So where does mildew reside? The most common areas in your home are shower curtains and liners, closets, plants, washing machines and dishwashers. Mildew is also likely to form on any paper product, such as books and board games, which are stored in a damp environment.
- Your first line of defense is to keep areas in your home as dry as possible. This means running a dehumidifier in your basement and a vent fan in the bathroom.
- If you have a shower curtain in your bathroom, close the curtain after every shower. Leaving the curtain open traps moisture in the folds and accelerates the growth of mildew on your liner. You should also leave your vent fan running after a bath or shower for 30 minutes. This will help extract any extra moisture from the air.
- Once a month, remove your shower curtain and liner. You’ll want to wash both items, but separately. Wash your shower curtain just as you would any other cotton item. Your liner, however, should be washed in hot water with bleach to kill any mold or mildew growth that may be present. Dry on a low setting.
- If you need to store old papers or books, but your basement is damp, consider placing these items in a vacuum sealed storage bag, which keeps the contents safe from excessive humidity. Documents, such as vehicle registrations, property titles, social security cards, birth certificates and passports, should be kept in a safe deposit box where there is no potential for damage to occur.
- Your dishwasher, washing machine and refrigerator are all appliances that need to be cleaned and maintained regularly to ward off mildew. An open box of Arm and Hammer baking soda kept in your refrigerator will help absorb extra moisture. It’s also important to clean out your refrigerator once a month and to immediately wipe up any spills.
With your washing machine, leave the door and soap dispenser open every time you finish with your last load. I also like to take a clean rag and wipe out the inside of the drum, the inside of the door and inside the rubber gasket, which is notorious for trapping water. In fact, every once in a while, saturate a white cloth with a 50/50 mixture of water and bleach and wipe out this gasket. It’s important to keep this part as mildew free as possible because once it becomes infested, it’s nearly impossible to remove.
- To remove mildew from your dishwasher, apply this same method. Using your bleach and water solution, wipe the inside of the door and the machine with a sponge. Then, run your dishwasher though a short cycle to remove any bleach residue.
Just remember, mold and mildew like things that are damp and dark, so your first line of defense is to keep areas dry – either with a dehumidifier or by wiping down some of these vulnerable surfaces.