Help! I’m Quarantining and Now My Home Smells Musty!
Help! I’m Quarantining and Now My Home Smells Musty!
Most of us are doing our best to decrease the spread of the coronavirus. This means we’re staying home, avoiding group gatherings, and only going out for necessary groceries and medications. If everyone is home all the time, this means there’ll be more moisture from showering, cleaning, cooking, and just living our lives in the small space of our house. And as we know, mold loves lots of moisture 1. So it’s no wonder that some of us will smell that tell-tale sign of mold: a musty odor. You should know though that musty odor doesn’t always mean there’s dangerous mold growing 2. It’s likely just surface level mold, which can be fixed. But it could also be a deeper issue, depending on the moisture build-up or potential water leaks before the quarantine. In any case, here’s some education and tips if you’re at home more and smell a potential mold problem in the making.
Understand how and why mold grows
As mentioned above, mold thrives on moisture, whether it comes from a water leak or condensation. But it also needs food to grow. Often, mold can be found wherever there are moisture and fibrous material like paper, drywall, and cardboard. But it also eats other organic material like bread, skin cells, bacteria, and other small carbon-containing matter 1. Mold also needs space to grow without too many other microbes to compete with. You’d be interested to know that mold can disable some other microbes to enable their own growth 3. In this way, they can take over an area and thrive. But, if mold already has open space without other competitors, as is the case in spaces that are too clean, they may grow unchecked 4,5. Once you know how and why mold grows, you can be better prepared for how to prevent mold in the first place. However, this knowledge can also help in knowing how to fix a mold problem once it begins.
Tips for removing and coping with mold
- Be sure to have a well-ventilated home.
Since mold needs moisture to grow, then having a well-ventilated home can often help fix a minor mold problem. Be sure to make use of kitchen and bathroom fans. If you don’t have them, then investing in portable fans can really help1. Also, try keeping some windows open. This can be challenging when everyone is home, and the weather outside may be cold. However, having some windows open can really ventilate and bring in some helpful natural air1,5,6.
- Bring down moisture levels.
As stated above, proper ventilation can significantly reduce your moisture levels, which will help prevent and treat a mold problem. Another way to reduce moisture is to use a dehumidifier. You can place it in critical areas that tend to build moisture the most1,5. Also, try to avoid moisture from condensing on windows, especially if the air is cooler outside than it is inside. With more people in the home, this will be a more significant challenge than usual. Try to keep the temperature of your home a bit cooler than usual. Also, when possible, open windows to decrease the build-up of condensation1,5.
- Remove surface-level mold
Surface-level mold can be removed in a fairly simple way. Many people opt for bleach, and while this is a popular remedy, it is only effective on non-porous (tile etc) surfaces, and is also toxic for the lungs and skin. Instead, try using undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar7,8, but do not mix them. Tea tree oil can be just as effective as hydrogen peroxide or vinegar8. Wipe the surface-level mold with a disposable cloth and one of the solutions as mentioned above, and repeat as necessary. Regardless of which solution you choose, use only a small amount and don’t mix with any other cleaning agents as this could potentially produce toxic gases. Also, mold doesn’t grow as much when other microbes are competing for space and food. Homebiotic’s probiotic spray was created to help bring in natural soil-based microbes that will compete with mold and inhibit their growth. Homebiotic won’t kill mold on contact, instead it works over time to inhibit and prevent their growth.
- Prevent illnesses associated with mold
If that musty odor persists and you’ve taken steps to clean all surface-level mold, then you likely have mold growth in inaccessible areas of the home. This may require a mold test and more stringent removal measures. The Homebiotic home biome test kit can accurately test many species of mold growth in your home. Once you know what you have, then you can treat it appropriately. In the meantime, you can use air filtration systems to help reduce the number of mold allergens in the air. HEPA filters with UV or ionization have proven to be effective at lowering mycotoxin allergens in the air. Just be sure to clean your HEPA filter properly as it can also be vulnerable to mold growth. However, UV and ionization may prevent mold growth in HEPA filter units9,10.
During quarantine for the coronavirus, we are spending a lot more time at home. This increases the moisture levels in our home, which might aid in the growth of mold. If you start smelling that tell-tale musty odor, chances are mold has begun to spring up in your home. The good news is that it’s likely surface-level mold. The above tips will help you make decisions about how to prevent and fix this problem. Once mold growth has begun, there are a few non-toxic ways to get rid of it quickly. Lastly, proper ventilation and decreasing moisture levels are essential to prevent and treat mold issues. You can also use Homebiotic spray to bring in natural microbe competitors that will stop mold from growing in the first place. Although mold growth may become an issue during quarantine, it doesn’t have to become another stressor. Once you understand how mold grows, then you’ll know more about how to prevent and remove it.