Why you should never use Bleach to Kill Mold

Why you should never use Bleach to Kill Mold

It is a frightening thing. It could be that dark patch in the corner, the fuzz under the windowsill, or that strange smell in the basement. Could it be the “m” word? Maybe you had the growth trifecta. When any home or business has the right mix of moisture, temperature, and organic matter there is a high likelihood of mold growth.

When we are faced with issues of mold, there is a tendency toward panic. However, you don’t have to be discouraged or alarmed. Molds and Mildews are a part of the natural biology of the planet and can be managed with a little knowledge and care.

First of all, mold is everywhere. It is a vital and very useful part of the ecosystem. We are constantly surrounded by mold spores. It is only when exposed to high levels of concentration (especially when it is consuming our beloved homes or belongings) does it become an issue.

So, what if you have mold?  If you see mold growth in a building, be it a wall or ceiling, you should be aware that you may only be seeing part of the growth. Molds and mildews can be present much deeper into the object. You only see what is on the surface. Also, since mold spores are literally everywhere all surfaces are constantly being bombarded by new mold spores. Areas can be quickly and easily               reinfected when an area has not been properly abated. That is why simply wiping mold off does not work.

So, what do you do? We all know the lesson. Our Mom’s taught us that using Bleach was the best way to kill mold, right? I hate to say it…Mom may have been wrong.

To make bleach, a direct electrical current is sent through a sodium chloride solution (table salt and water). This basically “splits” the atoms leaving chlorine and a caustic soda. Both chlorine and this caustic soda (lye) are extremely dangerous. These two chemicals react together to create what we know as bleach, or Sodium Hypochlorite.

Bleach is a heavily corrosive material capable of irritating the eyes, skin, and the respiratory tract often by simply inhaling the gases it emits. This inhalation has been noted to deteriorate the lungs and esophagus lining in addition to the scarring the respiratory tract. These side effects may not occur to a visibly notable extent with each exposure to bleach, but the chemicals impact is never favorable, especially over a long period of time.

This terribly corrosive material, when applied to organic material will begin to damage it. The burning and slimy feeling one gets when accidentally touching bleach is the corrosive material reacting to the fats and oils in the skin, breaking it down. Luckily, most skin can repair itself. The materials in your home cannot.

Furthermore, the household bleach that is sold at the grocery store in not 100% bleach. It is a solution of bleach and water. Pure Bleach would be way too caustic and dangerous for household use. The typical Bleach bought at retail is anywhere from 5% to 8% Sodium Hypochlorite. The rest is water. In addition, bleach rapidly reacts with anything it can possibly oxidize. It also spontaneously decomposes, particularly in the presence of light. Once it reacts, the by-products are sodium, oxygen, in addition to whatever was oxidized, and water.

Now there is a place for the use of bleach in nonporous surfaces, areas such as inside your shower or toilet. Those surfaces are most likely to only have surface mold and won’t be harmed by getting wet. But in most other circumstances, when a household bleach is used to kill surface mold on objects, only the surface is affected, the object may be damaged, and you are left with mostly water. Since water is a contributor to mold growth (remember our trifecta?), this very wet organic object that you were trying to clean, is now primed for more mold.

In conclusion, using household bleach in not the answer to remove mold. First of all, it may be dangerous to those people and animals in proximity of the process.  It also may actually damage the surface you are trying to clean. But most of all it may not only fail in fixing the problem, it may make it worse by adding more water and contributing to additional mold growth. So, skip the bleach. If you really are concerned that you may have a problem contact an IICRC certified mold remediation specialist and don’t be hard on your Mom. She is right about nearly everything else.

Have a question about potential mold growth in your home or business? Contact Peerless Today.


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