Laundry rooms offer the perfect climate for mold growth—a space filled with soiled fabrics, heat, and humidity. Mold is not only destructive to the structure of your home; it can jeopardize the health of your family. Taking steps to control humidity, frequently checking for the beginnings of mold growth, and quickly cleaning up small areas of mold growth can keep problems at bay.
Certain molds can cause illnesses and allergies that are a threat to respiratory systems, especially in young children and immune-compromised individuals.
Black Mold vs. Mildew
When you see some type of mold, you need to determine if it is mildew or the much more dangerous black mold.
Mildew is much more common and is a surface mold that grows in damp places. It begins as a gray or white powder and will turn black if not removed promptly. To test if the problem is mildew, dab the area with a cotton swab dipped in chlorine bleach. If the stain lightens or disappears after two or three minutes, it's mildew.
If you see a black or green area that is fuzzy or slimy, this indicates a more dangerous mold. If the drywall or wood underneath the area is soft or crumbles, there is irreversible rot and the mold and the damaged surfaces must be removed immediately.
Lowering Humidity Levels
Keeping humidity in the laundry room below fifty percent will deter mold growth, keep your dryer from working harder, and make you feel more comfortable. Humidity can be reduced with a dehumidifier, an open window, or a good ventilation system with a ceiling vent.
Washer Care Can Reduce Mildew Growth
Clothes should be removed from the washer immediately and hung on a clothesline or dried in the dryer. Wet clothes can mildew in the washer. If they are removed from the washer without treating the mildew stains, spores can spread and cause more problems.
Washers, especially front-load models, can harbor mold and mildew spores that create odors. Frequent cleaning and leaving the door of the washer open after each cycle can help alleviate problems.
Water connections to the washer should be checked frequently for leaks. Even if you don't see a leak, there could be hidden trouble. Using a dry hand or cloth, wipe around each connection to feel for dampness. A water leak will often cause walls to bubble or ripple. It can also cause mold to grow in the insulation behind the drywall. If you see a black or bluish stain on the wall, clean-up must begin immediately.
Dryers and Mildew Growth
The build-up of dryer lint can also cause mold and mildew problems. Whenever possible, the dryer should be vented to an outside vent with an approved rigid dryer duct. The duct should be checked frequently to ensure that it is securely attached to the dryer and is clear of lint. If you feel the transfer of air around the duct when the dryer is operating, there are holes leaking moist air. Replace the duct as soon as possible.
We all know that removing the lint from the dryer filter after each use is essential to keeping your dryer operating properly and preventing fires. Lint can also build-up in the dryer vent and around the outside escape vent encouraging mold growth. If you notice a musty smell in your dryer, it is time to clean the vent thoroughly as well as the outside escape.
How to Remove Mildew Growth
At the first noticeable sign of mildew or whiff of mustiness, use a scrub brush and a solution of water and chlorine bleach to wipe down every surfaces even those that don't show growth.
Be sure to wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself from airborne spores.
Once the mold is removed, clean the laundry room weekly to remove potential food sources for mold spores. Use an antibacterial spray or cleaning product regularly to prevent regrowth.