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Remove mildew so it never returns

In a previous post, I discussed how to check for mold and remove it from your walls. In this article, you’ll learn about mold’s close cousin, mildew. I explain the difference between mold and mildew, how to clean mildew from walls, and the most common mistakes people make when their walls are attacked by mildew.

Is it mold, or is it mildew?

Both mold and mildew are fungi. However, mildew is a surface growth, while mold can lurk behind your drywall. Mold penetrates surfaces.

Mildew grows on them. Usually, mildew is either powdery or fluffy. Usually, mildew starts as a yellowish growth, eventually turning brown and then black. It grows flat.

Mold is usually fuzzy, and can appear slimy (especially in bathrooms). Its growth is in irregular patterns and spots, and can be blue, green, yellow, brown, or white. Mold can rot surfaces very quickly.

How to clean mildew from walls

Because it’s a surface fungus, the way you clean mildew from walls is different to the way in which you clean mold from walls. Whereas bleach is not a good solution to use when cleaning mold (because it doesn’t penetrate surfaces), it can be a good cleaner for mildew. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Mix one cup of bleach with one gallon of clean, warm water.
  2. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray directly onto the mildew.
  4. Wipe the mildew away using paper towels, and dispose of the towels by placing in a plastic bag first before putting in the trash.

If you would prefer not to use bleach, then you might substitute the bleach solution with undiluted white vinegar or baking soda.

Mildew cleaning mistakes to avoid

There are five common mistakes that people make when cleaning mildew from walls or other parts of their home or business premises. These are:

1.    Not wearing protective clothing

Mildew, like mold, grows as fungal spores. As you are cleaning these away, they can easily be spread. It’s important that you wear protective clothing, including:

  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • A facemask to stop you inhaling the spores
  • Overalls or old clothes

2.    Not ventilating the area

Proper ventilation is essential while cleaning mildew from your premises. Whatever cleaning solution you use, there will be an odor. Ventilation will help you to reduce the effect of that odor – especially important if using any toxic solutions.

3.    Spreading mildew

It’s important that you take the clean-up process slow and steady. Mildew spores are easily spread, and you may think you have eradicated your problem only to find more growth in more places within days.

4.    Not trashing mildew contaminated items

 Items that have been affected by mildew can sometimes be cleaned and restored. However, it depends upon how bad the infection is and the cost to replace the item. Soft furnishings, curtains and clothes are often more economical to replace (and healthier to do so) than to attempt to restore or clean.

5.    Mistaking mold for mildew

Mold and mildew are often mistaken, and you may be tempted to clean mold as if it is mildew. Because mold grows differently, doing so will not get rid of your problem. Instead, even though you may think you have eliminated mildew growth, a larger and more dangerous infection of mold could be growing below the surface.

How to prevent mildew in your home

As I always say, prevention is better than cure. To prevent mildew from returning, follow these tips:

  • Keep your home dry
  • Use dehumidifiers to maintain a humidity level of around 40% to 50%
  • Regularly inspect your heating and air conditioning, replace air filters, and keep ducts clean
  • Ventilate your home
  • Fix leaks in the bathroom, and don’t leave wet towels or clothes laying around

For more tips on cleaning mildew and mold from your home, or if you aren’t sure by which your home is infected, get in touch with Porter’s Cleaning today. We’ll be happy to quote you to eradicate and prevent mildew and mold wherever it is present.

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