Out with the mold, in with the...fan?
August 25, 2016 8:36 PM   Subscribe

My closets develop mold this time of year. How can I stop it?

Where I live, mold develops in closets this time of year - not on the closet walls, but rather on the clothing in them - and also sometimes on clothing or drapes that are touching walls or windows that are outside-facing. There are no leaks in the house, and it is completely dry outside, so I think this has to do with a temperature differential between the inside and outside of the house - and also for the closets, a lack of moving air. I've already started putting Damprid in the closets - what else can I do? I'm not a fan of using a dehumidifier because I'm a constantly dehydrated person and I'm afraid it'll turn me into a shriveled corpse. Other suggestions?
posted by Toddles to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Get some Calcium Chloride crystals. There's a commercial product that puts a pound of the stuff in a plastic pot with a ventilated lid, and it's crazy expensive. Instead, just google "Snow Joe Snow Melt" and pick up 25 pounds of the stuff for $15-25.

I have a small garage that I keep below 20% humidity all winter by putting about 8 pounds of it on a big metal baking pan angled to drain into a bucket. I use a small fan blowing over the pan, but you might be able to get away with a much simpler setup for a closet: maybe just a pie pan full on a shelf?
posted by ssr_of_V at 9:07 PM on August 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ugh, I feel your pain.

Damprid was hugely helpful for me when a massive amount of water somehow spilled in the back of my car and I didn't notice until it started smelling mildewey. It's totally fine now. So you might be good with that.

If you keep your closet door closed, a small dehumidifier won't dry you out further. I bought this one for a closet and it kept it mold free.

It might be worth it to go through your closet and wash everything with de-molding procedures to make sure it's not something in the closet that's giving off mold spores. I'd then treat the walls and floors with a diluted bleach solution, then keep the door open until it's bone dry. Once it's really truly dry, I'd spray it down with Zep (I LOVE THIS STUFF) to seal it against further mold growth. If it's growing within the walls though, you might be out of luck without calling an expert.

Preventatively, you could keep your closet door open during the winter and thin out the amount of stuff you're keeping in there to increase light+air flow, maybe by moving some of it to a garment rack.
posted by quiet coyote at 10:22 PM on August 25, 2016

Nthing Damp Rid. It's probably the commercial product that ssr_of_V is referring to, but it doesn't just sell it in "one pound in a tub" form - they also make hanging-bag versions that also smell nice, that are designed expressly for closets; a box of three will cost only about seven or eight bucks. They also make freestanding thingies that you can even leave out in the open, and they work by you dropping a premeasured baggie of the stuff in the top; when the baggie is all used up, you pour out the water and throw the old baggie away, and drop in a new one.

The DIY version described in the first comment would also work, too, if you just want to buy something once and then just go back to get a scoop of it out of the bag every year and be done with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:58 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Another thing to do is be sure your clothes have room to breath and aren't all crammed together. Having air circulating can help prevent the mold. To get more room in the closet, maybe pull out some out-of-season clothes and, after washing & drying them, store them in airtight bins or bags.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 10:55 PM on August 26, 2016

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