Spring Cleaning, Part III – Mold

By Heather Legg

As we worry about the spring pollen allergies which are quickly falling upon us, we can’t forget what else warmer weather can bring, mold. Mold is a prominent allergy that can be with us year round, and sometimes we don’t even know it. Though mold does thrive in warmer weather, that doesn’t stop it from keeping residence in your home throughout the year.

Mold can cause symptoms ranging from runny nose to severe sneezing and even ear infections caused by congestion. Usually the symptoms clear up when you are not in contact with the mold, so it’s fairly easy to tell where the problem is. For instance, if you begin to sneeze as soon as you enter your office, but are fine when you leave, there may be a mold problem there.

Mold can be in a wide variety of areas, including closets, refrigerator drip trays, air conditioners, garbage pails, mattresses, foam rubber pillows, attics, carpets, and upholstery. As you can see, this covers a lot! Obviously, if mold is in the air conditioner, it’s going to be all over your home or office when the air conditioner goes on. And every time you try to relax on your upholstered sofa, you may suffer a sneezing attack if mold is there. Certain rooms are more susceptible to mold than others, like the bathroom or basement, where humidity is high. Also certain areas of the country, like the South, are more prone to mold growth, because of higher temperatures and humidity.

So what can you do to prevent or get rid of mold? Keep humidity at bay! Use an exhaust fan in your bathroom, if you don’t have one, don’t lock the steam in. Open a window or leave the door cracked while you shower so the humidity can escape and it won’t be so easy for mold to grow. Clean your shower and bathroom often with a mold and mildew cleanser. Mold loves to grow between tiles and grout, and regular cleaning beats doing it after there is actually mold and mildew build up. Wash your shower curtain. Plastic liners can be washed in your washing machine just like cloth curtains, and if you see mold growth on your plastic curtain, you may have it on your cloth curtain as well.

Keep a dehumidifier in your basement if there is moisture there. Basements are notorious for staying damp, especially when there is a lot of rain. Make sure your dehumidifier is maintained properly so it will be most efficient. Make sure your air conditioner is running properly, as well. Sometimes mold will grow on the vents, and you can clean or replace these fairly easily and inexpensively.

In the kitchen, check your refrigerator for signs of mold. Clean the inside with a good cleanser just as you clean the outside on a regular basis. Change your dishrags, towels and sponges regularly by washing them in hot water.

If you notice water anywhere in your home, wipe it up immediately. If water is seeping in your windows or doors after it rains, have someone come check the structure. Sometimes condensation builds up in the high humidity; wipe it up before it causes mold growth.
Just like any type of cleaning, it’s better to do regular cleaning than to wait until it’s gotten very bad. It’s easier to wipe your showers and sinks on a regular basis than to scrub mold and mildew away when it’s heavy. Keep things dry and clean, and you may see your mold allergy symptoms disappear.

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