What does mildew smell like? Well, it’s certainly not a bed of roses when that conspicuous musty scent saunters up your nose. That musty smell is typical of mildew and mold invading your home.

Mildew is mold in its early stage, and both are fungi, simple organisms that grow in moisture. The most common cause of mold is poor air circulation, such as in a poorly ventilated bathroom, but it can also happen as the result of a leaky pipe or natural disaster.

Where Does Mold And Mildew Grow?

Mold colonies can quickly form within 24 to 48 hours and reproduce via spores that travel through the air. They wreak havoc on plants, food, carpets, wallpaper, tile, wood and drywall. You’ll commonly find mold and mildew growing on:

  • Wet clothes and other fabrics: Left clothes in the wash or outdoors? If you smell that musty smell, discard the clothes.
  • Bathroom: Be sure to check for mold and mildew in your shower and bathtub. You may find orange in the grout and little green or black specks on the shower curtain. Look for similar growths around the tile, sink and toilet.
  • Kitchen/Breakroom: Check for mold under, on and in the kitchen sink. Look in the microwave, in the fridge, around the stove and anywhere crumbs may fall. When cooking or cleaning, provide ventilation by using the oven fan and opening a window.
  • HVAC systems, vents and filters: One of the most important places to lookout for mold is your HVAC system. Moldy ducting spreads spores throughout your office or home. Regularly check your AC unit for proper draining. Check all vents and filters to make sure they are not wet or need replacing.
  • Basement: The most common area you’ll find that characteristic musty smell is the basement. Vigilantly keep the mold out because there are many places it is prone to hide and grow in a basement. Check around ducts and pipes. Look near a sump pump, by vents and windows, and in areas around the foundation.
  • Garage: Mold accepts an invitation to your garage from roof water leaks and rain dripping from your car. If you store cleaning supplies or old items, you may get unexpected mold growth. Look for areas where you have standing water or items you don’t move often.
  • Trash: Never let trash sit in your home or office, especially wet items.
  • Plants and computer equipment: Many people don’t think about plants and computer equipment, but these items are prone to mold growth as well.

Mold is an essential part of nature, breaking down leaves in gorgeous autumn and enriching the soil for plants to thrive. However, when mold destroys organic material in the home or office, it threatens you more than the roof over your head. It threatens your health, too.

Poor Indoor Air Quality Produce Symptoms of Mold And Mildew

Sensitivity to mold contributes to nasal stuffiness, coughing, wheezing, throat irritation, skin irritation and skin irritation. Those with more serious conditions, such as a chronic lung condition or a mold allergy, are affected more seriously. Mold has clear adverse effects on the indoor air quality which exacerbate these symptoms as spores grow and circulate throughout the home or office.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) connected indoor exposure to mold to upper respiratory tract symptoms in both children and adults in 2004. Those with asthma had heightened asthma symptoms, and those exposed to damp environments indoors increased their risk of getting asthma. Prolonged exposure can make you feel like you have the flu at first with headaches, chest colds, exhaustion, difficulty breathing and fever.

Toxic mold exposure is linked with serious, chronic effects such as confusion, memory loss, insomnia, anxiety and depression. It can also lead to numbness in the limbs, weight gain, muscle cramps, hair loss and light sensitivity.

Black Mold Toxigenic to Your Health

Some molds are toxigenic. What that means is that they make mycotoxins that cause adverse health effects. Mold is everywhere, but not all mold is a poison. You still shouldn’t ignore it. While blue cheese tastes good with wings, you don’t want to dip those wings in black mold. Most people have some familiarity with black mold, which generates mold spores and is toxigenic. Those spores create colonies to make even more spores. High concentrations of these colonies cause mold poisoning, even in otherwise healthy people.

Mycotoxicosis is the official medical term for mold poisoning, a condition that targets the upper respiratory system and produces flu-like or cold symptoms. Some symptoms can be fatal in those who already have a chronic condition or impaired immune system.

Green-black mold is another harmful type of mold to watch out for, and you’ll find it growing on fiberboard, lint, dust and paper. It prefers low-nitrogen containing materials and spreads after condensation, leaks and floods.

Until you know for sure, it’s safer to treat all kinds of mold as toxigenic. The potential side effects and health risks could affect you long-term. So, exercise caution when you pick up on that telltale musty smell.

How to Prevent Mildew And Mold And Reduce Bad Odor

What does mildew smell like? Must. How do you prevent mildew and mold growth? During warm months, use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air, and provide your business or home with proper ventilation. Utilize exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms to circulate the air. Scrub all surfaces thoroughly with mold-killing cleaning products. Immediately wash soiled items, and toss items that have been wet and damaged. Let go of items that have been sitting in standing water, especially after a disaster.

Plants like English Ivy, Weeping Fig and Bamboo Palm are known to be among the best indoor plants to filter out harmful toxins from the air. Such plants remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene from the air. You find these typical pollutants in paint, printer ink, paper towels, plastic bags, plastic, floor waxes, synthetic fabrics and detergents. These plants are effective in reducing odors and clean the air.

NASA recommends that you place one of the suggested plants in every 100 square feet of space within your home or business. Don’t have a green thumb? Don’t worry about killing off the plant that kills off the toxins because many of the recommended plants are very hardy, like Mother in Law’s Tongue. Very difficult to end, indeed.

A word of caution about air fresheners: While they can cover up musty smells, know that Poison Control advises that many air fresheners are pollutants. Aerosol spray cans and burning candles put out VOCs into the air. Additionally, even some chemicals and essential oils utilized in air fresheners can prove toxic.

Did you know that humidity levels change during the day? Keep room humidity levels under 50 percent to reduce the risk of mildew and mold growth. Make inspecting structures for mildew and mold a part of your building maintenance routine.

Head to the doctor when you notice symptoms after exposure to mold, especially when your symptoms persist. Don’t tolerate skin and eye irritation, thinking it’ll just go away on its own. Those symptoms can deepen into worse issues.

Don’t let mildew and mold check into your home! Instead, check out our free mildew/mold prevention checklist to ensure that your home or office is at the lowest possible risk of future mildew/mold growth.