There are many types of mold and many places it can hide: behind wallpaper, in humidifiers, in boxes of leftovers or opened drinks, and of course in damp spaces such as in bathrooms and around heating and air vents. And while many people would reach for bleach to battle mold, bleach is minimally effective. It’s only suitable for cleaning mold from nonporous surfaces, and bleach can even make mold worse.

Finding mold in your home can be a frightening experience. The discovery of mold can make you question the cleanliness of your home and the health of your family. While some types of mold only cause allergic reactions, others can be harmful. Getting rid of mold also can be a costly experience and one that homeowners often dread. Not every mold growth will cost a lot of money, though. However, if you are ever uncomfortable with your knowledge about mold or your ability to get rid of the mold in your house, you should always reach out to a mold remediation professional. Remember, when it comes to mold, it’s still better to be safe — and healthy! — than sorry.

What causes mold to grow?

The first step to correctly fighting mold in your home is to understand what causes mold to grow.

Mold is widespread in buildings because the condition it needs to grow naturally occurs inside. Mold will breed in an environment if it has:

  • Darkness (UV rays prevent the growth of mold, so it’s unlikely that places that get a lot of direct sunlight will experience mold growth)
  • Heat (freezing temperatures prevent the growth of mold)
  • Moisture (mold spores need moisture, so dry environments rarely experience mold)
  • Oxygen (mold is a living organism, so it requires oxygen to survive)
  • Time (mold growth doesn’t happen immediately, but it doesn’t take long for growth to take hold. Most molds can start growing in one or two days)

As stated, many of those conditions naturally occur in homes no matter what, so moisture and heat are the critical components to mold growth.

Where is mold likely to grow?

Mold is found both inside and outside, though it’s a more significant concern in places that don’t receive direct sunlight. Mold spores can get into your house through openings such as doorways, vents, heating, and air conditioning units, windows, as well as breaches in roofing, cracks in the foundation, and improperly sealed piping. Mold is an early indication of a leak because it will grow where it is able to enter your home.

Mold is attracted to moisture, so spores will begin to grow anywhere moisture can collect. This includes inside walls, behind wallpaper, and inside plant pots. You should be especially careful of naturally damp places, such as bathrooms (especially in homes that have carpet in the bathroom) and multiseason rooms that may feature hot tubs or be used as greenhouses.

Mold is also prevalent in more humid environments, such as Florida and Middle Tennessee, and where rain is frequent and/or in homes near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, creeks, or even man-made water features such as ponds or backyard waterfalls. In these areas, it is not uncommon to see mold around windows, doorways, and beneath decks and or on patios.

Basements, crawl spaces, cellars, and attics are favorite hiding places for mold because they are dark and often retain moisture that the interior of the home does not.

The fridge is also a potential site for mold if food or beverages are kept past their expiration dates.

Finally, laundry areas are prime real estate for mold if you forget to move your loads of laundry from the washer to the dryer or let things air dry in a room that may get too warm. Thicker fabrics such as towels, blankets, comforters, denim, and winter sweaters can be prone to mold growth if not appropriately cleaned and dried thoroughly after getting wet.

Why can’t I use bleach to kill mold?

You technically could use bleach, but it isn’t anywhere as effective as other solutions. Because of bleach’s structure, it’s not great at getting through porous surfaces to kill the mold and spore roots that lie beneath. This means that while the top layer of mold growth may appear clean, there is mold just beneath waiting to grow back. Mold can also feed on the water in bleach, so introducing bleach could worsen your mold growth.

How do I safely kill mold?

It would be best if you didn’t try to kill mold yourself because you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Most mold strains are not dangerous, but you never know without the proper testing and advice from experts. 

Moreover, the mold in front of you is likely not the main problem. That mold is there for a reason. Mold requires water, food, and oxygen to grow. If you simply use chemicals to kill it, but don’t deal with the underlying problem that led to the mold growth, you will likely get mold again.

Mold remediation experts

Sometimes mold growth can just be too much or too toxic for someone to handle on their own. In cases such as these, mold remediation experts should be called in because they have trained and are outfitted to safely kill all the mold in a home so that it doesn’t return and to do so in a way that isn’t harmful to you, your family, or the mold remediation team. As stated previously, mold should never be underestimated. When in doubt, call in the experts.