Mould is more than just an eye-sore – it can potentially cause health problems for people with allergies or asthma. If left untreated, it can also spread and become almost impossible to manage.
If you’ve uncovered a patch of mould in your home, or want to prevent spores spreading, it’s important to take action. Removing mould should be the first step – but you also need to address the underlying problem.
What Causes Mould?
At its core, mould is a symptom of a damp problem. Mould thrives in warm and humid conditions, which is why it’s found in closets and bathrooms. In the long-run, the only way to prevent it is to eliminate sources of moisture in the home. This could be as simple as drying laundry outside, or could require structural repair to fix a leak in an external wall.
How to Remove Mould
Before you can prevent mould spreading, however, you need to get rid of any existing patches.
Removing small patches of mould is straightforward. All you need is a solution of bleach and water with a ratio of 1:4. Many companies also produce mould sprays if you don’t want to mix the solution yourself.
While wearing a dust mask, goggles and gloves, scrub the affected area with a damp cloth. Then dry it with a different cloth and open windows to allow spores to escape. I recommend doing this in the morning so you’re not sleeping in a room with lots of stirred up mould spores.
How to Prevent Mould Returning
Monitor and Reduce Indoor Humidity
As I mentioned, mould is a symptom of damp and humidity. If windows often have condensation, or you’ve noticed mould in areas without airflow, preventing it could be as simple as reducing humidity.
One of the fastest ways to do this is with an electric dehumidifier. These cost around $100-$200, but if you have a mould problem are always worth the money. Ideally, relative humidity should be kept at lower than 50%, as many types of mould can grow when humidity reaches 55% or more.
If you don’t want to pay for a dehumidifier, you can also keep windows up during the day. Humidity is often lower outside, so moisture-heavy air will diffuse from your house. Make sure you keep windows shut when it’s raining though.
You should also wipe off any condensation as soon as you see it. This prevents mould from absorbing water and can reduce humidity. An extractor far in the bathroom or kitchen can also help.
Treat Indoor Plants
One of mould’s favourite hiding spots is the soil of indoor plants. Soil is often kept moist nearly all the time, so it’s the ideal breeding ground. The spores can then spread around the home.
Fortunately, preventing mould in soil is relatively easy. Start by only watering when the plant becomes dry. This prevents overwatering and reduces the chance of mould breeding. Keeping plants near windows or fans can stop spores building up in the soil. If you notice a layer of white mould on-top of soil, you can also scrape this off (make sure you do this outside though).
Catch Mould Spores Before They Spread
Regular vacuuming is one of the most effective ways to minimise spores in your home. By removing spores on carpets and upholstery, a vacuum gets rid of mould that’s in prime position to be stirred into the air. It also minimises dust particles, which certain types of mould breed on.
If you can’t stand the thought of lugging a heavy vacuum around the home more often than you already do, a handheld vacuum might be a good alternative. These are great for quickly cleaning upholstery, which can harbour mould spores that are often missed when vacuuming.
A word of warning though – make sure your vacuum has effective filtration. HEPA filters are best, as they can prevent smaller particles escaping into the air. Vacuums with a poor-quality filter do little more than pick up spores and pump them around the home, which can make the problem worse!
There’s no need to panic if you notice mould in your home. While mould is a problem that needs attention, it can often be solved by following basic tips such as those found in this article.
There are times you should seek professional help though. If you’ve followed these tips and mould keeps returning, you could have a structural problem allowing moisture to enter the home. For extensive mould problems, it may also be best to hire a professional.