The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that mold can pop up pretty much anywhere. Inside or outside, doesn’t matter. There are spores everywhere, just waiting for the perfect time under the right conditions to become a problem. And those outside can easily enter your home through the tiniest of opening. Then everything becomes a potential growing ground: clothes, toys, floors, bedding, walls, you name it. And being exposed to mold, especially toxic mold, can be detrimental to your health. With toxic mold, you can end up with airborne clouds that can have an almost direct route straight to your lungs.
So what are those perfect conditions that mold loves? Moisture, food and air. That’s it. And that can be found just about anywhere.
Preventing Mold in Your Home
There are many ways you can help ensure that you don’t end up dealing with a mold problem. Here are just a few tips to help prevent the growth of mold in your home.
Constructing Smart from the Start – Choose building materials that deter the growth of mold, such as a mold resistant drywall or magnesium mineral board for the walls. If painting, use an indoor paint with a mold inhibitor or add inhibitors to your pain. And for heaven’s sake, skip the carpet in the basement and use a hardwood or laminated floor instead.
Heat and Humidity in the Basement – The basement is one of the most common areas in the home that mold likes to attack. To minimize the risk of this, keep humidity at less than 50 percent and always keep the temperature in there at a minimum of 60 degrees.
Storage Tips – Don’t use wooden containers or shelves, choose something made from plastic or metal. And keep as much storage as you can off of concrete floors.
Air Ventilation and Filtration – Make sure the ventilation and fans in bathrooms and kitchens are working properly. Change central heat and air filters often and try to use only those that have a minimum MERV rating of 7 (If you or a family member have allergies, go for a minimum of 11). If possible, invest in an air cleaner that hooks directly onto the HVAC system.
Duct Insulation – Chances are, you have ducts that wave through areas of the home that are not heated or cooled. If those ducts aren’t properly insulated then you’re risking the formation of condensation inside them. Once that happens, mold can develop. Even worse, those tiny little spores will have free reign, being circulated all throughout your home. Eek.
Dealing with Mold in Your Home Without Harsh Chemicals
If you’ve discovered that you already have a mold problem, why would you introduce more potentially dangerous substances with harsh cleaners and chemicals? While direct sunlight and good ole’ air circulation can drastically help in minor cases, sometimes that just isn’t possible. In that case, here are a few things you can try that are completely safe and natural…
Caution: Joel Garcia, a water treatment specialist, says if there’s visible mold growing on porous materials like wood or wallboard, don’t attempt to deal with it on your own without respiratory protection like an N95 disposable respirator.
Good Ole’ Vinegar – It shouldn’t be surprising to see vinegar on the list, especially with the popularity of Pinterest home fixes. So yes, here it is again… plain old vinegar that’s sitting in the kitchen cabinet. Among its many other uses, it’s great for mold and mildew. According to Good Housekeeping’s microbiologist, Gina Marino, it’s 90 percent effective at killing mold. Always have vinegar on hand, as it’s amazingly effective at killing bacteria too (almost 100 percent). Perfect for cleaning.
If you just can’t get over the smell that it leaves, simply infuse it or a water/vinegar mix with your favorite essential oil. Good choices include grapefruit seed extract, lemon, cinnamon or lavender essential oils (They’re all known to be anti-fungal). If you have the money for it, tea tree oil is an amazing, natural mold killer… but yeah, it’s normally more expensive.
If the mold is on a stubborn area like grout that won’t be damaged by scrubbing, scrub it first with a past-mixture of baking soda and water.
Whether you use pure vinegar, water and vinegar or water and vinegar infused with essential oils, it’s also a good idea to spray down mold-prone areas with it. When you finish showering, spray the tub and the shower curtain to help prevent the growth of mold.
Hydrogen Peroxide – According to Care2.com, hydrogen peroxide is an amazingly effective way to get rid of mold. Just let it rest on the mold for ten minutes or so and wipe it away with a sponge or cloth.