Tell me about getting rid of mold - Desert Edition
March 20, 2014 2:13 PM   Subscribe

We live in the high desert where humidity is consistently below 10%, and I bought a humidifier that was just too good at its job. Now we have mold in the bedroom, and I have no idea how to get rid of it. It's nothing like the giant patches of mold in the horror story pictures you see around the internet. We're talking scattered spots less than a tenth of a millimeter across, but they're on three of the walls and the silicon sealing around the window.

Clearly we don't need a dehumidifier, and I'm definitely not running the humidifier anymore! I did an initial "cleaning" which consisted of me spraying bleach on the mold and letting the room air out. A couple weeks later, I ran the humidifier again (oops) and the mold came back. I'm not convinced it was gone entirely the first time, but I had gotten the big groups of spots. What do I need to do to get rid of it for good and ever? How concerned do I need to be if I don't get every single little spot? Do we have to paint the room after we clean it? Is this not something I can do on my own and I should just hire a person? Explain it to me like you would a five year old, this is not something this desert dweller knows what to do with.
posted by stoneweaver to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mold is like germs. Tiny germs are everywhere, but we all just wash our hands regularly and try not to develop a phobia. Tiny mold spores are everywhere; just take reasonable measures to keep the growth down to levels you don't notice.

Is the mold coming from inside the humidifier itself? If the inside of the humidifier smells musty, wipe it down with bleach. If you can't get every part of it opened up to wipe it down with bleach, throw the humidifier away.

If all you did was spray the mold spots before, then try spraying with bleach and immediately wiping with a washcloth. Throw away the washcloth after you're done wiping down the room.

If a cloth doesn't remove the visible mold spots, try something slightly more abrasive, like a Magic Eraser. Its abrasiveness might ruin your paint job, and cause you to have to repaint.

Don't paint over mold. It will still be there under the paint, and it will be a matter of time and proper conditions for it to grow more than you realize.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:33 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Living in New England and having extensive experience with mold in my house, my battle plan is typically to clean with a bleach solution (I think I use 1 part bleach to 3 parts water, but I get lazy and stop really bothering to measure), and use Kilz Premium primer which is mildew (mold) resistant. One bedroom ceiling got those tiny mold spots you speak of, and after using Kilz primer and painting over with normal flat ceiling paint, I've never seen another spot.

This might allow you to use the humidifier again, but I'm not sure I would test it. Investing in good lotions might be better.
posted by ihavequestions at 2:37 PM on March 20, 2014

Seconding KILZ. That stuff is amazing. The house where I was living in college got flooded and my roommates and I got very sick for months from the mold in the basement. (There was a lot of it. It looked like modern art.) The landlord covered the walls with Kilz and repainted, and we didn't have any problems after that.
posted by mochapickle at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2014

If you suspect the humidifier itself, check its filter for mold, because it can happen--when I figured that out, I started using a liquid water treatment in my humidifier, and I went from going through a filter every month or so to having had the same one all winter this year.
posted by Sequence at 3:41 PM on March 20, 2014

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