Thursday, October 16, 2008

Clean Mold Thoroughly and Safely - FEMA

AUSTIN, Texas -- Disaster recovery specialists caution that mold and mildew can begin to grow within 24 hours after a flood and can be found throughout the house, including the attic, basement and crawl spaces. Health officials encourage those who realize they have mold to act quickly to eliminate the problem. Taking steps to clean up mold properly ensures a healthy home, especially for those who may suffer from allergies and asthma.

All materials are likely to become moldy if they are wet for too long. Thus, the first step in the mold cleanup process is to consider the condition of all items in a flooded area:

  • Wood furniture and other porous materials can trap mold and may need to be thrown away.
  • Harder materials, such as glass, plastic and metal, can be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Carpeting is a problem because drying it out does not remove mold spores. Carpets with heavy mold and mildew need to be discarded.

All wet surfaces should be cleaned, disinfected and dried as quickly as possible. Specialists offer the following suggestions to ensure safe and effective cleanup:

  • Open windows for ventilation and wear rubber gloves and eye protection for cleaning. Consider also using an N-95 rated mask if heavy concentrations of mold are present.
    Wash all areas and washable items that came in contact with floodwaters with a non-ammonia soap or detergent.
  • Rinse thoroughly and disinfect the area with a solution of 10 percent household bleach and 90 percent water. Never use bleach with ammonia. The fumes are toxic.
  • Cleaned areas need to dry for several days. Heat, fans and dehumidifiers help.
  • All odors should be checked out. It is possible for mold to hide in the walls or behind wall coverings. Find all mold sources and properly clean them.
  • Materials that cannot be cleaned, such as wallboard, fiberglass and cellulose insulation, should be removed and discarded. Then clean the wall studs where wallboard has been removed, and allow the area to dry completely.

Additional information on cleaning up after a flood is available at the following web sites:,,,, and

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.


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