How to store mold-exposed stuff in the basement?
March 18, 2019 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My friend has been living in an apartment that’s had a few bouts of mold on the walls. Now they are moving and we are planning to store some of their boxed belongings in our dry basement. Is there reason to worry about mold contamination coming into our house? And if so, would it be contained by using plastic boxes (instead of cardboard ones)?
posted by hungrytiger to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I'm not sure about contamination, but I do know you will be breathing in all that mold every time you go into your basement, unless you take measures like setting all the stuff in the sun first. Mold smell is not good for your health, period.
posted by Crystal Fox at 11:12 AM on March 18

I think putting each box in a garbage bag and taping shut should be perfectly safe.
posted by H21 at 11:39 AM on March 18

You need to have them clean everything with a vinegar spray, let it sit for an hour, and then wipe it clean. For pourous stuff like bedding, let the vinegar air dry outside or in a non-contaminated area first. If the things have mold and arent cleaned before storage, you are going to have a mold fiesta when those boxes get opened.
posted by ananci at 11:40 AM on March 18

I would get used pallets to place under the boxes and stack the boxes with plenty of air space to maximize ventilation. Then run a fan and/or dehumidifier for a while. If you seal the boxes in plastic, any moisture issues will be greatly worsened. Mold and mildew are endemic so unless there is nasty crud oozing from, dripping off the boxes, they will be fine as long as the environment is dry. Mold and mildew dislike moving air. I would recommend anything be packed in clean boxes.
posted by theora55 at 11:46 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I think trying to "seal" this stuff so there's no airflow is definitely not the way to go, that will just encourage mold and dampness on their stuff. For what its worth, when we moved from a very moldy house (hi, wall that is black with mold behind the bookcase!) to a house with no mold problem, none of the mold came with us.

What sort of belongings? If any of it can be washed, I would wash and dry it at your house and then re-box it, then there should be no issues. If not I'd make sure everything was bone dry and then not worry about it. Your house can't "catch" mold from exposure, there are mold spores everywhere, it's damp that really causes the mold issues.

The one caveat I'd have is if any member of your family has a mold allergy or is immuno-compromised, then I'd want to be much more wary of spores they might breath in.
posted by stillnocturnal at 11:59 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]

Is your basement dry with good air circulation? If your basement was prone to mold it would have mold in it, all their stuff is going to do is bring spores which are most likely already there as they are pretty much everywhere, if there is no where for it to grow it won't grow. I'm assuming they don't want there stuff to remain moldy & are bringing cleaned items. Plastic boxes, totes & bags will just encourage mold growth, you want dry air circulating around all the items to stop growth. A fan or a dehumidifier would help if you're in doubt.
posted by wwax at 12:11 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]

Yes, those items could have spores that will transfer to your house and could grow if the conditions are right. If this has been a tenacious mold infection in their previous place, I'd be very cautious. Have them completely seal the boxes with plastic. Either tape for plastic containers or cardboard in a heavy-duty plastic bag which is taped shut. I'd lean toward plastic, myself. They may want to also buy desiccant packets to put inside their boxes.
posted by quince at 12:13 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Mold spores are already everywhere and if your basement was a good place for mold to grow, it would already be growing there. No special precautions are required.
posted by Kwine at 1:09 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]

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