White Mold Expert Reveals The Danger Lurking In Your Home

If you notice a white-colored mold in your house and are concerned for your families health, read on.

As a professional mold inspector, I've seen my fair share of white mold.

The truth is that not all white mold will produce mycotoxins, which is what makes mold toxic, but it's essential to confirm it's not harmful to your family.

What Is White Mold?

Often confused with mildew, white mold is not a specific type of mold. Several different mold species may appear white depending on the material the mold is growing on, due to their spores lacking pigmentation. Some white mold may change color in later stages of development as it produces spores.

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What Does White Mold Look Like?

White mold has an appearance like a powdery substance which shows on darker hard surfaces. White mold is often confused with efflorescence which occurs when the water leaves salt deposits on specific masonry material. White mold often forms in unperfect circles. (See below)

Pictures of White Mold

Mold on Walls Mold on Walls
Mold Behind Walls Mold Behind Walls
Mold In Closet White Mold On Personal Belongings
Mold On Shoes White Mold On Shoes
Mold on AC White Mold on Air Conditioner
Mold On Furniture White Mold On Furniture

How Is White Mold Different Than Black Mold

White mold is different in many ways besides just the color than black mold.

When somebody is referring the black mold they merely referring to black mold is as being toxic mold (If you think you have black mold read this). Scientifically speaking there is no such thing as the black mold. The scientific term for what is called "black mold" is a species called Stachybotrys.

Just like there is nothing scientifically known as white mold. It is just mold that is white in appearance, but many different species of mold can be white.

White mold is referred to as mildew quite often; however, this is not always accurate.

You see:

Mildew is white and powdery, yes, but individual mold spores can be white that is 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 mold and mildew produce distinct offensive odors, and causes certain human ailments. Source

If white mold turns out to be toxic, then it must be removed during a process called mold remediation (Click here for my guide on mold remediation).

Sometimes, black, white, and other colors of mold will grow together on building materials, kind of like this: white mold mixed with other mold species

When Is White Mold Dangerous?

As mentioned, many different species of mold can be white. In most cases, white mold is harmless when on non-porous hard surfaces. When water damage on porous items creates white mold, it should be taken more seriously as it can cause adverse health effects.

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?

Possibly.

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 mycotoxins, which can make people ill.

However...

Certain strands do. They can produce what is called neurotoxins but usually is black in appearance at this point.

So if you just see 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 particular species or an autoimmune disease of mold, it may cause unwanted health effects.

Bottom line:

White mold can affect people differently. One person make become very ill, while another may not even get a runny nose!

Cleaning White Surface Mold On Building Materials

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, concrete, or often found in bathrooms.

Step 1: Protect Yourself

While the mold may not be toxic, you should take proper precaution.

  • Goggles
  • N-95 Respirator
  • Rubber Gloves

While you may not think this is even necessary, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Step 2: Get A Cleaning Agent

Quite honestly, simple cleaning detergent works just fine, but we recommend using either Vital Oxide or Concrobrium.

Step 3: Damp A Wash Cloth Or Sponge

And when I say damp, I mean DAMP! You don't want to introduce too much liquid to building material. It can be counterproductive!

Step 4: Dab The Affected Area

Just give it a little dab. Get it damp and let the solution sit on the surface for a minute or two.

Step 5: Give A Little Light Scrub

Get yourself some kind of brush or brillo pad and brush the area until it's clean.

Step 6: Apply A Fan To Dry The Building Material

Dry the area out

What Kills White Mold?

White mold isn’t always necessarily living but still needs to be removed. Anti-microbial solution can clean white mold on hard surfaces such as furniture. White distilled vinegar or borax can also be used to remove white mold. White mold on porous building materials such as drywall may need to be further investigated by a mold professional.

White Mold Prevention

Preventing white mold is no different than avoiding 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(Click here for awesome ways to prevent mold growth).

There are two main ways you can prevent white mold:

Keeping Relative Humidity Under 60%

As stated earlier, if you do not control the humidity, moisture can become an issue.

Most modern air conditioning systems can properly pull moisture from the air if with a proper sized HVAC system.

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. Which can cause high relative humidity while mixing it with cold air.

Look:

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!

Dry Any Leaks Within 24-48 Hours

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.

White Mold On Clothing

white mold on clothes

Have you ever walked into your closet and noticed little white spots on your clothes?

It can be worrisome and a complete nuisance.

Truth is:

Your clothes likely are not entirely ruined and can be cleaned.

There are options for 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 decide whether to save your outfits or discard is:

  • Did your clothes get wet
  • If so, how long were they wet

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 discard the clothes.

Now:

If your clothes did not get wet, it might be an easy fix.

What is White Mold On Clothes?

White mold on clothes is usually either Penicillium/Aspergillus or Cladosporium mold spores. It was caused by either the clothes being wet or high humidity in the home that caused condensation to build allowing mold to grow.

Why Does White Mold Grow On Leather?

White mold loves leather because leather remains cooler than other materials in a humid environment. The mixture of a humid climate and a cold substance will create condensation. Condensation will lead to mold growth.

Cause Of White Mold On Clothing

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!

For example:

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 the 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 continually being sent into a small closed space. No moisture is being pulled out is causing moisture to build upon your clothing. This is leading to a white mold growing on your clothes.

How To Clean White Mold On Your Clothes

For the most part, you can send your clothes through a laundry cycle. There are other methods such as shipping 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

Other Places White Mold Can Be Found

What Causes White Mold On Furniture?

White mold is caused by high relative humidity, which allows condensation to build. Once the furniture has high water content, mold spores attach itself to the damp surface of the furniture and start to grow.

What is White Mold On Wood?

White mold on wood was caused because wood got wet. It may or may not be able to be cleaned at the surface. The white mold that presents mixed with other colors such as black, green, yellow should be taken more seriously.

What is White Mold On Plants?

White mold on plants is also called mildew. This is caused by the plant being damp and is usually not harmful.

What is White Mold On Concrete?

White mold on concrete may not be mold at all. White mold on concrete is often confused with efflorescence, which is a white powdery substance caused by water leaving behind salt deposits.

White Mold Is Often Mistaken For

Mildew

Efflorescene

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). These are visible after the evaporation of the water in which it was transported. Moisture that creates efflorescence often comes from groundwater, but rainwater can also be the source. Efflorescence alone does not pose a significant 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.