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How to Beat Mold & Mildew

As a carpet cleaning and water damage expert, I (John) see just about everything and very few things surprise me anymore.

For example, I’ve seen oil and grease from motorcycle repair ground into living room carpets. And then there are the exotic animal messes—I keep a file on those! But lately, there’s been a surge of interest in household mold problems and several clients have asked for my advice. The news media has also carried several stories about the connection between household mold and allergies.

Since we live on the coast and frequently have moist, foggy mornings, here are some things you should know:

Molds and mildew grow best in warm, moist environments so steamy bathrooms and homes near damp ocean air cause the majority of problems we see. These fungi grow most often in wallboard or under carpeting that has remained damp for several days. I’ve also seen mold grow inside the walls of a house whose lawn sprinkler system regularly soaked the outside stucco wall. Leaky pipes can also cause mold to grow. And by the way, when moisture is present in the right amount, several hundred species of mold will begin competing for living space. Like most things in nature, the strong survive and molds do it by producing proteins that are toxic to their neighbors – unfortunately these toxins call also make humans and animals sick. Common symptoms are headache and congestion but more severe cases have been reported as well.

Here are some things to do to prevent incidental mold and mildew growth:

Keep the doors and windows cracked open, to avoid allowing more moisture into your home. I don’t blame you for enjoying the Santa Barbara breeze, but you’ll need to remove the moisture one way or another. For homes with extreme indoor moisture, a dehumidifier may be the solution. Another trick is to simply leave an oscillating fan on to keep damp air from stagnating behind drapes or under furniture.

One last thing to keep in mind: As wonderful and stylish as they are, natural vegetable fiber carpets are wonderful breeding grounds for mold/mildew. These include hemp, seagrass, jute and sisal. ( Natural animal fiber [wool] rugs don’t seem to attract mold, but another pest loves it: moths!)

There have been recent breakthroughs in mold prevention/abatement products which are actually green and not a danger to your health. So before you start tossing out your natural fiber rugs and mildewed drapes, give us a call. We may be able to take care of this household problem for you.