Is White Mold Dangerous? How to Remove It?
Did you know that there are over 100,000 types of mold?
Not all of these are threats. Some are even used in the production of food and medicine.
But still, despite the extensive usefulness of some mold species, you still do not want them in your house.
Mold can come in various colors: black, often the color of toxic mold like Stachybotrys, brown, green, and white.
Today we’ll discuss the last one, white mold, and everything you need to know about it:
- Signs of white mold
- What mold species come in white colors
- What causes white mold
- How dangerous is white mold
- And more…
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
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Signs of White Mold
Note that most white mold species grow on plants like crops and other veggies. However, other white molds can grow on places like walls and ceilings, resulting in some serious damage.
We want you to be on the lookout for those harmful molds, so let’s first cover some more subtle signs that might appear initially before what we all consider “mold” itself appears.
These mold signs are a dead giveaway of something going on and you should be alarmed.
Here are a few things you might notice:
- White Patches: Look out for white patches on walls, ceilings, or wooden items. They might start as small, fluffy spots and can spread easily given enough time.
- Musty Smell: If you catch a whiff of a musty, earthy smell, that could be a sign. Usually, it’s one of the first things people notice. The mold smell is described as strong, musty, or even rotten. This smell is usually stronger than other dirty smells, like garbage and stinky clothes. People also report cold-like symptoms when around a place that smells moldy, bringing us too…
- Health Issues: If you or your family members experience unexplained allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes when you’re at home, and the issues persist without any clear explanation, it could be due to mold. White mold is no exception. We’d typically look into whether you have any other signs of mold besides health problems to confirm.
- Paint or Wallpaper Damage: White mold can sometimes cause changes in the appearance of painted surfaces or wallpaper. It might look discolored or even bubbled in some areas.
- Wall Cracks: Okay, this mostly happens when there is severe water damage and A LOT of mold. You likely won’t have cracks but in case you do, you need to get the problem sorted out right away because the mold has likely grown substantially, and it might not be just white mold that you’re dealing with.
If you suspect a mold problem, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by professionals who can identify the exact type and help you safely remove it.
You may even want to try to do a mold inspection yourself, but that would require some testing and safety equipment.
Either way, let us now help you learn what mold species usually appear as white mold.
What Mold Species Come in White Colors
White mold is a broad term that can refer to different types of molds that share a similar whitish appearance. Some molds that people commonly call “white mold” include:
- Sclerotinia sclerotiorum: This mold is a plant pathogen that usually causes mold problems in various crops, particularly affecting beans and other vegetables. However, it can also be found indoors in white color. Sclerotinia is one of the most common white molds.
- Botrytis cinerea: Also known as gray mold, Botrytis can initially appear white and fluffy on plants before taking on a grayish color as it grows.
- Penicillium: While known for their blue or green appearance, some Penicillium species can initially appear white before they fully develop. They also grow on plants and food.
- Aspergillus: Some species of Aspergillus molds (there are around 180 of them) can produce white or light-colored colonies. Aspergillus can be found both indoors and outdoors. Now, these can be toxic, and instead of mostly plants, they can grow on walls and other materials in your home.
- Cladosporium: Commonly found on decaying plant material, soil, wood, and other organic surfaces, Cladosporium can trigger some allergic reactions in sensitive people. It can also be green or black.
Note that just because it’s called “white mold” doesn’t mean it’s one specific mold type. Instead, it’s a bunch of different mold species that can look white. And, you might have not known this, where there’s one mold, there might be others lurking around.
But what made these grow inside in the first place? Where did they come from?
What Caused White Mold to Grow
Before we dive into this, you first need to understand how mold spores work.
Mold spores are microscopic, airborne particles produced by mold. These spores serve as a means of mold reproduction. When the conditions are right, molds release these spores into the air, allowing them to spread and colonize new areas.
Mold spores are everywhere; they can be found both indoors and outdoors. Yes, even in your home right now.
They are typically invisible to the naked eye and are mostly harmless.
However, when these mold spores land on a surface and the conditions are right (there is high humidity, a warm temperature, and enough food for them to eat), these spores develop into colonies. These colonies are what we refer to as “mold”.
So, now that you know that mold is technically everywhere at all times, you should become familiar with the conditions that allow for these spores to grow into colonies.
First and foremost, the humidity levels.
Mold typically grows when the humidity level is above 60% (use a hygrometer or a “soap and squeeze” method to find out yours).
However, some molds can grow at lower humidity levels, while others may require much higher humidity.
In general, maintaining indoor humidity below 60% is recommended (ideally even below 50%). To do that, especially if you’re in a more humid area like Florida or Louisiana, for example, we recommend you get a dehumidifier.
Of course, it’s a good practice to ensure good ventilation, especially in rooms like bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas where a lot of water is used.
But that alone may not be enough. You’d still likely need a dehumidifier.
Also, repair any leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing ASAP because water damage can easily provide more than enough moisture for mold to develop.
And then our last tip would be to insulate walls, windows, and doors to prevent condensation.
Just make sure that moisture doesn’t build up anywhere in your home and you should be just fine.
Mold grows in temperatures mostly between 77°F (25°C) and 86°F (30°C), though there are exceptions.
Some mold species can grow in cooler conditions, while others are adapted to warmer environments.
The thing is that if your home has a consistent temperature throughout the year (typically around 70 degrees), then the outside weather conditions aren’t as important, at least when it comes to the temperature itself.
Then it’s the matter of how much moisture there is and if there is enough organic matter for mold to eat, which leads us to…
If you recall, most of the mold species we’ve mentioned grow on plants. So, plant life being present is a big factor here.
While being surrounded by rich plant life, both inside your house and outside, is definitely good for various reasons, be aware that white mold is also a possibility because of that.
Going further, plants release moisture through a process known as transpiration, where water evaporates from their leaves. This moisture, combined with organic matter, creates a very favorable environment for mold.
Also, densely packed plants can limit air circulation, leading to some areas with stagnant air and a bit higher humidity.
As long as it’s organic, mold can grow on it. So, besides food, this includes:
- Wood: Framing, flooring, sheetrock, and furniture
- Paper: Books, cardboard, and other paper products
- Fabric and textiles: Clothing, upholstery, carpets, and so much more
- Drywall: Specifically, the paper backing of drywall
- Ceiling tiles
- Household dust: Oddly, dust can contain organic matter that mold can eat and use as fuel
Note that mold can also grow on non-organic materials if there is a layer of dust or other organic materials on the surface, though it still won’t eat that non-organic part.
This part is mostly for the Aspergillus mold, which tends to grow on walls, ceilings, and areas other than plants.
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How Dangerous is White Mold
Well, the way we should examine this is by looking at each of the species we’ve outlined before and seeing how dangerous each one of them is, starting with Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.
This mold primarily affects plants, causing things like Sclerotinia stem rot. It is not known to be directly harmful to humans or pets but rather to crops, ornamental plants, and other plant life.
Looking at Botrytis cinerea, this one can be more problematic, and if you breathe in a lot of it, you may experience some problems, with a “winegrowers lung” being one of the more serious ones that would require treatment.
Keep in mind that most molds can cause allergic reactions if you’re sensitive to them, so be cautious with whatever type of mold you have.
Penicillium species fall under this too, and some of them can even produce mycotoxins. The same goes for Aspergillus, which is known as a particularly toxic type of mold. Aspergillus can even cause some lung infections.
And last but not least, Cladosporium can cause infections but in very rare circumstances. The majority of Cladosporium species are not harmful to humans.
How to Remove White Mold
Okay, so if you know you’re prone to allergies or have asthma, we would recommend you just stay away from mold and let a mold professional handle the problem for you.
But if you’re healthy, fit, and in good shape, perhaps you can give it a go. It will take some work, though.
Our DIY mold removal advice should be enough for you to remedy a small mold problem in your house. In a nutshell, here’s what you should do:
- Get Your Cleaning Supplies Ready:
- Gloves, mask, and goggles for protection
- Plastic sheeting to seal off the affected area
- Soap and water
- Vinegar, bleach, or another mold-killing solution
- Scrub brush or sponge
- Trash bags
- Isolate the Area:
- Seal off the affected area with the plastic sheet to prevent mold spores from spreading to other parts of the house. Use duct tape to secure the plastic.
- Ventilate the Area:
- Open windows and doors for proper ventilation. This helps disperse the mold spores outside.
- Clean the Mold:
- Mix a solution of soap and water and scrub the mold off surfaces using a brush or sponge. This cleaning is preliminary, done before we actually kill mold.
- Apply Mold-Killing Solution:
- Use a mold-killing solution like vinegar, beach, or the one you bought off Amazon. Note that we believe vinegar is much better than bleach for killing mold, as it tackles the root of mold by penetrating through walls and is less toxic.
- Scrub Again:
- After allowing the mold-killing solution to sit for about an hour, rinse the area with warm water and then scrub the surfaces again to remove any remaining mold. Note that from here, you may be required to repeat steps 4 to 6 until all of the mold is removed.
- Dry the Area:
- Dry out the area thoroughly. Use the dehumidifier we recommended you get to assist you with this.
More severe mold infestations require more extensive cleanups that are usually carried out by pros.
Mold removal can be covered by insurance if it was caused by a “covered peril”. Look and see if you can get coverage. If yes, then why not get professionals to come in and handle that for you?
You’d avoid the work, spending a lot of time researching, like you’re doing right now reading this post, and exposing yourself to health risks.
Think about it.
So, that would be it for today! Hopefully, this post was helpful enough for you to take some action and get rid of white mold.
We have plenty of content on this for more insight on mold, water damage, and DIY restoration techniques.
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