There are a couple of things that happen fairly frequently that often lead to mold behind your cabinets in the bathroom or in the kitchen. The first is a water leak. With a sink in each location and a dishwasher often found in the kitchen water leaks can be fairly common. In addition to the chance for water leaks these rooms tend to be high moisture rooms that can sometimes allow mold to grow behind the cabinets, especially in homes that have not been updated with modern mold preventative supplies. The good news is that if mold does grow behind your cabinets you can do something about it and you can get rid of it.
Contain the Area.
It is important that you contain the area using plastic so that mold spores aren't spread throughout the house. To do this use duct tape to attach plastic sheeting to the ceiling and the floor over all open areas including doors and partial walls. You will want to make a doorway by overlapping two layers of plastic and not taping the bottom half of this portion. You should also place a fan in a window and have it blow air out so that it helps to lower pressure as well as sends mold spores out rather than keeping them in. For more information see Mold Removal: The Containment Area.
In recent times more and more people have learned about the dangers of toxic mold and how it can make you very sick. It is important that you wear long rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator designed to protect you from mold spores. See the article What You Should Wear When Removing Mold From Your Home to find out more information on protecting yourself and those that help you.
Remove the Cupboards.
It isn't exactly easy to pull the cupboards (or bathroom vanity out), but it is something that can be done with a bit of work. Here are some basic instructions.
- Unplug the electrical and the water. Make sure that you don't forget things like the garbage disposal and the cook top range (if you have those things).
- Next cut and scrap away the caulk or grout used to seal your sink into place and your counter top. Both of these items will have to be removed and set aside. Once the seal is broken it should be easy.
- Next you will need to take off all the doors and hinges and you will need to remove the drawers.
- At this point you should unscrew the cabinets from each other. Make sure you get all the screws!
- Unscrew them from the walls.
- Carefully move them apart from one another. If they are stuck together use something to force them apart a bit.
Clean The Mold On the Backside of the Cupboards.
In an ideal world one would use this opportunity to replace the cabinets, preferably with something nicer. If this is in the budget or the insurance company is paying for it then go for it. It will save yourself a lot of work. To get rid of the moldy cabinets you should wrap them in plastic wrap and duct tape them closed (find out more information at How To Dispose of Moldy Items). If it isn't a perfect world for you and you need to save some money you can clean the moldy cupboards, but it will tank more work.
- Spray them down the entire back of the cupboards with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is safe for people and pets, but it kills mold. Leave it there for about ten minutes.
- Come back and use a sponge and fresh water with a dab of dish soap in it to remove the mold. Repeat until all the mold is gone.
- Now spray it down with hydrogen peroxide again and let dry.
- Next you should clean all the sides and even the insides in a similar manner.
- Finish by painting the back and sides (that won't be seen) with a mold blocking primer. Make sure that you also get the inside surfaces with the mold blocking primer.
Following these directions will kill as much mold as possible and will seal it in so that it won't come in contact with moisture in the future.
Mold on The Back Wall.
Next you will want to clean the mold on the back wall that was behind your cabinets. To do this you follow the same methods as cleaning off the cabinets, but this time do it on the wallboard. It is important that you repeat the process to kill as much of the mold as possible. You will then want to paint it with a mold blocking primer and some mold resistant paint. For more information on getting rid of mold in the wallboard check out Mold Removal: Dealing With Wallboard.
Putting It All Back Together.
You want to make sure that the paints and primers have plenty of time to dry. Then you should screw the cabinets to each other in the same manner that you took them apart. Screw them to the wall, attach the counter top and sink with a good sealant, and plug/hook everything back up.
One final thing that you need to do before you call it a day is clean everything. Using vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or dish soap in water wash all the surfaces down. Remove the plastic and place it in a black trash bag. Tape the bag closed with duck tape. Place that bag in a second bag and duct tape that one as well. Then toss away the mold. Making sure that everything is cleaned will keep the number of mold spores down and that is important because that means less of a chance of getting mold again.
It is important that you also prevent mold. You will want to do this by lowering the overall humidity in the house. It is particularly important to do that in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. To learn more about how to do that visit How To Prevent Mold in Your Home.
Mold is never fun, but because of its ability to grow out of control and its frequency of causing health problems it is important to take care of problems quickly as they arise. You can clean mold out from behind your cabinets!