Mold, it’s a disgusting four-letter word. The mere mention of it conjures up images of a gross black fungus lurking in dank basements or hiding in the back of a cabinet behind leaky plumbing. While that may certainly be true, the fact is that mold can be anywhere – even in your beautiful custom closets. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent mold from growing in your closets.
- Where does mold come from?
- How do you know if you have mold?
- How do you get rid of mold?
- What can you do to keep mold out of your closets?
Where Does Mold Come From?
Even the cleanest home can harbor mold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold typically enters your home the same way you do – through the door. Mold spores are easily tracked in on your clothes and shoes. Mold can also get in through windows or the air conditioning/heating system.
Once mold spores infiltrate your home, they can quickly grow in humid places. That’s why you see most mold and mildew in the bathroom. Being that closets are typically small, dark spaces, they make excellent breeding grounds for mold. Additionally, cardboard, wood, fabric, carpet, and drywall all provide the needed nutrients for mold to flourish – and all are commonly found inside of your closets.
How Do You Know If You Have Mold?
Generally speaking, the nose knows. Give your closet the sniff test. Do you sense a musty odor? If so, then it’s time to investigate because you might have an outbreak of mold or mildew.
If you are like most people, your closet is probably jam-packed with clothes, shoes, accessories, and more. This makes it difficult to see what’s hiding behind the hangers and bins. If you suspect there might be mold in your closet, start by taking everything out of it. Once all of your belongings have been removed, you will be able to search for telltale signs of mold, such as black or green colored patches on the walls or shelves. Be sure to carefully inspect the areas along any outside walls or the walls backing up to a bathroom, as mold tends to grow best in dark, moist places, especially those that may have hidden water damage.
How Do You Get Rid Of Mold?
If you do spot mold, there is no reason to panic. As previously mentioned, mold spreads easily and can quickly penetrate a home, thriving in dark, damp spaces such as closets. This is particularly true for houses in regions that receive a lot of rainfall or experience high humidity.
Start by inspecting your clothes and other items. Anything that is mold-infested should be bagged and thrown away. You do not want to bring mold spores back into your clean closet.
The next step is to clean and treat the area where mold or mildew is growing. This can be done using products you probably have on hand. Clean My Space recommends using distilled white vinegar; the same kind you might use to clean your windows or remove soap scum in bathrooms. All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with vinegar and then spray any mold or mildew patches you see. Let the vinegar sit for about a half-hour before scrubbing the problem areas with a brush. Then rinse each area with water and let it dry. To ensure you do not have any regrowth, respray vinegar in the spots where the mold or mildew was growing. Allow everything to dry completely before putting your belongings back into the closet.
As an alternative to vinegar, you could use a mixture of equal parts bleach and water or hydrogen peroxide and water. Follow the same instructions as with the vinegar, just be sure to leave these solutions on for only ten minutes.
For major mold infestations, you should call a mold remediation specialist. Mold is toxic and you want to make sure it is being removed properly. In extreme cases, drywall or shelving may need to be replaced and the air purified.
What Can You Do To Keep Mold Out Of Your Closets?
There’s a saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is definitely true when it comes to keeping your closets mold-free.
Here are six super simple things you can do to help keep mold from growing in your closets:
- Eliminate Moisture – Mold only grows where moisture is present, so you will want to do everything you can to keep your closets dry. A dehumidifier will ensure that your space is not hospitable to mold. But, if you don’t have the budget or space for a dehumidifier, consider using silica gel packs or a product like Damp-Rid to absorb excess moisture from the air.
- Remove Your Hamper – Being that you can easily bring mold spores into your home on your clothing and they will grow by feeding on the dirt in fabric fibers, it’s best to keep dirty clothes out of the closet. The laundry room might be a better place to store your hamper. If you need to keep a laundry hamper in your closet, make sure you are only putting dry clothes in it. Anything wet or damp should be allowed to dry completely before being tossed in the basket. Shoes can also attract mold spores, so make sure your shoes are clean and dry before putting them away in your closet.
- Air It Out – A closet needs proper ventilation to prevent mold and mildew growth. Periodically leave your closet doors open to allow fresh air to enter. Open weave storage baskets and bins are two types of closet accessories that allow for ample air circulation. Finally, take your clothes out of the plastic dry cleaning bags. They can trap humidity around the clothing fibers which can cause mold growth.
- Rise Up – Do not store stuff on the floor of your closet. Keep shoe boxes and storage bins on shelves. This allows for better airflow. It also minimizes your risk of damage or mold growth if there is ever a plumbing leak that soaks your carpet or floorboards.
- Let There Be Light – A low wattage, energy-efficient light in the closet will not only make it easier to see, but the warmth put off by the bulb will help keep your closet dry – thus preventing mold growth.
Safety Alert: Keep the light bulb away from clothing or anything else that could catch fire.
- Clean Sweep – Make sure you periodically clean your closets. It’s good to remove all of your clothing items and inspect them for signs of mold or other damage (and to donate what you no longer wear). After sorting through your stuff, spend some time wiping down the shelves and vacuuming the floor. Try to let fresh air fill your closet for a few hours before putting everything away.
Mold in closets is quite common. Their dark spaces and crowded conditions make an ideal breeding ground for fungus. Fortunately, you can keep mold and mildew from taking hold in your closets if you keep them clean and dry. Humidity harbors mold growth so a dehumidifier or simple silica gel packs are your first line of defense. That, coupled with a few housekeeping tips, can prevent mold and mildew from growing in your closets.