Dealing with mold and mildew

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Mold and mildew can be a common problem this time of year in Alabama.

They commonly develop in humid summer weather, particularly in closed or poorly ventilated homes.

Molds are a type of fungus and certain molds produce mildew, a thin, usually black growth.

Email newsletter signup

Mildew causing molds flourish whenever it's damp, warm, poorly lighted, and/or where air circulation is poor.

If unchecked, they can cause considerable damage to furniture, fabric,

and wall coverings.

There are several key steps to preventing the growth of molds and mildew.

First, keep areas where it might thrive as clean as possible.

Soil on a dirty article, whether it's furniture or clothing, can supply enough food for mildew to grow when conditions are right.

Next, get rid of the dampness.

Dampness in basements or other structural areas is caused by condensation of moisture from humid air onto cooler surfaces.

You may need to paint your foundation or basement with a waterproof paint.

Make sure water drains away from your home.

Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.

Dry the air in your house.

Air conditioners and dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air.

When using these, keep doors and windows closed.

You also can get rid of dampness by heating the house for a short time.

Then open doors and windows to let moisture-laden air escape.

Air circulation is another important key in keeping mold at bay.

When the air outside is drier than that inside, ventilation allows dry air to enter, take up excess moisture, and then be carried outside.

If natural breezes are not getting the job done, you can use electric fans placed in windows, set in a wall, or ducted to the attic to move air through the house.

Poorly ventilated closets can be excellent breeding grounds for mold in continued wet weather.

Improve air circulation by opening the closet doors or installing a fan.

Hang clothes loosely; don't overcrowd the closet.

This will improve air circulation around the clothes.

Install exhaust fans in the kitchen, laundry area, and bathrooms.

Common chores and bathing can add two gallons of water a day to a house unless it has adequate ventilation.

If you have mildew-staining fabric or other items in your home, it's important to clean it as soon as you discover the problem.

The correct methods for removing mildew vary depending on what the item is made of.

For specifics on removing mildew, please contact the Butler County Extension Office.