Why are dampness and mould bad for your health?
If you're living in a damp house or apartment, you may have mould growing somewhere, making you and your family sick.
Here are the telltale signs you may have a damp or fungus problem:
- Stale and musty odours in your home or on cloths
- Condensation and persistent moisture on windows and walls or in cupboards
- Spotting or fur on your walls, window sills, curtains and blinds, furniture rugs, or grout and tiles in the bathroom.
- Dark grey spotting on clothing, socks jackets and even shoes
Get to know the early-warning signs to start your investigation. Mould can often grow in places you rarely inspect and can even spread behind stud walls, chimneys, or oversized furniture like wardrobes. One of the most common places for mould to grow is in your HVAC unit, which will then spread it throughout your home so filters are regularly cleaned.
What causes mould to grow in your home?
Dampness is the leading cause, and mould loves to grow in damp places, especially if there is no air flow.
Mould is a type of fungus. It is bad for your health because it produces allergens (things that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and sometimes poisonous substances.
How can mould be prevented?
Rather than taking action after the mould is already a problem, you can do several things to prevent mould from ever growing in the first place. Keep things dry and clean regularly. A little regular cleaning now could save you a lot of effort, time and money later.
- Clean surfaces prone to dampness regularly with a non-toxic solution like HealthyClean Simply No Mould or Bathroom Spray Tile and Grout Cleaner.
- Every two to three weeks, wipe and clean windows and sills with HealthyClean Lemon Myrtle or Lime Spray and Wipe - cleaning dirt and grime and killing germs and keeping your home healthy.
- You can find household paints that prevent mould from growing, which will prevent mould from growing on walls and ceilings, like the bathroom, which is often humid and covered in condensation.
- Invest in a dehumidifier.
- Regularly open windows and doors to air your home the good old-fashioned way, allowing airflow to help dry out your home.
How do I keep my house warm and dry to avoid dampness and mould?
There are lots of things you can do to keep your house warm and dry, such as:
- Airing your home regularly - keeping windows open for airflow reduces condensation build-up, especially at night.
- Reducing condensation by putting lids on pots when cooking and keeping the bathroom window open when showering.
- Cleaning surfaces regularly with a non-toxic product like HealthyClean Simply No Mould for the bathroom and the Lemon Myrtle Spray and wipe or disinfectant.
- Hanging your wet and damp clothes, towels and jackets outside to dry.
- Reviewing your home's insulation ensuring, it is up to standard.
Read more about how to keep your home warm and dry from Health Navigator New Zealand.
New Zealand has many resources to help you understand more about what you can do to keep healthy in your home; you can also watch a series of short videos about how to keep your house warm and dry in winter.
Remember that some people are more sensitive to dampness and mould.
- babies and children
- older adults
- people with existing or sensitive skin conditions such as eczema
- people with respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma
- people with a weakened immune system.
However, anybody can be affected by mould.
What should you do if you see mould?
Sometimes mould is obvious and easy to see, but sometimes it can be hard to recognise. It often looks like a fuzz, a stain, spots, a smudge or discolouration. It's usually black, green or white but can come in various colours, including grey, orange, pink and brown - see our image above as an example of the various colours. Mould can also have a bad musty our sour smell.
If you see mould in your bathroom, walls, sills or ceilings, get rid of it as quickly as possible. Spray it and wipe it with a HealthyClean No Mould solution- follow instructions for use , or use white vinegar (without any added water), leave on for at least 2 hrs, then wipe.
Some additional references you may like to read and to learn more :
- 5 signs your home has mould ( and how to deal with it ) Top Ten Reviews
- Can damp and mould affect my health? NHS, UK, 2018
- Environmental burden of disease associated with inadequate housing World Health Organisation
- Mould and your health Better Health Channel, Australia
- Renter's guide – dealing with mould Consumer, NZ
- Tips for a warmer drier home Health Navigator NZ, 2021