Mould can be dangerous for anyone, but if you live with infants, the elderly or people with respiratory issues, it’s especially problematic. Apart from the health implications, mould can ruin your furniture and even compromise the structural integrity of your home.
But what exactly is it? Mould you find in your home is an airborne spore that thrives in warm, damp conditions. It can form on virtually any surface, from textiles, to wooden furniture, tiles, painted concrete walls and plastics.
Winter is prime time for mould infestations, as we tend to keep windows and doors closed to keep out the elements. In doing so, your home lacks proper ventilation, which causes the build-up of humid air. As days and weeks tick on, condensation gathers making for perfect damp conditions for mould to form.
Always check to see if mould growth is covered by your home insurance policy.
Luckily, there are plenty of precautions you can take to make sure your house in mould-free this winter.
Open Windows While it’s tempting to batten down the hatches until spring, try to ventilate your house as much as possible. Kitchens and bathrooms are at the highest risk of developing mould, so when cooking or having a shower, open a window or two for a short time to help the moisture flow out of the house instead of building up. Alternatively, have air vents retro-fitted into your windows if you’re concerned about letting the heat out.
Keep Doors Shut Since kitchens and bathrooms are the most common sites for mould, try to confine excess moisture to those rooms when in use. For instance, don’t leave the bathroom door open while having a shower or bath. If you do, the steam will travel around the house more freely, potentially causing mould problems in other rooms. Over time, condensation can build up on walls in your hallway or landing, leading to mould growth.
Clean Carpets If you notice a musty, unpleasant odour in carpeted rooms, it’s important to take action. While invisible to the naked eye, mould could be spreading right under your feet.
Prevention is the best cure, so invest in high-quality carpet padding with anti-microbial properties. While this can be a little more expensive, it will save you money and hassle in the long run if you are unfortunate enough to have a mould breakout.
Make sure to vacuum carpets regularly, and get them professionally cleaned once a year to ensure they’re mould free.
- Check for Leaks While the use of household appliances such as kettles and showers can cause moisture build-up, it’s worth checking your house thoroughly for any leaks or cracks that could be bringing excess moisture into the home.
Common spots that should be checked include under sinks, behind toilets, around your washing machine and dishwasher and under radiators. If you find a leak, call a plumber. Mould in ceilings can also be caused by blocked drainpipes.
- Clear the Clutter We’ve all heard of doing a ‘spring clean’, but winter is probably a better time to throw away or recycle old bric-a-brac and clothes. The more belongings we have, particularly stuffed in cupboards and wardrobes, the less space air has to circulate – and air circulation is vital for controlling mould growth.
As the colder months start to creep in, spend a day clearing your house of unwanted clutter. You won’t regret it!
Don’t Dry Clothes Indoors It may be tempting to put your clothes on a clothes horse or radiator to dry them indoors, but without ventilation, the moisture will evaporate from the clothes and settle on the ceiling and walls, contributing to your mould problem. Consider investing in a tumble dryer instead, and if that’s not possible, open plenty of windows when airing your clothes.
Clean Extractor Fans Over time, extractor fans in your kitchen or bathroom can become clogged and lose power. Keep them running smoothly by having them serviced and cleaned regularly. Extractor fans are essential for filtering humidity and bad odours outdoors.
Use a Dehumidifier Dehumidifiers drastically reduce humidity levels, making your home less hospitable to mould, mildew and dust mites. The first time someone runs a dehumidifier in their home, they may be surprised to see just how much water it collects from the air. Some can gather up to 20 litres in just a few hours! This is typical of the first use, but if used regularly, moisture levels in the air will drop.
They can be hugely beneficial for allergy sufferers, as they reduce dust build-up too. Dehumidifiers come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Talk to your local home appliance supplier for information on getting the best dehumidifier for your home.9. Clean the Mould So, what do you do if you find a patch of mould in your house? Don’t panic. While there are numerous products out there for cleaning mould, many are loaded with harmful chemicals and allergens and should only be used as a last resort.
Instead, try homemade solutions. Surprisingly, the natural acids in white wine vinegar have been proven to be effective in removing certain household moulds, and safe to use when cleaning.
Pick up a bottle of the white stuff in any supermarket and put it into a spray bottle. Spray it on the surface where mould is growing and scrub with brushes or sponges. If you are worried about vinegar irritating your skin, wear rubber gloves.
While vinegar fumes are not toxic, you might want to wear a mask to block the strong smell. Not only does it effectively remove mould, but cleaning your house with vinegar regularly will stop it growing back.
- Mould removal and prevention products If all else fails, bring in the big guns! Go to your local hardware store and ask about anti-mould products.
There are hundreds of products out there to help you. From thick anti-mould paint to mould killer spray, they can keep growth at bay for up to six years.
If the problem re-occurs, ask a specialist to take a look. Our home is our refuge from the outside world, so regularly check yours to keep it mould-free.