There is nothing that makes winter feel more bleak and unbearable than the smell of mould. The struggle is real for those living in tropical climates too, who deal with the issue for most of the months of the year. Poorly ventilated older homes can fall victim to winter mould in damper weather and fluctuating humidity, and often our wardrobes are the hardest hit.
However there are ways you can treat mould and prevent it from happening again in the future. If you have a serious mould problem, it’s worth following the processes below before you go on holiday so that you can allow the maximum drying time and ventilation while you’re away, then return to a dry and mould free fresh start.
Check out our hot tips to remove mould and bring the freshness back to your wardrobe and your life!
Search and Destroy
Let’s assume you already have a mould problem and have started by cleaning everything of spores and invisible horrors. Mould loves cold damp environments where there’s not much movement of air so let’s heat things up and boil off the infestation.
The first step is to wash and kill. Add ¾ of cup of household vinegar into your machine and wash whatever you can on the hottest temperature setting your machine allows (check the clothing labels first!). The vinegar will help remove any patches of mould and also neutralise lingering mouldy smells, while the high temperature will kill spores embedded in garments.
For patches of visible mould, a paste made from a teaspoon of salt and some lemon juice has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Make the paste then rub gently onto the mould affected area of the clothes. Then wash and dry as normal.
Here Comes the Sun
A common cause of winter mould build up is clothes getting put away before they are completely dry. Of course, hanging them outside in the sunshine is always the best option, but if it’s too wet for that, try to identify the sunniest and most open spot in your house and hang items of clothing there to dry. This is often a lounge room or kitchen window and most clothes items will hang nicely on a coat hanger hooked onto a curtain rod or a window frame.
Sun also has the benefit of being a great natural disinfectant so any critters that snuck past the vinegar and the hygiene cycle will meet their final destiny for sure after a few hours fully exposed to sunlight.
Without a Trace
While all those clothes are drying, you’ll need to treat the mould spores that have set up camp in your wardrobe too. A good scrub with vinegar will usually do the trick – scrub the whole interior of the wardrobe and not just the visible patches of mould. Essential oils like lavender, thyme, clove and tea tree have anti-fungal properties so adding a few drops of oil to the vinegar before you scrub can help boost the results.
Once you’ve scrubbed, rinsed and manually dried the surfaces, you then need to let them air dry for as long as possible to ensure all the humidity is gone. A dehumidifier may be useful in extreme cases too to remove the moisture from the air around the wardrobe, as well as inside it. You can also consider a fresh coat of paint, to which a mould inhibitor can be added (ask your hardware store).
Once you are sure the wardrobe is cleaned and completely dry, add some simple solutions to help absorb additional moisture such as silica gel sachets or small dishes of bicarbonate of soda. Hang a few springs of dried lavender inside too, for good measure.
A Dedication to Ventilation
Ventilation is the key to keeping things dry and this can be a challenge in small spaces such as wardrobes. A common culprit for winter mould growth is slightly damp clothes being crammed in to an overstuffed wardrobe in a small heated room. If you have more clothes than wardrobe space, try to hang just the clothes you need this season. Pack off-season clothes you won’t wear into airtight bags and just fill your wardrobe with the current season’s clothes. A good measure is if you can’t move the hangers along the rail, your wardrobe is too full. So, do a spring clean, get rid of a few things, pack some things away or buy a bigger wardrobe!
Australia is blessed with some gorgeous winter days too, so maximise those by flinging open doors and windows when you can to improve air flow in your rooms. If there’s a few hours of winter sun that you can take advantage of, it’s wise to do so. If you live in a particularly dark and damp environment, consider an exhaust fan – either fitted or external that will help remove excess moisture. This is also good to keep it running if you are drying clothes in the bathroom as that adds an extra level or moisture removal and cuts down on condensation.
The best time to implement these strategies is often in spring as the weather gets warmer. Follow these tips to remove mould at the end of the winter mould season and make this your last mouldy winter ever!