Both bathroom and kitchen mold can develop almost overnight, especially if the property has poor insulation and chronic plumbing, ventilation, or roofing issues to go with old age. Due to high condensation and inadequate air conditioning, we can get mold under the kitchen sink, in the garbage disposal, or on ceiling areas directly above water outlets. In other words – mold can develop fast and it can go from a dark spot to Ghostbusters material in just couple of days.
In kitchens where insulation is a problem, moisture can build-up almost anywhere – in window corners and sills, behind kitchen units, etc. Damp surfaces provide fertile ground for mold development, and once fungi move in, eliminating them can be an extremely difficult task without professional help.
Mold is not just an eyesore: the list of its harmful health effects ranges from nasal and sinus problems, respiratory infections, difficulties breathing, persistent cough and throat irritation, to serious conditions such as asthma, allergies, and pneumonia. For this reason, knowing mold infestation causes and remedies is essential to not only keep your kitchen mold free, but to take care of your health too.
Causes of kitchen mold
Moisture is the main factor of mold growth in areas with high humidity such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements. Mold breakouts are common in houses with faulty weatherproofing or roof leaks, but mold can appear even in new homes with proper external and internal insulation.
- Frequent washing and drying combined with improper ventilation can trigger mold growth, so controlling moisture sources such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and sinks is the best way to prevent mold in the kitchen.
- The second most common mold cause is humidity. Keeping the windows open while cooking will allow humidity to escape from the kitchen. If your kitchen is windowless, turn on the stove fan when cooking and consider installing double or triple glazed windows to keep tabs on condensation without compromising the room’s thermal capacities.
- Faulty plumbing and roof defects are a major factor that contributes to mold growth. Leaky pipes, blocked drains, and poorly insulated or punctured roofing can all increase the risk of mold outbreaks, which is why experienced plumber services recommend that kitchen fittings should be inspected regularly and that moisture-related issues should be taken care of before mold sets in.
Kitchen mold remedies
Once mold develops, the extent of work required to eliminate it will primarily depend on the scope of infestation. In the worst case, your strongest weapon is your phone – grab it and immediately call professionals to help you clean your kitchen. But, if your kitchen hasn’t turned into a scene from the Twilight Zone just yet, there are a few things you can do about moldy surfaces.
Small mold-covered tiling sections can be cleaned off by scrubbing with a fungicide liquid. Unless the underlying cause is tackled promptly, however, you may need to repeat the process periodically to prevent mold from spreading from contaminated areas to other surfaces.
Rubber and silicone seals, grouts, and other sensitive surfaces where moisture accumulates regularly can be very difficult to clean. If possible, remove mold-infected grout and silicone seals and dry the surface well before applying a fresh sealant coat.
Kitchen appliances that require water for operation or give off humidity when running (such as dishwashers and fridges) should be cleaned regularly using bleach or sterilizing detergent. The same goes for garbage disposal and sink drains: mold loves damp, dark spots, so run garbage disposal at least once a day and bleach-scrub the sink drain every once in a while to prevent full-scale infestations. Don’t forget to use personal protection items such as gloves and dust masks when cleaning mold to avoid direct contact, spore inhalation, and potential health complications.
Mold loves dark places. With that in mind, it is only common to find mold behind kitchen cabinets and even under it. Mold patches on the wall-facing side of cupboards and kitchen devices should be scrubbed, sanded down, or cleaned off using fungicide before they spread to the walls. Applying a coat of mold-resistant paint to infected surfaces can prevent recurring outbreaks.
Mold on the walls is one of the most difficult fungi-related issues to tackle. Wiping the walls with a fungicide-soaked cloth can leave ugly stains and contribute to outbreak expansion, which is why calling professional mold removal experts is a better idea than starting the cleanup on your own. Left unattended, mold can compromise wall structure, and you may need to have the moldy surfaces peeled, replastered, and repainted with mold-proof paint.
It is very important to clean the kitchen regularly. Food dropped on the floor can wind up under cabinets or kitchen appliances and encourage mold growth, so keeping the kitchen tidy is the best way to prevent mold. You can try applying a homemade anti-mold cleaner to areas which are difficult to reach, this will keep mold growth at bay for a few months even without regular cleaning.
Let’s be clear with one thing – no matter the temperature, mold in the fridge is as common as mold on any other surface and often due to moldy food. Dry the fridge dip pan regularly and keep it clean from moldy ingredients. If you often find spoiled food in your fridge, re-think the quantity you are buying or making. Don’t forget to check behind your fridge too, as the area is often dark and moist, which creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow.
Thoroughly check the cooker extractor for signs of mold. Modern cookers come outfitted with carbon filter extractors but if the unit does not have an exhaust pipe, be aware that the extractor will remove odour but it will not help with air moisture. For this reason, air the kitchen regularly and wipe damp surfaces with an absorbent cloth whenever possible if you want to prevent mold from establishing itself in your kitchen.
To sum up – the best way to prevent kitchen mold is to:
- keep the kitchen tidy and organized (with units at least 2 inches away from the walls),
- throw away gone-off food (expired products in the fridge can easily turn into a mold hotbed),
- wipe down appliances with antibacterial liquids after use,
- use a dehumidifier or kitchen fan to eliminate moisture, and empty your indoor garbage cans every day.
Last but not least, if you are dealing with severe mold issues, don’t try to clean it off on your own. It can be a long and frustrating process and it result in even worse situation. Your best option in this kind of situation is to grab a phone and let our experts help you.
This article was written by Zoe Clark. Zoe is an environmentalist, home decorator and DIY enthusiast from a land down under. You can follow her on Twitter.