Mold can cause problems any time of year, but is especially likely to grow on windows in the winter.
Cold windows pull moisture out of the air and give mold the water it needs to grow.
“That’s why windows are a problem; they’re always going to have moisture on them. The best thing you can do is wipe them down once a week with Clorox Wipes. That’s going to be an ongoing thing all winter,” said Devin Munroe, owner and operator of Heartland Cleaning and Restoration.
Mold can grow anywhere there is water and a food source. Common places for it to grow are the kitchen, bathroom, laundry rooms and on windows. If mold is not a taken care of it can cause a variety of health effects from congestion to itchy skin according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The most important way to deal with mold is prevention—do not let areas get wet, and do not provide a food source.
“The biggest deal is prevention. Once you see it you need to figure out why it’s there and then solve that problem. You’ll keep on growing mold if it keeps getting wet. You need to cure that problem and then get rid of the mold,” said Munroe, who is certified by the institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration.
Dust, soap buildup or even the fillers in paint can be a food source for mold.
On hard surfaces mold can be wiped off with products like Clorox Wipes or a combination of bleach and water. Such a mixture should not contain more than one cup of bleach per gallon of water, and bleach should never be mixed with other cleaning products because the combination can create toxic fumes.
Munroe also offered tips to prevent mold buildup. Bathrooms should be cleaned regularly because soap or calcium buildup in showers and toilets can serve as a food source for mold. Proper ventilation is key to keeping the area dry, so the door should be left open after a shower. Shower curtains can be another problem spot for mold.
“A lot of people just slide the curtain, and it will be all bunched up. It’s not going to dry fast, so it’s a perfect place for mold to grow. We put a fan blowing on the shower curtain so it dries fast,” said Munroe.
Children and the elderly are most likely to be affected by mold, but it can affect anyone. Any immune system problem can make someone more susceptible—even a cold. Over time, mold can become more advanced and continued exposure can cause more problems.
“The more advanced the culture, the more likely people will get sick. Bad mold takes longer to grow. If you’ve had mold growing for two months the chances are better that you’re going to have bad mold there,” Munroe said.
The longer someone is exposed, the more damaging the effects will be. When he started doing mold remediation, Monroe said he did not have any mold allergies, but 23 years on the job have made him much more sensitive. Mold exposure is cumulative, he said.