This winter as we face the cost of living crisis, it’s quite possible that we will see more mould growth in our properties. The reason for this is that we are being encouraged to heat our homes to a lower level and where more clothing indoors to try and combat the rising price of gas. From an economic point of view, this makes sense, but if we continue to dry clothes on radiators, as a lot of us do, then we may well see mould growth appear. This is because mould loves moisture. If we dry clothes on radiators, keep windows closed and generally have a lower temperature in our rooms, then we will create ideal spaces for mould.
Ideally, try not to dry clothes on radiators. If you do have to do this, then try to make a point of opening windows as much as possible, to allow moisture out of the room. When you have your windows open, make sure that you shut doors to those rooms, so that you aren’t making the while house.
As an alternative to drying clothes on radiators, we have made the decision to go to our local launderette once a week and dry the majority of our clothes in one go, especially large items like bath towels. We decided that whilst it costs about £4 to dry, we save on not having the heating on as much and we create less water vapour into our home.
What is Mould Growth? & How to Get Rid of it
Black Mould on walls is often a sign of a serious problem in your home that needs to be thoroughly investigated. It is often caused by excessive condensation, usually as a result of a lack of ventilation in the home that results in high humidity levels. In short, it is a sign that the air in your home contains too much moisture. It can also be caused by structural defects within the property, which are allowing moisture through the walls such as leaking guttering, or damaged pointing
As well as affecting the integrity of your home’s building fabric, it can also cause health problems, especially if you already have pre existing conditions such as asthma, respiratory conditions and allergies.
Mould caused by dampness is most commonly found in areas of high humidity, like bathrooms and kitchens. These rooms are more susceptible due to the steam generated through cooking and washing. This kind of dampness can be easily prevented with appropriate ventilation measures like making sure windows are open. However, it can appear in any room in the house. A common cause of mould growth is drying clothes on radiators in the winter months. It is important to ensure that if you are doing this, you must ensure there is adequate ventilation, so that you try to remove some of the moisture that is created by drying clothes in enclosed spaces.
The most common cause of mould growth on walls, is created by condensation.
Condensation occurs when the water vapour in the atmosphere condenses on cold surfaces. This is why you often get mould growth appearing near windows and corners of rooms, as they are often the coldest points of the room and is where you get most moisture, which encourages mould growth.
The three most common reasons of excessive condensation are:
- Lack of ventilation
- Obstructed airflow
- A high level of moisture-creating activities like cooking, washing and drying clothes
How to Remove Black Mould
If the mould growth is severe, then you may to get experts in. This is because when you disturb black mould, it can release millions of dangerous spores into your home, which can cause issues if you have respiratory conditions or allergies.
If the build up of mould growth is not too sever, then this is something that you can remove yourself and depending on the severity, you can do this in different ways
- Baking soda
- Mould removal sprays
For light patches:
1) Baking soda
Baking soda has been used for years against black mould. This is because of it’s alkaline nature, which means it works as a natural disinfectant, which makes it hard for mould to thrive.
How to apply it:
1. Stir together a mixture of 50/50 baking soda and water until it creates a paste.
2. Apply to the patch of mould you’re treating.
3. Use a small brush or an old toothbrush to scrape away any mould-stained spots.
4. To help prevent the mould coming back, buy a spray bottle and make a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of water.
5. Shake the bottle.
6. Liberally spray the area you just cleaned.
7. Let it dry to form a protective layer and barrier to prevent future mould growth.
Advantages of baking soda:
- Harmless to children and pets
- No risk of damaging your home
- Effectively kills off odours
- Quickly absorbs moisture
Disadvantages of baking soda:
- Not suitable for big outbreaks of mould as it’s so mild. You’ll probably want to try bleach or other commercial chemical sprays, for larger outbreaks.
2) White vinegar
Vinegar is another way to remove black mould from another angle. It’s acidic, with a pH of around 2.5, so works well as an antibacterial, by breaking down and killing the mould.
How to apply vinegar:
1. Spray white vinegar directly onto the affected area
2. Wait for 15 minutes
3. Spray it again
4. Use an old toothbrush to scrub away the mould
5. Wipe clean with a damp cloth
Advantages of vinegar
- Harmless to children, pets, and your environment
- No risk of damaging your property
Disadvantages of vinegar
- Can leave a vinegary odour (temporarily)
- Only good for mild outbreaks
3) Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has also been used for generations to kill mould. That’s because it’s a natural fungicide that is strong enough to prevent the return of mould.
1. Wear protective gloves – tea tree oil is a natural solution, but it can still irritate your skin if it’s neat.
2. Mix 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle
3. Shake and spray liberally onto the affected area.
4. Leave it to kill the mould for 10 minutes
5. Wipe it away with a damp cloth
6. Wait for it to dry completely then spray again to help prevent future regrowth.
Advantages of tea tree oil:
- Natural fungicide
- Prevents the return of mould
Disadvantages of tea tree oil:
- Not as strong as bleach
If your mould outbreak needs a tougher course of action then, bleach is the next strongest solution, but be aware that this will only work on non-porous surfaces like ceramic tiles, metal sinks, glass or metal cabinets.
Bleach may have been the first thing you thought of as a remedy when you see black mould and bleach is very effective, but it will not penetrate any deeper than the surface you apply it to, so it is not that effective on wood or drywall.
The other drawback of using bleach is its hazardous, toxic fumes, which are unsafe for children, pets and yourself to be exposed to, so should be used with extreme caution.
If it’s just non-porous surfaces that are affected by the mould:
1. Wear thick, old clothes that you don’t mind being bleached
2. Put on rubber gloves and a face mask
3. Mix one part bleach to four parts water
4. Use a small brush to gently scrub until the mould has been removed
5. Wipe with a damp cloth
6. Dry the area well with a soft cloth
5) Specialist mould sprays
For serious mould outbreak in your property, good DIY shops will stock specialist treatments. Please make sure when using specialist treatments, that you follow the instructions carefully, as they can give off toxic fume
Advantages of bleach and specialist mould sprays containing bleach:
- Works for severe build-ups of mould