Whether you own or rent a property, mould can be a huge problem. On the one hand a mould infestation can affect your quality of living – especially if you suffer from asthma; on the other hand if the mould occurs during your tenancy you may be expected to cover the cost of the cleaning. A common problem in flats, apartments, and maisonettes, mould can strike any property. As with most issues in life, prevention is the best cure, although there are many ways you can deal with an existing mould problem.
Wet clothes can be a major reason for damp and mould developing. From just one load of washing, over 2 litres of moisture is released into the air! Drying clothes outside may not be practical for everyone, as not everyone has access to an outdoor drying area. If you do need to dry your clothes indoors, ensure a window is opened to provide the much-needed ventilation that may prevent damp developing. You can also look into products such as this ‘Moisture absorber’ which is a low-cost solution to deal with excessive moisture in the air.
If you are doing something that will release a lot of steam into the room, close the door and open a window. This applies to boiling a kettle, having a shower/bath, and cooking. If you have an extractor fan then this can really help to reduce the moisture, but closing the door will prevent the moisture from spreading into the other rooms of your house. If you don’t have an extractor, be sure to open a window- especially in winter months where steam will condense on cool surfaces!
Exterior walls are often slightly colder than interior walls and therefore more susceptible to damp and mould. Keep furniture away from these walls, instead placing them against interior walls. Another way to reduce your chances of mould is to leave a slight gap between all walls and furniture to leave room for air flow. If you have limited space, then try to regularly clean behind the furniture and ensure you dry the wall after you clean it.
Overfilled cupboards are a breeding ground for mould as there isn’t much air-flow. Adopt the Japanese method by Marie Kondo, and declutter your life (and cupboards) for mould-free joy!
If you are a smoker, then the first step towards a mould free house is to smoke outside. However it isn’t just cigarette smoke that can affect your property – wood-fires, candles, even stoves can generate smoke which can contaminate the air. Ensure all sources of smoke have proper ventilation, and if possible cut down on the amount of smoke you create.
First of all, please do not attempt to scrape away dry mould – especially if you have a respiratory condition such as asthma. Always work in a well-ventilated area, take regular breaks, and consider using gloves and masks to ensure your own safety. You can also use a dust mask to cover your mouth and nose to prevent you breathing in mould and any cleaning products.
Regular cleaning of problem areas such as grout, sealant and window sills will go a long way to preventing mould or at least stopping in its tracks if it does start to appear. A good mould spray (wear gloves!) such as the one made by HG, can get rid of the most stubborn mould stains if It has already set in.
Both clove oil and tea tree oil can be used to rid yourself of mould. Clove oil can have a fairly strong smell, so if you don’t like this you can use tea tree oil instead. If you buy the oil neat, mix half a teaspoon of oil with a litre of water.
To use this method, spray some of the solution directly onto the mould, and leave for around half an hour. You should be able to easily wipe the mould off with a little more oil and water on a cloth.
In a jug mix an equal amount of water and white vinegar. Add in bicarbonate of soda (2 parts soda to one part vinegar water) and mix well to make a paste. Apply the paste to the mouldy areas and use a damp cloth to scrub at the mould.
If the mould persists despite your best efforts at cleaning and prevention, ensure you contact your landlord promptly to let them know so that they can assess whether further action will need to be taken. Do not attempt to paint over mould. Even if you have purchased ‘Mould blocking paint’ you will need to clean the mould prior to applying paint. Normal paint will have no effect on mould growth, and the mould will return.
If you do not report the mould infestation promptly then you could be liable for the costs of professional mould treatment.
For more tenant tips, see our tenant FAQ page.
Enjoyed this article? You may also enjoy our Utility Bills Best Practice article, or a recent #AskTDS article which also covers mould. We also have a collection of case studies available, this one covers mould damage to a property and gives insight into the reasoning behind adjudication decisions.