What is mold? Molds are fungi that grow and thrive in moist, dark, and warm environments. Neither plant nor animal, fungi are their own special thing, with a kingdom dedicated to these unique organisms. Along with tasty mushrooms, fungi are responsible for the creations of yeast and penicillin. At least 100,000 species of fungi have been discovered, with many more yet to be found. Mold spores are everywhere, and any substance that contains carbon atoms will support mold growth — even the oil from your skin that's left when you touch surfaces.
What causes mold? Mold thrives in the presence of lots of moisture, so bathrooms and kitchens are the first spots you may find moldy areas in your home. But a small roof leak or a dripping toilet can introduce moisture to your home, inviting mold to grow in areas that you might not be able to see. Even your carpet is susceptible to mold growth. For mold to grow, there needs to be mold spores in the area; a food source for the mold to grow, such as wood, drywall, or fabric; and a dark, warm, and moist environment with air flow. Humidity, leaking pipes, and even condensation from your toilet tank can breed mold.
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How can I get rid of mold? The best way to get rid of mold is to eliminate any moisture or fixing any problematic areas of the home, such as leaks in the roof. Bleach is the best at killing every species of indoor mold that it comes in contact with, including mold spores. Simply mixing one part bleach with 10 parts water in a spray container and coating areas of concern. For an eco-friendly option, straight white distilled vinegar can be sprayed on mold and left for an hour. However, for moldy areas of drywall, removing or replacing is the only way to remove the mold.
Is mold really dangerous? Mold exposure indoors does not always present a health problem. However, some people are sensitive to molds, resulting in stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to certain strains. Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, can lead to health conditions following exposure, but not all mold is toxic. Molds produce allergens and irritants, which can cause reactions in those allergic to mold or those who have asthma.
Will mold come back? Yes and no. When an area is properly cleaned and treated, mold won't return. But when mold has infected drywall or unpainted or unprimed wood, mold may return after treatment, because it hasn't been completely removed. Controlling moisture indoors is the only way to keep mold from returning.