How to get rid of mould… For good!
Mould and mildew are a nightmare for any homeowner. They’re an eye-sore, a health hazard, and can spread like wildfire.
Whether you’ve spotted a small patch of mildew in the bathroom or a larger chunk on an external wall, getting rid of it should be your first priority. The next step is to find out what’s causing it, so you stop it from happening again.
Mould is often a sign of a larger underlying problem in your home: damp. In the long-term, this can damage the structural integrity of your house. Mould and mildew may be a symptom of a deeper problem, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a harmless one. On its own, mould can cause a whole host of problems, particularly in children and the elderly. Exposure to mould and mildew can be very harmful for people with existing skin conditions, compromised immune systems, or respiratory issues such as asthma.
What causes mould and mildew?
Mould and mildew are both caused by humidity – a high level of moisture in the air. Mould only starts growing on a surface once it’s been wet for over 24 hours, so it’s usually a symptom that your property has a problem with damp. If it does, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that one in 18 properties in England suffers from damp of some description.
There are different types of damp, and finding out which one is causing your mould problem is the first step towards stamping it out for good. Condensation is one of the biggest culprits, which is why mould usually forms in the steamiest room of your house: the bathroom. If condensation isn’t an issue in your property, the mould and mildew may be caused by something more serious like rising damp.
Mould and mildew can often be a problem in houses that have naturally high humidity levels, like those near the coast or beside a lake. The moisture levels in the air can increase during long periods of unpleasant weather, and if mould spores get into your property it can lead to patches appearing. If you notice mould or mildew in your home after a few weeks of rain, it might be caused by a general increase in the humidity in your home. If the mould or mildew is worse in one patch, it could be a sign of a weakness in your property’s external walls or a leak in your guttering.
How do I deal with a mould and mildew problem?
Start with a simple session of mould and mildew removal. Wear rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask. It might sound a bit excessive, but mould is nasty stuff and you don’t want to breathe it in. You can use a specialist mould and mildew cleaning spray, or create one yourself with household cleaning items. One part bleach to four parts water is an effective mould and mildew killer. Remove mould with a damp cloth, scrubbing gently until its gone. Once you’re finished, dry the area well with a soft cloth.
Mould and mildew likes warm, moist, dark spaces. Open the curtains during the day so that there’s plenty of natural light. If you notice any condensation gathering on your walls or ceiling, dry it immediately. Mould doesn’t appear from nowhere – it’s a fungus, and grows from spores. Cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming often will get rid of dormant spores and reduce the chances of the mould coming back. Mould and mildew feed on organic materials like wood, cotton, and cardboard. Disinfect all of your wooden surfaces, wash fabrics, and replace cardboard storage boxes. This will get rid of any spores that are still lurking in your home.
Is there a long-term solution to tackling mould and mildew?
If you want to prevent mould and mildew from ever coming back, then you need to get to the bottom of the problem. It’s essential that you find out what’s causing damp in your house and take the proper precautions. For example, if it’s an issue with condensation then you’ll need to tackle your home’s humidity. Invest in some dehumidifiers, keep the bathroom and kitchen doors tightly closed, and make sure you open a window whenever you’re cooking on the stove top or using the tumble dryer, as these both release excess moisture into the air.
If the mould is being caused by water entering your home via damaged or blocked guttering, then you will either need to repair it, replace it, or clear it out. Sometimes mould can be caused by damaged brickwork or leaking pipes within your internal walls, which should be tackled by a professional. Once these problems are fixed, the mould should stop growing. If your property is suffering from rising damp, you will need to contact a professional builder. They will be able to add a damp proof course, which creates a barrier and stops water from being absorbed from the ground.
Ventilation is the enemy of damp. Once you’ve discovered the root of your problem it’s important to keep your property well ventilated to stop the damp from coming back. Always use an extractor fan when you take showers and cook meals. Try to keep activities that generate steam isolated, and keep your windows open to allow air to flow in and out of your property. If you live in a naturally humid area it’s a good idea to invest in some high quality dehumidifiers. These remove the moisture from the air and make it impossible for mould to grow.