My wife and I have been living in our apartment for 2 years now, in Illinois. This winter we started developing a dark or black substance on our plasterboard walls in the living room. It is slightly in the kitchen, very dark on the wooden cover over the attic in front of the bathroom doorway, and just slightly in the computer room behind the bedroom.
We do burn candles daily to keep the odor of my cigarette smoking down in the computer room and in the living room, but this never happened last year at all. Can someone please tell me if this dark substance is a mold growing or candle soot? Is there a way to tell the difference on plasterboard, and further more is their an inexpensive way to clean it off the walls.
By Mike50 from Oglesby, IL
What you are describing sounds a lot like mold. There must be water coming into your home or some other way of moisture to be trapped in these areas. You can take bleach and water and apply with sponge. I know during flood times, bleach is often used to disinfect and remove traces of mold. However, black mold is something you do not want to live with if it continues or you can become quite ill. Find out if your dwelling has ever been subjected to flood waters.
No one can tell you for sure that this is mold unless they see it and/or test it. Candle soot - especially from lead wicks - can build up over time and leave a black substance as well. People also sometimes mistake mildew for black mold.
The EPA recommends removing mold yourself if the area is 10 s.f. or less - this area is roughly the size you would create by making a "snow angel."
The first course of action is not bleach - it is to wear chemical gloves (not the yellow household kind, they are not strong enough) and use a good stiff brush and water with mild detergent to scrub the area. (If you are sensitive to mold or have respiratory problems, also wear a mask with either "NIOSH" or "N-95" printed on it.) Let the area dry thoroughly. If the mold returns after that, then try the same process using a mix of 1 C. bleach to 1 gal. water.
For more information about mold, including pictures and cleanup procedures, see:
You might also ring up your local Extension office and ask to speak to someone who is familiar with indoor air quality issues and/or mold. They can give you information on home test kits, removal and cleanup, and make recommendations to clear up the cause of mold. Not only must mold be cleaned, the cause must be removed.
Most likely it is mold forming on a cold surface. the cold surface is where the studs in the wall are. So the mold would be in streaks about 16 inches apart. Mix up a solution of 1 part bleach and 2 parts water. Wipe on and if it is mold the black will disappear. Then rinse with water and dry. Detergent will do nothing if the black is mold. Wear eye protection and open a window.
It does sound like mold. I lived in an apartment in Virginia, and had that black on walls in almost every room. It was behind furniture, so I didn't realize it until I pulled my couch out to clean good. Anyway, everyone we checked with said to clean with bleach. If it comes back, then you need to get your landlord to get something professional strength and have their maintenance people take care of it.
What they used was Zep Micronex. I just called them from the start, and didn't mess with it myself. It really freaked me out. I had never seen anything like it before! But I guess it's common here! Good luck with it
I would think that if this were soot from candles, which it could very well be, it will wash off with hot soapy water or a household cleaner. If it is mold or mildew - hot soapy water won't wash it off, neither will the cleaner, but bleach would. So I'd try the water or cleaner first, and then the bleach if the water or cleaner didn't work.
My little brother took a toy and used it as crayon. What worked best was baby wipes or toilet wipes and baking soda, and just scrub alittle but not to hard. It doesn't leave shiny spots like the Magic Easers or rub off the paint on yuor walls.
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I have black marks on my painted walls from various furniture items that have knocked or scraped against it. Does any one have any suggestions?
Have you tried the Mister Clean Magic Eraser? I have a feeling it might work. Good Luck. (04/05/2005)
I had red crayon on my wall one time. I used baby wipes and sprinkled baking soda on it and scrubbed the walls. Took the crayon right off and the black smudges. It is a little messy but nothing the vacuum can't handle. (04/07/2005)
I have used Mr. Eraser for various marks on my walls and although it did take the marks off I was left with a shiny spot in it's place. (01/22/2006)