Mold and mildew think of your closet as a free spa getaway – nobody would turn down luxurious living conditions that require nothing from them in return. Mold loves darkness, undisturbed air and moisture – which makes a closet that isn’t 100% dry a possible breeding ground. You could try to deter the mold by leaving a bright light on in your closet 24/7 but that seems impractical and possibly not safe, and it’s unlikely you have an exhaust fan installed in the closet.
A simple solution is to leave the closet door open all the time and even circulate the air with a fan. However, if you are like most people, you prefer to keep your closet doors closed. Louvered doors can help increase air circulation and possibly light, but is going to be useless if moisture has invaded your closet.
What causes mold and mildew in interior spaces?
Home repair issues are common culprits – a broken pipe inside a wall, or a leak from an ice dam in the siding or a bathroom or kitchen in the room above your closet. You’ll usually be able to identify these issues by a water stain on the wall or ceiling of the closet.
Certain climates and regions are at increased risk of dampness or moisture problems – based on several studies, an estimated 50% of United States’ homes have dampness issues or mold. The fog belt along the coastline of the Western United States battles with the moisture carried in along with the fog from the ocean air. Coastlines and river valleys have a high prevalence of dampness. Southern states battle high humidity due to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico can impact as far north as the Midwestern states with humid weather. The eastern coastline has a much higher dew point, like the South, increasing their felt humidity as well. Excluding some areas of extreme aridity, like Las Vegas and parts of the Southwest, much of the United States is in a battle against dampness and the damaging effects of mold, fungi and bacteria from moisture.
Closets with exterior walls and those in bathrooms can have condensation issues. When an air surface becomes cooler than the surrounding air, you get condensation so closets with an exterior wall that isn’t well insulated will get condensation on the wall surface. Cold water plumbing can create the same effect – it’s why closets near bathrooms can have so many moisture issues. Closets throughout the house are not always well insulated or heated well and that increases the likelihood of condensation issues.
Closets in basements are notorious for mold issues. Wet, damp concrete floors and walls are susceptible to the changes in the surrounding water table when it rains. A dryer that is not properly ventilated in a basement increases the humidity in the air. Running dehumidifiers appropriate to your inside spaces are part of the battle gear you need to fight off potential mold, fungi, and bacteria that love to thrive in the dark, damp, and poorly ventilated spaces of your home. Even dust mites increase in population in areas that are more damp than dry.
Even if your clothes are damp, moisture is there to aid mold growth so be sure items are completely dry before putting them away in a closed closet. Wet closets can put a serious damper on your clothing options as your clothing develops mildew odors and mold growth leading to the degradation of the materials.
Why is mold such a problem?
Mold loves organic materials like wood and fiber, which most closets have plenty of both. However, mold is stubborn and can find a home on nearly any kind of material. Mold is dependent on one factor in particular: dampness. Give mold some moisture and some oxygen and it grows up real fast.
Even if you didn’t mind wearing musty and mildew-laden clothing, you shouldn’t ignore the health risks associated with mold. Health problems abound when moisture is present due to mold and the microbes that multiply in a wet environment. Mold, fungi and bacteria reproduce spores, cells, fragments and volatile compounds that circulate into your home’s air. In addition, too much moisture can degrade materials, initiating a chemical or biological breakdown of those materials, with an output of pollution into the indoor airspace. Off-gassing of formaldehyde and other toxins can increase during the degradation of building materials, like wood composites of shelving systems and wall board. That’s why dampness is associated with wheezing and coughing. The dampness is feeding the mold, fungi and bacteria that makes us sick with asthma, allergic reactions, and other respiratory symptoms.
Headaches, fatigue, respiratory illnesses, allergies, nasal and sinus congestion, cold like symptoms, sore throats, watery eyes, skin rash or irritation, and coughing all can be result of mold, fungi and bacteria living off of the damp air in your home. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and other people with respiratory conditions are at an even greater risk to ill health effects from mold.
How do you get rid of mold & mildew in closets?
The only way to eliminate mold is to eliminate moisture. A mini dehumidifier can eliminate the mold and mildew found in your closets and cabinets. The Eva-Dry mini dehumidifier uses a specialized engineered crystal silica gel that is odorless, non-toxic and safe to absorb the moisture from the air. It holds a charge for 20-30 days and is renewed by plugging it in to a standard outlet. It’s the perfect size for an enclosed space like a closet. It reduces the moisture in your closet, keeping your clothes drier and mildew free.
If you don’t want to worry about recharging a dehumidifier unit, try Willert’s Keep It Dry closet dehumidifier. It absorbs the moisture from the air, protecting your clothing from mold and mildew. It can hold up to 350 ml of water before you need to replace it. Willert also makes a Keep It Dry closet deodorizer to help battle other odors like tobacco or perspiration as well as mildew. Until you get your mold or mildew problem taken care of using the Eva-Dry dehumidifier, the Keep It Dry closet deodorizer can help with the nasty odor problem. The best solution long term is to get the Eva-Dry dehumidifier going as soon as you can.