So you go awhile between dustings. Let the dog sleep in the bed. Watch moisture bead up on the bathroom window. However, these innocent-seeming habits could be making you and your family really sick. Make sure you address these 13 silent signs your home is moldy.
- Too much moisture. While moisture in the home is normal (bathing, cooking, breathing all contribute), excessive moisture is not. Mold loves humid environments, and if there is excessive moisture in your home, it’s bound to grow, especially in corners and ceilings.
- Bathrooms have poor ventilation. Keep your window open or use the fan when you shower. Excess moisture can cause your paint and wallpaper to detach. Worst still, moisture encourages mold, which thrives and multiplies in your home. Count on damaging your home and your health when your home is moldy.
- Your bedroom is musty. You actually need to move your chest of drawers, desks and other furniture to thoroughly clean. Pull your bed away from the wall, and you might be shocked to see the crud collecting just behind and under your head. And regularly wash your bedding – once very one to two weeks, and purchase a good mattress protector. Turn and vacuum it every couple of months.
- Vacuuming without a HEPA filter. Research from MIT reveals that air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths per year in the U.S., and it worsens asthma and allergies. Therefore, invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency Particulate air) filter vacuum and/or a HEPA whole-house filtration system to prevent tiny particles of dust from being blown back into your indoor air.
- Forgetting to change the vacuum filter. Change it frequently, especially if you see signs of wear and tear. Mold-Help recommends that you do not use the same vacuum to clean your house, your car and your garage, etc. Sadly, you can cross-contaminate your home and belongings, making your home moldy.
- Not cleaning your vents and ducts. Vents harbor a ton of dust from the air, and when you turn on the heat or air conditioning, all those dust particles, which also carry mold and other toxins, are redistributed throughout your house. Enlist a professional to thoroughly clean your ducts with compressed air and air agitators to clear out hard-to-reach areas.
- Using the wrong household cleaners. Chemicals in bath products, dish soap, bleach, and other commonly used products can damage your lungs and airways. Check out www.ewg.org for chemical-free ways to clean your house. Mold-Help recommends white cleaning vinegar (5%), baking soda and peroxide, and alcohol (12%).
- Not dusting correctly. Use a damp cloth to gather dust as opposed to a duster or dry cloth. They will only spread the dust into the air and back onto your furniture and floor. Remember, dust is a common carrier for mold and other toxic particles, making your home moldy and dusty. Do not use the same rag around the house. The rag or dust cloth holds on to the grime from previous surfaces and spreads it to the next. Also, be sure to dust from high to low.
Shoes and Pets
- Wear your shoes inside the house. You wouldn’t roll around on a public bathroom floor, but almost everyone would walk around on one and then walk around their house in the same shoes. Given that your kids and pets roll on your carpets and you put your feet up on the coffee table, Mold-Help suggest that your leave your shoes at the door. Researchers from the University of Arizona found that shoes can track in 400,000-plus bacteria per shoe, include E. coli, as well and moldy leaves and particles from your yard.
- Too much stuff. If you love throw pillows, coffee table books and knick-knacks, then your house is full of dust, dander and pollen that contribute to poor air quality. Unless you plan on constantly moving and cleaning all of your stuff, consider minimizing your furnishing and collections.
- Pets sleep in your bed. When your dog goes outside, he picks up a lot of dirt, germs, mold and even insects (ticks and fleas), and brings them into your bed. These villains, plus pet dander, traps allergens and are mold’s best friends. That means you’re subjecting your sleeping space to a lot of hidden dangers.
Outside your Home
- Ignoring your gutters. Leaky gutters cause moisture buildup. This excess water gets into your walls, basement, foundation and crawl space. It also causes rot, which is a carrier for other toxic particles, and an open invitation to a serious mold infestation. Mold-Help tip: mold hides on the inside of your sheet rock and behind walls. If you see mold in your home, it is very likely that’s only the tip of the iceberg. You will have tons of hidden mold throughout your home.
- You are surrounded by wind-pollinating plants (large shade trees like oaks, maples and beeches; most lawn grasses; common weeds (ragweed and goldenrod). Air currents, and your whole family bring in allergens from your yard that cause allergy symptoms.
The information which is the basis for this article was written by Alexa Erikson for www.rd.com.