Mildew is a grayish growth that resembles mold, and it can be found growing on almost any organic matter, including leaves, leather, clothing, paper, tile, and walls. The mildew most commonly seen around the home is powdery mildew, caused by Ascomycota fungi. These fungi tend to produce pouches and cysts, which rupture on contact and spread spores. Downy mildew, which frequently affects agriculture, is caused by protists.
The most important step in preventing mildew is to control moisture, because powdery mildew thrives on moisture. Reducing the humidity and moisture in the air will reduce the spread of mildew spores. Use of a dehumidifier may be necessary, and it is important to keep interior spaces well ventilated to help prevent moisture collection. Make sure your home is thoroughly waterproofed, including crawl spaces and basements, and that water is not seeping through the foundation or collecting anywhere in your home.
Landscape your home in such a way that plants do not immediately abut it, allowing the house to experience breezes that will ventilate and dry the siding. Likewise, keep room doors open to air and do not leave closets shut all the time. In the kitchen and bathroom, make sure to use exhaust fans and keep the windows fully opened.
The next step is to keep surfaces clean, so that mildew does not have anything to feed on. Make sure that counters, sinks, toilets, floors, and walls are always wiped down and dry. Greasy films, such as those found in the kitchen, contain numerous mildew-friendly nutrients. Dirt is also a growing ground for mildew.
To remove mildew, use bleach or a similar cleaner and make sure that the area is dried as soon as possible. Some fixtures and furnishings may not be appropriate for bleach, so make certain that you use a suitable cleaner. Never paint over mildew, because it will grow through paint – always wash and dry walls before painting them. When using cleaners, use appropriate protection, such as gloves and goggles, if necessary.
The most crucial step in mildew prevention is keeping things dry, and householders should take multiple measures to ensure that their homes stay clean, dry, and ventilated. Once mildew begins to take hold, it can be quite difficult to remove, and the cost of dealing with mildew infestation far outweighs the expense of a dehumidifier and other protective measures.