Understanding How Mold Works
How mold works.
We all struggle with mold, which may cause everything from fuzziness on meals left out too long to ugly black stains on your home’s siding. But what exactly is mold? Why does it grow the way it does, and how? What transpires to the materials that mold grows on? When does this annoyance become a danger?
These are some of the disturbing questions that most seek answers to when it comes to mold.
What is mold?
Mold is a type of fungi, which are eukaryotic organisms that are distinguished by their inability to produce their own food as plants do through photosynthesis. Instead, fungi must feed on other living or dead organisms. Fungi are similar to animals in that they are heterotrophic—they cannot make their own food and they must consume other organisms for nutrition. All mold shares these basic characteristics as fungi. However, there are many different types of mold with varying shapes, sizes, and colors.
On a moist surface, colonies of mold can begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours of the spores coming into contact with the surface. They procreate by dispersing spores, which are microscopic, airborne “seeds.” Molds consume biological matter, eventually destroying it, and then spread to consume nearby organic stuff.
The primary function of mold is decomposition. When a plant dies, it begins to rot and decay. This is because microorganisms like mold feed on the dead plant matter, breaking it down into smaller pieces in the process. In this way, mold helps to recycle matter and return nutrients back into the environment.
Mold can also be found growing on food, especially in warm and damp conditions. While most mold is not harmful to humans, some types can cause serious health problems. For example, black mold produces toxins called mycotoxins that can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and other serious health issues.
If you suspect that there is mold growing in your home, it is important to have it inspected and removed by a professional as soon as possible. In some cases, mold exposure can lead to severe health problems or even death, if not attended to quickly and efficiently.
How does mold grow?
Mold is a type of fungus that reproduces by the release of tiny spores. In order for new molds to form, when these reproductive cells land on something, they begin to grow and eventually damage the surface beneath them or other areas of your home!
These strange microscopic plants have a characteristic that is comparable to but slightly distinct from animal fertilization: They emit chemical signals that let other surfaces know where there should be growing areas with increased moisture concentrations and food supplies, like the water contained in plumbing pipes.
They are easily dispersed by wind and water due to their small size. They may also cover great distances by grabbing onto fur or clothing. Mold spores can persist under conditions that don’t encourage the regular growth of mold. They won’t begin to grow unless they are placed in an area with the right amount of oxygen, water, food, and temperature.
Mold is a microscopic, single-celled organism that can digest any substance it comes into contact with. The digestive enzymes secreted by the mold provide food for these organisms and allow them to grow in numbers large enough so they can begin breaking down different materials at an accelerated rate, thereby providing more food than ever before!
Surface mold can grow on.
Mold thrives on substances that it can consume and propagate through. It can therefore grow on any organic material. Mold can find organic food in a variety of materials, including wood, paper goods, and dust harboring dead skin cells. Some man made products, including paints, adhesives, and textiles, can be taken over by mold and consumed by it.
Concrete, glass, and other inorganic materials (such as metal, steel, and glass) cannot be digested by mold, but the dirt, dust, and organic residue that collects on them can be consumed and used as a growing medium by the mold.
If there is water damage in your home as a result of floods, sewage backup from nearby flooding, plumbing leaks, a moist basement or crawl space, sinks, baths, or excessive humidity brought on by steam cooking, mold will appear within 24 to 48 hours of exposure to moisture. Even worse, unless action is made to stop the moisture source and thoroughly address the mold issue, it will keep spreading.
What happens to the surfaces mold grows on?
Mold damages or degrades the materials it grows on because it consumes them. Unchecked mold may ruin surfaces structurally, cause odors to fester, and even cause visual harm and stains. The carbon in the surface that mold is developing on is absorbed by it. As it does this, it gradually breaks down the content of the surface, which is why you’ll see mold growing in a concentric circle.
Mold also produces enzymes and proteins that are corrosive. These chemicals are secreted as the mold eats away at the surface it’s on in order to help it digest its food source. The same thing happens when you or I eat – we secrete digestive juices to help us break down our food so we can absorb the nutrients. In the case of mold, these digestive juices are very corrosive and will damage surfaces as they work to break them down.
You may have seen how quickly mold can spread on bread, for example. That’s because bread is an ideal food source for mold – it’s full of carbohydrates and moisture, both of which mold needs to grow. When mold comes into contact with bread, it will start to secrete its digestive juices, which will quickly break down the bread and allow the mold to spread.
Are mold stains on clothes dangerous?
Mold will begin to release its digestive fluids when it comes into contact with garment materials, which will cause the clothes to swiftly disintegrate and enable the mold to spread. Clothing materials are full of carbohydrates and moisture, making them an ideal food source for mold. When mold comes into contact with these materials, it will start to secrete its digestive juices, which will quickly break down the fabric and allow the mold to spread.
Mold can also cause staining on clothes. This is because the digestive juices secreted by the mold are very acidic. As they break down the fabric of the clothing, they can also cause discoloration. Mold stains are not really dangerous, but the spores can cause allergic reactions in some people, and the stain can be difficult to remove. If you have a piece of clothing that has been stained by mold, you will need to act quickly to clean it.
How to clean clothes exposed to mold spores?
If you notice mold stains on your clothing, it’s important to clean them as soon as possible. You can remove mold from clothing by washing the garment in hot water with a detergent that contains bleach. If the garment is delicate or cannot be washed in hot water, you can try spot cleaning with a diluted bleach solution. Be sure to test the solution on a small hidden area of the garment first to ensure it does not damage the fabric.
After the clothes have been washed with the bleach solution, to keep the clothes fresh and clean, try using dryer balls. This will help fluff up the fabric in between washes by removing any excess moisture from each cycle so you don’t have to worry about mold or bacteria collecting on them while they’re sitting around unwashed!
If you are looking for a more natural solution, vinegar is also known to kill mold and mildew. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar, then spritz the stained area of the clothing. Let the garment sit for an hour before washing it as usual. You can also add a cup of vinegar to your washing machine when washing moldy clothes to help prevent the spread of spores.
How to remove mold stains from clothes?
Once you have removed the mold from your clothing, you may notice that the stains remain. To remove mold stains from clothing, you can use:
- Distilled white vinegar: White vinegar mixed with three parts water can be used to soak the item in order to remove mildew spots. After soaking the item for 30 minutes, wash it as customary. Or you can add one cup of white vinegar to your washing machine and let it run with the same amount of water as normal but with no detergent. This will help brighten whites while also removing any odors from previous infections!
- Borax: You may get borax as a detergent or in powder form, and it works naturally to destroy mold. If you get it in the form of a powder, follow the directions and thoroughly combine 1/2 cup of borax and hot water. After that, wash the items as usual after adding the solution directly to the washer’s drum.
- Bleach: You can also use bleach to remove mold stains from clothing. Be sure to always test a small, hidden area of the garment first to make sure the fabric can handle being bleached without damage! To do this, mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water and soak the moldy clothing in it for about 15 minutes. After that, wash the clothes as usual with detergent. You should see the mold stains start to disappear! As bleach vapors can be powerful, always abide by the product directions, put on rubber gloves, and operate in an area that is well-ventilated and away from any youngsters!
Once the mold stain is gone, you will need to wash the clothing item in hot water to kill any remaining mold spores. You can then dry the item as usual. The care labels can be helpful in guiding you through the various treatments that are available, but it is always best to consult an experienced professional if there’s any confusion about which one would work for your garments.
Adverse effects of mold to the health & the substance created by mold that damages the liver.
The damage that mold can cause on surfaces is only the beginning of its health risks. Inhaling these spores leads to a range from mild conditions such as allergies or respiratory infections all the way up to severe forms like asthma, which may get worse if you have already been diagnosed with it in the past and now continue exposure due to your home having high levels of moisture content.
A group of substances known as mycotoxins is created by Aspergillus molds. Humans who are exposed to these substances may develop allergies and respiratory issues. Aspergillus generates Aflatoxin and Ochratoxin, two different forms of mycotoxins.
Aflatoxin is a substance created by mold that destroys the liver. Aflatoxin is a liver carcinogen, which means it can result in liver cancer. Additionally, it has the power to kill red blood cells and decrease the creation of immune system cells. Furthermore, due to the chemical’s characteristics, some foods, including peanuts, grains, coffee beans, and others, can get infected with aflatoxin.
Ochratoxin causes kidney damage and is classified as nephrotoxin. It can be found in foods such as grains, coffee beans, and dried fruits. Ochratoxin is also a carcinogen, meaning it can result in cancer. Like Aflatoxin, Ochratoxin kills red blood cells and suppresses the immune system.
For these reasons, it is extremely important that you take the necessary precautions to prevent mold from growing on your food. You should also be sure to clean any mold that does happen to grow, as soon as possible. Here are a few tips on how to keep your food safe from mold:
- Store food in airtight containers: This will help to keep mold spores from getting into your food.
- Inspect food before eating: Be sure to check for any signs of mold before consuming any food. If you see mold, throw the food away.
- Don’t let moldy food sit out: If you have food that has already started to grow mold, don’t let it sit out. Mold can spread quickly, and you don’t want to risk contaminating other food.
- Clean up any spills quickly: If there is any spillage, be sure to clean it up as soon as possible. Mold loves damp environments, so the quicker you can clean up a spill, the better.
- Keep your kitchen clean: A clean kitchen is a mold-free kitchen. Be sure to wipe down surfaces, wash dishes regularly, and sweep/mop the floors.
While mold can be dangerous, it’s important to remember that not all mold is bad. In fact, some mold is essential for our ecosystem. But if you discover mold in your house, you must act fast to get rid of it and stop it from returning. You can prevent the growth of mold in your home with a little work.