The bad news is that you have found black mold in your home. The good news is that it is on tile, which is one of the easiest surfaces to clean when it comes to this problem. Black mold tends to grow on porous surfaces, which usually cannot be cleaned at all or on hard surfaces such as tile that can be cleaned with relative easy. After you clean it up, it’s important to move on to the real challenge: figuring out why you have mold in the first place and how to get rid of it for the long term. Because tile is usually found in only a few places in the home, your mold issue may be restricted to one area. But, it is always best to cover all of your bases, so if you find it in one place, inspect the rest of the house as well just to be safe.
Cleaning up the Tile
Whether it is the kitchen, the bathroom or the utility/laundry room, tile cleanup can be done in much the same way. You can use commercially available products looking for one that specifically mentions mold on the label. You can use detergent and water to clean the tile and the surrounding grout, or you can use more environmentally friendly suggestions, which are not only easier on the tile and the planet.
- Commercial products usually come in spray bottles or in concentrated formulas that you mix with water. Before you use them, read all of the warnings on the label especially the ones about proper ventilation. Gloves and protective eyewear are a good idea. Restrict pets and small children from coming in to the area while these products are being used. If there is any risk of discoloration, do a spot test to protect your tile. You should note that some of these formulas are so strong they will damage your grout in the process.
- Baking soda mixed with enough water to form a paste can be an effective cleaner as well. You will have to use a little bit of elbow grease to get the paste worked into the entire area and you can use an old toothbrush to get the grout really covered. Once you have cleaned the area give it a good rinse.
- If all of this does not get the grout clean enough, you may need to remove the old and start over. Once you have taken the old, stained grout out, you can apply the new grout following the directions on the container. After laying the new grout you should apply a high quality grout sealer, which will protect you from future mold problems. If there were no stains and the grout is clean enough to satisfy you, you can proceed to the sealing process for the same protection.
Prevention of Future Mold Outbreaks
Of course, the best bet is to keep mold from showing up in the first place. Always keep an eye on areas where moisture is a potential problem including behind or under appliances, in dark cabinets or in dark corners, and near leaky windows, pipes, or faucets. Repair all leaks as quickly as you find them and monitor moisture in your home so that you do not get mold growth. There are additional steps that you can take to protect yourself against the ongoing threat of mold.
- Use a professional cleanser with mold killer in it. Read the labels and always exercise caution when using these products. Do this as part of your regular cleaning routines.
- Pull out appliances and visually inspect behind and beside them at least once a month.
- Empty the refrigerator drip tray as recommended by the manufacturer or more often than needed. If you find that you are emptying the tray more than you should be, there might be something wrong with the fridge. Consider having a repairman take a look at it.
- Check all pipes and connections.
- Seal up or replace leaky windows.
- Install and use an exhaust fan in the rooms that get the steamiest: the bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room can become mini-saunas when they are in use. All of that steam will end up settling somewhere, and that means more moisture and more possible mold.
- Heated floor tiles are an option that not only feels great on the feet on cold mornings, but may cut down on the risk of mold as well. If you are remodeling a tiled room, consider these as part of the design.
- If heated tiles are way out of the budget, get the entire family in the habit of drying up the floor as they get dried off from a shower. Rooms with floors that are frequently soaked down also benefit from the installation of floor drains. A well-designed floor drain is barely noticeable, but could also be a place for mold to grow. If you have one, watch the surface for signs of mold. Get a drain with a cover that will pop off so that you can clean underneath it and make that part of the cleaning routine as well.
- Add a dehumidifier in any of these rooms without an exhaust fan. If there is an exhaust fan installed, make sure that it is used frequently.