Mold on litter box in basement
August 27, 2011 8:12 AM   Subscribe

After returning from a month away, we discovered green mold (or something resembling mold) growing on and around the cat's litter box in our basement. I have removed the litter box and anything else covered in the green stuff, and I started running a dehumidifier in the basement. What steps should I take to ensure that I eradicate the stuff and that my family (including a baby and the cat) remain safe?
posted by billtron to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Sounds like whoever was taking care of your cat wasn't checking on the litter box. Now that you're back and it will get regularly cleaned, that will help a lot.

I would clean the area with bleach. This should kill and remove any of the mold, and is probably the most sure-fire solution.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:16 AM on August 27, 2011

2nding bleach to take care of the mold issue.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 8:26 AM on August 27, 2011

I've always used a mix of bleach and water for mold, but I'm reading now that bleach actually isn't recommended after all. Here's some stuff from's mold FAQ:
Should I use bleach to get rid of mold?

No. Although bleach will kill and decolorize mold, it does not remove mold. Dead mold can still cause allergic reactions. It is not necessary to kill mold to remove mold. Soap and water and scrubbing can remove mold from hard surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York City Health Department agree that bleach or other biocides should not routinely be used to clean up mold.

How do I know when the mold clean up is finished?

The mold cleanup is finished when there is no visible mold remaining and there is no dust or dirt remaining that could contain large amounts of mold and mold spores. Routine clearance testing for mold is not necessary. Leaving a few mold spores behind is not a problem if the underlying moisture problem has been corrected. Remember that mold spores are virtually everywhere. Even if all mold and mold spores are removed as part of the cleanup, spores from outside will re-enter that space. The spores won’t be able to grow unless water is also present.
If the soapy water you use is over 100 degrees, even better. "Temperatures well above 100 F will kill mold and mold spores, but the exact temperature required to kill specific species is not well established."
posted by dayintoday at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Bleach kills mold dead. Make sure the place is well ventilated and flood it with bleach. Keep your cat ad kid away from the area until the bleach has evaporated.
posted by dfriedman at 8:43 AM on August 27, 2011

By all means clean up, but there is no need to freak out or over think this. A lot of people in the US are maybe a little over-concerned about mold, especially post-Katrina. All homes contain mold, but most mold does not cause health problems. You are surrounded by mold, eat mold, breathe mold, etc. The mold on your catbox is not toxic mold or deadly black mold, so wipe everything down with diluted bleach, say "good job!" and get on with your day. You are perfectly safe, baby and cat included.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

This was just mold taking advantage of a thin (?) layer of catty stuff. Don't feed it, and you'll be fine.
posted by Namlit at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2011

Thanks for the advice. Everything is cleaned with warm water AND bleached. One small concern: cleaning up, I opened a box of shoes that was near the litter box and found that most of the shoes had mold on them. The cowboy boots were the worst, with yellow fuzzy stuff all over the exterior. Is this mold that traveled from the litter box or is it a separate issue?
posted by billtron at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2011

It sounds like there was just a damp issue in the basement whilst you were away. Basements are often damp and moldy environments. The mold didn't travel from the cat box; it settled from the air onto damp surfaces. Dehumidifying and a house that is lived in rather than shut up will likely mean this doesn't recur. If it does, you may have an actual mold problem but I wouldn't assume that.

FWIW we moved house a number of years ago and it took me a long time to get to some boxes and bags. Many of these were moldy by the time I finally went to sort them from the unused spare room. They all had to be thrown out and the room given a basic scrub, but this is not a "sick house" or a house with a "mold problem." It's a 200 year old house, not a clean room.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2011

PS: If it helps this feel less like a huge deal, try to think of it as fuzz :)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:22 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your basement is really moist. Mold grew. No hopping from litter to shoes.
posted by k8t at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2011

Good news:

"There are only a few molds that can cause infection in healthy humans. Some molds cause infections only in people with compromised immune systems. The biggest health problem from exposure to mold is allergy and asthma in susceptible people. There are more than 100,000 types of mold. Good information has been developed for only a small number of these molds – at least in terms of their effects on human health. Most people tolerate exposure to moderate levels of many different molds without any apparent adverse health effects."

(Your family will probably be fine.)

posted by sarling at 11:16 AM on August 27, 2011

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