What causes mildew in the home?
Once established in your home, Mildew can become a long-term problem and cause a great deal of damage to walls and furniture. Even relatively small colonies of mildew can discolour paint and ruin expensive clothes if allowed to spread.
Because the spores released by Mildew can trigger an allergic response and damage health, treating the problem of mildew quickly and taking steps to prevent it returning is important.
Mildew is not always as easy to spot as mould – mould typically grows on walls and ceilings in damp rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens where there is high humidity whereas mildew can be a hidden problem, growing behind cupboards and on furniture where you might not discover the problem until it has spread.
What Causes Mildew
Mildew is a type of fungus that grows on porous surfaces such as wood, plaster and furniture. It appears as patches of fine white or very light green filaments unlike mould which is normally wet looking and black or very dark green.
In the home, mildew normally grows in areas with relatively high humidity levels (between 60-90%). It thrives in warmer temperatures but can also grow more slowly in areas which are cooler. Since mildew is made up of very delicate filaments called Hyphae, it prefers air which is relatively still.
If mildew has spread into an area where it is visible, it is easy to spot – particularly on wood or darker furniture, but if it is growing in a concealed location like a wardrobe or behind a sofa, the first sign that you have a problem might be a musty smell.
The most common cause of mildew in your home is damp conditions caused by condensation forming in cooler areas. If you do not use an extractor fan in a bathroom or kitchen, large amounts of moisture can be released into the other parts of your home and create damp spots.
Mildew spores can be an allergen, so when cleaning mildew you should always wear a facemask, eye protection and gloves. This will stop you accidentally inhaling or ingesting the spores.
To properly remove mildew – rather than just wiping away the surface layer, you need to use a fungicidal cleaner or a dilute bleach mixture. The cleaning fluid should be sprayed gently onto the area that you are treating. Moisture will help to stop the filaments breaking away and creating new colonies elsewhere in your home.
The fungicide will kill the mildew and help break it down, allowing you to remove it with a soft cloth. Once you have finished cleaning the mildew, you should dispose of any clothes you have used along with your gloves and mask rather to prevent any remaining mildew spores to escape.
Preventing Mildew Growing Back
If you want to prevent mildew permanently, you will need to remove the environments where it can thrive. This usually means reducing the amount of moisture that is found in the air in your home which prevents condensation and damp from forming.
Taking steps to prevent water vapour being released into the rest of your house when cooking or bathing by ensuring that you close doors and turn on your extractor fan is essential in reducing humidity. Modern whole house ventilation systems such as Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) take things further. By improving airflow through all rooms, they remove the areas where air can become stale which prevents mould and mildew from getting a foothold in your home.
Find Out More
If you are concerned about the damage that Mildew can do to your home or the health risks associated with damp and mould, please contact us today to book a free home survey from one of our local ventilation specialists. They will investigate the causes of damp in your home and provide advice and guidance about the best solution for your needs.