Mold! It really feels like it’s everywhere at the moment, try to get rid of it.
We spoke to the microbiologist/mycologist Dr. Cameron Jones to find out why it’s such a persistent problem. This is how he answered our questions.
Why is mold so obsessed with our homes?
A major reason people are currently struggling with mold is that it is winter and we are heating up our homes.
When we turn on our heaters, condensation forms on all cold surfaces in the house – especially walls with rising damp problems – due to the warm air inside and cold air outside.
This level of available moisture is used by typical molds, bacteria and fungi found indoors to grow and cause all sorts of unwanted problems.
[Mould also forms indoors] when an unusual amount of water gets into your home, whether it’s from rain, flooding or a lack of plumbing.
It is mainly found in damp rooms where there are sanitary installations and fittings. So, washrooms and bathrooms are the most important places, followed by kitchens.
But if your indoor relative humidity is above 60 percent, you will have ideal conditions for airborne water vapor to settle on porous and semi-porous materials.
When they get damp and wet, they start to get moldy.
Why does it keep coming back even though I cleaned it?
Mold produces spores on a regular basis to maintain its own life cycle, and these spores are easily airborne.
When water becomes available, these spores will germinate within 15 to 24 hours.
Even if water-damaged buildings and household items dry out, the likelihood that these spores have already spread throughout the house is very high.
Your home may not have mold problems or just have a normal background level, but then if it suddenly takes on high moisture levels, anything that gets damp will support mold growth.
Leather goods, handbags, backpacks, gym bags, and camera bags are some of the typical items that mold grows on because they get damp when they are at rest.
And clothing – especially clothing made from plant-based materials, [like hemp or bamboo] – have so much material for microbes to grow on.
Mold is also often found on wallpaper and wood — and this can include the backs of wooden furniture like bookshelves, nightstands, and dressers, because they’re very porous compared to hardwood, meaning they absorb moisture more easily.
Even if you clean the surface of a piece of wood furniture, in many cases that wood is composite wood that has been densified with glue and small pieces of wood.
The mold could have used the glue as a food source and invaded the more porous wood fibers, making simple surface cleaning ineffective.
So you can rest assured that after cleaning any household item, mold spores will be minimized.
But whether you have sufficiently cleaned the mold from a household item will depend on the surface roughness.
The rougher the surface, the more difficult it is to completely remove spores, which may lie dormant to later regrow and contaminate other areas in the home or other surfaces.
What can I do to fix the broader problem?
Once you can see mold, you know there is a moisture problem indoors.
It could be solvable by naturally improving ventilation by opening windows and doors, but you may have to resort to mechanical dehumidification as some properties tend to accumulate moisture because of the materials used to build the house , that the air can not circulate really well .
So, [in those cases] Your only solution is to run a dehumidifier or your heating system essentially all the time to minimize the chance of condensation forming.
If you have wall inverters, some have a dehumidification setting.
[You could also] Consider purchasing desiccant pots, which draw moisture out of closets that might store shoes and handbags.
For more advice on removing mold from your home and household items in particular – as well as knowing when to dispose of moldy items – follow the link to this article.
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