Did you know?
Mildew and molds can grow anywhere there is moisture, dirt and heat. They especially like warm, dark areas, such as bathrooms, closets, basements and crawl spaces. You can find mildew on draperies, bed linens, clothes, shoes, books, furniture and the exterior siding of your home. It can rot fabrics and discolor walls and wood surfaces if it is allowed to continue to grow.
Signs of a moisture problem include musty odors in the home, as well as characteristic black, gray, white or even pink splotches on your walls, furniture, bathroom tile or clothes.
Mildew Control Checklist
- Air conditioner is used when relative humidity is above 60 percent.
- Sheets of polyethylene have been installed over 80 percent of the crawl space.
- Foundation vents are kept open to provide cross ventilation.
- Attic is vented. (Attic fans help.)
- Ventilating fans, vented to the outside, are usedin the kitchen and bathroom.
- Gas heaters are vented to the outside using an approvedflue.
- Clothes dryers are vented to the outside of the house. Damp clothes and lines are hung to dry, not left around damp or wet.
- House and clothes are kept clean. (Remember: mildew begins on dirt.)
- Wet shower curtains are stretched out after every shower.
- Moisture-absorbing materials are used during times of high humidity. Some examples are silica gel, activated charcoal, calcium chloride, moth ball crystals and kitty litter.
- A low-wattage light bulb is kept on in closets to dry out the area.
- Heating system is turned on when the humidity is very high.
- Leather goods are waxed.
- Shrubs that grow close to the foundation are trimmed so that there is 1 foot of air space around the house.
- Mildew is cleaned from any exterior area of the house before repainting.
How to Remove Mildew
In many cases, a simple mixture of 1 gallon water and 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach is an effective mildew remover. In other cases, you may want to use detergent, ammonia, white vinegar, washing soda or some combination of these ingredients. CAUTION: Never mix liquid chlorine bleach and ammonia. This can produce toxic fumes.
There are a number of excellent commercial mildew removal products on the market. Many of these products come with a spray nozzle which makes them easy to apply. They cost more than homemade mildew removers, but sometimes work faster. If you use a commercial mildew remover, follow the directions on the container.
Whether you use a commercial or a homemade mildew remover, make sure you have plenty of ventilation. Raise a window or use an exhaust fan.
To learn more about Mold, Mildew and Moisture Control, please visit the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Buncombe County.