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Preventing Mildew

1. Keep Things Clean Keep closets, dresser drawers, basements--any place where mildew is likely to grow--as clean as possible. Soil on dirty articles can supply enough food for mildew to start growing when moisture and temperature are right. Greasy films, such as those that form on kitchen walls, also contain many nutrients for mildew-causing molds.

2. Get Rid of Dampness Dampness in a basement, or any other structure, is often caused by condensation of moisture from humid air onto cooler surfaces. Excessive moisture may indicate that repairs or additional insulation are needed. Replace cracked or defective mortar. Some basements are continually wet from water leaking through crevices in the wall. Make sure outside drainage is adequate.

3. Control Moisture For waterproofing concrete and other masonry walls above ground, apply two coats of cement paint, tinted with mineral coloring if desired. Waterproofed coatings to seal absorbent brick and other outside surfaces may be needed.

Spread a layer of moisture-barrier material over the soil in crawl spaces under houses. You can use heavy roofing paper or polyethylene plastic film. Good ventilation is important. If possible, do not enclose the crawl space. In extreme cases, a fan or blower may be needed to move the humid air from under the building.

Cooking, laundering, and bathing may add 2 gallons or more of water a day to the house. If circulation is not adequate use some type of exhaust fan. If your clothes dryer is equipped with a vent, have it exhausted to the outside to remove moist air.

4. Dry the Air Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. Properly installed air-conditioning systems remove moisture from the air by taking up warm air, cooling it (which removes the moisture) and circulating the cool dry air back into the room. In rooms that are not air-conditioned- especially the basement--mechanical dehumidifiers are useful. A humidistat can be attached to the unit to control the humidity. Mechanical dehumidifiers, however, can add heat to a room.

When using air-conditioners or dehumidifiers, keep windows and doors closed.

5. Heat Get rid of dampness by heating the house for a short time. Then open doors and windows to let out the moisture-laden air. An exhaust fan may be used to force it out.

Air in closets and other small areas can be dried by using an electric light continuously (60- to 100-watt bulb). The heat will prevent mildew if the space is not too large.

PRECAUTION: Be sure to place the light bulb far enough from clothing and other flammables to avoid the danger of fire.

Chemicals that absorb moisture--may be used to absorb moisture from the air. Follow directions on the label exactly.

6. Circulate the Air When the air outside is drier than that inside, ventilation allows the dry air to enter, take up excess moisture, and then be carried outside. When natural breezes are not sufficient, you can use electric fans placed in a window, set in a wall, or ducted to the attic to move air from the house.

Poorly ventilated closets get damp and musty during continued wet weather, and articles stored in them are apt to mildew. Try to improve the air circulation by opening the closet doors or by installing a fan.

In addition, hang the clothes loosely so that air can circulate around them. Dry all wet clothing (including clothes wet from rain or perspiration) before putting it in the closet.

7. Get Rid of Musty Odors Get rid of musty odors as soon as possible to prevent further mold growth. Usually musty odors disappear if the area is well heated and dried. If the odors remain, the following treatment may be necessary.

On cement floors and on tiled walls and floors in bathrooms, get rid of mustiness by scrubbing with a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite or other chlorine bleach available in grocery stores. Use one-half to 1 cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon of water. Rinse with clear water and wipe as dry as possible. Keep windows open until walls and floors are thoroughly dry.

PRECAUTION: Work quickly and carefully on plastic and asphalt tile to avoid spotting the surface. Go To Top of File MSU Extension Home Page Main Page for this Data Base

This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company. This file was generated from data base 02 on 03/09/98. Data base 02 was last revised on 10/01/92. For more information about this data base or its contents please contact cook@msue.msu.edu . Please read our disclaimer for important information about using our site.

This information is for educational purposes and is reprinted from the MSU Extension. This information is public property upon publication and has been printed with credit to MSU Extension.

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