The Top 5 Places It Hides
Halloween is here and ghosts and goblins are out and about. Luckily, you can keep the spooky things away by staying nice and safe inside your home. Right?!?
Not so fast. Your home may be safe from the ghosts and gremlins, but monstrous mold could be hiding right under your nose.
Have you ever been going about your day, and suddenly felt like something was wrong? What is that musty smell? Where is it coming from? Oh, no! It can’t be! (scary music) Dun, dun, dun! The mold monster is back! AHHHHH!
There are so many unusual and rarely cleaned places that mold can lurk in your home. It’s positively frightening! But fear not! At Branch Environmental, we’ve got you covered! We will tell you about some of the places mold monsters can lurk, and how you can get rid of them!
Mold grows where there is moisture, mold spores, and a food source. Places like bathroom counters and kitchen sinks are likely to produce mold because of the moisture level. What about other places you may not have thought of? Dishwashers and washing machines are places that mold can develop! They have a food source (bits of old food or clothing) and high moisture levels.
This Halloween, we have the top 5 places mold hides in your home. Beware!
1 – DISHWASHERS
Dishwashers are a wonderful technology that help save us time and energy. However, they are also places with high moisture and food particles. The perfect environment for mold monsters to grow!
To clean mold growth on or in your dishwasher you will need 2 simple ingredients: baking soda and white vinegar. Each of these ingredients has the highest safety rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning (EWG). EWG is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Check out their website at ewg.org.
First, clean the outside of the dishwasher including: gaskets, seals, and the steam vent. Using a clean spray bottle filled with undiluted white vinegar, spray the areas that need cleaning and allow it to sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Wipe clean with a paper towel or rag. Next, clean behind the silverware rack, the filter, dish racks and any other interior removable parts with vinegar and a scrub brush; or wash them in hot soapy water before returning them to the machine. Last, clean the interior of the dishwasher by adding a cup of white vinegar to a glass container on the top rack. Balance carefully. Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher. Then, run the machine using a hot water cycle.
To prevent future mold growth: Clean the machine at least once a month. Allow the dishwasher to dry completely as often as possible.
2 – WASHING MACHINES
Washing machines are a perfect place for mold to grow, especially in the hot summer months. Warm moist air and the organic material (from clothing) make a perfect environment for mold monsters to grow! Front loading washing machines are especially susceptible to mold growth because the seal required when washing. If you look inside the rubber gasket of your front-loading washing machine, you will probably find slimy mold monsters growing there! Top loading washing machines are also susceptible to mold growth.
To clean the machine: There are several homemade cleaners that are safer to use than commercial washing machine cleaners. The ingredients you will need include: hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar and lemon juice. Warning: Never mix vinegar and peroxide! Lemon juice is safe to mix with vinegar. Both are acids and can help remove the mold. All 3 solutions have the highest safety rating by EWG.
To clean the gasket of a front loading machine: Take your spray bottle of vinegar (that you used to clean the dishwasher) and spray around the interior of the gasket. Be careful not to spray yourself in the eyes! Be sure to spray the door gasket and window as well. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Clean the inside of the gasket with a scrub brush or an old toothbrush. Rinse with water or wipe clean. Clean any removable compartments with hot soapy water or if truly gross, soak in vinegar first.
To clean a top loading machine: Spray the surface inside the lid and around the top of the machine with vinegar. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Wipe or rinse clean after scrubbing with an old toothbrush or scrub brush. Clean any compartments that are removable in hot soapy water.
To clean the drum: Take 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar (not both) and add it to the compartments of your machine. If it is particularly dirty, add a cup to the drum as well. Run the machine without clothes on the hottest water setting. (My front loading machine has an allergy setting with hot water that is 1 hour and 20 minutes long.) Allow the machine to air dry between washes by always leaving the door open.
To prevent future mold growth: Keep the door of the washer open to allow the machine to air dry. Keep the laundry room door open if possible to allow more moisture to escape. Clean the machine at least once a month using the steps above. Mold growth is higher in the summer when it is warm. So in the summer, you may want to clean more often.
3 – BATHROOMS
Bathrooms are a constant source of moisture and an ideal place for mold to grow. Luckily, mold found in bathrooms is often superficial and can be easily cleaned.
Start by looking at the bathroom exhaust fan, shower curtain, and wall surfaces. If you see any signs of mold here, simply use the cleaners described above to wipe clean. This is also an indication that these areas should be cleaned more frequently to prevent mold growth from recurring.
Once the surface mold is tackled, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Head towards the floor and look along the baseboards where they meet the wall. Look closely at the caulk and grout lines around the tub or shower. Open your vanity and look at the back wall. Any sign of mold in these areas could indicate a bigger problem associated with water in hidden locations. Your bet here is to call in a professional mold inspection.
To prevent future mold growth in the bathroom, follow these steps:
- Run the exhaust fan during and after taking a shower
- If possible, keep a door or window open to allow moisture to escape
- Avoid leaving wet towels hanging
- Regularly clean surfaces and replace shower curtains
- Repair any gaps in caulk or grout
4 – Air Conditioner
Your air conditioner is at the top of the list for mold monster hiding places. It is out of sight and out of mind, but also has a huge impact on the air you breathe.
Start by looking at the filter. You do check your filter regularly, right… If there is any sign of dust it should be replaced. A dusty filter can harbor mold spores and keep your system from operating effectively.
Keeping the filter clean is important, but we still need to dig a little deeper to find all the monsters. The next step is to check the coils. I’m going to stop right here and say that if you don’t know how to find the coils, you should probably call out a pro to do it for you.
The coils are inside the air conditioner unit, and they can harbor some nasty mold growth. Coils should be checked and cleaned at least once every year. Unfortunately, many people go for many years without a comprehensive HVAC service and cleaning.
We’ve saved the best for last. If you have a crawlspace, especially here in the Southeast, you’ve got a great hiding place for mold. It’s an area that does not get much traffic and stays damp and stagnant. On top of that, any small leaks travel down and end up in the crawlspace.
It’s an area where we find a lot of hidden mold and water damage.
You should head down to your crawlspace at least once a year to get a check on things. Pull back the floor insulation and look at the floor joists and decking. If mold is there, it will be easy to spot. Make sure you check a few places throughout the crawlspace, and look around the areas below the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms.
If you do find mold, the cleanup is more than the typical DIYer wants to take on. It’s a good idea to call in the pros for crawlspace mold. But beware, it’s a labor-intensive job to do well, and it’s an area that a lot of companies know you won’t be going behind to check. If you see a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is.
WE’RE HERE WHEN YOU NEED US.
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants. We can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
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