Mold and Mildew: Not Just Icky

Living in our climate here in the Pacific Northwest, we are bound to encounter mold this time of year. No one likes mold and mildew. Mold is dirty, slimy, smelly, and around 29% of us are allergic to it. It’s not good for your house either. Mold grows when there is excess humidity, which can get into the wood substructure and eventually cause rot and decay.

Mold thrives in damp, warm, dark, and poorly ventilated places. It can hide in many different areas in your home. Look for it on window casings, rotting vegetables, and in basements. Mold may form on books, magazines, in the clothes hamper, and on bathroom towels. Mold does die with frost, but in a more temperate climate like ours in Western Washington, it can still be a problem in the winter.

Once the bloom of mold and mildew appears, it quickly matures and sends spores floating throughout the house. For people who are sensitive, exposure to even a tiny amount can cause headaches, irritation of the eyes and nose, sneezing and wheezing, skin rashes, and even nausea.

Those with a existing sinus issues are at a higher risk of developing respiratory problems if exposed to mold. And once a person develops a respiratory problem caused by mold, they can be sensitive to molds forever.

Getting rid of mold in the home requires a combination of repair and preventive maintenance. Make sure to check the house for leaks and damp spots that could harbor mold. Seal the walls and patch all cracks. The sooner things are dried out, the better, as mold will not grow in dry areas.

Increase air circulation to get rid of excess humidity. Ductless heat pumps can be great for this. Most have a dehumidify or “dry” feature built right in. Install ventilation fans in baths, kitchens, and laundry areas, anyplace in your home you are using lots of water.

Once mold and mildew form, the best way to get rid of them is with a nontoxic cleaner. Wearing rubber gloves, mix a combination of vinegar and borax in a spray bottle and spray it on moldy surfaces. Once dampened, the mold usually wipes right off. For more stubborn stains, you may have to use a scrub brush. Only use bleach as a last resort, it is often not even necessary and can be an irritant itself.

If you have a very large area or have discovered a significant mold problem, it may be best to hire a mold remediation company to safely and completely resolve this issue for you.

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