Mold in the Laundry Room: How to Prevent Mold in Your Laundry Room
The laundry room is one of the most common rooms for mold. While this may seem surprising, most laundry rooms are warm, humid areas that are perfect for mold. From leaky washing machine connections to clogged drains, we look at what causes mold in the laundry room and how to prevent it.
Steps to Preventing Mold in Your Laundry Room
- Check Water Connections Regularly – Mold needs water to grow and a slow hose leak can often go unnoticed for weeks or even months.
- Improve Ventilation – Mold needs the right humidity and temperature. By ventilating your laundry room, you can regular both and helpt prevent mold.
- Use a Dehumidifier – If you still have excess humidity or moisture in your laundry room, use a dehumidifier.
- Use the Right Amount of Soap – Soap can build up inside washing machines and serve as both a food source for mold and a place for mold to grow.
- Run a Cleaning Cycle – Clean the inside of your washing machine by running an empty cycle with just bleach. Use the hottest water setting and the longest wash cycle.
- Clean Detergent and Fabric Softener Dispensers – Clean the detergent dispenser to prevent a build up of laundry detergent and fabric softener that can lead to mold growth.
- Clean Your Washing Machine Lint Filter – The damp lint inside your lint filter can allow mold to grow, so clean it at least once a month.
- Properly Handle Non-Dry Clothing – Hang non-dry or line-dry clothing immediately in a well-ventilated space to limit drying time.
- Empty Your Dryer Lint Trap – Empty the lint trap on your dryer after every load and clean your exhaust vent pipe regularly.
Main Causes of Mold in the Laundry Room
Mold is a symptom of some source of persistent moisture and organic material. From clothing to drywall, many household items are perfect for mold growth. Here are some of the reasons for mold in the laundry room.
- Humitidy – Mold prefers humidity levels above 60%. Due to both washing and drying, many laundry rooms have levels of humidity conducive to mold growth.
- Temperature – Temperatures above 70°F/21°C are perfect for mold growth. Even if the room is cooler, the motor of your washer or dryer can boost the temperature into the right range.
- Damp Clothes -Whether from clothes drying on the line or accidentally left in the washing machine overnight, wet clothes provide both of the primary needs for mold growth.
How to Prevent Mold in the Laundry Room
These steps will help prevent mold in the laundry room. While some of them do take a little time and effort, they are easier and less expensive that mold removal and restoration.
1. Check Water Connections Regularly
Mold needs a source of water to thrive. While leaks are unlikely, most of take our washing machine connections for granted. Check them every few months to make sure they are tight. Hand tight is typically good enough, but one twist with a wrench may be needed in some cases. There is no need to overtighten hoses, as you can strip the threads and cause leaks. Some hose connections have gaskets inside to improve the seal. If your hoses have gaskets, check them at least once a year and replace as necessary. Replace hoses every few years or any time they show signs of drying out or cracking. Remember to shut off the water before removing connection hoses.
2. Improve Ventilation
Driers can create steam that results in excess humidity or even condensation. Make sure your laundry room is well ventilated to prevent a build-up of moisture. If you have an exhaust fan in your laundry room, turn it on when doing the laundry. Otherwise, open a window or use a fan to promote air circulation. Your drier should always vent to the outside through a rigid metal exhaust pipe. While accordion style foil vents are very common, they have the tendency to collect lint and dust and allow mold to grow inside. Smooth-sided metal exhaust pipes are only slightly more expensive and much less likely to promote mold growth. They also significantly reduce the risk of dryer fires.
3. Use a Dehumidifier
Even with proper ventilation, many laundry rooms are still humid. If necessary, use a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity of your laundry room. Ideally, choose a model that includes a drain hose that you can connect to your drain pipe or laundry sink. Otherwise, make sure you empty the dehumidifier before starting a load of laundry. For extremely humid laundry rooms or small dehumidifiers, you may need to empty it multiple times per load.
4. Use the Right Amount of Soap
Whether you are using liquid laundry detergent or a powdered detergent, always use the correct amount per load. This prevents build up in the soap dispenser and reduces the changes of soap residue building within the machine. Review the washing machine manufacturers’ instructions for the proper type and amount of laundry soap to use. Many new washing machines are designed for high-efficiency (HE) laundry soap as well. Avoid using the measuring cup or scoop provided by the laundry detergent manufacturer, as it’s in their best interest to get you to use as much soap as possible. Plus, more soap doesn’t guarantee a better clean. It can even lead to mold in the laundry room or even damage your machine.
5. Run a Cleaning Cycle
Even if you use the correct amount of laundry detergent, soap residue can still build up in your washing machine. This provides both food for and a place for mold to grow. Clean the inside of your washing machine by running an empty wash cycle. If your machine has a cleaning or sanitizing setting, use it. Otherwise, select the longest wash cycle and hottest water temperature. Instead of detergent, use a cup of bleach. For smelly washing machines, use a cup of baking soda instead or in addition to the bleach. If your machine hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, you have visible mold in the washing machine, or it is extremely smelly, you may need to run multiple cleaning cycles.
6. Clean Detergent and Fabric Softener Dispensers
In addition to running a cleaning cycle, make sure your clean the detergent dispenser too. If the dispenser is removable, remove it and clean it with warm, soapy water. You can even put it in your dishwasher. If there is extensive build up a detergent or fabric softener, allow it to soak in extremely hot water before washing. If the dispenser cannot be removed, clean it in place with warm, soapy water. For extensive build up, boil a few cups of water. All the water to cool below 200°F/94°C and then pour it slowly into the dispenser to dissolve the build up. You should run a cleaning cycle on your washing machine afterward if this is the first time you have cleaned the detergent dispenser in a while.
7. Clean Your Washing Machine Lint Filter
Clean the lint filter on your washing machine drain hose at least once a month to prevent mold in the laundry room. If you do a large amount of laundry, clean the filter more frequently to prevent a build-up of lint that can lead to mold. The damp lint inside can allow mold to thrive and spread to other damp areas in your laundry room. If you have a stainless steel or aluminum mesh filter, remove it from drain hose and shake it out in your compost pile or trash. For stubborn lint, turn the filter inside out first. In some cases, you may need to replace the filter.
8. Properly Handle Non-Dry Clothing
Certain clothes are not meant for the dryer. If you have items that say hang or line dry, make sure you handle them properly to prevent mold in your laundry room. Hang or lay items on a drying rack that has good airflow to decrease the drying time. When using hangers to hang dry items, leave at least 2 inches of space between items and use plastic or metal hangers that will not absorb water. If you have an exhaust fan or a dehumidifier in your laundry room, turn them on when line drying clothes.
9. Empty Your Dryer Lint Trap
You should empty your dryer lint trap after every load to prevent lint from building up in the dryer exhaust pipe. Vacuum the lint trap, paying special attention to the inside of the dryer, at least once a year. A build-up of lint in the exhaust pipe mixed with warm, moist air from the dryer exhaust can allow mold to grow. If you have an accordion style foil exhaust pipe, replace it every 3 to 6 months or upgrade to a rigid metal exhaust pipe. For rigid metal exhaust pipes, disassemble and vacuum them once per year to prevent a build up lint.
What to do if You Have Mold in the Laundry Room
If you have mold in the laundry room already, there are a few steps you can take to remove it. For areas of surface mold less than a few square feet, you can clean and remove mold on your own. For larger areas of mold or if mold is growing in flooring, walls, or ceilings, consider hiring a professional mold remediation company to ensure completely mold removal.
- Mold is a symptom of a water source. You can clean mold, but if you don’t address the water source it will return.
- Wear personal protective equipment including pants, long sleeves, gloves, goggles, and a face mask to protect your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.
- Toss any item that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected or that cannot be dried in a reasonable time after cleaning and disinfecting.
- Never mix cleaners or chemicals. They can produce potentially fatal gases.
- When using chemicals to clean or disinfect mold, work in a well-ventilated space to avoid breathing in their fumes.
- Scrub surfaces with a mild detergent to remove the visible mold and dry thoroughly. When possible, dry using clean towels. Replace towels before they are completely saturated with water. If necessary, use fans, air movers, or dehumidifiers to speed drying.
- Disinfect using a hospital grade disinfectant. For best results, use a spray bottle or other spray dispenser to evenly spray the entire area. While a solution of bleach and water will kill the mold, bleach can stain many fabrics and surfaces.
- Never paint or caulk over mold. This will only cover the mold and provide an additional source of food.
Laundry Room Mold Removal Near You
If you need mold removal in your laundry room, Restoration Local can help. We are the nation’s largest network of restoration contractors and we have mold removal companies near you. Find a local mold removal company now or call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with our on-call mold remediation company nearest you. Our on-call mold removal contractors offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response, and a free estimate on mold removal services.