Can Mildew be Harmful to Your Health?
Mildew is a type of fungus that can grow on surfaces in your home that are cool, damp, or poorly ventilated. It is often found on exterior walls behind furniture but can also develop in cupboards and on furniture. Although they are often confused, mildew is distinct from moulds. It is usually white or light green in appearance as a result of being made up of many thousands of thin hairlike filaments called hyphae.
Is Mildew Bad for Your Health?
Moulds and mildew can cause allergic reactions and affect respiratory conditions such as asthma. The mildew fungus releases spores into the air, and these can be inhaled where they irritate the linings of the airways.
Some people are more sensitive to the allergens released by mildews. If you live in a house with people who suffer from asthma and allergies, young children, older people, or have family members suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, mildew spores can cause them to have a severe allergic response. This can be particularly bad for people who have a weakened immune system and as such, it is important to treat mildew as quickly as possible and take steps to prevent it coming back.
If you have a condensation or damp problem in your home, the chances are that you will also have colonies of mould or mildew growing in different parts of the house.
The first sign that you have mildew in a room is usually a stale smell. Mildew tends to grow in areas with poor air flow such as behind furniture or in a wardrobe. If it is growing on your clothes, they may smell musty when you put them on.
Mildew grows on surfaces and can spread very quickly under the right conditions. It will normally appear as a large white patch that looks furry – unlike mould which is usually dark and wet looking. Mildew tends to grow in patches that can join together to cover a large area.
Mildew can be cleaned using normal household cleaning products. It will normally wipe off walls and other surfaces. Try to avoid scrubbing as this can release more spores into the air that will cause the fungus to spread when they land. To prevent inhaling the mildew spores, you should wear a mask and gloves when cleaning and after you have finished, make sure that you throw away the cloth that you have used.
If you have mildew growing on clothes in a wardrobe, you should ensure that all the clothes are washed thoroughly as well as cleaning all surfaces in the wardrobe. Leave plenty of space when you replace the clothes after you have finished cleaning as this will help airflow and slow regrowth.
Preventing Mildew from Forming
Mildew requires moisture and warmth to grow successfully. Mildew grows most quickly at humidity levels between 62% and 91% and warmer temperatures between 25C and 31C. Mildew will still develop at lower temperatures and humidity levels, although not as rapidly.
To prevent mildew from returning once you have cleaned, you need to reduce the humidity in your home. Water vapour from cooking and cleaning can spread around your home if you do not have adequate ventilation or a strong extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen.
If you have a problem with mildew in your home and are worried about the effect it might have on your health, please contact us today to book a free home survey. Our local ventilation specialists can visit your home and advise you about the best way of preventing the condensation and damp that can lead to mildew spreading.