What Is Mould/Mold?
A lingering cold that you can’t seem to shake. Your fruit shrivelling up and being enveloped in a grey fuzz. Mysterious brown or black spots along your walls that you can’t seem to trace. All of these are signs that mould is causing problems in your health, whether you know it or not. That’s why we’ve written this article to inform you about mould hazards.
Jump straight to our DIY mold removal tips.
What exactly is mould, though?
According to Wikipedia, Mould is a fungus that grows as multicellular filaments, unlike yeast which grows as single cells. In addition, mould is actually comprised of many species of fungus, not just one. However, the growth of most mold species’ cause discolouration and a fuzzy appearance which is especially noticeable on walls and food. This occurs due to the biodegradation of natural materials, which is especially unwanted when it results in food spoilage or damage to property.
What conditions does mould grow in?
Unlike plants, who are known to generally prefer sunny areas to lounge in, mould prefers to do its work in the dark and damp corners of your house. Mold is not a fussy organism and merely needs water, food and oxygen to grow. It especially excels where there is a constant source of dampness, like rained-on carpet or condensation coated walls.
So, is mold just a nasty pest?
Not quite. Mold also has plenty of other useful (to humanity) applications in various foods and pharmaceuticals.
For food, the most well-known application is in the making of delicious salami sausage. It aids in adding flavour and preventing food spoilage via the use of starter cultures. Some moulds are also used to create blue cheeses and brie. If you’d like to know more, check out what moulds are used in making food.
As for medicine, penicillin, the very first antibiotic and one still used today are made from mould. Believe it or not, it all stemmed from Alexander Fleming’s laziness to do his dishes before he left on vacation. When he came back, he found green mold growing on his petri dish and discovered that it was able to kill bacteria.
However, we are generally not in the business of growing antibiotics or cheese on our food and walls, so let’s move on to where else we can find mold in the house.
Why does mould exist?
In nature, mould exists primarily to break down dead animals, plants and other organisms in the process of decomposition. Thus, it is an important part of nature’s life cycle. However, mould is considered a harmful substance in our homes as it is unsightly and creates a host of health problems for our families.
Believe it or not, there is currently mold in your home. Mould is something that exists practically everywhere, but for the most part, causes no harm. It only becomes an issue when there is a sufficient quantity of mould spores in your home to be actually visible and grow in number.
Where is the mould in my house likely to grow?
Mould on clothes or plastic is a fairly common occurrence. If you’ve ever thrown your clothes into the laundry basket and come home later to a funky smell, that’s the smell of mould starting to grow on your clothes. In addition, mould also grows behind water pipes, and near water kettles. Both of these places are often damp, and that provides a perfect breeding ground. If left unchecked, you may soon find unsavoury brown or even black spots near them, or the wallpaper behind it ripe with mould.
What are the symptoms of mold?
- A stuffy, clogged nose
- Sore throat
- Burning eyes
An almost sure way to tell if your house has mould problems is leaving for a few days (to go on holiday, for example) and coming back afterwards.
If you immediately start coughing, wheezing or have trouble breathing, mould has likely grown to the point where it has started causing issues for your home.
What does mould do to my house?
Aside from the general unsightliness of mold in your house, mould can also cause some serious structural damage to your walls. Mold in wallpaper bulges and deforms your walls, and spreads it to surrounding areas that are often wet, like behind air-conditioners or between your bathroom tiles.
It also causes your sink to flood because the mold living just below the surface of the drain. If left undisturbed, mold can grow and choke up your drain pipe. Apart from being really unhygienic (who wants to wash their hands in a place that grows mold?!), the clogging of pipes can mean that the sink will regurgitate up anything that goes down it.
What about my health, though?
Mold is no better on your health and has a wide spectrum of health consequences. The type of mold to really watch out for is the dangerous black mold. Black mold, in particular, is toxigenic and releases toxins that can be harmful, especially to people with pre-existing conditions. Mould raises the risk of respiratory complications by about 30 to 50 percent, so it is definitely important to protect yourself. Prolonged exposure to mold spores can also cause asthma or allergies to flare up and cause them to worsen over time. Constant contact with mould spores makes this more likely to happen.
How do I protect against mold?
Reading about all these symptoms of mould may seem really daunting, and you may not be sure on how to fight back against mold, even more so if you are already experiencing a mold outbreak.
It’s important to remember that prevention is better than cure, so at the first sign of mold, you should act quickly and call a mold removal professional or look into DIY methods of removing mould by yourself.
DIY Mold Removal Tips
If you’re relatively confident that you can remove the mold by yourself, we have 3 non-toxic DIY mold remediation solutions for you to try.
1) Hydrogen Peroxide
Pour some 3% hydrogen peroxide into a glass spray bottle and spray the mouldy area liberally with it.
Leave the hydrogen peroxide to soak in for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, scrub the area down thoroughly with a sponge to remove any remaining mold/mould spores.
Note: This method works the quickest, but is not very environmentally friendly and can be corrosive to your skin. Use only if you’re sure what you’re doing.
If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide with you, white distilled vinegar is a common household item used to remove mould. To kill mould with vinegar, put it into a spray bottle without diluting it with water or anything else. Spray the moldy surface down and leave it to sit for an hour. After the hour is up, wipe the area with a wet cloth.
This method is slightly less effective than using hydrogen peroxide to kill mold, but is much more readily available, and less risky than the former.
3) Baking Soda
Mix up a paste of bleach and baking soda by diluting the bleach to one cup of bleach per gallon of water and combining it with the baking soda. Spray this mixture on to the offending mold and allow to sit for several minutes before wiping the mixture away with a clean cloth.
Note: This mixture uses bleach, so it is not recommended for those with elderly, children or pets. Bleach can be highly corrosive and must be used with protective gear and ample caution.
Warning: Some moulds, especially black molds are especially toxic. If you have a heavy mold infestation or are unsure about what steps to take, stop working immediately. Call a mould removal professional. Your health is always more important than trying to save money trying to do DIY-removals.
That concludes our introduction to “What is mold/mould”, and we hope that it’s been useful to you. If you’re also interested in learning how to protect your loved ones against the coronavirus, check out our article on what you need to know about nCovid-19.