Department of Health

Mold Protection Tips

Hot to spot mold and how to clean up and dry out after a flood.

May 3, 2014 | 2 min reading time

Health Department Offers Mold Protection Tips

With severe weather and the rainy season in full swing the City of St. Louis Department of Health is reminding residents that excess moisture and standing water can contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. The Health Department warns that mold may be present in homes and other structures after flooding and that there are steps we need to take to protect ourselves from this public health threat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the tips below on who may be sensitive to mold, how to recognize complications caused by mold, how to spot mold, and how to clean up and dry out after a flood.

Individuals with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold. Also, individuals with immune suppression (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant) are more susceptible to mold infections.

People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.

Mold can be recognized by sight or smell. Check to see if the walls and ceiling appear discolored. Are they displaying other signs of mold growth or water damage, such as clusters of small black, white or grey-green spots? Do you smell a bad odor, such as a musty, earthy smell or a foul stench?

Clean up and dry out the building or structure within 24 to 48 hours. Open doors and windows and use fans to help dry the area out.

A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, take it out! Remove all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. This includes carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood and food.

To remove mold growth from hard surfaces use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water.

Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. 

If you wish to disinfect, refer to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document, A Brief Guide to Mold and Moisture in Your Home.

If you choose to use bleach to remove mold, never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners, open windows and doors to provide fresh air, and wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.

More information on personal safety while cleaning up after a natural disaster is available at

Health Department

City of St. Louis

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