Finding mold in your Chicago home can be disheartening. Most homeowners are already aware of the significant indoor air quality concerns (IAQ) and general health concerns that active mold infestations cause. Untreated mold can create structural damage, diminish the value of their properties, and render their living environments downright uninhabitable. Sadly, most homeowners don’t know that bleach isn’t an effective tool for solving this problem. Despite its impressive whitening capabilities and pungent smell, bleach isn’t powerful enough to kill mold on all surfaces.
Why Homeowners Often Use Bleach to Treat Mold
Mold can exist in indoor spaces even when it isn’t visible. Often, it is discovered by a lingering, musty smell that permeates the air and doesn’t go away. Using deodorizers and general cleaning agents judiciously doesn’t affect the musty smell. Visible evidence of mold makes the problem more unsavory. You might have fuzzy, black-colored growths etching their way up your window frames, flourishing in dark corners, or spotting your clothing and walls. Mold diminishes indoor aesthetics and makes the living space altogether uncomfortable.
When people discover mold, they desire to get rid of it fast due to its widespread health effects. The natural, visceral reaction that most people have to mold causes them to immediately look for simple, topical applications for killing it. Bleach is known for being inexpensive, powerful, and fast-acting. It can kill a vast range of common pathogens, and many bleach manufacturers list molds on their product’s labels and other marketing materials as one of the problems that it can eliminate.
The visual satisfaction from watching stubborn mold patches instantly fade when bleach is applied fascinates some people. However, paired with the pungent, “clean-smelling” scent of bleach, the instant disappearing act can be deceptive. Although bleach manufacturers assert that their products are effective mold-killing agents, they fail to list an important note: Bleach only works in this capacity when used on entirely nonporous surfaces.
Porous vs. Nonporous
When using bleach to treat mold, you can expect effective results on tile, sinks, toilets, and a limited number of countertops. However, when mold develops on wood, drywall, or other porous building materials, it sets up roots that bleach has no power to eradicate. These roots are known as mycelia and hyphae. They grow deep into the micro-sized openings of porous surfaces where bleach cannot reach. In overly humid environments, these networks of roots often find enough moisture to flourish and continue branching out. Worse, this activity persists even as bleach-treated surfaces maintain a bright white and pristine look.
Bleach isn’t just an ineffective treatment tool when used on porous surfaces. It allows mold to continue spreading unchecked via its hidden network of hyphae and mycelia while homeowners remain none the wiser. Thus, it can set the stage for disaster. Though treated surfaces look clean, these unseen networks quickly spiral out of control. Furthermore, as mold returns on bleach-treated surfaces, it is often more robust and affects a significantly larger area.
Understanding the dangers of treating nonporous surfaces with bleach is also important. Porous materials often surround moldy, nonporous surfaces with mold and active root systems. For instance, if you treat mold-covered tile in your kitchen or bathroom with bleach, this won’t account for the hyphae and mycelia that have already begun to grow in the surrounding grout.
Mold Odors vs. Chlorine Fumes
Beyond being incapable of eliminating mold on porous surfaces, bleach causes severe indoor air quality concerns. When improving your home’s indoor air quality is the primary motivation for targeting mold, bleach is always the wrong choice. Just as airborne mold spores are a dangerous contaminant, strong bleach fumes wreak havoc on human respiratory systems and general human health. If you have pets in your household, they’ll suffer, too. Bleach is a corrosive and toxic chemical classed in the same category of airborne contaminants as gasoline.
When applying bleach as mold treatment, many homeowners do so liberally. In their efforts to get the desired visual effects, most people wind up with:
- Watery, irritated eyes
- A heavy, thick feeling in their chests
- Irritated skin on their hands and arms
Even diluted bleach can give the hands a slick, slimy feel after too much direct skin contact. Although many people associate this feeling with bleach, it results from the top layer of skin being dissolved.
While most standard HVAC air filters can pick up dirt, dander, pollen, and other large-sized particulates, these components are not made to extract airborne chemicals such as those resulting from the liberal use of chlorine bleach. In addition, since many Lake Zurich homes are sealed shut and kept airtight whenever their HVAC systems are on, the chemical contaminants introduced into homes during self-managed mold treatments can be circulated and recirculated indefinitely.
Bleach Undermines the Integrity of Porous Surfaces
Unchecked mold can cause wood and other porous materials to warp, buckle, and undergo other adverse structural changes. However, treating these same materials with bleach will invariably cause similar problems. For example, direct applications of bleach soften wood fibers and cause wood surfaces to break down. Since bleach-treated mold will always reappear over time, most porous surfaces are regularly treated with bleach as new, visible crops of mold development.
Identifying and Addressing the Source of Mold
Bleach also fails to address the underlying source of mold. More often than not, this is excess indoor moisture resulting from a slow or hidden leak, blocked HVAC filters, or other correctable factors. The problem will recur until indoor humidity is regulated or leaks are resolved. Whether you treat porous surfaces with bleach or entirely nonporous surfaces remains true. Effective mold treatments always start by first identifying the cause of the problem and resolving it.
The Symptoms of Mold Exposure Will Persist
There are no good reasons to treat indoor mold with bleach. Bleach cannot penetrate deeply into the micro-sized openings within porous surfaces to kill these harmful pathogens outright. It also diminishes indoor air quality and gives the root systems of mold enough time to flourish and spread. Moreover, whether dead or alive, visible or hidden, any remaining mold within your home will cause the symptoms of exposure to persist. Even when your windowsills and walls have been bleached bright white, many people in your household can still suffer from:
- Frequent headaches
- Recurring respiratory illnesses
Although inexpensive, easy to acquire, and apply, bleach is never the right choice for mold treatment. The only sure way to eliminate mold problems is by hiring professionals who can target the issue at its source and use treatments that kill visible mold and all hidden root systems.
At Pur360, we’re committed to helping Chicago, Illinois residents and the surrounding area enjoy optimum indoor air quality. We offer mold testing and mold remediation services, ultraviolet sanitization, restoration services, and more. If you’re tired of using bleach to spot-treat mold with limited, short-term results, we can help. Call us today to schedule an appointment or to request a quote for mold removal at your home in Chicago, Illinois or a surrounding area.