masks sold at hardware stores do not protect against mold exposure. Entering an area with large amounts of mold can cause severe allergic reactions, even in people not severely sensitive to mold. It’s essential to avoid exposure when dealing with serious mold growth.

For any mold problem larger than 10 square feet, the best approach is hiring a professional mold remediation company. They have the right equipment and methods to remove mold safely without spreading spores from contaminated materials throughout the home. Professional mold remediation protects your health during cleanup and ensures the mold is completely eliminated.

5. Neglecting Personal Safety Precautions

Finally, a very common mistake when tackling any level of mold removal is neglecting basic protective gear. Even when dealing with small areas of visible mold, it’s important to limit exposure to mold spores. Mold spores aggravate respiratory conditions and allergies and can lead to dangerous mold poisoning in larger amounts.

When scrubbing or handling moldy areas, use protective equipment including:

  • Respirator or N95 mask to avoid breathing in spores
  • Goggles to prevent eye irritation
  • Gloves to avoid skin contact and irritation
  • Long sleeves and pants to cover exposed skin

People with allergies or compromised immune systems should avoid entering spaces with active mold growth. Ensure proper ventilation while working. Contain and dispose of any moldy materials in sealed bags. Wearing basic protective gear helps prevent the spread of spores to your eyes, skin, and lungs during DIY mold removal.

How to Safely Remove Small Areas of Mold

Now that we’ve covered common mistakes to avoid, let’s discuss the proper process for safely removing minor mold problems on your own. Remember to fix any moisture issues first and prevent spore dispersal.

Follow these guidelines to safely remove small patches of mold:

  1. Purchase an N95 respirator mask, goggles, gloves, protective clothing, and other gear to avoid mold exposure.
  2. Isolate the affected area by closing doors and covering air vents. This helps prevent spores from spreading. Open windows and use fans to ventilate.
  3. Mix hot water and unscented detergent in a bucket. Use this mild solution instead of harsh chemicals to scrub away surface mold.
  4. Wear protective gear while scrubbing to remove mold with minimal spore release.
  5. Completely dry any damp areas when finished to discourage mold regrowth.
  6. Bag and dispose of any porous materials like drywall that remain moldy after cleaning.
  7. HEPA vacuum surrounding areas to capture any released spores.

Minor mold growth limited to areas around 10 square feet or less can often be managed through safe DIY removal methods. However, if health issues like breathing trouble or severe allergy symptoms occur during the process, stop work immediately and call in professionals. Extensive mold should always be handled by trained mold remediation experts.

Preventing Future Mold Growth

Once you have successfully removed a mold problem, preventing future growth should be a priority. Here are some tips to help keep your home mold-free:

  • Fix any moisture sources like leaks that can cause mold.
  • Maintain indoor humidity under 50% through ventilation, dehumidifiers, and AC.
  • Clean and dry any damp areas like bathrooms regularly.
  • Install exhaust fans in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
  • Ensure dryers, AC drip pans, and appliances are properly draining.
  • Avoid overfilling humidifiers.
  • Increase air circulation in problem areas.
  • Inspect for leaks/moisture during heavy rains.
  • Apply mold-resistant paint when rebuilding affected areas.

With vigilance and moisture control, you can keep mold from recurring and spreading in your home. Contact a mold specialist if you need help improving ventilation or identifying moisture issues. Stopping mold growth at the source is the best defense.

When to Call In a Professional for Mold Removal

While DIY methods can remove small amounts of surface mold if done carefully, larger mold problems are best left to professionals. Here are some signs it’s time to call in a mold remediation company:

  • Visible mold covering more than 10 square feet.
  • Mold growth on multiple surfaces and areas.
  • Signs of extensive water damage that may have soaked walls/floors.
  • Presence of black mold, which is highly toxic.
  • Musty odors throughout the home.
  • Mold in HVAC systems or appliances.
  • Health issues during mold removal like breathing problems.
  • Lack of personal protective equipment or proper training.
  • Mold returning rapidly after cleaning.
  • Unsure of the moisture source feeding the growth.

Don’t risk spreading mold spores or your health. Professional mold remediation uses strict containment procedures and specialized tools to remove extensive mold safely. Plus, professionals can fully identify moisture problems contributing to the mold issue and advise you on preventative measures.

For serious mold growth, the smartest step is to call in a mold specialist to tackle cleanup and perform thorough remediation. With their expertise and safe process, the mold contamination can be eliminated without dangers of improper DIY removal. Your health and your home are too important to run risks when it comes to mold.


Mold problems can happen to any home when excess moisture or dampness occurs. When you spot some mold growth, it’s tempting to break out the bleach and scrub away the mold yourself. However, unsafe DIY removal risks your health and actually spreads mold rather than eliminating it. Avoid common mistakes like using bleach, painting over mold, ignoring moisture causes, attempting large removal without training, and neglecting protective gear.

Follow safe cleaning processes, fix underlying causes of mold, and call in professionals like Southeast Water Restoration when needed. With smart prevention and remediation steps, you can effectively and safely deal with mold growth in your home or office. Protect your family’s health by avoiding mold removal mistakes.