Mold Makes Spring Cleaning More Important than Ever
Spring is the perfect time to give your house a top-to-bottom cleaning. Mold can hide in the most inconvenient places and grow out of control with moisture and warmth. As you work through each room, check for excess moisture. A cluttered and dirty home means more places for mold and mildew to thrive.
Intensive cleaning is important for eliminating allergens in the air and reducing the potential for asthma, allergy flare-ups and mold sickness. If you were mold, where would you hide? It is essential to regularly clean your home to prevent mold and mildew from finding additional food sources to support their growth.
Protect Yourself During Spring Cleaning
- If you are highly allergic, ask someone else to do the cleaning. Stay away at least 2 hours after a thorough cleaning to let any airborne dust settle.
- If you plan to do the work, wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose while dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming.
- Wear gloves. Best to throw out the gloves and buy new ones after a deep clean.
- Dress in long sleeves and pants, so no allergens can bother your skin.
- Shower immediately after cleaning. Tea Tree Oil or peppermint shampoo and a natural, unscented soap help to detox your body.
- After your shower, spray your whole body with a mist of alcohol to kill any remaining mold. Tip: This is a good practice to use if you smoke to remove any unwanted allergens.
- Throw your clothes directly into the washer. If you directly encounter mold, put your clothes in plastic bags, and throw them away (while wearing mask and gloves!)
Important Cleaning Tips
- If you use a fan, put it on the reverse setting to draw the dust out through an open door or window. Otherwise, keep your windows closed while cleaning, so the dust and mold spores will not blow around and cross-contaminate other areas of your house.
- Choose cleaning supplies wisely. Remember, NO BLEACH. Choose from natural cleaning supplies, like white vinegar, alcohol, and essential oils.
- Small mold infestations can be cleaned with EPA registered botanical disinfectants like Benefect and Rammo for safety and approved environmental impact. These products also work on bacteria and other organisms. www.benefect.com/US/mold-php. https://myrammo.com.
- Clean from top to bottom, and wipe down surfaces with a wet or damp cloth to capture dust. High plant pollen, dead skin cells, clothing and paper fibers, pet hair, and mold all collect in dust and produce many allergy and asthma symptoms.
- Take the time to look and clean inside drawers, closets and storage areas.
- Replace cardboard boxes with plastic containers with lids. Mold loves paper!
- Take things apart to clean when possible. What about that CPAP machines or the inside of your fans, or your coffee pot?
Prevent Dust and Mold in your Home
- Heat & Air Systems
- Do not forget to change your air filters frequently (ideally every 1-3 months)
- Clean your heat and A/C vents. This task is usually best handled by a professional. Mold can easily find hiding places in your vents.
- Check for water damage around the ductwork and vents. If you suspect that you have a moisture issues, do not clean the area as you can disturb the mold spores and potentially spread the problem to other areas of your home. Call a professional for a mold inspection.
- Inspect your HVAC unit to make sure the drain lines flow properly.
- Clean the drain pans.
- If mold forms on the ceiling under a duct or register and there is not sign of a roof leak, badly insulated ductwork may be the cause. Warm, moist air condenses and forms water on ducts carrying cold air through the attic or crawl space. Condensation is a sign of uninsulated ductwork or a missing vapor barrier.
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water. Adding borax helps to increase the cleaning power. Use fragrance-free detergents.
- Dust mites love sheets and beds. If washable, consider cleaning your pillows and bedspreads periodically to limit your exposure to dust and mold.
- Consider allergen covers or casings for your pillows and mattresses. They are easier to wash.
- Washing Machine
- Clean your washing machine with 6% white cleaning vinegar periodically to remove any mold buildup in the machine itself.
- Dry your washed clothing thoroughly before use.
- Check around washing machines for plumbing leaks.
- Children’s Toys
- Consider washing stuffed animals if you are allergic to dust mites. Pop them into the gentle cycle on hot for a quick clean.
- Clean your children’s hard surface toys with alcohol or white vinegar to kill virus and bacterial, as well as mold.
- Use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans. Run your bath fans during your bath or shower and for a half hour after to flush out moisture. They will improve airflow, and keep your home’s humidity at a good level. Make sure your fan is the right size for your bathroom. Replace it with a larger model if it’s too small.
- Run bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans while you clean to dry up any moisture you may be creating.
- Clean or replace shower curtains and bathmats.
- Wash window sashes and seals. Check for mold. Tip: excess moisture on your windows and frames during showering indicates potential mold issues.
- Scrub visible mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water.
- Use a squeegee to remove water from shower walls after you bathe. This step alone can eliminate most of the moisture that supports mold and mildew growth.
- Clean under your refrigerator and check for evidence of leakage.
- Check under your sink and around your dishwasher for water damage.
- Take apart and clean your coffee pot. Run vinegar water through the system to remove mold.
- Clean the seals and interior of your dishwasher with hot soapy water or vinegar and water. Run an empty load to sanitize the inside.
- Eliminate Moisture
- Use moisture meters to insure the humidity in your home is 50% or less.
- Use dehumidifiers in areas where moisture collects.
- Use water absorption products in your closet.
- Eliminate ALL standing water – insider and out.
- If you Cannot Wash
- Take couch cushions and pillows outside to beat, if you cannot wash them. Sunlight does not kill mold, but at least you will not be adding to the dust inside your home.
- Replace any carpet with vinyl, tile, or wood flooring. If carpeting is unavoidable, it should be synthetic short pile with a synthetic pad. Vacuum frequently.
- Wash pet beds to rid your home of fur, dander, and saliva and keep any pet-related symptoms at bay.
- Keep your pets clean by brushing (best outside) or bathing them regularly.
- Keep pets healthy with frequent visits to the vet for shots, dental cleanings and worming.
- Tackle Hard-To-Reach Places.
- If you are going to truly spring clean, then you need to get those places you have ignored all year. This includes tops of doorways, ceiling fans, under lampshades, blinds, baseboards, walls, and the outside of your refrigerator.
- Check and clean curtains, plants, screens and other small crevices for an accumulation of dirt and dust.
- Remember to use your mask and gloves
Look for Mold Outside the House
- Clean and repair roof gutters. Make sure water can flow freely when it rains.
- Check around the foundation of the building to see if water collects, which can cause mold to grow on the inside of the home.
- Adding diatomaceous earth to the soil can help prevent excessive moisture and mold growth.
- If mold is growing on an exterior wall, look for a leak in the roof.
- Closely inspect vents, roof flashing, decks, window wells and anywhere wood is rotting. Properly install flashing when you’re fixing the leak.
- Look for ground sloping toward the house and downspouts emptying next to the wall. When the ground gets wet, moisture will wick into your foundation and become persistent dampness.
- Tackle the basement for accumulation of upholstered furniture, old books and linens and holiday decorations to make sure they are not moldy. If they are mold free, place them in plastic storage containers with a label. If the items are moldy, and porous, place them in plastic bags and throw them out. If they are non-porous, wash them with hot soapy water or alcohol (wear gloves and mask), let them dry thoroughly and place in plastic containers.
- Remember to check the garage. Look for leaks or flooding. Inspect the roof for water marks or leaks.
- Remove candles, air fresheners, scented soaps and perfumes. These home items include chemicals that could trigger asthma attacks.
- Invest in an air purifier. Those with allergy symptoms would benefit from an air purifier that filters airborne dust particles.
- If your home has a wood burning fire or fireplace, store all firewood outdoors.
- Check around all water pipes, waste lines, ice maker lines or plumbing fixtures to identify leaks. Repair any leaks as soon as possible. Using a professional is advisable.
- Remember that water can travel in any direction – even up when it wicks into absorbent materials like drywall. Keep looking until you trace down the leak – it might be some distance from the mold.
- Don’t ignore mold. It is a warning sign of a moisture problem. Find and stop the water source.
- Small or hidden mold growths sometimes make a surface look dirty. Mold is often carried through the air with dust. Mold test kits are available that detect the presence and identify the type of mold.
- Thoroughly wash all seasonal clothing items before storing them.
Getting rid of dirt, debris and other sediment and ensuring a clean home can significantly reduce your chances of developing a mold problem. By cleaning regularly, you’re also more likely to notice signs of mold growth such as wall discoloration, black spots and water stains. Let your mantra be clean it, dry it or get it out of your house.