Mold and mildew aren’t just cleaning issues, they’re health issues. According to The Environmental Protection Agency, high levels of mold and mildew cause allergy related symptoms like shortness of breath, sniffling and sneezing. Some health professionals think that’s just scratching the surface. Molds also produce chemicals called mycotoxins that are lethal to some animals - and could have serious health implications for humans such as lung inflammation, lupus – even cancer! Terri Pearce, studies mold for The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She says that since moldy areas aren’t always visible to the naked eye, your best bet is to follow your nose. If you notice a musty or mildewy smell in parts of your home – especially basements or areas where dampness is a problem - you need to take action:
- Get rid of dust. Mold and mildew are really just tiny plants known as fungi, and like all plants, they need soil. Since they’re so small, it only takes a few dust bunnies to start a bumper crop. While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to hit two places mold loves – drawers and closets.
- Since mold and mildew thrive in warm, damp places, you need to repair leaky roofs and foundations, and lower the humidity in your home to below 60%. Wanda Eubank is an education specialist with The University of Missouri Extension Program. She says that you can use a dehumidifier in open spaces like basements and attics, or just turn up the heat. Then, once you’ve gotten rid of the moisture and dirt that cause mold, you need to give the place a good scrub. Start with a mixture of laundry detergent and water, and follow with a solution of one part bleach to three parts water.
- Coat the area with a borax solution. The borates that give the cleaner its name prevent the mold from growing back.