Out with the mould, in with the new: The dos and don’ts of managing a mould outbreak at home.

mould
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“No offence, your house is a dungeon,” the mould remediation specialist told me.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a game of Dungeons & Dragons. This was my house. My house was infected with the “M word” – MOULD. It was a big problem.

It seems as if mould is something you can simply wipe away with a rag and some Pine O’Clean. I’ve tried this. It didn’t work.

Mould is a serious problem which can exacerbate asthma, allergies, ruin vintage clothing (one of my leather jackets was covered in white mould fur) and definitely put unnecessary strain on your relationship. Even worse, when you have young kids at home like I do,  you really want their home – their sanctuary – to be a place that doesn’t make them sick.

For several years, I had lived in mould-infested manor. It wasn’t until I bought a dehumidifier that things got far better (but more on that a little later).

Mould thrives in warm areas with poor ventilation. For example, if you live in many cities in Australia in an older house/apartment, you’ll probably have nasty mould spores ruining your favourite shoes and making your hay fever about 1000 times worse than usual.

Many cities across Australia are prime hosts for mould infestations. The warm climates and regular rainfall can lead to mould spores forming in poorly ventilated areas in your home.

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From my own experience with a mould remediation specialist (yes, such jobs exist) and a little of my own research, I’ll give you a rundown of the basic dos and don’ts I’ve learned:

Mould removal
See how easy it is for moisture to seep into your home? Image: Getty.

The Dos:

1. If you find an area infested with mould, try to quarantine the area. Try to avoid disturbing the spores. It will be difficult to manage said area if you have young children.

2. If possible, find the source of the moisture. Older houses and apartments often do not have sufficient ventilation, in the walls or sub-floor. Mould thrives in moist, dark, damp areas - such as a bathroom and laundry. Some properties that were built decades ago may not have sufficient water-proofing around the bath or shower recess.

3. Buy a dehumidifier. I've been using a De'Longhi dehumidifier for years. It's included in the National Asthma Council’s Sensitive Choice Program as a product that can help those suffering from asthma or allergies. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, combating the conditions that allow bacteria, viruses and fungi and mites to flourish in the home - all of which can spur respiratory problems and allergies.

For me, it's provided clean air and transformed mould-harassed people into normal folk. My eyes suddenly didn't itch like crazy anymore, and the kids weren't scratching theirs either. My wife was happy. I even used the water from the dehumidifier for the backyard.

This was by far the best way to live in house that was a covered in mould. Each morning I’d turn on the dehumidifier, head off to work and by the evening the dehumidifier would full-to-the-brim with water. It was as simple as flipping a switch - flipping the switch on mould.

The Don'ts:

1. Mould is like all of the problems in your life - don’t paint over it. Mould is like any other challenge. Acknowledge and address the mould, then treat the contaminated area. A fresh lick of paint will only trap the moisture.

2. Blast the mould air from a fan. You don’t want to disperse the spores.

3. Don’t physically attack mould. You’re not playing Mortal Kombat. If you disrupt the mould-affected area by vigorously rubbing or or scathing, the spores will spread. Leave the area and ventilate the room.

4. Don't use harsh chemicals. In the past I used bleach, a vinegar and water solution…pretty much anything to remove mould. While these work for some people, these products offered only temporary relief. The mould often came back and exposing yourself and your family to potentially harmful chemicals is not a great idea for a short-term fix.

If you're looking for more information about reducing the mould, or other common household allergens, the National Asthma Council of Australia list a number of ways you can reduce exposure, including removing indoor pot plants, clearing overflowing gutters and blocked under-floor vents, and avoiding the use of organic mulches and compost heaps.

Whatever works for your family, really.

Do you have any tips for mould-busting? Tell us yours below.

If a home has visible signs of humidity such as condensation on windows, mould on walls and in bathrooms or damp furniture, a De’Longhi dehumidifier can help by collecting excess moisture from the air producing a healthy and comfortable home environment.

Reducing humidity levels in the home, makes the space less hospitable to allergens such as dust mites, mould, and mildew, eradicating these problems can assist in reducing irritation to the skin and respiratory system.

Recognised by the Sensitive Choice® program as products that assist those with asthma and allergies. All De’Longhi Dehumidifiers are created to bring perfect harmony within the home with a range of different models that are designed intuitively to fit comfortably in any environment.   

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