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How to remove mold and mildew once and for all


It’s as big a mystery as the Bermuda Triangle. We’ve all seen it at some stage in our lives, but why it’s there and why we can’t get rid of it (in some cases) remains a mystery. They feed on both organic and non-organic matter like fabric, paper, plastic and concrete. Aside from damaging your home, they can also cause you serious health problems. Here’s a quick guide on how to identify mold and mildew and how to get rid of them from every surface of your house. 

Living in a tropical country, you’ve probably seen mold growing in your bathroom ceiling or other wet surfaces in the house. Not only does it look unpleasant, but some types of mold can also be dangerous to our health. Inhaling too much of it can cause harm to your respiratory system. Here we’re prepared a simple guide on how to clean mold and what you should do if you discover mold in your house.

The guide to removing mould and mildew once and for all
Removing mould from walls in your home will guarantee a happier and healthier household. Picture: Getty

What is mold?

What is the meaning of mold? Well, mold is part of a group of common organisms called fungi. It comes in many forms but is typically green, grey or black. Mold spores generate in moist, damp, humid conditions and live off the proteins from timber, leather, ceilings and walls.

The spores tend to germinate in the sub-floor area and evaporate up into homes where there is high moisture content. Mold thrives in damp, dark areas. That’s why you can often find it in cupboards, behind furniture and on the underside of dresser drawers.

The most common types of mold found at home are aspergillus, cladosporium and stachybotrys atra (also commonly known as the toxic black mold). The Aspergillus is one of the most common species and they’re usually found on food or in the air conditioning system. As for clasdoporium, they usually in green or black and they grow in areas like the back of the toilets, painted surfaces and air ducts. While these mold do not pose any harm to human’s health, they can cause allergy such as rashes and sore throat.

Last on the list is the toxic black mold and as suggested by its name, long exposure of the stachybotrys atra can pose a serious health problem like chronic coughing, rashes, sneezing, irritation and headaches. This type of mold feeds on organic matter like drywall, carpet and floorings that have been exposed to moisture.

Read more: 5 eco-friendly cleaning products for the sustainable home

Wait a minute, is it mold or mould?

Technically, they mean the same thing, just that one is spelt in British English and the other is American. So the word “mould” is the British spelling and the one that we’re accustomed to seeing because we use British English to converse in Malaysia. Whereas on the other side of the pacific ocean, the Americans spell it as “mold”. However, they’re both the same term, just that they’re spelt differently. For those who are curious, mould in Malay is “kulat”.

What is mildew? 

Mildew, unlike mold, is commonly gray and white in colour. It’s also a type of fungus, but you often find it in powdery form. Mildew thrives in places where moisture levels are high like the bathrooms and kitchens and they can grow on wet materials like paper and fabrics. You can tell if your house is infested by mildew by the smell of it. It usually gives off a musty odour.

What’s the difference between mold and mildew?

You’ve probably heard of these two terms before or even use it interchangeably. That’s because both mold and mildew share similar characteristics. They both like living in wet and warm areas – they thrive in these conditions – and they can grow in many surfaces like bathroom ceiling, wardrobe, food and paper.

However similar they may seem, they are, in fact, two totally different kind of fungi.

Mold is a type of fungus that usually appear in black or green colour and can live on any organic matter including clothing, ceiling, walls and floors. Mildew is white or gray in colour. You can find them in places where moisture levels are high, such as bathroom walls, shower screens and window sills.

Is mold bad for you?

Yes, having mold in your house is dangerous because you can develop respiratory problems like infections, allergies or asthma. Breathing in, in the long run, can also potentially affect your body’s immune system. But how does it affect your health? So the thing about mold is that they produce allergens, irritants and some species give out toxic substances. Inhaling these spores can cause allergic reactions like runny nose, skin rash or worst, asthma attacks.

Read more: 11 house moving services in Malaysia

Where does mold usually grow? 

As mentioned above, mold prefer to live in places with lots of moisture. So if your house has a leak in the roof, pipes or windows, fix it or you’ll find mold creeping in those areas. Aside from those, mold can also grow on ceiling tiles, cardboard, paper, wood, paints, wallpaper, insulation, dry wall, carpet, fabric and clothing. The best way to prevent mold infestation is to ensure there are no leaks or areas where moisture is collecting regularly.

How to remove mold and mildew from my home?

It’s important to get rid of them before they start growing. Mold can develop on damp surfaces within 48 hours and produce spores that can potentially harm your health. Besides, keeping them in will only cause more damage to your home as they will destroy whatever they grow on. Here are our tips on how to get rid of mold and mildew in your home.

Tools you need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Brushes
  • Vacum with brush attachment
  • Mop
  • Sponges
  • Mold and mildew cleaner
  • Disinfectant bleach
  • Furniture polish

How to prevent mold and mildew in the bathroom

Compared to all the other rooms in the house, your bathroom has the highest level of moisture and humidity, making it susceptible to the mold and mildew growth. To make sure it doesn’t happen, you need to keep your bathroom dry and well-ventilated. Here are some steps you can take to keep your bathroom fresh at all time:

  • Instead of hanging your towels on the hook, spread it out so that they can dry faster.
  • Wipe down your shower, including curtains or screens with a clean towel after its last daily use.
  • If you’re using a shower curtain, choose one that dries easily. This will prevent soap residue to be absorbed, which cultivate mold.

For shower curtains that have been affected by mildew, you may follow these steps to clean it.

Step 1: Prepare 4 litre of hot water and 1/2 cup of liquid disinfectant before washing the curtain.

Step 2: Next, get a mixture of one cup of salt and one cup of lemon juice, and rinse it to the hot water.

Step 3: Wash it with the detergent and bleach.

Step 4: Finally, rinse it once more with water and hang it dry before putting it up.

How to get rid of stubborn mold in the bathroom?

Call a handyman to install a flue out through your actual roof. Picture: Getty

Firstly establish where the mold in your bathroom is and the damp areas and try to eliminate or ventilate the moisture. Mold is an environmental problem so you need to alter the environment in which its breeding. Make sure you have adequate ventilation in the sub-floor of your bathroom.

To remove mold in bathrooms, try running your exhaust fan for longer to get rid of the excess moisture in the air. If your fan is venting into the ceiling space, call a handyman to install a flue (a duct for conveying exhaust gases to the outdoors). It’s far more effective to have the bathroom fan exhausting to the atmosphere rather than your roof space.

How to remove mold from wooden furniture?

Mold can also destroy your wood furniture if you’re keeping it in humid areas of the house like bathroom and kitchen. Here’s how you can remove mold from wood furniture.

Step 1: Bring the furniture outside of the house to prevent the spread of spores.

Step 2: Use a vacuum (with brush attachment) to clean up the areas affected by mold.

Step 3: Give your furniture a wipe down to remove any stains.

Step 4: Let it dry out in the sun and you’re done!

Read more: 5 carpet cleaning hacks you need to try to make it look new

How to get mildew out of a carpet?

Mold carpet is not only a sight for sore eyes, but inhaling it for a long period of time can also cause you harm. Here’s our quick guide on how to remove mildew from the carpet.

Step 1: Vacuum the affected areas to remove mildew.

Step 2: Mix 1 tablespoon of laundry soap with 2 cups of cold water.

Step 3: Apply the mixture to the affected areas with a damp cloth. Dab it lightly, do not scrub.

Step 4: Repeat steps until the stain is gone. Rinse it with clean water.

Step 5: Dry the area before putting it out.

Read more: How to remove every type of carpet stain

How to remove mold from fabric?

Mildew can develop on fabric surface too if it’s left in a damp area, like the bathroom. The key is to catch it early so you can remove them easily from the fabric.

Step 1: Take the items outside and brush the mold away.

Step 2: Depending on the material of your fabric, if it’s washable, wash it with the hottest water recommended and don’t forget to add disinfectant to get rid of the mildew.

Step 3: For stubborn stains, mix oxygen bleach and water in a bucket and soak the fabric for at least eight hours. (Note: this only applies for washable fabric)

Step 4: If you’re dealing with fabric that are dry clean only, you have no choice but to head to a dry cleaning place and get them to do it for you. Don’t worry though, most fabrics can be restored back to is original condition.

How to remove mold from tile and grout?

Bathroom is the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. You can try keeping it as dry as possible, but sometimes, they still manage to creep in. Here’s how to remove them from your tiles and grout.

Step 1: Mix one part bleach to 16 part water. use a clean sponge and apply the solution to the affected areas.

Step 2: Let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing the surface.

Step 3: Rinse with water and wipe it down with a towel. Keep windows and doors opens until all surfaces are dry.

Read more: How to clean bathroom tile grout until it sparkles

What kills mold?

What kills mould? For non-porous materials, use some mild detergent and a little elbow grease to work it away. Picture: Getty

There are several products (organic and non-organic) in the market that kill mould. Here is the list:

1. Chlorine bleach

This common household bleach is not only effective in cleaning your house, but it can also be used to destroy mould and remove any discolouration caused by it. However, it can be harsh on certain surfaces, so remember to dilute it before using it.

2. Hydrogen peroxide

Though it’s less harsh than bleach, hydrogen peroxide can do the job just as well. The only downside is that it works slower than bleach, but hey, at least it has no toxic fumes and it’s less likely to destroy the surfaces of your furniture.

3. Distilled white vinegar

This kitchen staple can clean stainless steel and remove grease, grime and dirt. And you know what else vinegar can do? Break down the mold structure and kill it. It’s another non-toxic option that you can consider but do note that while it’s effective in killing mold, it won’t get rid of the stains. You may want to pair this up with a household cleaner to get the job done.

4. Baking soda and borax

At this point, you’ve got to ask yourself this: what can’t baking soda do? Both baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and borax have high pH values and this will prevent the survival of mold. You just need to mix both these products with water and your mold problem will be gone in no time.

How to prevent mold in my house?

If you want to keep indoor air dry and mold-free, try using these methods:

  • Consider investing in an air purifier, a device that filters the air and helps keep a house dry. They’re usually quite costly options, but they can be well worth the investment.
  • Turn on the fans and open your windows to reduce moisture in your home.
  • If you have a leaking pipe or roof, get it fixed immediately.
  • Store items in well-ventilated areas.

* For serious mold problems, consider hiring a professional. Some mold are highly toxic and can cause problems for anyone with allergies or respiratory problems.

This article was originally published as How to remove mould once and for all by and is written by Dean Ipaviz. Additional content by Stephanie Yap. 

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