Mildew and Mold: How to Stop Them Before They Start

You already know that mildew and mold aren’t good for you. What you may not be aware of is how to keep them from appearing in your home.

Less Moisture, More Light

Dampness and darkness are fungi’s best friends. If you create the opposite atmosphere, they’re unlikely to grow. Mold and mildew can occur inside and outside the house, so a comprehensive prevention approach is best.

Outside the House

All sorts of things can make a home’s exterior wetter than it needs to be. Plants directly adjacent to the house may accumulate water, inviting fungus growth. Sprinklers can douse the outer surfaces rather than the yard. Gutters have a tendency to leak.

Really, any setup that allows moisture to gather is bad news. Siding and the underside of a roof’s overhang should be pressure washed at least once a year. Tree branches shouldn’t hang directly over, or jut into, your house. Leaves shouldn’t end up in piles near the foundations, and the same goes for mulch. Natural light is the best defense against dampness, so exposing your home to as much of it as possible is a good strategy.

Inside the House

It’s unwise to start scrubbing painted surfaces before trying your cleaner out in an area no one will see. Certain cleaners mix poorly with some types of paint, and it’s better to find out whether your combination works before you’ve covered the wall with the wrong substance. When in doubt, make your own cleaner by putting a cup of bleach in a gallon of water. (Still doesn’t hurt to test it out on a hidden spot.)

Keeping air moving is the indoor equivalent to exposing the exterior to sunlight. Ceiling and exhaust fans are simple ways to accomplish this. Basements and other typically damp spots might benefit from dehumidifiers. In parts of the country where moist conditions are the norm, your dehumidifier should have enough power to keep the entire house dry.

Window frames made of aluminum facilitate fungus growth far too easily. In short, winter temperatures chill the metal, and warm indoor air condenses on it.

A variation of the DIY cleaner described above can solve this problem. Stir a tablespoon of bleach into a gallon of water, then apply the resulting mixture to the window’s frame and sill each day. For extra protection against mold, clean both frame and sill with rubbing alcohol, too. As mentioned previously, a dehumidifier is also an option.

Bottom line: Reducing moisture is the key to preventing fungus growth, and a dry interior and exterior are well defended against it. Less mold and mildew makes a house both less of a health risk and more aesthetically pleasing, so prevention is a win-win.