5 Steps | Easily Get Rid of Mold in the Basement

how to get rid of mold in basement

You just found a patch of mold growing in your basement and you are so scared. Maybe you haven’t walked around the area in a while and the mold took hold of the place and started to spread.

Well, it’s no news that mold in your basement could be a very dangerous invader. Naturally-occurring mold spores need little moisture for rapid growth. Another factor that contributes to the growth of molds is the low airflow of basements.

Mold growth can cause a lot of damage to health and property. It can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and even certain infections.

Enough of the scare; the situation can be well under control. In this article, you will learn what to do to get rid of mold in your basement. You will also learn how to observe when the situation seems to be getting out of hand and to get professional help.

Tools and Items Needed to Get Rid of Mold

As with cleaning surfaces generally, you need to be informed about the right product to use. Some might just cause a lot of damage to your basement surface. Below, you’ll find a list of a variety of products for this purpose and also get to know which one is appropriate for each case.

However, you must note that you can only handle small-scale mold growth. If it has become widespread and toxic, it’s best that you hire a professional.

Before we discuss each one in detail, here’s a quick glance at all of them:

1- Bleach
2- Steam
3- Borax
4- Phenol-based detergent
5- Mold remover
6- Natural oils
7- Stiff-bristled brush
8- Gloves
9- Nose mask/respirator
10- Eye covering
11- Spray bottle
12- Bucket
13- Measuring Container

Let’s see each one in detail:

1- Bleach

Commonly known to be a solution to many household germs and dirt disasters, it does work against mold too. You may be wondering how to use bleach to get rid of mold.

You must first consider the surface you’re working on.

You cannot use bleach on a moldy carpet or curtain as it will ruin their colors. But if the surface is concrete, you can use a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water.

2- Steam

This is a non-toxic and very effective mold killer. Most heat-resistant mold species die at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit while steam is usually at about 212 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll have to get a steam cleaner for this purpose.

3- Borax

Also known as Boric acid, it is a popular chemical among fungicides and can be useful in combating mold growth. Borax is biodegradable and also not as toxic as other substances.
It could also be used to combat the growth in mold-infested wood.

4- Phenol-based Detergents

Phenols work as disinfectants. As such, you can use phenol-based detergents and disinfectants to kill mold growth.

5- Mold Remover

Mold Removers are chemicals specifically prepared to destroy mold growth. They are usually made with solutions of acids which make the fungi come off quite easily.

6- Natural Oils

In case you have a phobia of chemicals, you can take the natural route. Steam is one option you have. Certain essential oils can be used to reduce or kill the growth of mold in your basement.

Examples of such oils include:

• Clove oil
• Lavender oil
• Tea-tree oil
• Pine oil

Warning! Except if you are a scientist, don’t resort to mixing any of these chemicals with another. You could be preparing a poisonous or highly corrosive solution.

7- Stiff-bristled Brush

You will need a brush to effectively scrub away mold on rough or porous surfaces.

8- Gloves

To protect your skin from irritation and also potentially harmful mold, you need to wear disposable gloves as you clean.

9- Nose Mask or Respirator

A simple nose mask will suffice- to protect you from the effects of working around mold. If you have respiratory issues such as asthma, you should probably use a respirator.

10- Eye Covering

Especially when handling bleach or disturbing mold growth, you need eye protection.

11- Spray Bottle

To help you target mold spots with chemicals effectively.

12- Bucket for Cleaning

13- Container with Measuring Marks

You will have to measure your chemicals in given proportions.

5 Steps to Cleaning Mold in Your Basement

Here’s how you can get rid of mold:

STEP 1: Peruse the Situation

You must first observe if the scale of the growth is something you can deal with and also how toxic it has become.

If the growth has only covered about 10 square feet, you should be fine in handling it by yourself. If the growth has covered over 10 square feet, you should get a professional for the job.

Also, check what kind of surface it is. The more porous the surface is, the harder it will be to clean.

STEP 2: Get Ready

Use all the necessary protection such as a face mask, eye cover, gloves. As much as possible, minimize your contact with the mold spores.

Also, ventilate the surroundings properly by opening all the doors and windows. This prevents you from inhaling unhealthy stuff and also clearing out the area.

STEP 3: Get Your Cleaning Solution

This depends on which chemical you’ve opted for. For bleach or borax, prepare a solution of 1:1 bleach or borax to water.

If you are going to use essential oil, prepare a mixture of half a cup of isopropyl alcohol, half a cup of water, and 25 drops of the oil.

STEP 4: Clean Out the Mold Site

You have your cleaning solution and are ready to get started. Follow the steps below

1- Apply the solution over the affected area either by pouring it over or spraying the area. For premade solutions such as phenolic detergents or mold cleaners, follow the manufacturer’s directions.

2- Wipe off the mold pieces using paper towels. Then clean off excess moisture with paper towels.

3- Repeat the two steps above: Do this several times.

STEP 5: Dry Out the Area

Once you’re done cleaning, dry out the area. You could use a fan for this.

Cleaning Basement Walls with Vinegar/Baking Soda

You may not want to go with harsh chemicals, especially if you’re dealing with a very small amount of mold growth. I’ve mentioned steam and natural oils. Vinegar and baking soda are alternatives too.

Based on their acidic nature, baking soda and vinegar can be used to kill spores and scrub away mold.

To use vinegar:

1- Prepare a 1:1 water and vinegar solution.
2- Spray it over the mold site and leave it for a few hours, probably overnight.
3- Then return later to scrub the surface with soapy water.

To use baking soda:

1- Prepare a 1:1 solution of water and baking soda.
2- Use it as an abrasive scrub on the surface.

Note that, as mentioned earlier, these methods will only suffice for simple cases of mold growth in your basement.

How to Check For Mold in Your Basement

Molds are quite easily recognizable- they usually appear in soft, tissue-like patches, usually in different colors, depending on the species.

However, these are some very common mold types in basements:


These species always appear powdery and can vary from green, yellow, brown, black, or white. They grow rapidly.

Though these spores thrive both indoors and outdoors, not posing any threat to most people, they could, however, cause an infection known as Aspergillosis which affects the respiratory system.


This mold is used in the manufacture of the renowned antibiotic- Penicillin. However, the mold itself is hurtful. It is usually white or green. It can cause infections and allergic reactions.

Stachybotrys chartarum

You have probably come across black mold at some point in time. This is probably the most common mold in houses. It is toxic, fast-growing, and is mostly found on wood, wallpapers, and building materials such as drywall.


This mold is commonly found in soil and organic materials. It is usually brown, but can also be gray or black. It grows slowly.

Above are a few of the mold types you’ll commonly find at home. But in reality, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to discover all the mold growth in your basement even if you’re a professional. As such, there are devices used to test mold.

There are three approaches to testing. They are surface tests, air tests, and bulk tests.

What Causes the Growth of Mold in Your Basement?

It is important to know the possible causes of mold growth in your basement in order to prevent them in the future.

So how do they appear?

Certain fungi species (which you cannot see with the naked eye) generate tiny spores to reproduce. These spores start to grow (when there is moisture) into what we know as mold.

Actually, these spores, just like their fungi sources, are present everywhere. They only become an issue when in contact with damp surfaces.

As such, the direct causes (within your control) of mold growth are sources of moisture such as:

Pipe Leaks

These may not be easily noticeable. In fact, it could be a mold growth discovery that points your attention to this. What you can do, is to ensure a time-to-time check of your basement area.


Having standing water and damp items lying around in your basement could render it the perfect breeding ground for mold. As much as possible, prevent flooding in your basement. Should it happen anyway, ensure you dry out the ground and all affected items.

Air Humidity

Avoid the use of air vents and humidifiers in your basement as these increase the amount of water vapor in the surrounding, which encourages mold growth.

As much as possible, you should try to limit how much moisture you allow around the basement.

Can Mold in Basement Make You Sick?

Mold has cells used for reproduction known as spores. These spores are very tiny and are easily released into the air; of course, they are invisible. Because of the enclosed nature of homes and basements, these spores are able to make contact with one another.

There’s a vast number of mold species, some more dangerous than others. However, it still remains a fact that no species of mold is safe for inhalation. Small amounts won’t likely hurt you but larger amounts could evoke reactions from the body.

Examples of symptoms of mold exposure include sore throat, coughing, fatigue, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing. The effects could even be more intense in people with weak or impaired immune systems.

It could cause asthma attacks in those that have asthma. They could also provoke allergic reactions.

Here is some good information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how mold can affect people and how to get rid of it.

Can Mold in Basement Affect Upstairs?

Yes. Since spores are airborne, they could move upstairs and start to cause allergic conditions. Hence, you must address it quickly.


Follow the above methods and you should be able to successfully annihilate the mold growth in your basement. Also, try to prevent mold growth by first looking for the mentioned possible causes and then addressing them like fixing pipe leakages and controlling humidity levels.


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