Itâ€™s not a shock when mold shows up behind drywall after a flood or covers baseboards in damp basements. But mold can surprise you and hide in unexpected places, making it harder to detect and wipe out.
ToÂ get rid of mold, think like a fungus and search out these six moist places where mold likes to grow.
Why mold grows there:Â Brick crevices collect water, dirt, and other organic debris. Rusted chimney caps and faulty flashing lets in rain and snow, encouraging mold to grow.
How to wipe it out:Â First, replace rusted caps and fixÂ flashing. Then, call a chimney sweep toÂ give your chimney a thorough cleaning. A $200-$300 annual visit from a chimney sweep not only removesÂ mold,Â but also keeps your chimney free of dangerous creosote and helps it operate at peak efficiency.
Why mold grows there:Â Itâ€™s a rarely noticed place under your fridge that collects moisture and food spills, a perfect environment for mold to grow.
How to wipe it out:Â Cleaning drips pans should be part of your annualÂ deep cleaningÂ ritual. Spray the pan with a hydrogen peroxide solution (1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup water). Wipe clean with a rag soaked in white vinegar. Also, clean the floor beneath the pan.
Why mold grows there:Â The gasket around the door on front-loadingÂ washing machinesÂ often stays wet because the door is usually closed when not in use. Add some lint to the moisture, and mold happily munches and multiplies.
How to wipe it out:Â Wipe the gasket and glass dry before you shut the door. If you spot mold, run a hot water wash with some chlorine bleach (no clothes), which will kill the fungi.
Why mold grows there:Â Condensation provides the moisture mold loves; dirt and dust supply food.Â
How to wipe it out:Â After heavy rains, open windows and wipe moisture from the bottoms of sashes and window sills. If seals betweenÂ panesÂ are failing, youâ€™ll have toÂ repair or replace windowÂ sashes to prevent condensation. Regularly clean windows to deprive mold of food.
Why mold grows there:Â When you stack dishes that are a little wet and a little cruddy, mold has the perfect environment to grow â€” especially if you donâ€™t use those dishes every day.
How to wipe it out:Â Run moldy dishes through the dishwasher, and wipe cabinets with a vinegar-soaked rag. Completely dry dishes before you store them.
Why mold grows there:Â Air conditioning units trap dust and pollen (a good meal for mold) and grab moisture from the air. If you donâ€™t run your AC unit at least every 24 hours in warm weather, humidity in your house climbs and mold may grow in AC ducts and drain pans, and on coils.
How to wipe it out:Â If mold grows in your central air conditioning unit, youâ€™ll have to hire a mold remediation pro to clean out the system ($400-$1,000). If mold shows up in a window AC unit, remove the front plate, clean the blower with a HEPA filter vacuum, and flush out the coils and clean the drain pan with a 1:1 solution of bleach and water.
Of course, prevention is the best remedy. Run your AC for at least 10 minutes every day to keep air circulating when itâ€™s hot and humid outside, and keep the humidity in your home below 55%.
Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who contributes to real estate and home improvement sites. In her spare time (yeah, right), she gardens, manages three dogs and plots to get her 21-year-old out of her basement.Â
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