Preventing & Ridding Your Home of Mildew

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Molds that cause mildew can flourish wherever it is damp, warm, poorly lighted and where air is not circulated — especially in cellars, crawl spaces of houses without basements and clothing closets. Following are several remedies for ridding your home of mildew forming mold.

Dry the air with air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. Properly installed air-conditioning systems remove moisture from the air by taking up warm air, cooling it and circulating the cool, dry air back into the room. In rooms that are not air-conditioned — especially the basement — mechanical dehumidifiers are useful. A humidistat can be attached to the unit to control the humidity. When using air-conditioners or dehumidifiers, keep windows and doors closed. Heating the house will also get rid of dampness.

Air movement is excellent at removing moisture. When the air outside is drier than that inside, ventilation allows the dry air to enter, take up excess moisture and then be carried outside. When natural breezes are not sufficient, you can use electric fans placed in a window, set in a wall or vented to the attic to move air from the house.

Poorly ventilated closets get damp and musty during continued wet weather, and articles stored in them are apt to mildew. Try to improve the air circulation by opening the closet doors or by installing a fan. Hang clothes loosely so that air can circulate around them. Dry all wet clothing (including clothes wet from rain or perspiration) before putting it in the closet.

Air in closets and other small areas can be dried by using an electric light continuously (60- to 100-watt bulb). The heat will prevent mildew if the space is not too large. Make sure the bulb does not touch anything in the closet.

Commercial products that absorb moisture in the home can used to remove moisture. Damp Rid, a widely available product, is made from the inorganic mineral salt calcium chloride that becomes an active moisture absorbant (dessicant) when the humidity goes above sixty per cent.

Cooking, laundering, and bathing can add 2 gallons or more of water a day to the house, unless circulation is adequate. It is often necessary to use an exhaust fan to pull moisture from the air.

Dry washed garments and fabrics thoroughly and quickly. Fabrics dried slowly may get sour and musty smelling — a sign of mold growth.

Water repellent sprays can be used to help keep moisture out of clothing and household fabrics. Spray draperies, slipcovers, mattresses, overshoes and jackets and other outer garments.

Fungicide products that may be sprayed on fabrics to give them mildew protection are available as well as germicidal, mothproof and water-repellent sprays that also protect against mildew. If clothing or household textiles are not treated with a mildew-resistant finish, be sure to wash or dry-clean them before storing, as soiled articles are more likely to mildew than clean ones. Use laundry starch that has a mildew inhibitor since molds feed on starch.

Use these tips to prevent and rid your home of mildew growth.

Source: University of Missouri

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation, North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments