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How to spot mould in the home, and how to clean it

Have you noticed those tiny black spots on the ceiling above your bathtub? That’s mould. Mould is neither a plant nor an animal, but a type of fungus that grows from tiny spores floating in the air (not that you need to know the exact scientific definition to get properly disgusted by it). We are sorry to break it to you but mould can grow almost anywhere. All it needs to comfortably survive is a toasty temperature of at least 20 °C, humidity and organic matter to feed on. In other words, just about every damp place in your home is a potential breeding ground for mould.

But how do you know if its mould or just dirt? And most importantly how do you get rid of it?

How do you know if it’s dirt or mould?

Not every black patch in your home is mould. It might be just dirt. How do you know? There are several differences. First, look at the surface. If it’s something like steel or aluminium it’s not mould but dirt. Second, is the area dark and humid or dry and well lit? Remember, mold likes humidity and hates light. Finally, try to rub it off with a damp cloth. If it doesn’t come off easily, it’s mold as it tends to grow into the surface it’s sitting on and doesn’t just wipe clean.

How to get rid of mould

The best way to get rid of mould in your house is to use a solution of vinegar or alcohol. 

Mould expert Dr Leigh Winsor speaking to ABC recommends using a solution of eight parts vinegar to two parts water rubbing it off with a microfibre cloth.

He explains further: “So you’d have three buckets: you’ll have your 80 per cent vinegar solution [for killing the mould] and you’ll have one that’s half that concentration [for rinsing your cloth] and then you’ll have one that is just water [for the second rinse].” 

Of course, before going in, do a patch test of the surface you’re about to clean.

Finally, you should only attempt to remove mould yourself only if it covers an area less than one meter squared (1X1) and only if it is caused by condensation (yes, we’re looking at you, black dots on the bathroom ceiling). If you have a mould patch that’s larger than that and is caused by things like sewage or contaminated water, you should get professional help.

Preventing

As always, the best strategy is prevention. According to Dr Winsor, of the four things that mould needs in order to thrive and grow – moisture, warmth, spores and nutrients – moisture is the easiest to control. Use air-conditioning or fans to create better air circulation, get a dehumidifier to reduce humidity in your home. Open the windows during the day, but close them if it’s raining

For all Habitat enquiries, please reach out to Bernice Averion at b.averion@koala.com | Instagram @bunnybernice

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