Tips for fighting basement mildew

September 15, 2015

Tips for fighting basement mildew

Cleaning solution

  • For an especially dirty concrete or concrete-block surface, you can make your own solution to get it clean. Just add detergent and 50 millilitres (1/4 cup) of ammonia to a bucket of warm water.
  • Brush the solution over the surface with a stiff nylon brush. (Never use a metallic brush; metallic fibres can get trapped in the concrete and rust.)
  • For really stubborn dirt, get an extra kick by adding trisodium phosphate to the wash water. TSP is available at hardware stores.
  • Rinse with a hose and let dry. Use a shop vacuum to remove excess water.

Killing the smell

  • Mildew in a basement gives off an unpleasant, musty odour. To freshen up your basement, open windows to let in air, use fans to improve air circulation, and install a dehumidifier to remove moisture.
  • To get rid of the fungal growth that's the source of the smell, mix up a brew of 30 to 60 millilitres (1/8 to 1/4 cup) of household bleach per litre (four cups/one quart) of water in a spray bottle. Spray the walls and floors with the solution and scrub them with a nylon-bristled brush.

For the floor

  • An easier solution for the floor in a smelly basement is to sprinkle it with chlorinated lime (bleaching powder; sold in the supermarket's laundry section). Let it sit there for a day, soaking up the bad odour and the microorganisms that cause it, then sweep or vacuum it up. Dispose of the sweepings outdoors.
  • If the odour persists, seal the concrete with concrete sealer.
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