Some advice on mildew and moldBy Lou Manfredini
Unless you live in the desert or close by like people in Arizona, you have had issues with mildew and mold. Mildew is really the first step in getting mold, so addressing this right away is a good thing.
Indoors you might be experiencing it in the bathroom. For both issues — mildew or mold — fresh air movement is your friend. If you have a window in the bathroom and can open it, then do so. The exhaust fan should not only be running while you take a shower or bath but at least 10 minutes after you are done to pull as much moisture out of the space.
If you have a shower door, try to keep it open during that drying time as closing things up helps breed mildew. You can do this with a curtain as well, but the catch-22 is that you can start to get some mildew on the actual liner. One thing I have found is that all liners are not created equal: Look for commercial-grade liners and expect to pay about $15 to $20.
As far as mildew where the walls meet the tub or shower floor, you can clean that with an overnight treatment of bleach. There are bleach-based spray cleaners you can buy that foam a bit when you spray them. In the evening, spray any area where you see the mildew and coat it well. Allow it to sit on the surface overnight. In the morning when you go to shower, take a nylon scrubbing brush and give the treated area a quick scrub. You will be amazed!
Mold is an entirely different story. There are more than 1,000 strains of mold and really only a handful of them are dangerous to humans, but you still need to be careful.
In the basement, try open a window, run a dehumidifier, or install an exhaust fan connected to a humidistat. This can drastically reduce the amount of moisture and odor in a basement space.
The same is true in an attic. Mold can live on the back side of your roof. Make sure any exhaust fan vents are connected to the outside of the home. These fans should never be allowed to just vent into the attic or next to a roof vent. Also consider installing an attic fan. When set up correctly, that hot, humid air can be pulled out of the space and fresh air will be brought in from the vents under the eaves.
If you have mold and are not sure what to do, start with a home test kit. These kits, which you can get at your local hardware store, cost about $10. You take a sample and send it into a lab for an additional $30. Then the results will be sent back to you. If it is a strain that is concerning, then you need professional help to eradicate this from your home.
Mildew and mold can be controlled and eliminated. Your job is to not ignore them because they can have serious health consequences for you and your family.