When you combine excessive moisture and poor ventilation with long periods of heat and humidity, you get the ideal environment for mould to grow and thrive in. It's gross, it smells, it wreaks havoc on surfaces all around your house, and it may even cause health problems in some people.
Given all the flooding that's occurring in NSW and QLD, mould has become a very real - and disgusting - problem that people have to deal with on top of all the other flood-related issues. But don't worry, just as we were here to provide you support during the worst of the floods, we're here to help you get on top of any mould issues you may have.
What does mould look like?
Most of the time it's like a furry black stain with specks of white, orange or green sprinkled throughout. It's disgusting and hard to miss. There are also types of mould that are a little bit harder to visually identify, but you won't be able to miss it with your nose due to its unpleasant odour. The long and short of it is that if you can see or smell mould, then you have a mould problem.
Can mould affect my health?
Generally speaking, most healthy people with normal immune systems are unlikely to be affected. It certainly can affect those who are immunocompromised, are allergic to mould, have respiratory issues such as asthma, or have a chronic illness.
As for what symptoms to keep an eye out for, mould-related illnesses can cause things like itchy eyes, wheezing, sore throat, runny nose, tiredness, depression, muscle and joint pain, sleep issues and brain fog. If you're worried about mould-related health issues, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Right, how do I protect myself from mould?
If you're going to be in an environment where mould is simply unavoidable or you're part of a mould cleanup crew, going hard with the personal protective equipment (PPE) is the best way to protect yourself. This means good quality rubber gloves for your hands, safety goggles for your eyes, a P2 disposable respirator for your lungs, and protective clothing (preferably disposable since it'll almost undoubtedly get messy) for everywhere else.
How do I minimise mould growth?
The key thing here is moisture control and drying things out so mould has no chance at growing. So when returning to a flood-affected building, open all the doors and windows so there's plenty of ventilation to quickly dry everything out. If you got a dehumidifier then it's time to get that out and crank it up to maximum. Larger items that are wet will need to be taken outside for a bit of extra sunshine to get the last bit of water out.
When it comes to hard-to-clean porous and absorbent items like mattresses, carpet, lounges and leather goods, you'll have to sadly throw those out if they have been wet for a couple of days or more because getting mould out once it's in, is basically mission impossible.
Okay, so how do I clean mould?
The general accepted clinical advice when it comes to cleaning mould can be summed up in three words: bleach or vinegar!
Vinegar isn't just good for cooking or fish and chips, it's also good at causing mould to overeat and die. Here's what you need to do:
Mix up a concentration of 80% vinegar to 20% water into three buckets.
Get a microfibre cloth, dunk it into vinegar bucket #1, and then use it to clean a patch of mould.
Rinse that same microfibre cloth in vinegar bucket #2, then rinse it again in vinegar bucket #3 to ensure cross contamination doesn't occur.
There may be some streaks or discolourisation on surfaces cleaned with vinegar, but you should be able to remove that with bleach. Speaking of bleach...
Bleach may smell a bit unsavoury and stings the nostrils a bit but it kills everything, including mould. If your mould issue is relatively small, you can effectively get rid it with a thorough cleanup using some diluted bleach in a spray bottle, a stiff brush, and some elbow grease. Just make sure you rinse every cleaned surface with clean water after you've blitzed it with your diluted bleach. Items such as glassware, cutlery, and plastic containers can be washed using a hot water bleach solution or disinfectant and air-dried. Also, ensure you don't mix bleach with other cleaning agents such as ammonia - this can result in chemical reactions that produce noxious gas.
If the mould problem is widespread then it's best to contact a professional cleaner to help get rid of the issue.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.