As many people know, mold is pretty ubiquitous: It can be found on last week’s loaf of bread or discovered in an old container way back in the fridge containing some mystery food (also known as the kid’s science experiment). It can often be found along the lower edges of your shower and in your garage. Mold doesn’t need much to take hold -- just a little moisture and some food. Throw in some warmth and a little time and those countless unseen spores will start to grow and reproduce. Many people suffer ill effects from exposure to mold, so keeping it at bay is always a good idea.
There are many ways to curtail mold’s growth and spread; mold cleanup can range from full-scale warfare using a host of toxic chemicals to a gentler, more common sense approach using natural materials.
Break the Cycle
Just as firefighters have been trained in fire suppression to remove one of the three required components (air, fuel and heat), mold works in a similar way with moisture, food and spores. Remove the food: Mold does not grow. Remove the moisture: same result.
The most common food sources for mold in a garage are the paper found on drywall and the wood that holds it all up. Replacing the drywall with new paperless versions or building with steel studs is a great way to limit mold growth in new construction, but it tends to be a costly and involved refit in older homes.
Here, taking away the moisture is a better place to focus your efforts. A simple coat of paint can often be the needed barrier to keep the moisture away from the drywall’s paper. Fixing minor leaking in roofs and siding can also keep the moisture out. When you drive your car into your garage after snow or a rainstorm, most of that moisture will stay in your garage for some time and can potentially add to moisture and mold problems. Drains and proper floor slope can do wonders.
Harsh Chemicals or Natural Products
Historically, the weapon of choice for homeowners and their mold cleanup battles has been bleach. Today, many find vinegar equally effective in mold abatement. Tea tree oil mixed with water is also a handy natural alternative, as is grapefruit seed extract mixed with water. These products are pricey compared to vinegar, but keep in mind that they are only needed in small quantities. Normally, only a teaspoon or two are needed, mixed with 2 cups of water. Lots of people use these inside the home in areas where vinegar may cause damage to the surface they are trying to clean; for instance, marble is a material that can be damaged by vinegar.
Since a garage mold cleanup project may be quite large, economical options here are preferred. Borax is one such cost-effective choice. Borax contains elemental boron which is used in many commercial applications for pest and fungicidal control. Borax can be found in your local supermarket in the laundry section, and a simple water-borax solution can be very effective at mold cleanup.
More Cleaning Options
Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and ammonia are some other common cleaners used in mold cleanup. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are a lot more user-friendly than ammonia, which should never be used with bleach. Those two chemicals in combination can produce deadly chlorine gas. If you remember your basic history classes, the Nazis used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon in WWII…making your own in your garage while attempting to clean up mold is not recommended.
Prevention is always a better option than remediation. Keep in mind how the mold growth cycle is constructed and you can reduce the chance that a large mold cleanup will be required. If, however, your defenses have slipped and this pesky fungus has invaded your life, there are a handful of options out there that are both natural and effective.