Take a good look around your place for a second. Do you feel uneasy or uncomfortable while scanning each room?
Maybe, that’s because of an untidy, unattractive, and unwanted mess!
Most people spend about half of their day in their respective homes. And if you are a homebody, you probably enjoy every corner of the house all day. With all the possible threats outside, staying indoors is the best option to take. In the first place, protection and security are the reasons why people need houses.
However, even in our safest space, we are vulnerable to unknown dangers. The scary thing is, most of them are hardly noticeable. For instance, microorganisms usually bring hazards that may affect the surrounding and your loved ones.
In particular, moulds scattered around a house can damage the overall appearance of your place. Furthermore, people with allergies and asthma will intensely react to their presence.
Moulds belong to the fungi family. They reside in warm and moist areas and infect almost everything in sight. They vary in colour, but most are black, grey, or green. Even though they are harmless in small amounts, moulds can make a place look untidy and uncomfortable to inhabit.
So how to keep your home safe from moulds? Aussie Junkprepared this helpful and comprehensive guide.
Common Types of Moulds
Experts say that there are about 100,000 species of moulds. Most species are essential in feeding organic matter. Also, they are responsible for the natural decay and recycling process of dead plants and animals.
They can be beneficial outdoors, but that is not the case indoors. Severe cases of mould growth can bring health hazards. Here are the three major categories of moulds depending on their health effects.
- Allergenic – moulds that can trigger asthma or allergies
- Pathogenic – moulds that cause infections or diseases, especially for people with a weak immune system, babies, and elders
- Toxic – moulds that produce mycotoxins, which is a poisonous chemical for humans
With these possible health threats, you may want to get rid of moulds immediately. However, you need to identify them so that you can apply the best treatment. Here are the common types of moulds that usually hide within your home:
The most common mould known to homeowners is Stachybotrys, or also called the black mould. An allergenic mould can cause several health effects depending on exposure. Symptoms include headache, cough, fever, nose bleed, fatigue, skin irritation, and shortness of breath.
Furthermore, severe cases can worsen asthma and lung problems for people with pre-existing lung conditions.
Stachybotrys mostly thrive in kitchens, basements, toilets, and showers. Also, you can spot them on cardboard, wood, and paper materials.
Aspergillus is another type of common mould in households. It is an allergenic mould, but it can develop into toxic type depending on the species and environment. Most are initially white, then rapidly grow to brown, black, grey, or yellow in about three days.
Moreover, it produces airborne spores called conidia that cause health implications.
People with weak immune system are the usual victims of Aspergillus. For instance, Aspergillosis is a disease caused by this type of mould that infects the lungs. Symptoms include fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood. If ignored, the disease might spread to the kidneys or liver and result in their malfunction.
Cladosporium is an allergenic mould that can survive both warm and cold conditions. It is olive-green to brown with a suede-like texture. Most species thrive in furniture, fabrics, and carpets. Moreover, you can also spot them inside cupboards and floorboards.
High exposure to this mould triggers allergic reactions to eyes, nose, skin, and throat. It can cause asthma, skin rashes, lung infections, and sinusitis.
Acremonium is a toxigenic mould that transforms its appearance over time. Initially, it is a small moist mould. Then, it evolves into a pink, grey, orange, or white fine powdery substance. It usually grows in condensers of appliances and window sealants.
Too much Acremonium exposure could lead to diseases that damage the immune system, the bone marrow, and other vital organs. Moreover, it is also a carcinogen. So, it can affect several brain functions if ignored.
Chaetomium is a type of mould that is typically present in water-damaged infrastructures. Its colour darkens from white to black over time. Aside from its cotton-like texture, it also produces musty odour, which makes it more identifiable.
Exposure to Chaetomium causes health risks, such as skin and nail infections. Some species produce mycotoxins that are dangerous to people with underlying health issues and weak immune systems.
Moulds and Mildew: What Are the Similarities and Differences
Moulds and mildew are like two birds of the same feather. They both belong to the fungi family, and they also both prefer moist and warm areas.
More relevantly, most homeowners consider moulds and mildew as nuisances to their living spaces. But most of them find it challenging to differentiate the two.
Mildew is typically white, grey, or yellow and grows mostly on moist and warm surfaces. Moreover, their texture can be fluffy or powdery. On the other hand, moulds are slimy and appear as green or black. Plus, they usually grow underneath the surfaces of moist and warm areas.
In terms of scent, moulds have worse smell than mildew. Moulds tend to release an intense rotten smell that can be easily distinguished. On the other hand, mildew delivers musty odour on the affected surrounding.
Mildew is not as harmful as moulds, but not necessarily safe. When inhaled, it can cause coughing, headache, sore throat and respiratory problems. Meanwhile, moulds can trigger asthma, allergies, and irritations. Moulds also result in specific diseases such as the Aspergillosis discussed earlier.
Also, since mildew mostly thrives on the surfaces, they are easier to remove than moulds that usually stay below the surface.
How to Check for Moulds in Your Home
Moulds can be annoying and unbearable to look at once they have infected different parts of your home. However, identifying them is not as easy as ABC. Note that dark spots on surfaces do not always mean mould infestation.
So, to help you, here is a guide on how to check for moulds in your home:
Inspect home for water leaks
Water leaks are the perfect environment for moulds to grow. However, as soon as you spot black spots or any discolouration near water pipes or on walls, check for an unusual musty odour to be sure.
Some people see specks of dirt as moulds. Aside from an unfamiliar odour, here the other signs of mould growth near water leaks:
- Wet carpets and floorboards
- Wrinkles or bubbles in the paint of interior walls or ceilings
- Damp or soft walls
- Water drips from the roof to the surface of the walls
To prevent the spread of moulds, it is best to repair any signs of water leakages immediately.
Conduct a mould test
Sometimes, mould test is crucial to differentiate moulds from dirt, especially in possible heavy infestation. Mew test kits are available in the market, but you can also create DIY ones.
You can do a quick test with a swab dipped in diluted bleach (1:16 ratio) then dabbed on the suspected area. If the spot lightens immediately, or it returns after cleaning, then moulds are present.
Probe suspected area with sharp tools
Some species of mould would spread at the structure of your home. They can cause structural damage since they feed on and break down organic matter.
So, when signs of mould appear on walls, ceilings, or any other part of the house, it is best to probe a sharp tool to check for infestation. If the wood becomes soft or crumbles, then most likely rotting through moulds have already begun.
Aside from roof leaks, poorly insulated ducts on ceilings can be mould sources. It is one of the ideal places for moulds to start growing. Warm and moist air condenses and creates water on the ducts carrying cold air through the loft.
Condensation proves that the vent is uninsulated or lacking a vapour barrier. Eventually, the water will saturate at the insulation or drywall, and moulds will start to take over. So, it is essential to examine your ducts once in a while and test them for moulds.
Clean These Areas to Prevent Mould Growth
Moulds can grow anywhere, may it be outdoors or indoors. But, they tend to spread in moist and warm areas. So, you know where to spot them. Here are some of the house areas that require cleaning to prevent mould growth:
You might like to shower with hot water, but unfortunately, so does mould. A bathroom is a perfect environment for moulds since it is warm and moist.
Furthermore, without proper ventilation, moulds can spread on a much larger scale. You can spot them on the tiles’ grout, showerheads, faucets, loofahs, sinks, and toilets.
Here are some tips on how to keep your bathroom free from moulds:
- Invest in a ventilation fan or windows in your bathroom.
- Check for leaky water pipes and faucets.
- Avoid leaving your wet towels inside the bathroom, and dry them through the sun as much as possible.
- Clean and disinfect the bathroom at least once a week. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make it free from dirt, bacteria, and moulds.
As moulds feed on organic matter, it is no doubt that they also spread in the kitchen. You might witness most moulds on the leftovers of your refrigerator or dishes on the sinks. The more you leave them unattended, the more moulds will likely take over your kitchen.
The kitchen sink is a potential source of moulds as dirty dishes are a perfect environment for them.
Moreover, wet sponges, faucets, and leaky pipes also invite mould infestation. Meanwhile, moulds also feed on old and expired food from the refrigerator and pantry. And lastly, microwave, cutting boards, and stoves are not exempted from mould attacks as food spillage and grease platters are common in these areas.
Here are some tips on how to keep your kitchen free from moulds:
- While cooking dishes, turn on the ventilation system or open the window.
- Don’t pile up dirty dishes on the sink. Immediately wash them after eating.
- Clean and dry the stovetops, microwaves, tables, counters, and cupboards.
- Organise and clean out the refrigerator once in a while. Also, dispose of the water drips on the fridge tray often.
- Take the rubbish out every day, especially food waste. Here are some food waste disposal techniques to help you.
There’s nothing more satisfying than a good night rest. But, that would not be the case when moulds attack your most comfortable space. Though chances for these microbes in the bedroom are not high, check them to be sure won’t hurt you. Note that moisture is the number one enemy here; it can be anywhere inside or outside the house.
Mattresses are susceptible to moulds as you can spill water or food on them. Furthermore, sometimes you cannot help but sweat and drool while sleeping. And without proper care and cleaning, moulds can conquer your resting area. The scary thing is, you cannot see them until it is too late.
According to research, adults living with mould odours alone have a higher risk of health problems. They would likely suffer from sleeping issues, sneezing, skin rashes, and asthma attacks.
Furthermore, based on another study, children sleeping in a damp bedroom have a shorter sleeping time than regular kids.
Thus, it is essential to solve the mould problems in your home’s bedrooms immediately. Here are some tips on how to keep your bedrooms free from moulds:
- Wash bedsheets, pillows, curtains, and pillow covers at least once a month.
- Purchase a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.
- Invest in a mould-proof mattress or choose a water-proof one if you have a higher budget.
- Eliminate and dry up condensation buildup in windows and walls.
- Check for moulds in your bedroom plants.
- Prevent bad odour problems in your rooms.
Walls and Ceiling
The structure of your house depends on walls and ceilings. As they are always visible, you may want to keep them clean and free from unwanted dirt. However, that is not the case for hiding moulds behind walls and ceiling.
Without notice, they can destroy and rot structural materials, especially wood. You should pay attention to signs of mould infestation and how to check them as presented earlier.
Wallpapers are common ground for mould growth, especially if they are moist and already peeling. Reckless removal can release a cloud of mould spores, which may affect your health or your family. It is best to hire a professional whenever you suspect mould attacks in your walls or ceilings.
Here are some tips on how to keep your walls and ceiling free from moulds:
- Immediately remove mould stains with 1:3 ratio of bleach and water, respectively.
- Open the ventilation fan or doors to avoid condensation buildup.
- Keep an eye out for water leaks and roof damages.
- Get in touch with a professional.
Your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is prone to mould growth as water vapour forms within the duct system. When the cold air passes through, and the environment provides high vapour content, the water droplets usually accumulate instead of evaporating. The signs of moulds in the HVAC system include:
- Mould stains and spots near the HVAC system
- Intense mildew-like or a musty odour in few adjacent rooms
- Eyes, nose, or throat irritation after turning on the AC unit
- Allergic symptoms such as watering eyes, skin rashes, and runny nose
- Sudden headaches that slowly go away when you step outside
- Nausea, fatigue, and dizziness when staying at home
As the HVAC system is available all around the house, here are some tips on how to keep your HVAC system free from moulds:
- Inspect the AC unit if it is draining the right way.
- Make sure that the filters of the AC unit are always dry.
- Consider adding more ventilation in rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
- Remove obstacles in vents to prevent condensation buildup.
- Purchase and use dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture in the air.
Attic and Basement
As the attic or basement contains the pipelines, insulation materials, and other lines essential for living, it is vital to take care of them, especially when heavy rain comes.
Moulds in the attic or basement can bring a lot of problems. They can clog up the pipes once a heavy infestation occurs.
Also, they are potential disease carriers that can spread through the ventilation system.
Here are some tips on how to keep your attic and basement free from moulds:
- Repair roof and pipe leaks, right away.
- Use the proper type of insulation.
- As much as possible, vent outside rather than in the attic.
- Clear out debris and clean the gutter, especially in rainy months.
- Use water-proof or mould-resistant paints.
Even though low-risk, the living room cannot escape from moulds, especially with the chance of adding indoor plants and eating while watching television. Fabrics and upholsteries are excellent mould spore collectors.
If your lounges or other cloth-covered furniture become moist, you should be alert. Do not just look for dark stains and spots, but detect a foul and musty smell.
Moreover, if you own a fireplace, it can get damp when not in use – making it a perfect place for moulds to occupy. Furthermore, bricks – a vital material in fireplaces – are porous, which means they can spread the moulds effortlessly.
Here are some tips to keep your living room free from moulds:
- Utilise dehumidifiers available in the market and make sure it can cover a large area.
- Ensure that the fabric lounges and furniture stay clean and dry.
- Avoid overwatering your indoor plants.
- Clean your fireplace and chimney with the help of a professional.
- Keep your home odour-free.
Without proper solid waste management and segregation, rubbish bins can be victims of mould attacks. In particular, food waste produces moulds, which feed on organic matter. If mixed with other rubbish, these microbes can spread at a much faster rate.
Recyclables should prevent acquiring moulds so that waste recovery facilities can still process them. Once contaminated, they can end up in landfills, which can be problematic in the long run.
Here are some tips on how to keep your rubbish bins free from moulds:
- Sort wastes according to type.
- Label bins to avoid confusion or following a colour scheme can be better.
- Manage food waste and take them outside every day.
- Avoid littering, especially food in the garden or streets.
- In dealing with wastes with moulds, call a trusted removal company like Aussie Junk.
How to Prevent Mould from Coming Back
Prevention is better than cure. As mentioned, moulds can destroy the image of houses. Moreover, they can also bring sickness to people with a weak immune system, allergies, and asthma.
As discussed above, there are some tips presented to prevent them from infesting rooms. However, you might want moulds to avoid coming back. Here are the ways to do that:
Equip with proper tools and protective gear
Battling moulds is not as easy as it seems. After identifying moulds in your area, it is crucial to remove them immediately to avoid further damage.
If you plan to fight them yourself, equip these following materials:
- Rubber gloves
- Buckets and brushes
- Vacuum with a brush attachment
- Mops and sponges
- Soap, bleach, detergent, or commercial mould cleaner
- Furniture polish
Depending on the area you will clean, you might need more materials. Make sure to take safety precautions and avoid inhaling chemicals.
Get rid of mould with natural ingredients
Even though commercial mould cleaners are available in the market, choosing a more natural way to kill moulds is more cost-effective. You can treat them with these household chemicals:
Hydrogen peroxide is an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral chemical. You can apply it on kitchen appliances, counters, cupboards, flooring, fixtures, and walls to prevent mould growth.
To use hydrogen peroxide as a mould killer, follow these steps:
- Pour 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle.
- Test it first on a surface to avoid discolouration or damage.
- If okay, saturate the mouldy surface for about 10 minutes.
- Scrub the area to remove the mould spots and stains.
- Let the surface dry.
Studies suggest that white vinegar can kill 82% of mould species. It is a mildly acidic solution that cleans, deodorises, and sanitises objects and surfaces.
To use vinegar as a mould killer, follow these steps:
- Spray an undiluted vinegar solution to a mouldy area and leave it for an hour.
- Wipe the surface with water and allow it to dry.
- Do not worry about the vinegar smell as it will vanish within a few hours.
Baking soda is a perfect ingredient to prevent mould growth as it kills moulds and absorbs moisture that attracts them. Moreover, it is safe for your family and pets.
To use baking soda as a mould killer, follow these steps:
- Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda into water.
- Spray the solution in the mouldy area and brush the fungi out.
- Rinse the surface with water to get rid of any residue.
- Reapply the solution to help prevent the microbes from returning.
Using essential oils is one of the safest ways to get rid of moulds. In particular, tea tree oil is an antiseptic that slows down or stops mould growth.
To use essential oils as a mould killer, follow these steps:
- Mix a teaspoon of the essential oil and a cup of water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution on the mouldy area and leave it for about an hour.
- Use a microfibre or dry towel to wipe the moulds out.
- If you have sensitive skin, wear protective gloves to avoid skin irritation.
Lemons are natural stain remover, deodoriser, bleach, and cleaner. Furthermore, they are also antiseptic – making them a perfect ingredient to kill moulds for good.
Due to the lemon’s high acid concentration, it can break down moulds effortlessly. Also, it leaves a citric odour, which feels relaxing for some people.
To use lemons as a mould killer, follow these steps:
- Juice lemons on a cup.
- Pour them over a mouldy area and wait for about five minutes.
- Wipe the surface with a damp towel.
- If stains remain, reapply until they are gone.
Keep everything dry
As moulds love to hang out in warm and moist areas, you need to keep your environment dry.
However, that is not always possible. But, you can reduce moisture in the air with the following tips:
- Keep windows open, especially in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Invest in a quality HVAC system.
- Dry your towels and clothes well. Sunlight can kill microorganisms.
- Clean and wash beds, curtains, mattresses, and lounges accordingly.
- If possible, apply mould-proof paints in the rooms.
Mould Clean-Up Checklist
Moulds can be overwhelming without proper knowledge. So, to help you out in battling these dangerous microbes, Aussie Junkprepared this mould clean-up checklist:
- Equip with the right gears to protect your eyes, nose, and skin.
- Remove water from floors, carpets, and surfaces.
- Open all doors and windows while working.
- Use dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. Avoid using fans as they can spread already-grown moulds.
- Remove all moulds that you can see with water and detergents. If you choose the more cost-effective way, use the natural ingredients presented earlier.
- Prevent mixing cleaning products, specifically ammonia and bleach, since they produce toxic vapours.
- Fix water leaks completely.
- Conduct a full house cleanout for unnecessary items that are possible hosts for moulds.
- If moulds get uncontrollable, ask for a professional’s help.
Moulds are microorganisms that can deteriorate a property’s appearance and bring health risks to some people. These microbes mostly thrive in moist and warm areas, making your house a possible host.
Your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, walls, ceilings, and ventilation system are in danger if moulds start to attack. But, solving them is not as easy as it sounds.
We have presented several ideas on how to keep your home safe from moulds. But, we also know that you need assistance to get rid of them for good. Rubbish items, especially food waste, can spread moulds quickly. Fortunately, Aussie Junk is just one call away.
Our team of expert removalists can take mould-infested items anytime and anywhere in Sydney. We understand how moulds can be a risk, so we make sure to discard waste safely. With more than 20 years of experience, we provide the most professional and excellent rubbish removal services.