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. 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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Monsters of Mold

Mold comes in many different forms. Sometimes it can be detected by scent, but oftentimes it is odorless. Some of the most common types of mold found in homes include alternaria, aspergillus, and stachybotrys. Alternaria is an allergenic mold with a velvety texture. You might see it in the bathroom or near a sink as it is typically a sign of water damage. Aspergillus is another allergenic mold that can be toxic for people with weak immune systems. There are over a hundred species in various colors. Stachybotrys is the notorious black mold. This slimy mold is toxigenic and should only be treated by a professional. Though not all black-colored molds are the black mold, all molds still require immediate treatment. 

Cozy Conditions

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%. The key to getting rid of mold is moisture control. But where exactly do these molds like to creep?

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. 

Related: 7 Health Hazards Lurking in Your Basement

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: 8 Ways to Mildew-Proof Your Bathroom

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. If you do find mold in your AC follow these tips

Related: 14 Surprising Places Where Mold Hides in the Home

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.

Related: 12 Places in Your Kitchen Where Mold Could Be Hiding

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: 10 Little Signs Your House Has a Big Problem

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: 8 Dirty Secrets Your Carpet May Be Keeping from You

Move Fast

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.

Related: Solved! What to Do About Mold on the Walls

A Silver Bullet for Mold

If the mold covers more than 10 square feet or you find any amount of the dreaded black mold call a professional—the Environmental Protection Agency recommends having an expert clean mold of this nature. You can handle cleaning small areas covered in common household mold with a DIY cleaner. First, protect yourself by wearing gloves, goggles, and a respirator before starting work. 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, then use a file or toothbrush to scrape off the mold and discard it. Porous materials like ceiling tiles and carpet that have been exposed to mold, will need to be discarded. Decontaminate all your tools and clothes, and your home will be safe again.