Mold should not be permitted to grow indoors. Problems associated with mold have been around since recorded history. Solving mold problems still requires fixing the source of moisture and removing any contaminated components.

Mold Remediation Procedures

A variety of procedures is available to remediate damage to buildings and furnishings caused by moisture-control problems and mold. The procedures selected depend on the size of the moldy area and the type of contaminated materials. Budget may also be a concern. The methods presented in this article outline one approach; some professionals may prefer to use other methods. If possible, remediation activities should be scheduled during off-hours when building occupants are less likely to be affected.

Cleanup methods may include:

Wet Vacuum

Wet vacuums (“wet-vacs”) and water-extraction vacuums are designed to collect water. They can be used to remove water that has accumulated on floors, carpets and hard surfaces. Wet vacuums should be used only when materials are still wet; otherwise, they may spread mold spores. Wet vacuums alone will not dry carpets. Wet carpets must be pulled up and dried, and then reinstalled. The carpet padding must also be dried. The tanks, hoses and attachments of wet vacuums should be thoroughly cleaned and dried after use because mold and mold spores may stick to their surfaces.

Damp Wipe

Mold can generally be removed from hard surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water and detergent. Always follow the cleaning instructions on product labels. Surfaces cleaned by damp wiping should be dried quickly and thoroughly to discourage further mold growth. Porous materials that are wet and have mold growing on them may have to be discarded. Because mold will infiltrate porous substances and grow on or fill in empty spaces and crevices, completely removing mold can be difficult, if not impossible. Mold can also cause staining and other cosmetic damage.

HEPA Vacuum

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums are recommended for the final cleanup of remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly dried, and contaminated materials have been removed. HEPA vacuums are also recommended for cleaning up dust that has settled outside the remediation area. When changing the vacuum filter, workers should wear PPE to prevent exposure to mold that has been captured in the vacuum. The filter and contents of the HEPA vacuum must be disposed of into well-sealed plastic bags. Care must be taken to ensure that the new filter is properly seated on the vacuum so that there are no leaks.

Throw Away Damaged Materials

Mold-contaminated building materials that cannot be salvaged should be double-bagged in 6-mil or thicker polyethylene bags. The bagged materials usually can be discarded as ordinary construction waste. Packaging mold-contaminated materials in sealed bags before removing them from the containment area is important to minimize the spread of mold spores throughout the building. Large items that have heavy mold growth should be covered with polyethylene sheeting and sealed with duct tape before being removed from the containment area.


Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a biocide or a chemical that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment indicates their use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain, but these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If disinfectants or biocides are used, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach with other cleaning solutions or with detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.

Note that dead mold is allergenic and may cause allergic reactions and other health effects in some individuals, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold. It must also be removed.


Buildings that have been heavily damaged by floodwaters should be assessed for structural integrity and then remediated by experienced professionals. Please note that the information covered in this manual was developed for inspecting water damage and moisture/mold conditions caused by clean water, and not flood water, sewage or other contaminated water. Visit the EPA’s website, which has an EPA Fact Sheet titled “Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems.”

During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity can present serious, long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for micro-organisms, such as viruses, bacteria and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.


The basis for solving mold problems is fixing the source of moisture and removing contaminated items. There are numerous mold remediation methods available. The method selected depends on various factors, including the size of contaminated areas, type of contaminated material, and budget.