Posted on July 14th, 2020
Along with barbecues, vacations, and trips to the beach, summertime brings with it the threat of increased mold and mildew growth. The tiny microorganisms that make up mold and mildew thrive in hot, humid temperatures, so homes that lack air conditioning or proper ventilation become especially prone to fungal issues during the warmer months.
In addition to being unsightly, mold and mildew have been linked to a number of health issues, including allergies, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia. These health problems are especially likely to occur in young children, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems. Knowing how to identify mold and mildew and clean them properly is therefore essential to ensuring the health of your family by improving the air quality in your home. In the guide below, we’ll explain the best ways to remove mold and mildew – without the use of harsh chemicals. We’ll also give you some tips to stop these unwelcome fungi from returning. If you would prefer a team of professionals to clean, we are available and have the tools necessary to remove mold and mildew.
How to Identify Mold and Mildew
Knowing the difference between mold and mildew is important because mold, unlike mildew, can actually damage surfaces in your home. Without timely corrective action, a mold infestation can eat through wood, fabric, cardboard, and other materials that contain cellulose. Likewise, while both mold and mildew can cause allergic and respiratory symptoms, mold is more strongly associated with long-term health complications.
The easiest way to tell mold from mildew is by examining its color and texture: Mildew is usually light in color (gray, white, or yellow) and has a fluffy, powdery appearance. Mold, on the other hand, tends to be black or green, with a fuzzy or slimy texture.
Mold and mildew are both more likely to grow in areas that are frequently exposed to excess moisture. Look for these fungi in your bathroom, around doors and window sills, around heating and cooling vents, and in the kitchen (particularly under the sink). It can even buildup in appliances such as the refrigerator if you do not clean them thoroughly.
How to Clean Mold and Mildew
Before you start cleaning mold or mildew, ventilate the area by opening the windows for at least half an hour. Then, put on a protective face mask to avoid breathing in mold spores while you work. (If you have allergies or asthma, you should probably skip this job altogether and call our team to handle it for you instead.)
To get rid of mildew in your bathroom or kitchen, all you’ll need is a spray bottle filled with white vinegar, along with some baking soda and a scrubbing sponge. Spray undiluted vinegar liberally on any areas contaminated by mildew, then let the solution “sit” for at least two hours. This will kill the fungi and prepare the surface for further cleaning.
After two hours have passed, mix water and baking soda together to create a thick paste. Coat your cleaning sponge in this paste and vigorously scrub the area until all signs of mildew have been removed. When you’re done, rinse out your sponge and wipe away any leftover baking soda residue.
White vinegar can also be used to remove mold from non-porous tile and mold-prone appliances, such as your coffee maker, dishwasher, and washing machine. To clean these items, run one cup of white vinegar through their normal hot water cycles, or four cups if you’re cleaning a washing machine. Then, dip a cleaning sponge in a hot water-vinegar solution and do any additional detail cleaning that’s needed. (E.g., scrub down the seals on your dishwasher and washing machine.) Rinse thoroughly with water when you’re done.
More porous surfaces, like walls, may require bleaching in order to get rid of lingering mold stains. You can avoid the use of toxic chlorine bleach by opting for a solution that contains 3-10% hydrogen peroxide instead (never use a solution stronger than 10%, as these can be hazardous). Unlike bleach, hydrogen peroxide doesn’t create dangerous fumes or residues.
To use hydrogen peroxide, simply spray the solution onto contaminated areas and let it sit for at least half an hour. (You may need to let it sit longer if the area is badly stained.) Then, mist the area with a solution of baking soda and water to neutralize the peroxide and carefully scrub away mold with your cleaning sponge before rinsing.
Hydrogen peroxide should never be used on fabric or upholstered furniture as it can bleach the dye out of these items. To get mold out of your furniture or carpets, apply white vinegar with a spray bottle (while being careful not to soak the area). Then, scrub the carpet or upholstery with a stiff brush until mold stains start to disappear. When you’re done, dust the area with baking soda (this will soak up excess moisture and remove lingering odors), let it sit for an hour, then vacuum it up.
If this approach doesn’t work, you’ll need to call a professional cleaning company. Don’t risk using harsher cleaning methods on your own, as you’ll almost certainly damage your carpets or furniture.
Mold and Mildew Prevention
If you don’t address the moisture issues that caused mold or mildew to grow in your home in the first place, you’ll likely find yourself dealing with chronic mold issues. To keep mold and mildew from coming back after you clean, take the steps below:
- Install a dehumidifier. To stop mold and mildew from developing, you’ll need to keep indoor humidity levels consistently below 50%. Unless you live in a very arid area, accomplishing this will require the installation and proper use of a dehumidifier.
- Make sure your bathroom and kitchen fans are working properly. You should also open the bathroom door immediately after taking a bath or shower to vent excess moisture.
- Don’t store linen, books, cardboard, furniture, or wood in your basement or attic. Basements and attics tend to be poorly ventilated and damp, so they’re hot spots for mold accumulation. Store items that contain cellulose in your garage or in a dedicated storage unit instead.
- Keep the grout in your bathroom in good condition. Aged, poorly-sealed grout is much more prone to moisture and mildew problems than new, sealed grout.
Though you can clean a mold infestation yourself if you catch it early enough, the same cannot be said for late-stage mold infestations. Attempting to clean up a large area of mold without the right equipment and respiratory protection will expose you to toxic mold spores, potentially leading to health problems. Mold is also notoriously difficult to get rid of once it’s firmly established: Even if you manage to remove superficial mold on your own, remaining mold spores typically lead to rapid regrowth. For this reason, you should call a professional cleaning company if you see a large area of mold in your home.
Still looking for help with build up dirt? We are here to help.
If you’re tired of living with musty odors and stains, our team of maids in Indianapolis can help you get mold under control – and keep it that way. Get in touch with us today to get your clean booked.