Mildew creates unsightly stains and foul smells everywhere it grows, making it an unwelcome guest in the home. Beyond this, its presence can be highly destructive. Whether growing on fabrics, wood, or tile grout, mildew eats away at its host.
This can lead to ruined belongings and a weakened house structure if the problem goes untreated. To ensure that mildew cannot make your house it’s home, it is necessary to remove it and prevent it from coming back. In the following article, you will find advice on how to eradicate it as well as how to remove the conditions that promote its growth.
When a certain type of fungus called mold finds a source of food, it begins to grow. The spots of black or white that result are commonly referred to as mildew. Mold spores are always present in the air, but only under certain conditions will they result in mildew. In areas where the temperature is comfortable (between 41 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit), food is available (even from dirt or decayed wood), and there is moisture, mildew abounds.
Unfortunately, this growth offers much worse consequences than a foul odor. Millions of people are highly allergic to mildew, to the point that they may not be able to function properly if they are exposed to it. There is a condition called “Sick Building Syndrome” that people living in highly mildew-contaminated homes develop. Respiratory and sinus ailments (sinusitis, bronchitis, and cold-like symptoms) abound in these people, often in conjunction with chronic but unexplainable fatigue.
To save your family from these problems, as well as to protect your belongings, you need to make it impossible for mildew to flourish in your home. The temperature fluctuations inside a house are largely uncontrollable simply because people cannot comfortably live outside of the weather range in which mildew flourishes.
Therefore, it is necessary to consider the other factors that the growth needs to survive: moisture and food. In basements, mildew often runs rampant because of their perpetual dampness. Insulate walls properly and make sure that outside drainage is adequate. Otherwise, water will always seep in, creating a damp surface to which mildew will be attracted.
Use a humidifier to draw excess moisture out of the air, here and everywhere else in your home where it feels humid. Do not allow damp laundry to sit, even if it is hung up to dry. Soiled clothing is an ideal food source for mildew; so wash dirty laundry as quickly as possible. Inspect every drawer, closet, and crawl space in your home for mildew growth. If it is present, you will need to destroy it.
As mentioned previously, fabrics are an excellent food source for mildew, especially those that are stored closely or in dark damp places. To clean stained fabrics, first, take them outdoors to shake off mildew growth. Otherwise, it will move from the floor around the home in search of another place to grow. Hang them up in a warm well-ventilated place until they are completely dry.
At this point, you can attempt to remove stains using bleach, lemon juice, or sodium perborate. Remember to follow the care instructions on the fabric to ensure that these products will not harm it. Dab the product onto spots and let it sit until the stain had faded. If mildew growth occurs in carpeting, rugs, or furniture upholstery, you should first remove any visible spores. Vacuum the area thoroughly, making sure not to re-use the bag.
Once you spot clean with soap and warm water and allow the fabric to dry, most stains should be removed. Dry these surfaces as quickly as possible, using a hairdryer or space heater to speed the process if it is necessary. If the problem persists, you can treat the fabric with an appropriate commercial mildew inhibitor at regular intervals.
Paper is also vulnerable to the effects of mildew growth. If your book collection has been tainted, do not rush to throw it out. First, take the book outside and shake off the mold spores. Let it dry out completely, adding cornstarch between pages to speed up the process, and examine the pages for stains. These can be gently removed with a cloth dipped in soapy water and wrung out thoroughly. If you still see stains, use bleach to spot-treat the pages. This treatment is also effective for wallpaper that is riddled with mildew growth.
Like paper, wood is a favorite food source for mildew. Its treatment can be difficult because spores find their way into its pores over time and can cause extensive damage. However, surface growth can be treated with a commercial disinfectant or antimicrobial spray specially designed for wood. Remove paint under which mildew has spread to completely treat the area.
If the wood is still stained, you can use a chemical called oxalic acid (dilute three tablespoons per pint of water) to scrub the surface again. Open up windows in the home to completely dry out the wood afterward, turning on the heat if possible. Finally, repaint wood as desired, using a mildew-resistant primer to inhibit future growth.
In other parts of the home where mildewing is common, especially in the bathroom, it is easy to treat the problem. Commercial tub, tile, and basin cleaners are often designed to kill the unpleasant fungus. Once the room is clean, take precautions to ventilate the room well after each shower.
Open a window, turn on the exhaust fan, and spread out the shower curtain so that everything dries thoroughly. Afterwards, you can treat all of these surfaces with mold inhibitors to prevent repeated spore invasions. By taking these measures throughout the home, you can ensure that your house will be a clean, odor-free, and safe place for you and your family to live.