The Dark, Dirty Truth About Household Mold (And How to Rid Yourself of It)

There are few homeowner problems more terrifying than mold. While thousands of molds are part of the natural environment, ghastly examples of it can be lurking in the nooks and crannies of even the cleanest house. They are not just unsightly. They can be harmful to your health. So, it’s important for every homeowner to know how to prevent mold, and how to get rid of it, should mold rear its ugly head.

Mold thrives in damp, dusty, and stagnant conditions. So, it’s important to keep your home well ventilated, and at a relative humidity below 50%. Homeowners most often encounter mold in the basement, but it can occur in other areas as well, including around leaky pipes and windows. The key to getting rid of mold is moisture control.

Should you find mold in your home, clean it up promptly, and fix any water problems that have caused it. If you do experience water damage to your home, dry those areas within 24–48 hours to prevent mold growth. Whether you find mold on the ceiling, in the shower, or in your carpet, quick action is paramount.

If you find the dreaded black mold (Stachybotrys), call a professional—you'll need an expert to clean mold of this nature. Other common household molds, you can handle yourself with either conventional or natural mold remover. Protect yourself by wearing gloves, goggles, and a respirator before starting work. Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Porous materials like ceiling tiles and carpet that have been exposed to mold, will probably need to be discarded. Let’s take a good look at molds—what they need to grow, where they thrive, and how to keep our homes from becoming their playground.

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  1. Monsters of Mold


    Molds, like monsters, come in many different forms. Sometimes they can be detected by scent, but at other times they can be mysteriously odorless. They have ferocious-sounding names like alternaria, aspergillus, and stachybotrys, also known as the notorious black mold. Though not all black-colored molds are the black mold, all molds still require immediate treatment. So where exactly do these molds like to creep?

  2. It Came From Beneath


    Next to the bread basket, the basement is the place you're most likely to find mold indoors. You can prevent mold from hiding in your cellar by making sure your basement is primed and patched to protect from floods, and using a dehumidifier to keep your basement's humidity level low. Remember, mold can grow only in damp environments.

    Related: Keep Your Home Cool, Dry, and Energy Efficient with a Dehumidifier

  3. Lurking Behind the Curtain


    Shower molds can creep up in the corners where the tub meets the wall and also in the grouted or caulked crevices between tiles. Don't wait for the shrieks of horrified bathers. Give your bathroom adequate ventilation and perform regular cleanings to remove the damp residue that helps mold breed.

    Related: Quick Tip—DIY Mold Removal

    Related: The Easiest Way to Clean Shower Doors

  4. Stalking Through Vents


    Terrifying but true: Mold can enter your home via air conditioning vents. This isn't surprising. Wherever dust and dampness collect, mold is bound to find what it needs for sustenance. The best solution for this mold? Replace your filters every two to three months and keep your vents dust-free.

    Related: The Dirty Dozen—12 Places You Probably Never Clean But Definitely Should

  5. The Tell-Tale Drip


    Mold spawned from a sink pipe's drip can turn any room's air into a living nightmare. When you're in the kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom, keep an ear out for eerie dripping sounds from underneath the drain. Patch up any cracks on the double, and sink-centric mold will be kept at bay.

  6. Oozing Down From Above


    Perforations in tile caulking can result in water seepage through ceilings, creating the perfect conditions for mold to spawn. Destroy this dastardly fiend's habitat by conducting routine checks of tiles and tubs, and also of your home's roof if you live in an area prone to hurricanes or strong gusts of wind.

    Related: Leaky Roof? Some Repair Tips

  7. Night of the Living Carpet


    It doesn't take a giant pool of water to turn your carpet into mold city. Over time, an inconspicuous, slow, festering collection of moisture and dirt can transform your flooring into a tropical island teeming with strange life-forms. Often, the only effective solution will be a full-on carpet replacement. So keep carpets clean and dry, and check shoes at the door.

    Related: What Would Bob Do? Removing Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

  8. A Silver Bullet for Mold


    If you do ever encounter the dreaded black mold, hire a professional to remove it. For less terrifying molds, take the DIY route. First, protect yourself from head to toe; you'll need gloves, a respirator mask, and goggles. Next, spray down mold with a mixture of one cup vinegar, one cup borax, and a gallon of warm water. Let it sit for several hours or overnight. Then use a file to scrape off the mold and discard it. Decontaminate all your tools and clothes, and your home will be safe again... for now...

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