Mold is a very common problem here in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially in the rainy season. Mold is not dirt. It is a living organism. Mold produces stains on walls and makes clothes smelly musty There are a lot of myths about mold. First of all, there is no such thing as a ‘mold-free’ apartment. Mold is everywhere. It is in every room in your house. It is in your car, it is in your clothes, it is in your drawers. There is mold in every restaurant, coffee shop, and doctor’s office that you have ever visited. If you have cheese in your refrigerator, then there is mold in your refrigerator because adding mold to milk is how they make cheese.
The most important thing to remember is that mold needs moisture. That is why there is a lot more mold here in the bay area during the winter rainy season than in the summer. To reduce or kill mold, you must address the conditions that allow mildew to grow.
AIR. Mold likes moist, stagnant air. Let in fresh air, particularly in high humidity areas, such as the bathroom and kitchen. Keep a window ajar or use an exhaust fan, if there is one, to allow the air to circulate. Mold and mildew can grow quickly in wet clothes and towels. Don’t let wet clothes or towels sit on the floor or in a pile. Wash and dry wet clothes and towels frequently.
LIGHT. Mold grows in dark places. Let in sunlight. Don’t keep your window shades closed all the time. There are many unhealthy micro-organisms in addition to mold that thrive in dark places that are killed by sunlight. This explains why green mold grows on the north side of trees but not on the south side. Living in a perpetually dark room is very unhealthy. That is why it is illegal in California to use a room without a window or skylight as a bedroom.
HEAT. Mold likes heat. Don’t overheat your house.
Mold Remover. There are many mold removal products sold in supermarkets and drug stores. Make sure that the product says that it disinfects. Be sure that you are not buying soap scum remover, which is often placed next to the mold remover in stores and often comes in very similar containers. If you want a free bottle of mold killer, you can pick one up in my chocolate room! I always keep it in stock. Read the label. To remove mold on a bathroom ceiling, use a sponge mop on a stick. That way, you can clean the ceiling without getting on a ladder.
Bleach. Don’t use bleach to remove mold or mildew. While bleach will kill mold, it is much less effective in preventing mold from returning than mold remover. Bleach may damage your walls, and your room will smell like an over-chlorinated swimming pool when you are done.
Mildew is not dirt. It is a living organism. It produces stains on walls and has an unpleasant musty odor. Mildew is unhealthy, as mildew gets into the air we breathe. There are 3 conditions that promote the growth of mildew and mold: humidity, heat, and stagnant air. To reduce or eliminate these conditions:1. Let in fresh air, particularly in high humidity areas, especially the bathroom. Keep a window ajar or use the exhaust fan, if there is one, to allow air to circulate.
2. Let in sunlight. Don’t keep window shades closed all the time. There are many micro-organisms that thrive in dark rooms that are killed by sunlight. I have tenants who keep the window shades in their bedrooms closed all the time. Sunlight never gets in. I tell them that this is very unhealthy, but I can’t make them open their shades. It is illegal in California under the state health code to use a room as a bedroom that does not have a window or skylight to let in natural sunlight. When was the last time you opened the window shades in your bedroom to let in sunlight?
3. Don’t overheat the house. Contrary to a widely held misconception, furnaces do not put out more heat the higher the thermostat is set. All a thermostat does is turn the furnace on and off. It does not regulate or control the height or size of the flame.
4. Don’t let damp clothes or towels sit on the floor or piled up. A house full of clutter is far more likely to have mildew and mold than a clean, tidy house.
Mildew Removal. There are many mildew removal products sold in supermarkets. Read the label before use. Some of these products cannot be used on walls, only tile.
Bleach. It is a myth that the most effective way to remove mildew is with laundry bleach. While bleach will remove mildew, it is much less effective in removing mildew or preventing its return than Tilex or Lysol Mildew Remover. They sell these products at Walgreen’s and Safeway. A big bottle costs around $5.
Remember, mildew is not only unattractive and smelly, it is also a health hazard, one that you can easily and cheaply control!