University of Florida

Mold & Mildew

Keep Them Out of Your Home


For much of the year, Florida is very humid. Mildew thrives outside during humid periods, producing spores in huge numbers. During the wet season, spores from outside come inside our homes on our clothing and hair. Every time windows or doors are opened, in come more spores. Some people are allergic to mildew spores, and such allergies are sometimes triggered by continual exposure to mildew.

With mildew spores always ready to grow in homes, what protection is needed to stop mildew from growing and spreading?

Hot Spots

Mildew must have nutrients to grow on. Hot spots that provide nutrients include:

  • Food spills on carpets
  • Smears on door sills from sticky or oily fingers
  • Soap build-up on shower walls
  • Dirt on clothes
  • Dust on air conditioner filters
  • Refrigerator drain pan
  • Air conditioning ducts that channel air to each room

How to Avoid Mildew

The first step in avoiding mildew is to plan a program--a regular routine--to keep surfaces clean. How often specific cleaning jobs need to be done depends on your lifestyle. Here are some general guidelines in your anti-mildew campaign:

  • Clean bathrooms regularly. By the time mildew is visible, it has produced enough spores to contaminate the air in your whole house. Your air conditioner will transplant spores to other areas of the house.
  • Change air conditioner filters frequently. Once a month may be frequent enough for many households, but check more frequently if you have children or pets.
  • Check the drip pan under your frost-free refrigerator and freezer. Dust and dampness there can produce enough mildew and spores to contaminate all of the air in your home.
  • Wipe up spills as they occur. Clean carpet spills and spots quickly and thoroughly--mildew loves living in the cozy carpet pile.
  • Vacuum regularly. Dust and dirt--good mildew nutrients--are harder to remove after they work down into the carpet pile.
  • Wash off finger marks on door sills. Even a slight oily residue on wooden, metal, or plastic chair arms where hands touch can get slimy with mildew under severe humidity conditions.
  • Don't let dirty laundry pile up. Soiled clothes, towels, and other laundry mildew quickly when conditions are warm and humid.
  • Don't put sweaty clothes back into closets. The small amount of moisture they hold will make your closet smell stale and musty.
  • Let sweaty shoes dry. Once shoes have been worn, they are "conditioned" to grow mildew. A little perspiration plus the composition of leather in shoes or belts is yummy for mildew.
Compiled from:

Basic Mold Prevention (FCS3255) by Hyun-Jeong Lee and Virginia Peart. Published by: Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences (Archived).

How to Prevent and Remove Mildew (FCS 3042) by Virginia Peart. Published by: Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences (Archived).

mold and mildew

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