Afraid of bringing mold into new apartment
September 8, 2018 12:24 PM   Subscribe

We just moved out of a generally moist, humid, dark apartment where our stuff was beginning to be colonized by mold. Please help us keep our new place mold free?

My last Ask was about the old apartment. They tore it up and did not find leaks, just terrible air quality that resulted in moldy conditions. We are now in a much better ventilated apartment with climate control and I’ve bought a dehumidifier.

I’m pretty freaked out about bringing mold into the new place (because I am anxiety prone). We threw away our couch despite fungiciding it because it just smelled too mildewy. Otherwise we are bring most things with us because they have no appearance of mold. We’ve been wiping them down with disinfectant wipes, vinegar and rubbing alcohol as appropriate for the surface. I’m actually getting somewhat paranoid about things like clothes that might have a lot of spores even though they never sprouted mold. The old place definitely smells mildewy.

What is your advice about how to be safe/clean with our move? And what degree of risk are we dealing with... how likely is it that unseen mold will spread in a new apartment with much better air quality?
posted by stoneandstar to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There is mold everywhere already. It's just dormant unless there is sufficient moisture. So just keep your new place dry. If towels stink after their first use after washing, I'd recommend throwing them away, but they won't spread it.
posted by flimflam at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

It looks from your profile that you live in a city on the water. This will make it much harder to keep mould in check. work on keeping your new place well ventilated. If you have an extractor fan for the bathroom make sure it is getting a good use after baths and showers. Open windows to air the place out regularly. Try to identify the places that start producing mould first and keep it in check with regular cleaning and application of appropriate spray, you can get stuff which is specifically for mould control. Consider getting a dehumidifier. Keep a specific eye on anything which is directly against an external wall. We live about 500m from a large harbour and still get problems with anything directly on the outside wall, ie, if you leave a rucksack against the wall it can go mouldy. Fitted wardrobes are a no-no in those places. Check behind furniture in those locations specifically but also window frames and ledges and clean asap anything you find. If you can, then dry clothes outside to avoid making the indoor air more moist.

This is really one of those internal vigilance things, but also an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure deals.
posted by biffa at 12:45 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well I guess you are mostly being vigilant indoors, but of course I meant eternal...
posted by biffa at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2018

I live in a very humid city. Some homes here need constant dehumidifying, some are fine without intervention, and some may actually need humidifying. It really depends on the structure, its location, and its HVAC setup.

I have dealt with mold. It has ruined entire albums of irreplaceable family photos. It has made me sick. It sucks.

The thing is, mold spores really are everywhere. All your stuff was already contaminated before you had any problems. It was just that the humidity of your previous place created an environment that allowed proliferation.

Rather than worry about contamination, make your environment less welcoming for growth. You've already done the biggest part of that by moving to a better-ventilated place with climate control. Plus you've cleaned and wiped down your stuff to get rid of excess spores and dust. A dehumidifier would be insurance on top of the measures you've already taken.

I think you can go ahead and wash your clothes and things like normal and not worry about them. If it would make you feel more assured and comfortable, you could get a hygrometer to check that your indoor humidity stays reasonable. Then you won't have to worry about ghost mold haunting you.
posted by zennie at 2:59 PM on September 8, 2018

Anecdotal: once I rented in a room in a city in which it rained a lot in the fall. No ventilation that I am aware of except opening the window. Black mold grew down the side of the wall. White mold grew in clouds on my shoes. My allergies made me a sniffling mess.

Then, when it got to around November, the condo controllers turned the heat on for parts of the day. I went away to visit someone for a week. When I got back, all the mold was dead and I could breathe again. It was amazing. Drying it out did wonders.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 3:26 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Echoing the above -- mold is truly everywhere BUT it only grows where it's damp.

And basically, to make sure nothing gets damp, make sure 1) it doesn't get wet by having water spilling on it, and 2) it doesn't get wet by having water condensing on it.

Make sure there's no drips or unwiped up splashes (e.g. shower curtains properly tucked in, kitchen sink faucet not leaking, windows properly sealed against rain, etc) and make sure that there's no place that's just fully shut away from occasional fresh air circulation to help condensation evaporate.

Like, don't keep your clothes in plastic bags. Don't let towels stay wet; make sure they're hung up to dry quickly. If clothes get wet, e.g. from rain, they need to be dried right away. Rags can't be wadded up. Keep things generally off the floor and out of corners.

I lived on the east coast of Florida for 24 years and you just get used to making sure things that are damp can get drier, and things that are dry don't get wet.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:28 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think you're doing everything right. Make sure to wash all your launderable clothes with a cup of white vinegar, that will help kill the mold. Anything that can tolerate hot water (towels, etc.), use that.

We had an apartment in San Francisco with a mold problem (they did find a leak). We didn't seem to bring the problem with us to our new place (in an even foggier neighborhood). I think you'll be fine.
posted by radioamy at 6:24 PM on September 8, 2018

Mold spores are everywhere. Bread molds. Leaves lying on the ground mold.

Mold control is about where the mold grows based on where is adequately damp.
posted by salvia at 9:40 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Consider getting a dehumidifier.

Definitely get a dehumidifier. Run it and empty it every day. This is your answer. Other than that, you can clean off your walls, floors, and clothes with a little bleach mixed into water. Bleach kills mold. Do not mix with ammonia.
posted by xammerboy at 10:56 PM on September 8, 2018

Definitely get a dehumidifier. Run it and empty it every day.

Even better, get a dehumidifier with a pump and drain hose that can drain into a sink, so you don't need to empty it. My basement has been much more useful for storage since I got one.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:57 AM on September 9, 2018

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