The spread of mold throughout a home can be pretty common. This is especially true in small, enclosed spaces such as closets. It loves places with moisture and will appear in areas with leaks or where there has been flooding. Mold spores live both outside and inside and can attach themselves to shoes and clothing. When a spore lands in a place with excessive moisture, it will grow. Mold can be cleaned but is likely to return if you don’t fix the underlying cause: what attracted the mold in the first place. Repairing the source of the mold is essential for getting rid of mold for good.
Signs of mold
There are a few signs of mold within the home. Some are obvious, but others may surprise you.
Mold smells damp and musty, similar to an old book. This smell is due to a chemical the mold releases during its life cycle.
Brown or black spots on clothing, walls, floor, or carpet
If you discover brown or black fuzzy spots on clothing, walls, floors, or within the carpet and rug, this is most likely a visual indicator you have mold.
Molds affect people in different ways. If you seem to have headaches at home, which persist regularly, this could indicate a mold problem.
Respiratory symptoms that won’t go away
Stuffy noses and itchy eyes are common mold issues. People with asthma may be affected far worse. A severe reaction in this fashion can also indicate a high level of mold.
Mold is attracted to moisture. If you’ve found mold, you’ve found a moisture issue within the home that needs to be addressed.
Plumbing or ceiling leaks
If any part of your home leaks, such as the plumbing or ceilings, this water will invite mold. Mold requires the damp to live, and a persistent leak is an ideal place for mold to grow.
Damp clothes in the closet
If you cannot fully dry your clothes before you place them in your closet, they will struggle to dry. Clothing that remains damp can attract mold.
The EPA recommends keeping your home’s humidity between 30 – 60%. You can accomplish this using air conditioning and dehumidifiers. Use exhaust fans while cooking or using the dishwasher, and do what you can to otherwise increase ventilation.
How to get rid of mold
How you tackle mold in your home depends on what you’re dealing with. You can usually clean mold without help, but a big problem will likely call for a professional.
Inspection to identify the source
If you find mold in your home, it may be worth hiring someone to investigate it further. A home inspector is a great resource; their job is to scour a home inside and out for potential issues, and mold is something they’ll have a keen eye for. They’re going to be able to give you a healthy estimate of the problem and tell you what you should do.
DIY closet cleanout
You can clear small areas of mold yourself, but you want to reduce your exposure to it. You must wear protective gear: rubber gloves, an N-95 mask, and goggles. You can scrub with water and bleach or detergent. Vinegar can also help, but do not use bleach and vinegar on the same surface – it’s one or the other. There are also mold cleaning products you can purchase.
Ensure the room is well-ventilated
You’ll want to open windows for fresh air and utilize fans to move that air into the closet for ventilation. The air combats the mold but also gives you fresh air to breathe.
Remove all clothes from the closet
Mold spores can latch onto clothing, so be sure to remove all clothes from the closet when you clean the mold.
Dampen the mold to keep spores from blowing around
As mold dries, it dispenses spores to find new places to grow. Dampening the mold before scrubbing it will help prevent spores from blowing around your home.
Spray a 50/50 Vinegar solution
You can create a cleaning solution with equal parts water and vinegar. Spray it onto moldy surfaces like doors, shelves, and walls. Let this sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing it.
Rinse affected areas after using a spray bottle and a cloth
Once you’ve let your solution do the work, use water in a spray bottle and a cloth or rag to clean the mold. You’ll want to throw the rag out in a sealed bag that you take outside immediately. You’ll also want to wash your clothes in a hot water cycle, separate from your other laundry.
Let the surfaces of the closet completely dry before storing clothing back in
You don’t want to attract more mold once you’ve cleaned it. Ensure the closet is completely dry before you put your clothes back in. This is a good time to hone your closet design and reconsider how you store your items.
Professional mold remediation
This advice is great for small mold patches, but for large patches, you will need a professional. Mold is hazardous, especially in large quantities, so hire someone with the tools and expertise to handle the job.
For mold prevention it’s all about dealing with moisture. That’s not always easy, as we explore various problematic areas within the home.
Fix all leaks
This is unavoidable. If you have a leaky pipe or ceiling, you will need to get that fixed.
Keep clothes dry
Damp clothes are just as susceptible to attracting mold as damp walls. A smart closet organization can assist in this.
You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference proper storage can make.
Make sure clothes, shoes, and bags are never put away damp or soiled
If your clothes are wet, consider hanging them near room fans or toss them in the dryer.
Use water repellents
These not only protect your clothes but can also repel mold and moisture.
Don’t overcrowd your wardrobe
By ensuring your closet has room to breathe, your clothes can air out. Consider decluttering and donating clothing you no longer wear.
Never store garments in plastic bags
Plastic bags trap moisture inside and are favorite places for mold to get into.
Cleanliness will lead to all the tips above about decluttering, ensuring your clothes have room to breathe and are washed and thoroughly dried.
Keep a dehumidifier close
Dehumidifiers are great at what they do – removing moisture from the air. It is always a good idea to have one at hand.
Install proper ventilation
If you can, have a vent in the closets or spaces that tend to be problematic. This will make all the difference and can come in various forms, like fans and venting.
The handy thing about box fans is you can buy them in so many shapes and sizes, so you can get the ones that work for your space and ensure you’re pushing air exactly where it needs to be.
An exhaust is great because it pulls the air out of your room and sends it outside. These are used in all bathrooms for this very reason.
Place moisture-absorbing products inside your closet
There are a variety of products you can use that reduce moisture as well.
A silica gel, which I mentioned above, is a desiccant agent. Its job is to keep water out of areas you don’t want.
Baking soda is one amazing product. Placing it in a moist problem area will help absorb a lot of that moisture, drying the air around it.
These are designed to capture moisture and keep your clothes spic and span. Plus, they look nice when you open your drawers, which is a bonus.
The best way to handle mold is to prevent it. You can do this by keeping areas clean, free of clutter, and ensuring you have proper ventilation throughout the house. If you have a small patch of mold, you can clean it yourself. If you have a significant mold problem, you’ll want a professional. Either way, mold is indicative of a bigger problem, which you’ll also want to fix. These problems can include leaks from pipes or ceilings. Either way, mold can be hazardous to your health and must be dealt with.