Black Mold in Your Laundry
Mold can cause a host of health problems from asthma, increased susceptibility to flu and colds, and sinus infections. Because mold thrives in damp conditions, it can live in many places around your home like the shower, in carpeting, behind wallpaper, in the basement and surprisingly even in your clothes.
The presence of mold in the laundry room shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone. Mold needs moisture to grow, and there’s a great deal of it involved in cleaning clothes. Dirty laundry doesn’t always equal dry laundry.
Washing machines and dryers are often kept in basements, a prime location for mold growth in homes due to increased humidity levels. Because the basement is the lowest level of a home, it’s the first place to be flooded in a disaster, which means it’s also the first place that will experience mold growth.
The majority of owners neglect to do regular maintenance on their washing machines. In addition, some owners only compound matters by leaving laundry in the machine hours, sometimes even a day or more, after a wash has completed. This results in a moldy smell in both washer and clothing. To assuage the issue, most will rewash the clothing and leave the lid open between washes, thinking they’ve found the solution for not only what causes ‘mildew’ on clothes but also for how to get rid of mold in their machine. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that mold grows quickly and can thrive off of laundry detergent due to its plant-based (and even animal) components.
If the machine is moldy, it’s easy to understand why your clothes are moldy too. Clothing is made up of fabric fibers that, when combined with water, ends in mold growth. When the mold gets ingrained within the fibers it can permanently damage clothing. Even when the clothing is machined cleaned, the spores often times cannot be completely removed. If the clothes have visible mold growth and appear to be damaged, the best thing would be to dispose them off.
Clothes should be handled with care since certain species of molds that attack clothes, such as species of Aspergillus, are opportunistic pathogens, especially to people with weak immune system. Aspergillus fumigatus, for example, is a common cause of a respiratory problem called invasive aspergillosis. Some molds may not cause infections but can cause strong allergic reactions to sensitive individuals.
Mold typically has the easiest time accumulating in a moist environment. You can reduce your risks by eliminating excess moisture. When you close the door of your front-loading washing machine right after you empty it, you’re essentially trapping the moisture in, creating a suitably wet environment for mold growth. By leaving the door open just a couple of inches after pulling out your clothes, you give the appliance interior an opportunity to air out and dry thoroughly. Maintaining a front load washing machine is just step one.
Clothes should be kept in a cool, dry environment with adequate ventilation. Relative humidity should be maintained below 65%. Use of dehumidifiers to reduce dampness is recommended. If the clothes are not frequently used, it is important to regularly check for mold infestation.
If you have a front loading washing machine and the inside smells musty or your freshly-washed clothes come out of the washing machine smelling musty, you probably have a front load washer mold. The only way to know for sure, though, is to have your machine tested for mold. Mold is associated with numerous health problems, so it’s best to find out as soon as possible if you have a problem.