Mold and mildew horror in the cold, humid times

BY CYNTHIA WAIRIMU

Mold is a fungus that develops from airborne spores and grows well in humid warm places with little to no airflow. This makes bathrooms and enclosed rooms ideal for growth.  Humidity could arise from badly ventilated rooms, rainfall soaking through your walls, leakage, bad plumping.

Mildew is also a fungus but appears differently in shape, colour and texture. It can appear anywhere, on walls, ceilings, carpets, and bags and clothes. As long as the conditions are right, it will grow and spread.

How can you tell that you are dealing with mold and not dirty patches? Apply some bleach on a cloth and wipe an affected area, if it fades out after a few minutes, then you have a problem.

What does Mold and Mildew mean for your health? If you have allergies and asthma, then mold is going to be problematic. It can cause nosebleeds, itchy skin, red eyes, coughing, sneezing, stuffy and runny nose, itchy sore throat, chronic fatigue, rashes, upper respiratory tract symptoms as it produces mycotoxins. Mold is also an indication that the structural integrity of a building might be compromised.

You can be rid of mold in several ways. When the first signs of discoloration start to show, you need to act fast to avoid damage and stop it spreading. Do not touch mold directly, you are advised to wear protective gear for your eyes, gloves for your hands, long sleeved shirts and trousers to also avoid exposure to the mold removal substances.

It is wise to note that while cleaning, not all cleaning agents should be used together. Some combinations could lead to toxic byproducts. Always check the labels first to see what ingredients there are and if you are not certain, use one, rinse, let it dry off before embarking on the other. For instance, bleach and vinegar are good household cleaning agents, however, mixing them results in the formation of chlorine gas, which is so lethal as to be used in chemical warfare. Imagine that combination in your unsuspecting hands!

With a mix of chlorine bleach and water, 1 part chlorine to 3 parts water, spray the affected area and let soak a few minutes, use a brush to scrub off the blackened areas, then rinse and dry off, remember to open your windows as you clean and let air in. This will only get rid of the surface of the mold, the roots will most likely be intact, therefore returning in a few days.

To be rid of the roots, spray undiluted white vinegar and leave to dry. Baking soda can be used as well. Simply add a spoonful of baking soda to water and spray on the moldy areas, use a cloth to wipe the mold away. Borax is also good for all manner of cleaning. Sprinkle a little of it on your cleaning cloth and wipe off all areas, tiles, walls, sinks.

Hydrogen peroxide can be sprayed on the affected areas, let sit ten minutes then scrub off the mold then wipe it clean and dry. Mold removal sprays are specially made for the job, you can purchase what works best for your situation. If none of these works, call a professional.

It is also wise to check the type of walls you have, painted or dry or cement so as to know how best to tackle your mold problem. To prevent against mold, one can buy a dehumidifier, which keeps humidity in your house controlled, setting it at 50% or lower will prevent mold spores from growing, wipe off spills immediately.

Setting up moisture absorbing desiccant usually containing silica gel or salt at corners of the house will help absorb extra moisture. While painting or repainting, the use of mold resistant paint is a good choice. While showering, open a fan or windows and after showering keep the bathroom door open at least 20 minutes to dispense the accumulated moisture. Often clean using disinfectant and bleach and vinegar to stop it before it occurs or reoccurs and check for leakage and spills in broken pipes to be fixed before they become problematic. Additionally, allow clothes and carpets to dry out completely.