Mold is a problem most households must deal with at some point. It grows in moist, dark areas like the bathroom and basement. Most mold can safely be removed at home, but black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is toxic. It has a slimy, greenish-black appearance and collects on drywall, baseboards and ceiling tiles. You will probably want to hire an expert for black mold removal.
Before you undertake mold removal, it is a good idea to determine which type is growing in the area. Mold kits are available at hardware stores, home supply warehouses and online. Most kits are easy to use and give results quickly; a few might require you to mail samples to a lab. As long as you don't have black mold, you can go ahead with do-it-yourself mold removal.
Even non-toxic mold, alive or dead, can cause respiratory distress, sneezing, coughing and runny eyes. Before you begin cleaning the moldy area, don a mask and gloves. Goggles might be advised if you have known sensitivity to mold or suffer from seasonal allergies. Mold can be removed with a non-ammonia based soap and lots of scrubbing. Commercial cleaners are available, but have harsh chemicals and can smell unpleasant. Home cleaning products that can work against mold include baking soda and vinegar. You can mix baking soda with vinegar to form a paste. Apply it directly to the molded area and scrub it away with a stiff brush. Mold can't be completely removed from paper, drywall and carpet or carpet padding, so you will have to replace those items. If you have mold in wood, you might be able to sand away the affected area, if it doesn't penetrate so deeply that it could compromise structural integrity. Otherwise, you will need to replace any wood that has become moldy. After you have completely removed the mold, clean and disinfect with a bleach and water solution. Don't apply bleach directly to mold, because it will just remove the color but not kill or remove the mold.
To prevent regrowth of mold, you'll need to keep the area dry. Seal any leaks that contribute to moisture. Installing a dehumidifier can help in rooms that have poor ventilation. Diligent cleaning will also keep mold from reappearing. If the area is particularly moist, make sure you wipe down the surface after each cleaning. In the shower or bath, take a moment to dry the tub or shower after each use to reduce moisture in the air. You can regularly spray on vinegar as a preventative, too. For closets, drawers and small spaces, try desiccants, like silica gel packets, to absorb the excess moisture.