There are many enemies of the homeowner, but one of the most dangerous and sneakiest is, without a doubt, mold. People with allergies or asthma surely know how negative the effects mold has on our health can be, but even people without these afflictions can develop coughing, wheezing, and irritation of the eyes, skin, and more.
Proper hygiene and regular housekeeping are your best allies against mold, but there are still other measures that you can take to prevent it from coming back, or worse — to keep it from hiding. We also give you some general tips on how to get rid of mold in your house before it shows up.
What is mold and where does it come from?
Mold is a sort of umbrella term for many types of fungus that grows from microscopic spores found in the air. When you clean the house, you prevent these spores from clumping together and reproducing. Some find their way into warm, dark, humid nooks and crannies that are out of sight, however, and that’s where the growth begins.
After this point, you probably won’t notice mold until it’s propagated enough to emit a musty odor. When checking for the source of the smell, you’ll come across a dark, asymmetrical stain, and there you have your uninvited guest, mold.
Where should I check for mold?
The bathroom: Given the needs for mold growth that we already mentioned, like darkness and humidity, the bathroom is an obvious first stop when looking for it. Showers and bathtubs will be the preferred home of many types of mold if you don’t allow proper ventilation of the room after a shower or bath. It’s not only hard surfaces that are affected, however; check your loofahs and cloths, shower curtains, beneath toilet seats and the tile grout.
A dehumidifier or a fan will help you battle mold growth
The kitchen: When you think about it, the kitchen is the room of the house most exposed to warmth and humidity after the bathroom, and a large amount of organic waste is a contributing factor for mold as well. Be sure to check around and under the sink first. Then, turn your attention to the fridge, because mold some types of mold can and will grow inside it if left unchecked. The pantry, too, should be a priority, because it’s mostly dark throughout the day. Even if you take the trash out every day, the place around where you keep the container can be moldy if not cleaned regularly as well.
As with the bathroom, make sure to keep the kitchen well ventilated if you’re not using it, and deal with food spills and stains quickly to prevent mold from calling them home.
The bedroom: Even though it may not seem like it, a bedroom can also be the target of mold growth if you don’t properly care for it. Although less likely, let’s check out these places.
Given that all mold needs to grow is moisture and something to adhere itself to, the mattress is a candidate too. Check for smells or humidity spots both over and under it, and on the sides as well. If you’re close to replacing mattresses anyway, opt for a mold-resistant variety. AC units and vents can also be a problem, so make sure to get rid of any humidity on walls and as far back in your vents as possible, or you’ll have to find out how to stop mold from growing on walls. Dehumidifiers are good partners in bedrooms as well.
The living room: Certain types of fabrics used for curtains and couch upholstery, while pretty, are prime real estate for mold spores. Check beneath the upholstery or for dark stains the fabric, and be alert for any damp, musty smells. Potted plants can help mold grow if they start seeping water or their soil is not properly treated. Finally, depending on what material was used to build your fireplace or chimney, such as porous brick, they can also attract spores, so don’t forget to clean them out regularly, or use them preemptively.
When it comes to cleaning your fireplace, however, it’s best to leave it to a professional to avoid risking injury or mishandling chemicals.
Attics, garages, and basements: Any place that sees little foot traffic, is not well ventilated, and remains dark most of the year is definitely a red flag zone when checking for mold. Start by checking for piping or roof leaks, any vents that connect with the bathroom or kitchen, and the areas around the water heater and insulation.
If you use any of these rooms as storage space, it’s good to keep it organized, dehumidified and well ventilated. Also, a good technique is to move your containers around over the year instead of leaving them to sit in the same place for long periods of time, to prevent mold from finding a cushy space to grow unchecked.
Mold, as you can see, can be anywhere, but thoroughness and proper cleaning techniques will keep it at bay for as long as you’re careful. This is why it’s good to leave some cleaning chores in a professional’s hands, especially if they handle harsher cleaning products and tools.