What Items You Should Toss (and What Can Be Saved) After Mold Removal

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated July 21, 2022
carpet thrown out by trash on driveway
Photo: aoldman / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

When mold damages your belongings, it's usually better to be safe than sorry

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Mold growth in your home is a serious issue that can damage your belongings and compromise your health. Typically, you wouldn’t hesitate to toss anything that’s been damaged by green stuff… but what about that box of old family photos? 

For more sentimental items that have fallen victim, it’s important to know what is salvageable. This guide will help you sort out everything after mold remediation.

Should I Clean or Pitch Belongings After Mold Removal?

The answer: it depends. There are surely some things you need to throw out after they’ve been exposed to mold, but there are some items you might be able to rescue. 

Here are some guidelines to follow if your home has (or had) mold damage.

What to Throw Away

Belongings that are:

  • Porous: carpet, cardboard, upholstery, and stuffed animals*

  • Made from paper: documents, books, photo albums, etc.

  • Food-based or used to prepare food: basically, anything you’d eat or items that come in contact with food

  • Submerged in water: items that have soaked are at higher risk for deep mold absorption and should be thrown out

*Beds and bedding are technically considered porous, and should therefore be either thrown away or thoroughly inspected and cleaned before using.

What You Can Keep

  • Items made of plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass 

  • Fabric that’s been cleaned well and disinfected

  • Electronics and electronic appliances**

  • Belongings that look clearly compromised (permanent spots and stains)

  • Items that hold a funky smell after cleaning

**Appliance coils are very susceptible to harboring mold. If you’re removing mold from your home by yourself, be sure to inspect all areas of your devices.

Why Should You Throw Away Items After Mold Removal?

Unfortunately, mold releases toxins that create free radicals (unstable atoms that damage cells) when ingested by humans, which can lead to a bunch of different health issues. In fact, ingesting certain types of mold (including black mold) can make you very sick—and it can even be life-threatening!

This is why many toxicologists recommend homeowners treat moldy belongings ASAP. Damaged items should be thrown away without question, and items that are easy to replace or inexpensive (i.e. clothes, food) should be tossed as a precautionary measure. Basically, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

mold on kitchen wall
Photo: Ekspansio / E+ / Getty Images

How To Clean Items Exposed to Mold

If some of your household items have been exposed to mold, you’ll need to assess and address the situation as quickly as possible. Some items are salvageable if cleaned correctly, while others are not. 

Clothing and Fabrics

Unfortunately, mold can cause permanent damage to some clothing items and fabrics. To clean washable items, pretreat them with non-ammonia detergent, and then wash them at the highest temperature with detergent and the appropriate bleach. Check the label on your product to determine the highest wash temperature.

Furniture Items

Cleaning furniture items after mold exposure depends on its material type. Follow these steps if your hard-surfaced item is made of laminate, wood, veneer, steel, resin, or bamboo.

Start by removing mold spores with a damp cloth and mild non-phosphate detergent. Dry thoroughly but not in direct sunlight. If the mold was caused by sewer water, disinfect your furniture piece using a mixture of bleach and water.

Leather Furniture and Clothing

It’s essential to clean your leather clothing or furniture as soon as you discover its exposure to mold. Use a clean cloth or a soft-bristled brush to remove the mold spores. Then, clean it with a solution of water and non-phosphate detergent before wiping it off and drying thoroughly. You can also wipe down items with a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. Finally, dry the leather items thoroughly and then use a leather conditioner.

How to Clean After Mold Remediation

After the professional mold-removal team finishes the remediation process, it’s time to step back in and evaluate the status of your home. Follow any recommendations provided by your mold remediation technician about cleaning or handling items with mold exposure.

For best results and peace of mind, it’s best to hire a professional cleaning company near you that has experience cleaning homes that have been exposed to mold. This step is especially important for homes with mold damage caused by sewage or contaminated water.

FAQs

Should you throw out moldy clothes?

As mentioned above, you don’t necessarily need to throw out every clothing item affected by mold. However, you need to clean the moldy clothing as quickly and effectively as possible. The longer mold stays on your clothes, the harder it is to remove. Pre-treat your clothes before washing them with the hottest water possible with detergent and bleach.

Can moldy furniture be saved?

Like moldy clothes, moldy furniture can sometimes be saved, depending on the time and amount of mold exposure. If you attempt to clean your moldy furniture and it doesn’t budge, then you’ll need to dispose of the item. Follow our guidelines above to clean and disinfect your furniture items based on its material type.

Is it safe to live in a house after mold remediation?

In most cases, it is safe to return home after mold remediation is complete. You should follow your mold remediation technician’s recommendations, but most pros request that homeowners wait one day after the process is complete to move back in.

After returning home, be sure to carefully inspect the exposed areas for any remaining signs of mold spores. Contact the mold remediation company if you detect any lingering mold.

Should I throw away moldy dishes?

You should throw away moldy dishes if there’s mold in the openings, cracks, or grooves of your dishware. It’s impossible to remove mold spores from those areas, and it would be dangerous to continue using them. If the mold exposure is surface-level, you can attempt to clean the dishes by spraying them with hydrogen peroxide to clean off the mold. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.