Cleaning and disinfecting medium to large areas with accuracy and a high degree of removing unseen mold spores that are hard to remove, such as high walls, ceilings, basements, and attics, as well as hidden areas, are challenging.
That is why complete room or whole house disinfection using a handheld electric fogger is the most effective method that you can utilize to target these mold spores that you may have missed during remediation or as part of a monthly maintenance program to keep your home mold-free.
Over the years, I have cleaned and disinfected many properties, both small and large. What I have found to be the most effective method to disinfect medium and large buildings is by using what is called a “handheld fogger or fogging machine,” which can be characterized as dry fog systems or wet fog systems.
According to Dr. Jill Carnahan of the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI), “HEPA vacuums are powerful, but they are unable to filter certain particles that are too small or light.
This can include mold spores. However, fogging or misting the home with an air purifying solution, once all other remediation steps are complete, can help ensure that even these smaller particles are disposed of. There is a certain protocol that should be followed to ensure that fogging is as effective as possible, so it should be handled by a remediation professional.” (1)
The reason that fogging machines work much better than traditional cleaning is that instead of targeting small areas to clean with a HEPA vacuum, spray bottle, and towel, fogging blankets the entire area or the complete interior surfaces of property in a very rapid amount of time, which includes hidden areas you cannot get to with disinfectant.
With a functional ULV spray unit, you will be able to dispense very fine aerosol droplets (fog) that cover your ceilings, walls, floors, and all surfaces to kill mold spores and prevent them from growing.
Please keep in mind that before you fog, proper mold remediation protocols, as well as all visual dirt and dust must be removed from most surfaces in the area or the entire home to ensure adequate contact to properly disinfect to kill any hidden microorganisms such as mold. Therefore, you must also be vigilant in your cleaning efforts during this crisis.
When analyzing possible cleaning solutions for your fogger, you need to understand that you will be spraying this product on every surface of the facility. It will be in the air, ceilings, walls, and carpets, and eventually, make its way onto humans who enter these environments. If you’re not careful, you and your family can be poisoned by these same disinfectants, and you can also damage the environment causing further problems over the long haul.
The facts are that there are many different types of disinfectants that you can use in your fogger. The most common commercially available are chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite, or alcohol-based products, but they are very dangerous to human and pet health and damage the environment.
According to the California Department of Public Health, “Some ingredients found in disinfectants and sanitizers can trigger work-related asthma. They may also cause new asthma. Avoiding ingredients that can cause asthma, like bleach (sodium hypochlorite), quaternary ammonium compounds (benzalkonium chlorides), and glutaraldehyde will help prevent people from getting asthma.” (2)
Food-grade hydrogen peroxide (H2o2) serves as a non-wipe sanitizing solution that kills 99.9% of viruses, molds, and bacteria while leaving no chemicals and or toxins behind on treated surfaces, and equipment that results in much faster disinfection times, reduced labor, and lower-cost.
The reason “food grade hydrogen peroxide” is becoming the preferred disinfectant over chlorine dioxide ie: bleach for many people is because there are no toxic chemicals in the product or bottles that can leach into the exposed product, which could result in tiny fragments of toxins transferring directly into the environment to be breathed in or soaked through the skin via dermal absorption.
The easiest way to avoid these toxic products is to use all-natural and 100% biodegradable disinfectants that have been proven to be effective and safe in fogging systems for several decades like food-grade hydrogen peroxide (H2o2).
Hydrogen Peroxide decontamination has been used in healthcare settings due to its superior efficacy in rapidly and safely reducing and or completely killing various microscopic pathogens on a routine basis. Also, please keep in mind that I’m not talking about the regular stuff you can buy at your local store. Food-grade is the much superior H2o2 because it contains no additives, no stabilizers, or chemicals, so it is considered all-natural, organic (Not USDA), or kosher.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers H2o2 to be an effective and safe disinfectant for controlling microbial pests:
“Hydrogen peroxide, well known as an ingredient in disinfectant products, is now also approved for controlling microbial pests on crops growing indoors and outdoors, and on certain crops after harvest. This active ingredient prevents and controls bacteria and fungi that cause serious plant diseases. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down rapidly in the environment to oxygen and water and is not expected to cause adverse effects to humans or the environment when users follow label directions.”
When products, materials, and equipment are designed to be food grade, these chemicals and hazards are removed from the process so that no toxins can leach into that product. Hence, it means it is of a quality suitable for human breathing, dermal absorption, consumption, or for use in food production or storage, medical, and office equipment. Hence, it will not cause harm to the end-user.
When products, materials, and equipment are designed to be food grade, these chemicals and hazards are removed from the process so that no toxins can leach into that product. This also means it is of a quality suitable for human breathing, dermal absorption, consumption, or for use in food production or storage, medical, and office equipment. Hence, it will not cause harm to the end-user.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has registered a product using hydrogen peroxide into what is called “Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VPHP),” which is a form of fogging on steroids. The EPA defines Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide as “a substance that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life in the inanimate environment, including all forms of vegetative bacteria, bacterial spores, fungi, fungal spores, and viruses”.
It is one of the chemicals approved for decontamination of anthrax spores from contaminated buildings, such as occurred during the 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S., and has also been shown to be effective in removing exotic animal viruses, such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease from equipment and surfaces.
The EPA stated;
VPHP represents a safe alternative to the use of these toxic gases and the need for their neutralization before releasing into the atmosphere. VPHP breaks down into oxygen and water, both of which are environmentally benign. Aqueous H2O2 is active against a wide range of organisms: bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores (2).
In a recent study, scientists found fogging with hydrogen peroxide is a safe and effective product to use against many types of harmful microorganisms and viruses. The researchers stated;
“Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VPHP) represents a safe alternative to the use of these toxic gases and the need for their neutralization prbeforeelease into the atmosphere. VPHP breaks down into oxygen and water, both of which are environmentally benign. Aqueous H2O2 is active against a wide range of organisms: bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores.” (3)
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has specific standards to make sure that no dangerous chemicals and toxins in cleaning and disinfecting products transfer to the food and environment in a significant way. The FDA reserves food grade for a list of sanitizers and other “substances utilized to control the growth of microorganisms”, and includes the most common active ingredients as well as whether the sanitizer requires a rinse or not to make sure that no harmful residues are left behind.
The FDA has identified hydrogen peroxide (H2O2, CAS Reg. No. 7722-84-1) solution containing not more than 35 percent hydrogen peroxide (CAS Reg. No. 7722-84-1) by weight, to be used safely to sterilize polymeric food-contact surfaces following the specifications of the Food Chemicals Codex (3d ed. (1981), pp. 146-147, 1). (3) However, 35% is very dangerous to handle and transport. Also, the United States Postal Service (USPS) considers anything above 8% as toxic and treats it as such for mailing purposes.
The EPA has stated, “Whether a substance poses a risk to humans or other organisms depends on two factors: how toxic the substance is, and how much of it an organism is exposed to. Therefore, the EPA considers toxicity data and exposure data in deciding whether to approve a pesticide for use. No adverse effects to the public are expected from these agricultural uses of hydrogen peroxide because;
1) It is used at low concentrations
2) It decomposes rapidly and harmlessly to water and oxygen, leaving no residue
3) It is used in manufacturing and processing certain foods
4) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for food use.
However, personal protective equipment is required for individuals handling concentrated end-products, which can be corrosive and irritating to the eyes and skin. (1)
The most commonly available and safest commercial solutions for daily disinfecting needs are in the diluted form from 3% to 10%. The higher concentrations of 8%, 10%, and 30-35% are mainly for industrial use, and are strongly irritating and may be corrosive, while a solution of .5-3% is adequate for household use and only mildly irritating.
Please be aware that high concentrations above 3%, and especially 10%, can be dangerous to handle and breathe, so adequate precautions should be taken if using such a product. If ingested, concentrations of 9% are generally considered nontoxic; however, even a 3% solution is mildly irritating to mucosal tissue and may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
How to fog a room or property to remove mold:
Training is not required for any of these machines, but you need to know the basics and how to properly apply cleaning solutions in your environment without damaging surfaces and furniture. and you will be up and running within minutes. You will become a pro after about ten fogging applications and get better by the day.
* Make sure you first have the proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as waterproof or chemical-resistant gloves, an adequate respirator or sufficient mask, eye protection, long pants, sleeves, and good shoes or boots.
* Test areas and or surfaces of concern for damage and or bleaching etc.
* Open all cupboards, drawers, desks, etc.
* Start in the furthest corner of the room, about 6-10 feet from the back wall/corner and ceiling.
* Plug your machine with an extension cord into the front of the room where the enter and exit door is located.
* Point the fogger at the furthest upper corner of the ceiling and turn it on.
* Quickly adjust the mist to a fine spray so that not too much liquid is dispersed
* Leave a fine mist upon every surface in the building including the ceiling, walls, furniture, and floors working the fogger left to right, up and down as you slowly walk back out of the property.
* Unplug your machine and close the door.
* Let the disinfectant sit on the surfaces and self-dry. The drying time depends upon the product used, the amount sprayed by the applicator, and the humidity at the time of application.
As I mentioned above, I have found that 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide is the best because it is much safer, does not bleach or damage surfaces when applied correctly, and dries incredibly quickly – sometimes within 10-20 minutes.
Different Fogging Machines
Here are the most common brands of affordable fogging machines on the market right now. These machines go by various names, but I have discovered most, if not all, are made in China and shipped to the United States. Still, there are a few who claim to be manufactured in the states. You can check for sellers on Amazon, eBay, and OfferUp.
FOGMASTER JR® 5330
The Fogmaster Jr 5330 includes a 1-year warranty. The system holds 1 quart of disinfectant, has an adjustable flow rate that can dispense up to 89 ml of disinfectant per minute, and requires manual operation for dispersal of the disinfectant.
FOGMASTER CORPORATION MICRO-JET ULV 7401
The Micro-Jet ULV 7401 includes a 5-year warranty. The Micro-Jet ULV 7401 uses disinfectants approved for use in a fog system. The system holds 1 gallon of disinfectant, has an adjustable flow rate that can dispense up to 237 ml of disinfectant per minute, and requires manual operation for dispersal of the disinfectant.
HUDSON 99598 FOG ELECTRIC ATOMIZER SPRAYER
The Hudson industrial-grade fogger/atomizer is a portable unit that includes a large commercial coiled hose for directing ULV chemical mist up to 13.5 feet with a 2-gallon tank and carrying strap. It operates on 110V AC power and outputs 22-46 microns particle size – average droplet 20-micron adjustable output of 1.5 – 14 gallons per hour. It comes with a 90-day limited warranty.
I have used this unit for years in my mold remediation business, and my last one lasted almost 3 years with regular weekly use. It is powerful and well worth the money. I currently own 2 of these units.
CHINESE ELECTRIC ULV FOGGER
There are many types of foggers coming out of China, but the most common is this type which I have owned and own several at the moment. They are cheaply made and mostly plastic, so you have to be very careful in handling and making sure you clean your tank after each use. But they all seem to work fine and I have had no issues. They are light and have a 7-liter tank. You will find them on Amazon and eBay from $250-$500, and they often ship from China.
RYOBI CORDLESS FOGGER
The Ryobi ONE+ 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Fogger/Mister with 2.0 Ah Battery and Charger Included at Home Depot. It claims to cover up to 1000 sq. ft. in less than 1-minute. Sold only through Home Depot.
TRI JET ULV NON-THERMAL FOGGER
These sturdy machines are manufactured by Createch USA. It uses a nonthermal operation spraying either oil or water-based products. It comes with an intake filter, power supply cord, heavy-duty motor, triple action nozzle, and a five-year manufacturer’s limited warranty.
SPRAY BOTTLE AND FAN
Alternatively, you can also use a spray bottle and fan. Fill a spray bottle with your favorite cleaning solution, and spray it methodically around a room as you use a fan to disperse the droplets in every direction onto the walls, ceilings, floor, etc. While this DIY method is not as effective as using a fogging machine, it can still help remove hard-to-reach and hidden mold spores
Like anything in the world, there are a few drawbacks and dangers that you need to be aware of when using this product as a disinfectant, which mainly have to do with the various concentrations/percentages that are commercially available. But if you follow simple safety procedures and use the right percentage as prescribed above, you can safely disinfect your property of mold spores without worrying about toxic chemicals in the air and surfaces or getting asthma or cancer from the product you are using.
1. International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI)
3. Virucidal Activity of Fogged Chlorine Dioxide- and Hydrogen Peroxide-Based Disinfectants against Human Norovirus and Its Surrogate, Feline Calicivirus, on Hard-to-Reach Surfaces \
Moe Bedard is the founder of Mold Safe Inspections and manager at Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation.
If you need help with a project, please call 760-818-6830.