Preventing Molds and Mildew from Growing in Your House
So, imagine coming home on a Friday evening, ready to take on some much needed R&R during the weekend. You prop your feet up the couch and just when you’re about to let out a sigh of relief from the stress of the work week, you see blotches of gray on your wall above the TV.
Weekend is officially ruined.
Keeping a household together is tough business. Fret not, though, for we’re here to help. We’ll give you all there is to know about and how to prevent molds and mildew for good.
First off: Is it mold or mildew?
Identifying the problem is the first step to solving it. While mold and mildew both are classified fungus, there are certainly distinct characteristics for each that will help you target it more effectively. There are a couple of things that these two have in common. One of them is that they both appear in warm and moist places around the house; another is that nobody wants them in their homes.
In appearance, mildew can easily be spotted as patches of varying colors on moist surfaces. It also looks more powdery or feathery. Its color changes from white to yellow when it is powdery and yellow to brown when it is more feathery. On the other hand, mold appears as blotches of different colors, more commonly black, brown, gray, and green and look more “fuzzy”. It can be a sign of an even bigger infestation.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why you need to remove mold and mildew as soon as you possibly can. Sure, mold and mildew never look good on your walls, but that’s not the only reason you should get rid of it.
Health Risks That Come with Mold and Mildew
The symptoms of mold and mildew exposure are so common that most people associate them with other illnesses. Some might think these symptoms are cause by seasonal allergies, hay fever, or just the common colds. Add to that the fact that mold often grows in places you don’t always see, such as under your flooring, within the walls, or even inside your heating ducts.
People won’t always notice that they have mold or mildew exposure until they start getting really sick. Some symptoms are as follows:
- Coughing or wheezing
- Sore throat
- Skin irritation
- Shortness of breath and chest pains
- Migraines and headaches
- Runny nose and sinus congestion
In addition, there are also several negative effects of mold and mildew to you and your family. Exposure to mold and mildew can cause upper respiratory tract infection, which often looks like allergy attacks in healthy people. It can also trigger asthma attacks to people who have it. The culprit of such ailments is called mycotoxin, found in fungi such as mold and mildew. Mycotoxins can cause extreme harm not only to humans, but also to animals and various crops. If not treated properly, this may lead to even more complications. It’s one of the most important reasons to prevent molds and mildew from showing up in your house, or getting rid of them if they do show up.
- Pregnancy – Anything that can harm the mothers can also be harmful to the unborn child. It’s already difficult enough keeping track of what’s good and what’s bad during this period. While there has not yet been a direct research involved to show the relationship between the two, many women have reported miscarriages and birth defects after having been exposed severely to mold throughout their pregnancy.
- Infants and Toddlers – According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a child exposed to mold or mildew in his early years may be more susceptible to develop asthma. Taking care of our tiny tots can be a handful sometimes because they can’t fully express how they’re feeling yet. Furthermore, a toddler’s immune system is still developing, particularly infants, whose lungs continue to grow. This makes them more vulnerable when exposed to mold and mildew.
Removing Mold and Mildew on Several Surfaces
Alright! Now that we know why mold and his cousin mildew need to go ASAP, let’s get right down to business. Of course prevention is always better than cure, but there are some instances wherein you have no choice and you find yourself facing this kind of problem. For example, if you’ve moved into a house that was built decades ago, or if you’ve experienced a really humid summer and didn’t know what to do at the time. Nevertheless, we’re here to help you remedy your fungi problem at home and also give you more information on mold and what causes mildew in a house.
In this section, we’ll also help you prevent mold and mildew from showing up.
Walls & Ceiling
One of the most common places where you can find mold and mildew is within your walls or on your ceiling. There are plenty of ways this can be done and the process involved with your ceiling is the same as how to get rid of mold on walls. Before that though, of course you might want to check for signs of mold in your walls first. If there has been a time wherein there was flooding or any form of water damage in your home, then it’s highly likely that you do have a mold problem. Moreover, if there’s a musty odor in a room, then it’s also safe to assume that there’s mold within the walls – and possibly inside the air ducts, too. Discoloration can also be a sign that your walls are crawling with mold or mildew.
Next, you’re gonna want to cut 12-inch by 12-inch holes through your wall using a dry wall saw with four-foot intervals. Don’t forget your flashlight and mirror to be able to get a clearer picture. Another option is to hire a certified mold tester. Leave it to professionals to inspect your house and conduct tests in different parts of the house. We believe the latter is the better option because they make sure you don’t miss anything.
Cure - Methods to prevent molds and mildew at home is quite simple, really, and there is a variety of ways and tools for you to use in dealing with them.
For non-porous walls, wiping mold off with a wet cloth is usually enough. In addition, you can use a number of mold-killing products.
For unpainted drywall, cutting away the infected portion of the wall will do the trick. Wiping it off will not work in this scenario because mold grows from within the wall; hence, making it more stubborn and hard to remove completely.
If you’re dealing with just a smaller area of your walls, you can make this simple solution to get rid of both mold and mildew: one part bleach and three parts water. Using a brush with stiff bristles, scrub the blackened area of your wall thoroughly. Afterwards, you can just rinse the solution off. CAUTION: When doing this, make sure you are wearing protective eyewear, gloves, and a face mask because coming in contact with mold can cause infection.
Mold and mildew can also grow on carpet. If you notice a significantly huge amount of mold on your carpet that spans an entire wall, then it’s probably time to let go of it. It would be much more practical for you to get a new, uninfected one. Another thing you should know is that there is no known way of completely removing mold and mildew infestation on carpet. Just like when checking your walls, if there has been a significant amount of water damage on the carpet, the appearance of mold and mildew is more likely to happen. Due to its texture and composition, carpets are very difficult to dry off.
Cure – If only a small portion of your carpet was affected, you’d do best to cut that portion. Be sure to add 12 more inches along the edges just to be sure that you’re removing it completely. Afterwards, make sure the floor is completely dry. Patch up the cut part and you’re good to go.
For rugs, you can simply go to a professional carpet cleaner or mold removing specialist. You can either have them remove the rug or do it yourself and send it to them.
If you want to do it yourself, you can. Take out the rug in your driveway and hose it down – both sides, to be thorough. You can try to make another mold-killing solution or purchase one. Apply it on the carpet and rinse it carefully. Make sure that the rug is completely dry before you start using it again.
Furniture and Fixtures
Once and for all: mold and mildew on furniture will never be in fashion. Especially those made of wood, chairs and tables are also susceptible to fungus. This is definitely something to be considered when trying to prevent molds and mildew. There are a few things that you can do to solve this problem.
Cure – The most effective and practical solution to this is to replace any furniture and fixture that has mold or mildew. When doing this, however, do check underneath the furniture or around the wall that surrounds it to see if they’d been affected as well. This includes insulation, air ducts, and heating vents. Checking these things can also help prevent mold and mildew in closets and other places around the house.
Homemade and Safe Solution
There are quite a number of ways to make your very own mold and mildew remover. In fact, there have been a few unusual candidates for the ingredients of this solution. Here are some tried and tested ones and they are all fairly easy and safe to handle, as compared to other homemade solutions.
- Bleach – As mentioned previously in this article, bleach is a commonly used solution for mold and mildew. Simply mix one part of bleach with three parts of water and use a medium to thick-bristled brush to spread it on the affected are. You can also put the solution in a spray bottle for those harder to reach areas around the house, just make sure to brush and rinse it thoroughly.
- Baking Soda – Here’s another common substance used in killing mold and mildew. Just like bleach, you can use it as a sort of mold remover spray by mixing two tablespoons of baking soda with eight ounces of water. Use this solution on surfaces like tiles. For better results, after using this solution, spray the same area with pure vinegar and brush away. Alternatively, you can apply baking soda as is on the affected area. This is effective on porous surfaces like objects made of wood or drywall. Let the powder sit for a while and be absorbed by the damp surface before completely wiping it away.
- Vinegar – Speaking of vinegar, this substance can be used with the baking soda solution or separately on its own. The reason why it works best with other solutions is that it kills a different kind or species of mildew and mold.
Other Tips and Tricks on How to Take Care of and Prevent Molds and Mildew
Now that you understand that they are commonly found on places that are moist, here are some things that you can do to make sure you prevent molds and mildew and never have to deal with them once you’ve gotten rid of them.
• Don’t place your furniture close to or directly against a wall. This removes the air between the furniture and the wall and that means the area becomes moist and more prone to the appearance of mold.
• If you’re looking for ways on how to stop mold from growing on walls, you might want to consider using mold-resistant paint. The extra dollars you spend on it is worth the guarantee of keeping your family safe from mold and mildew exposure.
• Keep everything clean and dry – and we mean EVERYTHING. Don’t take any chances, especially when it comes to your kids’ toys. Make sure the baby’s bottles are well-cleaned and sterilized. Additionally, keep your kids’ toys in a dry storage box or shelf to prevent them from being in contact with affected carpet or flooring. This is not a step that we can afford to miss.
• When we say keep things dry, this also includes fabrics, carpets, and rugs. Routinely check and clean any fabrics in your home. Also, make sure your carpets and rugs are completely dry at all times. Otherwise, it will become the breeding ground for nasty mold and mildew.
• Three words: mold resistant products. You can get these almost anywhere now: from paint to drywall and other building materials. You can even get mold resistant insulators. We’re particularly fond of the carpets. Removing mold on a non-resistant carpet is surely an inconvenience we will never miss.
• Once you spot mold or mildew infestation at home and realize you are unable to take care of it right away, make sure to keep everyone out of that area of the house. Make use of safety gates for the little ones to make that area off limits to them. Have them stay as far away from the affected area as possible.
• Make sure your house is well-ventilated and keep the temperature to a level that will not cause any humidity in the house. A good 40% level of humidity should do it – avoid going higher than that. Use dehumidifiers and fans, if necessary.
• If you want to know how to prevent mold on food, you can do so by making sure that all the containers are dry, especially glass jars. Regularly check your stored food to see if mold had already started to form. Eat leftovers as soon as you can (or avoid having leftovers entirely) to stop mold from having the chance to grow. Three to four days, tops, is the ideal time to keep leftovers in the fridge. Additionally, clean the inside of your refrigerator at least once every a couple of months.
With these steps, you’re now ready to take on that mold and mildew problem. Mold and mildew removal can sometimes be no small feat. Remember to make use of the services of professionals if you think the issue is more severe than you can handle alone.