Mold isn’t a welcome guest in any home, whether in the kitchen or bathroom. Certain types of mold can be dangerous, as they can make you sick, even if you aren’t allergic to mold and don’t have any allergies. While the presence of mold isn’t usually life-threatening, it’s better to get rid of it as soon as you notice it.
So, how do you get rid of mold? We’re here to walk you through the process, so continue reading to learn more!
Can Mold Under The Sink Make You Sick?
Mold in your home can present an unwelcome health hazard, especially for those with allergies or sensitivities to mold itself. Some people might not experience any adverse effects as a result of the mold, while others may notice exacerbated symptoms. It varies from person to person.
Each person reacts differently to mold toxicity in different ways, but common symptoms may include:
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Redness of the eyes
- Long-lasting or frequent bouts of sinusitis
In more severe cases, constant mold exposure can cause more serious symptoms, including:
- Joint pain
- Persistent nerve pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle cramps, aches, and pains
- Fatigue and weakness
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Numbness, tingling, or tremors
- Frequent colds and flu
- Poor memory, difficulty focusing, brain fog
While these more severe outcomes are rare, they can happen, especially in folks with higher levels of sensitivity to mold spores. If the mold problem isn’t addressed, some folks may experience respiratory illnesses and infections as a result of mold spores taking root and growing in specific parts of the body (like the lungs and sinuses).
Is Mold Under The Sink Common?
Unfortunately, mold is a common houseguest, especially under sinks (black mold is prevalent under sinks). Plenty of places could potentially leak water, creating the perfect environment for mold to take hold. For example, under a kitchen sink, you could have hot and cold water supply lines, a drain line, a garbage disposal, and a supply line extending from the dishwasher.
A leak in any one of these components, no matter how small, could lead to a mold infestation. Even a slow drip can cause excess moisture in the cabinet below the sink, leading to mold and water damage. So, it’s essential to ensure none of the connections or lines beneath your sink are leaking.
If they are, you need to address the problem immediately. Of course, this isn’t always feasible. Perhaps it’s 10 pm, and you just noticed the leak, so it’s too late to run to the hardware store to get parts. In that case, place a towel or a bucket underneath the sink to catch the water, and try to avoid using the sink until you can fix the leak.
If you can, turn off the water to that sink to prevent family members from using the sink while you’re waiting on parts to fix the problem. This might not be a good solution in all scenarios, as some sinks don’t have isolated shut-off valves, so your only option would be to turn off the water main. Since that isn’t a good idea, especially for long periods of time, a bucket or towel underneath the sink will suffice.
How Do You Get Rid Of Mold Under The Sink?
Once you find mold underneath the sink, you need to correct the problem. The process involves finding and fixing the leak, then removing the mold safely. Here’s what you’ll need for the process:
- Necessary materials to fix the leak
- Eye protection
- Rubber gloves
- Dust mask
- Garbage bag
- Spray bottle
- Ammonia-free cleaner, commercial mold cleaner, vinegar, or bleach
- Scrub brush
- Soft rags
- Box fan (if available)
Find And Fix The Leak
First things first, you need to find the problem itself. You could skip this step and clean out the mold, but you’ll be back to square one in a few weeks. So, take the time to find and fix the problem.
Before you start tinkering with the plumbing beneath the sink, put on a mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection to protect yourself from the spores of mold beneath the sink. Open a nearby window for better ventilation.
In some scenarios, the garbage disposal might have sprung a leak. Or, maybe the drain isn’t seated right, allowing water to leak through the seal. Check all of the lines and connections for potential leaks.
If you can’t see an apparent leak, try running the sink for a few minutes while watching the lines below the sink. Or, add a few drops of food coloring to a cupful of water and pour it down the drain. Watch for drips from the drain assembly, garbage disposal, dishwasher lines, drain lines, and supply lines.
If everything checks out, make sure you don’t store any wet or damp things in the cabinet beneath the sink, as these could be the source of the moisture. Let anything you store underneath the sink dry out before putting it away.
Fix the leak (if necessary) with the proper tools and materials.
Prep The Cabinet
Once you fix the problem, you can move on to killing and getting rid of the mold problem. If you aren’t already wearing your protective gear, now is an excellent time to put it on.
Remove any items from the cabinet beneath the sink, setting them aside and out of your way. If anything has mold growing on it, toss it into a sealable plastic bag or a garbage bag with a tie. You can always clean these items later if you’d like. Otherwise, throw them away altogether.
Mix The Cleaner
Next, you need to prepare your cleaning solution. There are a few things you can use – bleach, vinegar, ammonia-free cleaner, or a commercial cleaner. Keep in mind that commercial cleaners can be powerful, and bleach could discolor your cabinets. If you want to take a more natural approach, consider using vinegar.
Dilute your cleaner of choice with warm water in a spray bottle. Or, follow the instructions on the commercial cleaner if you’re using one. Remember, you should never mix cleaning products together, as they can create toxic fumes.
Remove The Mold
Spray your cleaning solution over every part of the cabinet that has mold growth. This will kill the mold while simultaneously preventing the spores from becoming airborne by dampening them.
Once you spray the cleaning solution over the offending areas, let the solution sit for a few minutes and give it time to kill the mold underneath. After a few minutes, scrub the area(s) thoroughly with a scrub brush.
Next, fill a bucket with warm water. Dampen a soft rag with water, then wipe the cleaning solution and mold from the cabinets. Rinse the rag frequently, ensuring you don’t spread mold to other areas of the cabinet (or return it to the place you want to remove it from).
Empty the bucket and refill it with warm water as necessary. If the mold infestation is bad, you might have to empty and refill the bucket a few times to avoid respreading mold spores onto the cabinet.
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Let The Area Dry
As soon as you finish cleaning the area, follow up with soft, dry towels or rags. Dry the area thoroughly, then inspect the area for mold. If you see mold persisting, repeat the above steps as necessary until all the mold is taken care of.
Dispose of the cleaning rags in a sealed plastic bag. Leave the cabinet doors open for a few hours until it dries completely. If you have a small fan (like a box fan), set the fan in front of the cabinet and turn it on to help accelerate the drying process.
Don’t shut the cabinet doors, as this will trap the humidity inside and slow the drying process. This can even lead to the same problems over again, so make sure you leave the doors open.
Once the cabinet is dry, put the items you set aside earlier back underneath the sink. If any of the items are contaminated with mold spores, make sure you clean them before putting them back underneath the sink. If the products are almost empty or completely covered in mold, it might be best to get rid of them altogether.