Mold in Basement: Your Actionable Guide to Recovery

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 1, 2024

It only needs a little bit of moisture and darkness. In just 24 to 48 hours, mold in your basement grows from microscopic airborne spores into an unhealthy mess that threatens to spread through the entire house. It has to be cleaned up right away.

Should you try to tackle this type of mold remediation by yourself?

You can often go the DIY route, but it depends on the situation. You have to proceed with caution. We offer this 10-point guide based on our professional experience with mold removal in Chicago homes and businesses.

Gear, Repairs and Elbow Grease

It’s a messy job, it poses dangerous health risks, and it takes several days from start to finish. Before you take on basement mold cleanup by yourself, you need to be prepared. These 10 steps walk you through the process.

1. Suit Up for Protection

Without testing, it’s impossible to tell the difference between ordinary fungal growth and toxic black mold. Don’t take any chances.

Protect your health with a disposable coverall, rubber gloves, safety goggles and an OSHA-rated respirator mask.

2. Take Care of Repairs

Locate the mold’s moisture source. If you don’t fix that dripping pipe, leaky washing machine or faulty sump pump, your mold cleanup efforts are only a temporary solution.

Save time by calling in a professional to take care of repairs while you concentrate on the dirty work.

3. Ventilate to the Outside

Cleaning up mold disturbs fungal spores, so don’t run the AC or heater while you work. Otherwise, the airborne organisms invade every room in the house through your HVAC system’s ductwork.

If possible, set up fans to push contaminated air out of basement windows.

4. Assess, Prep and Move

furnishings in basement mold

Closely examine all materials, furnishings and belongings in areas affected by mold.

Everything that you’ve stored in the basement needs to be carefully inspected and moved out before you start the cleanup process.

5. Scrub Non-Porous Surfaces

Mold can grow on non-organic basement surfaces without permeating materials. However, you still have to eradicate it to prevent it from spreading.

Kill small areas of mold by scrubbing with bleach and water, undiluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Clean all adjacent surfaces too.

6. Treat Porous Surfaces

It’s very difficult to completely eliminate mold from porous materials.

If you’re only dealing with limited areas of affected sheetrock or ceiling, follow up cleaning with applications of fungicide products.

7. When in Doubt, Tear It Out

mold behind wallboard basement

Remove all heavily contaminated wallboard, flooring and ceiling material.

Otherwise, hidden mold will continue to grow and spread through the basement. Be sure to clean and treat all areas adjacent to your tear-outs.

8. Throw Everything Away

As you remove affected materials, securely bag everything for disposal. When you’re finished, add scrub brushes, mops and even fans to your toss-it list.

Don’t forget protective gear and clothing. If you used it to clean up the moldy basement, bag it, and throw it away.

9. Dry and Freshen the Air

dehumidifiers in basement

Once you’ve successfully cleaned up the mold and disposed of all contaminated materials, you’re ready to start the drying process.

Close any open basement windows, and set up several dehumidifiers to draw moisture out of the air. Speed up drying time with large fans.

10. Be Very Patient

An average basement needs at least three days to dry out after a typical mold remediation project. You have to run evaporation equipment constantly.

Don’t let dehumidifier tanks overflow, and regularly change fans’ positions so that all areas including corners stay well-ventilated.

The Safe Side of Caution

If you have any second thoughts about cleaning up a moldy basement by yourself, stay on the safe side of caution.

Based on our years of field experience, we strongly recommend calling in certified professionals if:

  • Mold affects areas larger than 3 square feet.
  • Carpet, drywall and infrastructure need replacement.
  • You can’t properly dispose of contaminated material.
  • Repairs involve working around electrical wiring or gas lines.
  • Your health is compromised in any way.

Preventative Tactics and Practices

Home improvement stores carry a variety of products specifically designed to help discourage mold in the basement. Some strategies can stretch your budget while others just belong on your “must-do” list. Consider a combination of these ideas for winning the battle with basement mold.

We’re Ready to Serve You 24/7

We’re always thinking of new ways to put together practical information you can use around the house and your business. It’s our hope that this guide for dealing with mold in the basement helps you tackle the problem.

If a basement mold remediation job falls outside your comfort zone, don’t take any chances. Contact our teams here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.

We’re ready to respond with certified mold removal for Chicago properties all across the city, and we take care of the suburbs too. Just give us a call.