How to tackle mildew around the home

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It can be difficult to figure out exactly what to do when it comes to mould in and around the home. The first step is to figure out exactly what kind of growth it is that needs to be dealt with – it is very easy to think ‘Oh, maybe it’s mould’, but there is actually another potential culprit: mildew. Read on to find out about the difference between mould and mildew, where to find mildew, how to prevent and remove mildew, and how to find a good mildew cleaner.

What’s the difference between mould and mildew?

As it turns out, mould and mildew are actually very similar – both are forms of fungi, and both are prone to growing in similar kinds of conditions. Mildew is different to mould in a couple of ways: structure, colour and texture. 

  • Structure

Mould is a type of fungus which grows in patches and produces roots. Due to this, mould can penetrate below the surface of the area it is affecting, which is why some areas affected with mould can start to rot.

Mildew is also a type of fungus (It is, more specifically, a type of mould). Mildew appears as a flat growth on top of the surface and does not penetrate the affected surface like mould does.

  • Colour

Mould appears most commonly as green and black patches, however, can also be seen in blue, yellow, brown, grey and white.

Mildew often appears as flat white, grey or yellow patches. Mildew will often turn black or brown over time.

  • Texture

Mould often has a fuzzy or slimy appearance, and often appears as irregularly shaped spots.

Mildew on the other hand, usually appears as either powdery or fluffy flat patches.

Where to find mildew

While mould and mildew are actually quite similar and both enjoy warm, moist conditions, they often start growing in slightly different places, on slightly different surfaces. Mildew is almost always first found on items that can have damp surfaces, such as fabric, paper and leather. Ever seen mould on a damp shoe? It’s probably mildew! Washing got put away before quite drying properly and starting to have a funny smell? It might be about to break out in mildew! Spilt water on a notepad and didn’t dry it off very well before putting it away? Mildew might consider this a great place to grow.

While mildew can grow on damp objects, it’s normally symptomatic of the areas where these items are stored. Rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and basements may have higher levels of humidity than other rooms in the home. When objects that are susceptible to becoming damp are stored in humid rooms, this can cause mildew to appear. The rooms themselves also aren’t immune though; mildew is very happy to grow on the walls, floors and ceilings of humid spaces too.

The best ways to remove mildew

One of the best ways to remove mildew, is to prevent mildew! Identifying areas in the home that are most prone to humidity or dampness is a great place to start. Once these areas have been identified, it is worth considering a couple of things. 

  • Can the ventilation to these areas be improved? 

One of the ways to reduce the humidity of an areas is to increase the ventilation. When humid air sits still in an area for a long time the moisture can deposit on the surfaces. Regularly cracking some windows and opening doors to create a cross-breeze can help to cycle the damp air out with fresh air.

  • Is there an underlying issue that is making these areas damper than necessary? 

Sometimes if an area is consistently damp for no apparent reason, it can be due to an underlying issue such as a broken or leaking pipe, proximity to sandstone or other porous ground surface, sharing a wall with an unventilated laundry (especially if it has a dryer), or sometimes a leaking appliance. Some things like a broken pipe or leaking appliance, if repaired, may solve dampness issues quite easily. More permanent issues like proximity to areas with high levels of water run-off or rooms next to moist earth (homes built on sloping blocks of land may encounter these issues) are much more difficult to fix, so may benefit from regular use of de-humidifiers and mildew cleaners.

  • Is it worth investing in a de-humidifier to manage the level of moisture in the atmosphere of the area?

If the area is prone to dampness and there is not a whole lot that can be done to fix it in a permanent way, then de-humidifiers can be a great option. Most de-humidifiers on the market can be set to aim for certain humidity levels, and they will draw moisture out of the air into a reservoir. In addition to de-humidifiers, air purifiers can be a great option for cleaning spores, germs, and general microscopic debris out of the air. Removing moisture from the air and then cleaning it can be a great option to reduce the impact of mildew in consistently damp areas that cannot be easily ventilated.

Did you know: There is no way to truly and permanently prevent mould or mildew growth, as mould spores are airborne. This means that they float around in the wind and land in random places, so even if the mould in one place has been killed off, it may reappear in another! That said, it will only grow if the conditions are right. So really, the first step to effective prevention of mould and mildew growth is to know which areas around the home have ideal conditions for mould growth. The next best step is to purchase an effective mould and mildew cleaner – have it on hand and ready to go at the first sign of growth!

Finding a good mildew cleaner

There are plenty of mildew cleaner options on the market, but they don’t always work as effectively as possible. There’s a couple of features the look for when shopping for a good mildew cleaner. 

  • No bleach

A lot of mould and mildew cleaners often contain bleach. The trouble with bleach is that its results are more aesthetic than functional. Bleach-based products can look like they work fast and well because they remove the pigment (colour) from the mildew, but in actual fact the mildew is still there!  The other issue with bleach is that it is a very harsh chemical – this means that it can actually damage the surface too! Using bleach on a timber wardrobe or painted wall for example, may fade the colour and leave it permanently damaged. If there are multiple areas in the home that need treatment for mildew, it is best to try and find a mildew cleaner that is bleach free – that way there’s no need to worry about damaging interior surfaces!

  • Anti-mould agents (fungicides)

Another great feature to look for in a mildew cleaner is the inclusion of anti-mould agents. Fungicides are designed specifically to attack fungi – like mould and mildew – by getting right into the spores and damaging the cell-membrane. This means that their growth is inhibited, ultimately killing them off. If a mildew cleaner does not include any fungicides, it is likely to only offer a superficial fix to the issue. When shopping for a mildew cleaner, it is best to try and find one that includes anti-mould agents – that way it can be ensured that the mildew will be dead!

  • No chemical fumes

Something else to look for in a good mildew cleaner (or any interior cleaner for that matter) is a lack of chemical fumes. A lot of indoor spaces – especially areas prone to mildew growth – don’t always have great ventilation. Using a product with heavy chemical fumes in an enclosed space is not very healthy; it is important to consider all aspects of personal safety when using chemical products and the fumes that a person might breathe in are no exception. Consider a mildew cleaner that has less harsh chemicals or strong chemical fumes for cleaning interior mildew outbreaks.

  • Easy to use

Lastly, it is really important to find a mildew cleaner that is easy to use. Purchasing a mildew cleaner with easy-to-follow instructions and minimal set-up or mixing is ideal – the less things that can go wrong during setup, the better! Having less steps involved in using a product means its more likely that the product going onto the surface will do the job it’s supposed to. It’s also important that the mildew cleaner has features in the packaging that make it easy to apply too. It’s no good having a product that needs to be sprayed on if it doesn’t come with spraying apparatus! Finding a mildew cleaner that requires minimal effort can make the process of treating mildew outbreaks easier, more efficient, and more effective

A great mildew cleaner that meets all of this criterion is Wet & Forget’s indoor mould and mildew cleaner! Wet & Forget Indoor is effective, easy to use and gets the job done quickly. It contains no bleach, uses anti-mould agents, produces no harsh chemical fumes and comes in a ready-to-use bottle with minimal setup requirements. Wet & Forget Indoor can also be used as a general-purpose spray and wipe surface cleaner, which makes it a great addition to any home-cleaning toolkit. Visit https://www.wetandforget.com.au/products/wet-forget-indoor-2l to learn more about Wet & Forget Indoor Mould and Mildew Cleaner today.