Nancy's Home Cleanup Tips

Removing Surface Mildew

  1. Scrub mildewed floors and woodwork with a mild alkali solution such as washing soda or tri-sodium phosphate (4 to 6 tablespoons to a gallon of water), available in paint and grocery stores. Or use a cloth dipped in a mixture of borax dissolved in hot water. 
  2. Rinse with clear water. 
  3. Wipe clean floors dry with old towels. 
  4. Allow wood to dry thoroughly. 
  5. Apply a mildew-resistant paint after woodwork has thoroughly dried. 
  6. Replace badly infected wood.

Cleaning Interior Walls

  1. If walls have been flooded, hose them down while they are still damp to remove most of the mud and silt. 
  2. Scrub with a sponge and a warm detergent solution or a commercial cleaner. Clean a small section of the wall at a time. 
  3. To get rid of the stench that often accompanies flooding, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons sodium hypochlorite laundry bleach (such as Purex or Clorox) to a gallon of water. Repeat the scrubbing and rinsing several times if necessary. Household disinfectants such as Lysol can also be used. Follow directions on container. 
  4. Work from the floor to the ceiling to prevent streaking. Rinse with an old bath towel wrung out in clear water. Overlap sections. 
  5. Clean the ceiling last. 
  6. Allow walls to dry thoroughly before repainting, repairing plaster, papering or applying any wall covering. Four to six weeks should be allowed as a minimum drying time. Total drying time will depend on weather conditions. You may need to remove baseboards or sections of the walls to dry interior studding and insulation. 
  7. If mildew appears on walls, scrub with a solution of trisodium phosphate, a disinfectant or a solution of 1/2 cup bleach and 1/2 cup mild detergent in a gallon of warm water.

Mildew on Furniture

  1. Brush with a broom to remove loose mold from outer covering. Do this outdoors if possible, so you don't scatter mildew spots (which can start new growth) in the house. 
  2. Vacuum the surface to draw out mold. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag outside to avoid scattering mold spores in the house. 
  3. If mildew remains and fabric is washable, sponge lightly with thick soap or detergent suds. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth. Get as little water on the fabric as possible so the padding doesn't get wet. 
  4. If mold remains, wipe the furniture with a damp cloth dipped in dilute alcohol (1 cup denatured alcohol to 1 cup water) or a chlorine bleach solution (1/4 teaspoon bleach to a cup of water). Test in an area that is hidden. 
  5. Dry the article thoroughly. 
  6. Use a low-pressure spray containing a fungicide to get rid of musty odors and remaining mildew. Moisten all surfaces thoroughly. Re-spray frequently if mildew is a continuing problem. Spraying rooms with an aerosol material will not eliminate mildew problems. 
  7. If molds have grown into inner part of furniture, send furniture to a dry cleaning or storage company for thorough drying and fumigation. Fumigation will kill molds present at the time, but will not protect against future attacks.

Removing White Spots from Damp Furniture

Furniture that has been submerged in floodwaters will frequently exhibit mildew or mold that can be removed with warm soapy (mild detergent) water and a soft cloth. White spots or a cloudy film may develop on damp furniture that has not been submerged.

To remove white spots:

  1. If the entire surface is affected, rub with a damp cloth dipped in turpentine or in a solution of 1/2 cup household ammonia and 1/2 cup water. Wipe dry at once and polish with wax or furniture polish. 
  2. If color is not restored, dip 000 steel wool in oil (boiled linseed, olive, mineral or lemon). Rub lightly with the wood grain. Wipe with a soft cloth and re-wax. 
  3. For deep spots use a drop or two of ammonia on a damp cloth. Rub at once with a dry cloth. Polish. Rubbing cigarette ashes, powdered pumice or a piece of walnut into spots may help remove them. 
  4. If spots remain after all efforts to remove them, the piece should be stripped of the old finish and refinished.