Seven Surprising Spots for Mold Growth

Mold is a complex creature. It grows fast, it can cause serious health problems, and sometimes, you don’t even know you’re living with it!

I’m sure you know the basics – mold grows in damp spots, typically in the kitchen, basement or bathroom. But there are other, less obvious places where mold’s growth is fostered, and as a concerned CleanGeek, I’m here to point them out!

So, here’s a helpful list of seven surprising spots where mold might be hiding in your home, along with tips for getting rid of it quickly!

  1. In your mattress.
    A mold monster hiding in your bed?! It’s your worst nightmare even as an adult, right? Well, this mold monster is real, and it needs to be cleaned quickly!

    Why it grows there – We know mold grows in damp places, and you might not like to think about it, but your mattress can get damp. It can carry moisture from things like perspiration and spills, making it an ideal home for mold.

    How to clean it – You can start by vacuuming both sides of the mattress, and then of course, cleaning out that vacuum to avoid the spread of mold spores. Then, mix together an equal ratio of rubbing alcohol and water, dip a cloth in the mixture, and scrub the mattress. After that, spray a disinfectant on the mattress, and sit it out to dry in the sunshine (a very important step because, of course, getting rid of moisture is crucial).

  2. On your dishes.
  3. Yes, really. Your dishes. Those things you eat food off of. It’s not something I had previously thought of before either, but it does make sense.

    Why it grows there – When the dishes aren’t completely dry, but you start stacking them anyway. Yep, that’s like calling mold over for a dinner party. Especially if you don’t use those dishes very often!

    How to clean it – To start, make sure your dishes are totally moisture-free before stacking and putting them away. If it’s too late for that step, simply run the dishes through a dishwasher (washing and sanitizing them), and wipe down your cupboards using a vinegar and water solution and a cloth.

    washing-machine

  4. In your front-loader washing machine.
    The purpose of a washing machine is to clean your clothes, and I’m telling you this is a prime place for mold to grow? Well, believe it or not, that’s correct.

    Why it grows there – In the lining around the front of the machine, moisture tends to stick around because we usually close the door when we aren’t using it. Plus, if there happens to be some lint lingering around the area, it creates an even better place for mold to meet.

    How to clean it – To get rid of the mold, you can use the washing machine to your advantage. Run a cycle of chlorine bleach and hot water (and leave all laundry out for this load). This will kill any existing mold fungi living in the machine. To avoid it in the future, dry out the lining and the glass after each load, before you shut the door.

  5. In your refrigerator drip pan.
    Do you know where this item is? If you don’t, you’re not alone. In fact, many people don’t even realize they have a drip pan. But you should definitely play a quick game of eye-spy and locate this thing immediately! Who knows what’s prospering here?

    Why it grows there – The drip pan sits underneath your refrigerator and collects moisture and some food particles. So if I were mold, that would definitely be my crash pad.

    How to clean it – First, you might want to make a mental note that this item exists and that it needs cleaned a bit more regularly. Just mix hydrogen peroxide and water (1 teaspoon: 1 cup), spray the pan with this mixture, and then wipe it with a rag soaked in white vinegar. While you’re checking the drip pan for mold, take a look at the floor around it, too.

  6. In your A/C units (window or central units).
    I understand. Your intentions were innocent. You were simply trying to cool the place down – you didn’t mean to spread mold spores everywhere. But it happens …

    Why it grows there – A/C units offer the perfect habitat for mold to live and grow happily. Not only do they collect moisture from the air, but they also trap dust and pollen, which basically means they give mold a daily meal. It becomes even better for the mold if you don’t run the A/C unit at least once every day in warm weather – that allows mold to grow in other areas of the unit, like the ducts, the drain pans and the coils.

    How to clean it – It’s tough to completely remove all traces of mold within the window unit. You can start by removing the front plate, vacuuming the blower, flushing out the coils and cleaning the drain pan with an equal-parts mixture of bleach and water. You may also want to consider hiring a professional to come out and inspect the area surrounding the unit. Mold could easily be growing nearby with the help of possible drips or just the average moisture from the unit.

    As far as the central A/C unit, it turns out that’s a job for the geekiest of all CleanGeeks – actual professionals. You’ll likely have to pay around $400 to $1,000 for a mold remover specialist to clean the whole system, but it will definitely be worth every penny.

  7. On your window seals.
    In every room of your home, you could be harboring mold in a place you’d rarely think to check. Brace yourself, and take a close look at each of your window seals ASAP.

    Why it grows there – It’s a throwback to science class in fourth grade. Remember condensation? That’s exactly what’s happening here. Then you add in the dirt/dust that mold loves to munch on, and it easily becomes a mold mansion!

    How to clean it – Regular cleaning will combat mold growth in window seals. After a rainy day, the areas around the windows should be wiped to rid them of dampness, and they should be kept clean of dust and dirt so that mold doesn’t have a buffet. If the window seals between the panes are worn and no longer functional, you’ll have to replace those to avoid allowing the condensation to seep into the surrounding areas.

  8. On your toothbrush.
    This could be the most important takeaway of them all mostly because you are potentially putting mold particles directly into your mouth. I mean, who would’ve thought mold could grow on a toothbrush?

    Why it grows there – When toothbrushes don’t receive a proper chance to dry out between brushing, mold has the perfect opportunity to thrive.

    How to clean it – Okay, forget cleaning mold off your toothbrush. Just go buy a new, definitely-mold-free one. And then use these tips to keep it that way.

    • First, buy a new one frequently. Even if it doesn’t look frayed, you should be replacing it at least every three months.
    • Second, you should use toothpaste with germ-fighting triclosan/copolymer.
    • Third, please don’t share toothbrushes. (As if a CleanGeek would ever do that!)
    • Fourth, close the lid to your toilet while flushing! You wouldn’t believe how far those germs can fly.
    • Lastly, don’t store your toothbrush in an airtight container. To avoid mold growth, it needs to be exposed to the open air.

    No matter where you find mold growing in your home, you’ll need to clean it up and fix the moisture problem immediately. Otherwise, the mold will continue to grow and potentially damage any surface it calls home.

**Safety note: Always wear protective gear (such as safety goggles, N-95 respirators, and gloves) when attempting to clean mold. You should also limit your exposure to the mold as much as possible and avoid breathing in the spores. I want my CleanGeeks to stay clean and safe!

Fellow CleakGeeks (and those aspiring), what other unusual places have you found mold in your home? Leave a comment below to let us all know where else we should be checking for this dangerous substance!

Sources:
http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html
http://www.europeanbedding.sg/how-to-remove-mould-from-mattress-a-96.html
http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/air-quality/unexpected-places-mold-can-hide/
http://greenflow.myshopify.com/blogs/news/17100428-5-surprising-locations-for-household-mold
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/21/toothbrush-germs-_n_5127448.html
http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html#hiddenmold.html