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Keep Your Wintertime Mold-Free

Photo of Environmental Health Specialist Judy Olsen
by Judy Olsen12/18/2017 12:00 a.m.
Updated: 01/04/2019
Mold. Ick. There’s more than 20,000 types, including fungus, mildew, rust, smut or mushrooms. No matter the kind, molds can cause potential health problems such as eye or nose irritation, fatigue, headaches, allergies or asthma. Some molds may produce toxins that cause additional health effects. The important thing is to learn how to prevent mold from growing.
Just like people, mold needs food and water to grow. Leaks and humidity in the air can provide the water mold needs to thrive. And mold growing season in Washington? Fall, winter, and spring provide plenty of moisture in the form of rain and relative humidity. Humans add to the moisture merriment when we do human things like cook, bathe, breathe, and wash. That all adds moisture to our indoor environment.
Food is also not hard for mold to come by; it is not a picky eater! Carpet, cabinets, furniture, paper and your fancy dress shoes tucked in the back of the closet…mold loves all those things. Drywall is one of mold’s favorites. I like to think of wet drywall as the chocolate cake on mold’s menu. Mold feasts on it!
How can you prevent mold from showing up like an uninvited Cousin Eddie to your holidays?  

Keep it Dry

  • Take care of any leaks, or report them to your landlord in writing, immediately.
  • Use your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans during, and for at least 30 minutes after, showering or bathing.
  • Squeegee shower walls after bathing.
  • If you don’t have fans, be sure to open windows to let the moisture out.
  • “Flush” the air in your house at least once a day for 20 minutes. Do this by opening windows and/or doors and turning on exhaust fans. Be sure to keep small children away from open doors and windows.
  • Keep furniture a couple of inches away from outside walls and leave closet doors slightly open to allow air to circulate.
  • Make sure your dryer vent is venting to the outside and not blocked.
  • Keep the temperature in your home between 66F and 72F to discourage mold growth.
  • Don’t put plastic or blankets over the inside of windows. If your windows or window frames get condensation on them, be sure to wipe it dry every day.
  • Keep curtains or blinds open during the day to get air flow to windows.
Keeping indoor humidity below 50%, as often as possible, is a great way to discourage mold from stopping at your house. In fact, a digital humidity gauge ($10-$20 on line) can make a unique holiday gift.
Be sure to check with your health care provider if you think mold is making you or your family ill. Stay tuned for how to clean up mold if it does make an unwanted visit to your home.
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  1. Updated: 01/04/2019
  2. Updated: 01/03/2019
  3. Updated: 02/06/2018
  4. Updated: 02/05/2018
Photo of Environmental Health Specialist Judy Olsen

by Judy Olsen

Judy helps residents breathe easier through asthma care management and environmental health improvements.


We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.