Mold and mildew can become costly and hazardous problems if left alone. The spores can damage wall boards, discolor tiles, destroy carpets and cause health symptoms that include respiratory and sinus infections. To stop mold at its source, you will need to eliminate the substance that allows it to grow in the first place: water.
Mold and Moisture
Mold and mildew spores are everywhere. For instance, if you allow a carpet to remain wet after a flood, mold will inevitably begin to grow because the spores already exist in the environment. They just need a source of moisture on which to settle. You do not notice inactive mold spores because they are invisible to the naked eye. When they bond with moisture, they can multiply by the billions, making them not only visible in the large numbers, but also potentially hazardous.
The Germination Process
When mold spores settle on a moist surface, they begin to absorb nutrients in their immediate environment, which allows them to multiply. Preferred mold nutrients include wood, paper, fabric or anything containing cellulose, a substance found on the cell walls of plant-based materials. In order to devour these nutrients, mold spores must undergo chemical reactions that release volatile organic compounds — vaporous gases — and in some cases toxins into the atmosphere.
When you eliminate moisture from the equation, mold spores can no longer absorb nutrients and multiply, and therefore they becomes neutralized, returning to their previous harmless state. Mold spores never truly "die" because they can always begin to multiply again at a later time if new moisture becomes available. For this reason, you should always go one step beyond removing the moisture. After drying the mold, you should also remove the spores themselves from your home, using a vacuum cleaner.
How to Eliminate Moisture
Mold and mildew grow best on porous surfaces because porous surfaces have the ability to hold moisture for long periods of time. In order to effectively remove moisture from a porous surface, you will need to use a concentrated approach, since towels and cloths will not do the trick. For damp surfaces, turn on a dehumidifier, which draws out the moisture. For extremely wet carpets, use a wet/dry vacuum, which you can rent at some home improvement stores. For movable surfaces such as clothes and furniture, use sunlight outdoors. For other surfaces, try using a space heater or hair dryer.
Chris Anzalone has been writing professionally since 2001. He is a former staff writer and associate editor for Opposing Views, a popular news media website that tackles issues of the day from multiple perspectives. Anzalone holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California at Riverside.