• Article

Testing antimicrobial cleaner efficacy on gypsum wallboard contaminated with Stachybotrys chartarum

GOAL, SCOPE AND BACKGROUND: Reducing occupant exposure to indoor mold is the goal of this research, through the efficacy testing of antimicrobial cleaners. Often mold contaminated building materials are not properly removed, but instead surface cleaners are applied in an attempt to alleviate the problem. The efficacy of antimicrobial cleaners to remove, eliminate or control mold growth on surfaces can easily be tested on non-porous surfaces. However, the testing of antimicrobial cleaner efficacy on porous surfaces, such as those found in the indoor environment such as gypsum board can be more complicated and prone to incorrect conclusions regarding residual organisms. The mold Stachybotrys chartarum has been found to be associated with idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants and has been studied for toxin production and its occurrence in water damaged buildings. Growth of S. chartarum on building materials such as gypsum wallboard has been frequently documented. METHODS: Research to control S. chartarum growth using 13 separate antimicrobial cleaners on contaminated gypsum wallboard has been performed in laboratory testing. Popular brands of cleaning products were tested by following directions printed on the product packaging. RESULTS: A variety of gypsum wallboard surfaces were used to test these cleaning products at high relative humidity. The results indicate differences in antimicrobial efficacy for the six month period of testing. DISCUSSION: Results for the six types of GWB surfaces varied extensively. However, three cleaning products exhibited significantly better results than others. Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner-Orange Breeze (full strength) demonstrated results which ranked among the best in five of the six surfaces tested. Both Borax and Orange Glo Multipurpose Degreaser demonstrated results which ranked among the best in four of the six surfaces tested. CONCLUSIONS: The best antimicrobial cleaner to choose is often dependent on the type of surface to be cleaned of S. chartarum contamination. For Plain GWB, no paint, the best cleaners were Borax, Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner-Orange Breeze (full strength), Orange Glo Multipurpose Degreaser, and Fantastik Orange Action. RECOMMENDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES: These results are not meant to endorse the incomplete removal of mold contaminated building materials. However, it is recognized that complete removal may not always be possible and solutions to control mold regrowth may contribute to reduced occupant exposure. Current recommendations of removal and replacement of porous building materials should be followed. It is not the intension of this discussion to endorse any product. Reporting on the performance of these products under the stated conditions was and remains the only purpose


Menetrez, MY., Foarde, K., Webber, TD., Dean, TR., & Betancourt, DA. (2007). Testing antimicrobial cleaner efficacy on gypsum wallboard contaminated with Stachybotrys chartarum. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 14(7), 523-528.