I have a question for you...
What's fuzzy, unwanted, and white?
Ok well, that's actually not what I was going for but it's true.
I was actually talking about white mold.
But what is white mold? Is white mold dangerous? Can white mold make you sick?
These are questions I get very often...
And if you keep reading, you will not only learn everything there is to know about white mold, but you will also know how to handle it when it is present in your home and on your personal belongings.
White mold is different in many ways besides just the color than black mold.
But when somebody is referring the black mold they are actually referring to the fact black mold is associated with toxic mold. There is no such thing scientifically as black mold. The scientific term for what is called "black mold" is a species called Stachybotrys.
The same goes for white mold. There is no such thing scientifically as white mold. There is just mold that is white in appearance. Many different species of mold can be white.
White mold is referred to as mildew quite often, however, this is not always accurate.
Mildew is white and powdery yes, but there are certain mold spores that can be white and are not just mildew.
Mildew is described as:
It appears as a thin, superficial growth consisting of minute hyphae (fungal filaments) produced especially on living plants or organic matter such as wood, paper or leather. Both mould and mildew produce distinct offensive odors, and both have been identified as the cause of certain human ailments.
White mold that is using mold as a food source will need to be removed during a process called mold remediation. Sometimes, black, white, and other colors of mold will grow together on building materials, kind of like this:
If white mold is in combination with another color mold and is using your walls, floors, or ceilings as a moisture source, it needs to be removed, not cleaned.
Cleaning white mold is reserved for surface mold on building materials such as wood or concrete.
While the mold may not be toxic, you should take proper precaution.
While this may not even be necessary, better to be safe than sorry
Quite honestly, simple cleaning detergent works just fine, but we recommend using either Vital Oxide or Concrobrium.
And when I say damp I mean DAMP! You don't want to introduce too much liquid to building material. It can be counterproductive!
Just give it a little dab. Get it damp and let the solution sit on the surface for a minute or two
Get yourself some kind of brush or brillo pad and brush the area until it's clean
Dry the area out
In order to determine if white mold is dangerous, lets first define dangerous...
Will you die from being exposed to white mold?
For most people, probably not...
Can it cause some allergy type symptoms?
White mold is generally going to be one of three types of species of mold. Those are Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium.
Those three types of mold are considered fast-growing species of mold. Usually, when you see the white mold forming it is at the beginning stages of mold growth.
There are different strands of Penicillium and Aspergillus spores. Most of these strands don't produce something called mycotoxins which can make people ill.
There are certain strands that do. They can produce what is called neurotoxins but usually is black in appearance at this point.
So if you are just seeing white mold, it's usually at the early stages.
But here's the issue:
Just because the mold may not be producing mycotoxins doesn't mean it can't harm you. if you have an allergy to certain species of mold it may cause unwanted health effects.
White mold can effect people differently. One person make become very ill, while another may not even get a runny nose!
People will often confuse white mold for efflorescence.
I know you are thinking,
" What is efflorescence?"
The International Association Of Certified Home Inspectors describes it as:
Efflorescence (which means "to flower out" in French) is the dissolved salts deposited on the surface of a porous material (such as concrete or brick) that are visible after the evaporation of the water in which it was transported. The moisture that creates efflorescence often comes from groundwater, but rainwater can also be the source. Efflorescence alone does not pose a major problem, but it can be an indication of moisture intrusion, which may compromise the structural material.
Here's a little tip to tell the difference between the two:
Just talk a spray bottle with water and give a light spray. If the water runs off the building material it's efflorescence.
Have you ever walked into your closet and noticed little white spots on your clothes?
It can be worrisome and a complete nuisance.
Your clothes likely are not completely ruined and can be cleaned.
There are options on how you can clean your clothes.
But you first need to determine whether the clothes are even salvageable. The two questions you need to answer to determine whether to save your clothes or discard is:
Meaning did the mold that is growing on your clothes be caused by some sort of flood. If your clothes got wet and mold is using it as a food source, the water damage restoration would refer to this as Condition 3 and the clothes will need to be discarded.
If your clothes did not get wet, it may be an easy fix.
Assuming that your clothes were not affected but a flood, how did they get all moldy?
It may be caused by you...
I don't mean to point fingers but sometimes your building activity may cause white mold growing on clothes!
Do you run your air conditioning system with the windows open? Do you run your air conditioning at all? Do you have any kind of ventilation in your closet?
These some reasons you may see white mold on clothing. Why is that though?
It's because of high relative humidity. Once relative humidity gets past 60%, moisture can become a problem.
Think about having a closed closet that has an HVAC vent present in it and the door stays closed, cold air is just constantly being sent into a small closed space. No moisture is being pulled out. This is causing moisture to build up on your clothing. This is leading to white mold growing on your clothes.
For the most part, you can actually send your clothes through a laundry cycle. There are other methods such as sending your clothes to a CO2 Cleaning at specialized dry cleaners or washing your stuff with vinegar. You can check out my full guide on how to remove mold from clothes by clicking here
Preventing white mold is no different than preventing any other color of mold.
Controlling moisture within a building whether due to leak or high humidity from the HVAC system will prevent white mold growth on building materials and personal contents.
There are two main ways you can prevent white mold:
As stated earlier, if you do not control the humidity, moisture can become an issue.
Most modern air conditioning systems are built well enough to properly pull moisture from the air if your HVAC system is properly sized.
In older buildings, you will see humidistats that control the humidity. If you have one of these keep it set to the On position.
Don't run the air conditioning system with the windows open. This can cause high relative humidity while mixing it with cold air.
I'm not saying you can't open the windows on a beautiful day. I am just saying, don't do both at the same time!
Mold can start to colonize very quickly under the right conditions.
Drying up any water damage is kind of like taking the gas out of a car, it can't run without it. Well, most indoor molds can't grow without water!
If it is a major flood, a water damage restoration company may need to be called in with dehumidifiers and industrial air movers.