Mold is almost impossible to avoid. Any place moisture can be found mold can grow including inside our houses and our home appliances. All in all, over 1000 of the 100,000 known species of mold have been found in US homes.
Because mold likes to breed in wet places home appliances that involve the use of water are more susceptible than most to mold, as are fridges or ice machines where condensation occurs as the warm and cool air meet.
The last thing you wants is mold growing inside, and even more so not in home appliances that you are using to wash your clothes or dishes or store your food. Not only is mold unattractive but it can also make you unwell, even more so if you have a mold sensitivity or have underlying health conditions such as asthma.
Health implications differ from person to person and on the species of mold, but can include sinus irritation, coughing, migraine, an irritated throat and skin irritations. Sinus and digestive tract infections can also occur by mold spores and are most common for those who have underlying health conditions.
Luckily, according to Pure Air North Carolina in Charlotte, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your home free of mold and safeguard your health and the effectiveness of your machines.
Why Mold Grows in Appliances
Mold is naturally occurring and breeds pretty much anywhere. The places we live offer an ideal environment for mold proliferation due to the fact that molds thrive in the same temperature range that people do. As well as the perfect temperature, our homes provide water and organic matter.
Moisture as well as the fact that many appliances in the home use water is one of the key factors that make home appliances vulnerable to mold development, this is made worse by ventilation and high levels of humidity. Not letting appliances completely dry out after use will result in mold growth, but, drying appliances completely can be difficult and mold only needs a small amount of water to grow.
Mold also prefers darkness, making the the areas inside or behind home appliances are ideal hiding places for mold to develop.
Finally, mold has to have a source of food which can be pretty much any form of organic matter from dust containing dead skin cells to scraps of food in the bottom of the dishwasher or the food and spills in the fridge.
Keep your appliances mold free is easy enough. You do however need to be aware of the conditions mold requires to grow and not forget to clean hidden places regularly.
Where Mold Grows in Home Appliances
As mentioned above mold breeds anywhere there is moisture, and in the case of home appliances this often means anywhere water becomes trapped and cannot fully dry out between uses.
The following list details some of the machines that are most susceptible to mold growth and where on those machines mold is most likely to develop.
Front Loading Washers
In a front loading machine, mold will often breed in the door gaskets and the detergent drawer, as water gets trapped in these areas between uses.
You can limit the chance of mold taking hold by leaving the door and detergent drawer ajar when the appliance between uses.
Top Loading Washer
In a top Loading washing machine, mold will often develop inside the machine between the drum and the inner wall. This hidden mold could go unnoticed as it is harder to see.
Once again, keeping the washer ajar between uses can help the machine dry fully between uses. Following instructions as to the correct quantity of washing powder also makes a difference as washing powder residue provides a food source.
Fridges are also very susceptible to mold proliferation with mold often growing in the door seals as well as on old food. Refrigerators don’t use water in the same way as washing machines and dishwashers, but they are susceptible to condensation and thus moisture.
Keeping your refrigerator clean is the best place to start to prevent fridge mold.
Bits of food and water left behind at the end of the cycle make dishwashers especially prone to mold proliferation. With dishwashers, mold can grow in the filter, the door gasket, the cutlery basket and the interior walls.
Ensuring any remaining moisture can evaporate by leaving the door ajar and removing any food waste regularly can help prevent mold.
Checking for Mold in Your Home Appliances
In most cases mold will be visible in your machines. Regular checking of the door seals for any discoloration, spots or obvious mold development is good practice, as well as any other spots that mold may hide.
You may notice mold due to the smell before you can see it. Musty smelling clothes or a funky smelling fridge are good indicators of mold.
How to Get Rid of Mold in Your Home Appliances
If you notice mold in your home appliances don’t worry, removing mold is simple enough, the process varies slightly according to the machine you are looking at.
When you have dealt with the mold keeping home appliances dry and well ventilated will help prevent mold from returning, as will a regular cleaning regime.
Front Loading Washing Machines
Moldy door gaskets and washing powder drawers can be cleaned using either white vinegar or bleach and baking soda can be used to remove the smell.
When you have done this run the cleaning cycle on your appliance.
This process may need to be repeated more than once depending on how much of a mold issue you have.
Top Loading Machines
Top loading machines tend to be less prone to mold, but can develop mold in the space between the drum and the inner wall of the machine. To get rid of the mold you can run the deep clean cycle or a hot wash with either bleach or several cups of white vinegar. Run another wash with baking soda if there is a musty smell.
Door gaskets and other moldy places can be cleaned with white vinegar or a bleach solution. Ensure you empty the fridge before cleaning and clean all shelves and drawers at the same time.
You can buy cleaning products that can be used to get rid of mold inside your dishwasher. The door seals can be cleaned with white vinegar or bleach as above You can also place a cup of vinegar on the top rack and run an otherwise empty cycle at the highest temperature to remove mold.
It is important to wear gloves when getting rid of mold and if you are sensitive you might choose to consider further PPE such as a mask and eye protection or calling in the professionals.