Mold flourishes in damp and warm places. When air humidity is high and your home is warm, mold growth is likely to happen both indoors and outdoors. So what happens during winter when the air is dry and it gets freezing cold?
Does mold die in the winter or in cold? It would make sense to assume this. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Even though it needs a specific environment to flourish, mold can adapt to a variety of weather conditions.
Let’s take a look at what actually happens to it during the cold parts of the year.
Can Mold Grow in the Winter?
The short and unfortunate answer is “yes”. But how can this happen when the temperature during winter is low and the air is dry?
Well, don’t forget about the dampness coming from snow. Mold generally stops growing when the temperature is freezing, but this doesn’t happen all throughout winter. Occasionally, the temperature rises to the point at which snow melts, which creates the first factor of mold growth – moisture.
Unless your home foundation and walls are fully waterproof (which most aren’t), your walls might contain enough dampness for mold to grow. But where does the second important factor, warmth, come from?
It’s important to keep yourself warm during the cold days. But if it’s warm enough in your home for you to be comfortable, it’s warm enough for mold to grow. And that’s not the only thing that causes mold to flourish.
How Humidifiers Promote Mold Growth
During the winter months, people will turn on air humidifiers for a variety of reasons. When the air is very dry, it can have a plethora of negative effects on our body. It can become hard to breathe, and the air might irritate your throat or damage your skin.
One of the most common reasons why people turn on humidifiers during the winter is to battle the common cold, which is at its peak during this season. A humidifier can help you break the congestion caused by the common cold and breathe more easily.
On the downside, the same moisture you’re creating for yourself, you’re creating for mold too. Mold thrives in moist environments, and when you add the warmth you’re creating in your room, you’re creating a perfect environment for mold growth.
So what can you do to prevent this? The best approach is not to leave your humidifier in one place for a long time. You can use it regularly, just make sure to move it around the house from time to time so that you don’t create too much dampness in one place.
How to Know If Mold Is Forming?
Unlike mildew, which tends to form in places that you can notice easily, mold can be quite hard to find. Mildew can often be found in bathroom caulking and windowsills, but mold requires no light to grow, which is why finding it might be tough.
When it comes to identifying mold, its characteristic smell makes the search a bit easier. You might notice a strong, musty odor near the place where mold is forming. If you smell something like this, the next step is to think about the most logical places where mold can be found.
The most susceptible rooms are the kitchen and bathroom, as cooking or showering create warmth and moisture. Aside from this, you’ll want to check all areas around your windows and doors.
An issue you might encounter is not being sure whether it’s mold or just dirt. Sometimes, especially during winter, dirt can enter certain areas of your home and get stuck, particularly around windows and doors.
There are two ways of finding out which it is. The first one is mold tests which you can conduct by yourself, using a testing kit. These kits are usually inexpensive, and yield accurate results. However, if this seems like too much trouble, there’s another solution.
You can use the items you already have in your household to test for mold. Take a cotton swab, dip it in bleach, and then apply it to the affected area. If the area is still black after you do this, it’s most likely to be dirt. On the other hand, if it turns white, it’s either mold or mildew.
What to Do If You Have Mold?
If you’ve realized that mold has definitely formed in your home, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Mold can be quite dangerous, so take action right away. So what options are at your disposal?
Sadly, they’re pretty limited. There are some chemicals you can use to get rid of mold, but their effectiveness is questionable.
Chlorine bleach is the strongest, but also the most dangerous option. It does a good job at removing mold and reducing discoloration, but not in all cases. Sometimes, you don’t notice mold for a long time because it’s in the areas you don’t visit frequently. If this happens, and there’s a lot of mold that has built up, bleach might not be very effective.
Hydrogen peroxide is another good solution for killing mold that is still forming and hasn’t spread a lot. It’s a lot less harsh than bleach, but it’s also less effective and might take longer to work.
If you encounter mold, your safest bet is calling a professional to deal with it, especially if you haven’t encountered it before. Experimenting with chemicals isn’t the best idea, as it can not only be ineffective, but also quite dangerous.
The Final Word
So does mold die in the winter or in cold? No. In many cases, mold finds a way into your home, especially if you create a fitting environment for its growth. Mold can’t survive in freezing temperatures, so it won’t be a problem for the exterior of your home during cold days.
On the other hand, your warm home might also become home to the mold, especially if you use a humidifier. Try to prevent mold from forming as best as you can. And if it does form, think about seeking help from a professional.