Mold, also called fungus, infects organic items like books, cloth, pictures, and leather. It grows from the spores anywhere. Generally, spores are inactive but they start to grow when the relative humidity goes beyond 70%.
When there is flood and destroys your home, one of the first things you should do is to stop any further damage that may occur due to growth of the molds. Here are some useful tips:
What to Look for?
Active molds are slimy and hairy and come in green, orange, black, or purple while inactive molds are dry and powdery and can be white. The molds may appear like fine web during its early stages and when they are in full bloom, they appear like bushy. The mold spores multiply easily and they are carried by the air currents, pets, and even people.
Ways to Stop Molds from Multiplying
You must work quickly because under the right conditions, molds grow and spread very fast. Reduce humidity and temperature since molds cannot grow in low relative humidity and low temperature. Open the windows when outside humidity is lower than inside your home or the building, or you can use air conditioning. You can install dehumidifiers and drain them regularly. Isolate any moldy items and close and seal trash in plastic bags and get rid of them right away. The objects that you can save should be dried or frozen soonest because freezing inactivates molds.
Keep your area clean. Molds may stay on the shelves and in cupboards where valuables were kept. Clean the surfaces of these areas with disinfectant like Lysol and increase air circulation in the room. Use fans only after moldy items are taken away and all the display and storage are cleaned.
How can I save moldy possessions?
Air dry your possessions away from other items. Spread out the papers, stand the books on its end, and fan the pages open. Use blotting items like clean towels or absorbent paper in between the layers of the cloth or paper. Increase air circulation with the use of fan but never aim the fan directly at the objects.
If you cannot dry the items quickly or you have a huge quantity to dry, try freezing the books, documents, and tiny textiles until the conditions are right to dry them. Avoid freezing moldy pictures.
Even though ultraviolet light can be damaging, short exposure to sunlight can hinder the molds from growing and it can help in drying. However, exposure must not be over thirty minutes.
Clean the molds only after they are completely dry and inactive. Wipe or brush the mold residues very gently. You can work outdoors whenever possible and always wear protective clothing and a respirator.
Avoid using harsh cleaning commercial products and bleach because they can damage the objects. Avoid using vacuum with delicate objects but you can use household vacuum cleaner outside because the exhaust will spread mold spores.
Make sure that the display and storage places are free of the molds before you can return any clean items to its proper places. Check and re-inspect items regularly for any new mold growth.
Valuable artifacts and pictures must be handled by professional conservator.