Learning how to stop mold from growing is a key way to prevent health problems and keep your home looking its best.
Mold can be found both indoors and outdoors. It grows in damp, warm, water-damaged, and humid environments, and spreads and reproduces by making spores.
If you have a mold problem in your home, solving, it isn’t as simple as just cleaning up the visible mold.
It can grow behind walls, on ceilings and floors, and in other places that you don’t normally see. And it can spread through air ducts and ventilation systems.
It can cause respiratory problems for people with allergies or asthma, so it’s important to deal with it promptly.
The main method of preventing mold from growing in your house is to control humidity levels in your home and fix all leaks and dry any water-damaged materials within 24-48 hours.
There are also many preventive measures you can take to keep yourself safe that I will discuss in this article.
Here’s a list of 11 tips on how you can stop mold from growing:
1. Remove water-damaged materials and kill mold
The first thing that needs to be done is to eliminate the source of the water damage. If you have a leaky roof or pipe, get it repaired as soon as possible. Once this is done, remove any materials that were damaged by flood waters or leaks.
The damaged items need to be discarded as quickly as possible so mold will not have time to grow on them.
If mold has already begun to grow, it must be removed right away.
Remove the damaged materials and kill any mold that has grown. To do this, use a mold removal product that you can buy at Home Depot like Concrobium or 8-12% hydrogen peroxide.
You can also use bleach and water (1 part bleach to 3 parts water) as a DIY cleaner, but bleach is dangerous to breathe in, so be very careful.
Spray the mixture on affected areas and let sit for about 15 minutes before wiping away with a clean cloth or paper towel. Be sure to replace any damaged drywall or insulating material once the mold has been cleaned up.
If you’re dealing with a small amount of mold, you can probably take care of it yourself. However, if the mold has spread over an entire wall or large area of a room, consider contacting professionals for help.
2. Fix All Water Leaks
When there’s water or moisture present, mold can grow on almost any surface — including drywall, ceiling tiles, wood, fabric and paper products — within 24 to 48 hours.
Indoor mold growth happens when mold spores come into contact with moisture. The best way to prevent mold growth is to eliminate moisture from your home altogether.
Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding.
3. Control Humidity
Keep humidity levels low, ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent humidity. Opening your windows and doors often will help you keep the level low.
Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners; open doors between rooms; improve ventilation in attics and crawl spaces; insulate walls to separate the warm side of the house from the cold side.
Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
4. Maintain Proper Ventilation
Air out your house properly by opening windows and doors and turning on fans to help keep the air circulating throughout your home.
Make sure you open a window in your bathroom while and after taking a shower to let it air and dry out.
Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers and stoves. Make sure the vents go outside the house — not into an attic or crawlspace where they can contribute to mold growth.
Ventilate lower levels of your house by opening windows and turning on fans to help keep the air circulating throughout your home.
5. Exhaust Fans
An exhaust fan (or two) is a helpful tool for all kinds of things, including keeping mold away and maintaining proper ventilation. Since bathrooms are wet places prone to mildew issues due to humidity, an exhaust fan can help with ventilation and airflow and help stop mold from growing.
Turn it on while showering or bathing, and leave it on for about half an hour after you’re done to prevent water droplets from collecting on walls or ceilings that could lead to mildew down the road.
If you have a whole-home exhaust fan system, make sure it’s working properly by having it serviced every year or so by a professional technician
6. Dehumidifier and Fans
Use dehumidifiers and fans to remove excess moisture from the air to prevent mold growth. Try to maintain a max humidity level of 30-50%. The lower, the better.
Clean it regularly because mold can also grow within the dehumidifier.
7. HVAC Systems
Mold thrives in warm, damp environments where there’s plenty of food for it to eat. Like other contaminants, mold can build up on the coils of your HVAC system and circulate through your home every time you turn on the heat or air conditioning.
HVAC systems are designed to pull air out of a room and pull fresh, filtered air from outside. Unfortunately, many systems can become poorly maintained over the years and can harbor mold, mildew and other problems.
Have your HVAC unit, coils and ducts cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year. Air duct cleaning services not only remove mold and other contaminants, but also improve the efficiency of your HVAC system.
Install a one-way drain pan on top of the coil pan to catch excess water before it can pool up and become a breeding ground for mold.
8. Remove carpeting in high humidity areas
Carpeting and rugs are beautiful and soft to walk on, but in a home with high humidity or moisture, they can be breeding grounds for mold.
Mold can grow in the carpet fibers and also underneath the carpet. The best way to prevent this is to remove carpeting in areas where there’s moisture, such as bathrooms or basements.
A better choice is to install hard-surface flooring, such as ceramic tile, vinyl or wood laminates. If you don’t want to go to the expense of a whole new floor, consider plush area rugs, but choose them with care. Some fibers are prone to mold growth and odors, while others (such as nylon and polypropylene) repel water and resist stains.
9. Maintain a Clean Home
A cluttered house provides more places for mold to grow and makes it harder to find and remove. Regular cleaning will help keep mold from growing in your home.
Wipe up spills, leaks, and condensation quickly, especially around sinks, tubs and showers.
Sweep and mop regularly. Dirt and dust are often a breeding ground for mildew, so make sure you sweep and mop the floors regularly, especially when you have pets.”
Clean the inside of your refrigerator regularly. Clean bathroom tiles and shower curtains with mold-killing products. Pay special attention to areas of your house that tend to stay damp, such as basements or laundry rooms.
Clean regularly, especially in your living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. Keep all surfaces in your home clean and dry at all times. Simple cleaning materials like soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar are effective at removing stains on hard surfaces like bathroom tiles.
Just make sure you rinse and dry the surfaces thoroughly after cleaning them.
10. Fog your home regularly
Mold and environmental remediators like myself use foggers regularly in their business to kill and prevent toxic mold and other harmful microorganisms.
When used properly, fogging blankets the entire area of a property in a very rapid amount of time. This includes hidden places you couldn’t get to with disinfectant.
I have found that 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide is the best because it is much safer, does not bleach or damage surfaces when applied correctly, and dries incredibly quickly – sometimes within 10-20 minutes.
In a recent study, researchers discovered that fogging with hydrogen peroxide is safe and effective against many types of harmful microorganisms such as mold. The researchers said;
“Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VPHP) represents a safe alternative to the use of these toxic gases and the need for their neutralization prior to release into the atmosphere.
VPHP breaks down into oxygen and water, both of which are environmentally benign. Aqueous H2O2 is active against a wide range of organisms: bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores .”
11. Inspect Your Home Regularly
Don’t forget that moisture problems can be hidden and not always readily apparent. Learn how to inspect your home for hidden water damage to stop mold from growing.
Inspect regularly for leaks and mold or areas where water may be collecting, such as under bathtubs, behind toilets or under sinks.
If you find a leak, repair it promptly to prevent mold from growing in that area.
You should also look for hidden mold in places such as the backside of drywall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, roofs, attics, basements, the underside of carpets and pads, etc.
Keep gutters clean so they can properly drain rainwater away from your home’s foundation.
In a perfect world, mold will never grow in your home.
But if you’ve ever experienced the misfortune of a mold outbreak in the past, you know that understanding how to stop it from coming back is essential for your overall well-being.
Preventing mold growth isn’t difficult if you keep your home dry, clean, and properly maintained — particularly in areas where there is high humidity or moisture.
Hopefully, now you have a few more tricks up your sleeve to try out.
Good luck, and happy cleaning!
Moe Bedard is the founder of Mold Safe Inspections and manager at Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation.
If you need help with a project, please call 760-818-6830.