Between the pool, beach, lake and the various other ways to stay cool, plus the stifling humidity and warm weather storms, summer is one of the top moisture-filled times of the year. This season brings a few extra problems that may not be on your mind as you’re soaking up those rays of sunshine. The more moisture there is, the higher the chance of contaminants like mold moving into our indoor spaces. Since mold can grow in as little as 24 hours given a little water and a food source, it’s important to factor in a few additional steps to make sure our homes don’t become toxic indoor environments.
Here are eight ways to prevent mold growth in the summer.
1. Take Care of Those Gutters.
Hotter weather often brings massive summer storms. If your gutters are clogged, the draining system won’t work as it should during rainy days, which can lead to standing water at the base of your house. All of this standing water can then lead to moisture making its way inside of the home, allowing for problems like mold growth.
Keeping a close eye on these transportation systems and regularly cleaning them out helps ensure that the rainwater goes away from the home and doesn’t make its way inside.
2. Decrease Humidity in Kitchens and Bathrooms.
Humidity is enemy No. 1 during warm weather months, so decreasing humidity is a huge step in the right direction to prevent mold in the summertime. Bathrooms and kitchens are often packed full of humidity due to the amount of water used in the space and the steam created. That being said, the goal is to maintain indoor humidity levels between 35% and 50% to avoid mold growth.
To maintain this range, focus on creating airflow while cooking or jumping into the shower. For kitchens, turn on the exhaust fan, and for bathrooms, turn on the exhaust fan and crack the door when taking a shower or bath. This will transfer the humid air outside and replace it with drier air from other areas of the house.
If these levels just won’t drop, consider using a dehumidifier to remove all of the excess moisture. A few other steps include removing any pooled water in sinks or on countertops and floors, hanging up towels and bathmats to dry, squeegeeing the bath and separating the shower curtain and liner.
3. Clean Window AC Units.
Higher temperatures mean that these machines will be running much more frequently. Cleaning frequently helps ensure the machine runs correctly and avoids mold growth by removing small particles like mold spores and any condensed moisture.
Once a colony is established, it will start releasing spores into the machine, which will then get blown all throughout the room, lowering the indoor air quality and contaminating surfaces. To avoid this — and to keep the AC unit in tip-top shape — do basic cleaning of the machine at least once a week and more thorough cleaning at least once a month.
4. Help Out the Laundry Machine.
With the kids home from school, pool and beach attire, and the heat making you sweat through clothing, these machines are going to be in use more than ever during the summer season. This increased use, combined with the higher humidity, can lead to prolonged moisture in the washer and a ton of tiny particles stuck to surfaces.
To keep these machines in tip-top shape and your clothes particle-free, clean them often during the summer months. Another good idea is to leave the door and detergent drawer open when not in use, immediately remove clothing when the cycle is finished, and wipe the rubber ring around the doors to remove pooled moisture.
5. Keep an eye on AC Return Vents.
When it’s hot out, that air conditioner will work overtime to keep your indoor space cool. The more air it circulates, though, the more dust is involved as well. As it continues circulating air, the machine will collect that dust, which gives mold the opportunity to grow.
To avoid this contamination nightmare, make sure to use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove the particles, and then wipe with a microfiber towel and botanical cleaner. Microfiber towels are a hundred times better at wiping away small particles than regular rags.
6. Tackle the Patio Furniture.
With all of the rain and increased humidity, outside furniture can easily turn into a hazard zone. To avoid this issue, it’s important to protect any porous items like chair cushions.
When they’re not in use, place them in a dry, safe space. If possible, it’s also a good idea to throw them in the washing machine with a botanical laundry additive like EC3 to help remove any microscopic particles within the fibers of the item. On top of this, cleaning the wood or metal components of the furniture often can help remove any contaminants.
7. Wipe the HVAC Evaporator Coil.
Air conditioners will be working overtime during the summer to keep the indoor temperature cool. All of this hard work leads to condensation along the coil itself, which offers the perfect opportunity for mold to grow.
If the mold gets to the coil, that colony will begin releasing spores (and potentially mycotoxins), which the HVAC then sends into the rest of the home. To avoid this massive contamination situation, wipe down the coil frequently with a microfiber towel to remove moisture and any small particles.
8. Keep Windows and Doors Closed When the AC is On.
When that warm outdoor air meets the chilly indoor air, it can create condensation inside the home. More moisture means more opportunities for mold growth. To avoid this, never keep windows or doors open while the AC is running.
If you want to open up those windows and doors, turn the AC off and use fans instead to help circulate air. When you’re ready for cooler temperatures, close the windows and doors before turning the AC back on. Aim for a time of day with low humidity as well to help keep your home as moisture-free as possible and keep them closed during rainy days.
With how much time we spend inside of our homes, it’s easy to see why they play such a huge role in our ongoing wellness. If they’re filled with contaminants like mold spores, mycotoxins (a toxic byproduct of mold) and bacteria, these tiny particles will make their way into the body every time someone steps through the front door and can trigger a long list of potential adverse health effects. Avoiding indoor mold growth can ensure hot weather months don’t turn into summertime sadness.