Are you a homeowner? What are you doing to prevent and stop the spread of mold throughout the home? When it comes to rooms in the house at high risk of mold infestation, the kitchen is at the top of the list, along with the basement and bathrooms. These areas all have water supplies, which means that there's the potential for mold outbreaks in these rooms.
From cooking to doing the dishes, the air in the kitchen undergoes several changes in temperature and quality during the average day. The dishwasher, the sink, the laundry, the scullery, all these areas around the kitchen have water connections where leaks and drips can occur.
Sometimes, these drips and leaks are out of sight, hidden in a cupboard or inside skirting or walls. As a result, the average homeowner might not even realize they are there. As the water saturates the chipboard and wood around the leak, it starts to create the perfect environment for the establishment and spread of mold spores.
The issue with the kitchen and mold is that the pathogen can set up shop anywhere it likes. The spores are so small they can enter any space and float to the top of kitchen cabinets. It's important for the homeowner to regularly check these mold hot spots to avoid mold spores colonizing and releasing toxic particles into the air.
This quick guide unpacks everything you need to know about preventing mold in the kitchen.
So, what causes mold to develop in the kitchen? Understanding what causes the pathogen to colonize and spread is the first step in taking precautions against it showing up in the first place.
Here are the top causes of mold growth in the kitchen.
As mentioned, the kitchen is one of three areas in the home where water connections are present. As a result, they are more likely to deal with issues surrounding water leaks. Water leaks in the pipework can occur superficially on the outside of the wall or internally on the inside of walls. The internal problem is the more challenging problem for the homeowner to fix.
Internal leaks result in digging out the pipework, which typically involves the costs of hiring a contractor to fix the problem. Superficial leaks occur in the pipework leading out from the walls. The leak may drip down the back of the cupboard, causing the wood air building materials to rot.
The leak also increases humidity in the cupboard, priming conditions for the spread of mold. While kitchen cabinets are a common spot for finding leak-related infestations of mold, the spores may settle under the cabinets or in areas that are difficult to spot.
As mentioned, mold spores like living and spreading in humid conditions. Therefore, any dark, damp space in the kitchen is a potential hot spot for the spread of mold. If you're curing food in a cupboard, chances are it's dark in the space.
Drying vegetables or fruit, and even meat, increases humidity levels in the space, allowing for the perfect conditions for mold growth.
While the fridge is also a cause of concern for mold growth, checking under the refrigerator is also important. There may be leaks causing water o pool under the fridge, enticing mold growth.
Regularly checking on your food storage areas is a good idea to prevent mold growth. People that store large quantities of grains must often check their supplies for the presence of mold.
The pantry is typically dark for 99% of the day. If there is some moisture present in the air, then it presents a prime spot for mold growth. Make sure that you clear out the pantry and wash down all the shelves regularly to prevent mold from establishing and spreading through the panty and the kitchen.
Kitchenware and appliances are also prime candidates for mold exposure and spore growth. For example, if you have a wooden cutting board that's sitting in a wet spot, it could cause the start of mold growth. Feel under the edge of the board, and you'll notice a slime and a discoloration in the wood that looks like the start of mold.
This same scenario applies to all wooden cookware in the kitchen.
Check your kitchenware and appliances for mold from time to time. Packing away wet appliances in dark cupboards increases the humidity in the space, providing the perfect conditions for the establishment and growth of mold spores.
As mentioned, mold can spread readily in the right environmental conditions. Ensuring that you maintain the air quality in the kitchen is the best way to ensure that you never have to worry about mold spreading throughout the room.
Keeping the humidity in your home at optimal levels is the best way to ensure you don't experience the spread of mold in your kitchen.
Since pathogens like mold and mildew enjoy humid environments, keeping the RH within the right range of 50% to 55% is the best way to control the spread of spores. Even if they establish in the kitchen, they'll have a hard time spreading without higher humidity.
An easy way to avoid the buildup of humidity in the kitchen is to keep the windows open or open the windows in adjacent rooms if you don't have any in the kitchen. Keeping the windows open allows the air to circulate through the room, avoiding moisture accumulation in the air from cooking activities.
If you live in a coastal region, opening the windows in your home might not be the best idea. Sometimes, the RH can be so high that you feel wet, even though it's hot outside. These conditions are ideal for the spread of mold spores. And you'll have to regularly check your home each week to prevent mold from establishing in rooms.
If you live in a humid climate, the best move is to install an air-conditioning or HVAC system to remove the excess moisture from the air throughout the home. These devices' dehumidifying function and cooling action let you maintain optimal air temperature and RH at the touch of a button.
Since you never have to open the windows, there's less chance of environmental contaminants entering the home. Best of all, on bad air-quality days, you can set the system to recirculate indoor air, avoiding the intake of harmful pollutants into your home.
If you're cooking without an extractor hood, consider investing in one for the kitchen right away. Fumes from the stove get everywhere in the kitchen, settling on the tops of cabinets and the floor. Using an extractor hood pulls those fumes out of the kitchen and into the air outdoors.
Check the pipework around your home for signs of leaks. Mold loves to grow in damp spaces, and a leak in the basement increases humidity in the room, presenting the ideal conditions for the pathogen's spread.
Check the pipework under the sinks and around the disposal to ensure there are no leaks., A leak in a dark cabinet your rarely open is a great way to provide optimal conditions for the spread of mold spores.
Increasing your cleaning schedule is the best way to ensure mold doesn't have the chance to spread in your home. If you regularly wash the floors, counters, and cabinets, you won't have to worry about problems with surface mold invading the kitchen. Make sure you use bleach-based detergents for the best killing power against mold spores.
Inspect your pantry or food storage area at least once a month. Rotate your stock and clean out the backs of your cabinets to prevent mold from settling in.
Don't leave old pizza boxes around on the floor next to the garbage can; mold loves a nice oily dark box to start spreading. Toss out old food in the fridge; it's a health risk, and make sure you take out the trash regularly, don't leave it to fill up and overflow.
Mold can build up in old food and residue in the disposal. Run it daily to clear the system of any potential biological contaminants.
If you think you have mold somewhere in your kitchen, don't leave it to chance; call the professionals. MI&T offers homeowners an inspection of the air quality inside the kitchen, and they'll check the rest of your home to see if the mold spread to any other area.
MI&T doesn't offer mold removal, nor do they recommend companies providing the service. MI&T is an independent authority with no vested interest in sending mold removal companies to your premises. As a result, you can expect an unbiased and ethical report on the air quality in your home.