Are you sniffling and sneezing during the winter when you are spending time in your shed or garage, and you don’t know why? It could be that you have an allergy to certain molds.
Once in a while there’s a mold problem in a structure and it’s the cause of allergies—kind of like dust. It can be controlled, though, even cleaned. Perhaps you’re not suffering from mold allergies, but you’re looking at that dark corner of your shed and wondering how it turned into a science project so quickly? Or perhaps you’re considering shaving the growths around your windows or plumbing.
During the winter months people have one of two problems: either the air in their home is too dry and it’s causing problems, or the air in the garage or shed is too moist, and is causing mold to grow. During the summer months we have problems with excessive mold growth because of a higher relative humidity. If that’s the case, you may want to check out how to get rid of humidity. This article will cover cleaning up the mold and keeping your home free of mold.
How Best to Clean and Control Mold in a Shed
To kill mold, you need to get it all.
We use vinegar. It’s good stuff. You’ll want to spray vinegar in all the places where mold grows most easily. This includes places like around any opening that lets moisture in (which need to be fixed), near plumbing if you have it, or anywhere where vehicles, motorcycles, or yard equipment might bring water in. People sometimes call this mildew. It’s pretty much the same thing.
Keep your shed dry.
If your shed is chronically damp, you are going to have mold issues. You need to find ways to keep your shed dry, which may require replacing rotting wood, fixing a ceiling, sealing windows and doors, or regrading the slope and drainage around the shed. You might even want to waterproof the shed’s floor and base.
By making your building drier, you will also likely reduce other issues such as carpenter ants in your shed.
Look for mold in your shed’s dark spots.
An attic or rafters, for example, are a perfect place for mold to grow because there often isn’t a lot of light to help curtail the mold growth, and darkness and moisture are what mold thrives on. If you have a leaky or unsealed roof, fit it right away. Also inspect under a crawl space, if your shed has one, to make sure it isn’t just a wet cesspool.
If it’s hot and humid out, use an air conditioner to help get rid of mold.
Mold loves the humidity; in fact, it’s practically necessary in order for mold to grow. Dust mites, too, actually. Some people say around 65%-70% relative humidity is necessary for mold to grow. You’re going to put that air conditioner to good use because it’ll control the humidity in your home during the summer months. You’ll want to buy a hygrometer (or any other way to measure relative humidity), and keep your home between 30%-50% relative humidity, or RH.
If it’s cold outside, you’ll want to use a dehumidifier to control mold growth in the home instead of an air conditioner.
Duh. Well, not everyone has a dehumidifier. Honestly, we don’t need one. It’s quite dry in our apartment, thanks to the hardwood floors and our Minnesota winter. But if you need a dehumidifier, you may want to splurge and get one that measures relative humidity, to keep your shed at an RH that is both comfortable and prohibitive to mold growth. 30%-50%, remember?
Using a dehumidifier isn’t the only step involved in winterizing a shed, but it can really help in some situations.
Because of carpet’s natural tendency to soak up dirty and moisture, carpeting is poses the greatest challenge when getting rid of mold.
You have a couple of choices here; you can either take your carpeting out and replace it with hardwood flooring (which can kill several birds with one
stone: carpet beetles, dust mites, fleas, etc.), or you can dust your carpet with baking soda on a regular basis, letting it sit for several hours and then vacuuming it up.
We do not recommend having any carpet in a garage or shed. Sure, it can be nice for a sitting area or a mancave or she-shed, but it isn’t worth it. It is too easy for the carpet to get and stay wet. Carpet creates dust problems in a shed, and makes your shed much more likely to hold smells like smoke odors too.
Mold Soaps and Mold Killing Cleaners
As I’m certain you’re aware of, there are a lot of mold and mildew products on the market today. Bathrooms spray are often very effective, even in sheds, garages, workshops, and outbuildings, because they have a touch of bleach. These products work just fine, but they act on the same principle as the vinegar spray I mentioned earlier. Vinegar can substitute just about any bathroom cleaning product sold today, with the exception of heavy duty abrasive cleaners like Comet. If you don’t believe me, throw your shower curtains in the washing machine with bottle of distilled white vinegar and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong, these anti-fungal shower sprays work great, but you have to be wondering what those chemicals are doing to our environment. Recently I’ve been working on an article about cleaning tile with pure, crystallized citric acid.
Best Natural Mold Removal
Ecover Surface and Glass Cleaner
This cleaner uses plant-based alcohols to do its dirty work on mold, mildew, and soap scum. It may not be labeled as a mold cleaner specifically, but this stuff really will do the trick, and may even substitute one of those big brand sprays. I really do like the Ecover line of cleaning products and I use their Lemon and Aloe Vera dishwashing liquid religiously. A lot of their products use natural acids, like citrus.
Seventh Generation Bathroom Cleaner
This doesn’t use acid to kill mold and remove soap scum. Instead they use hydrogen peroxide and citrus oils to help kill germs and mold, and pick up soap scum and other stains in your shed. I wouldn’t use this as a substitute for a shower spray treatment, but it’s certainly strong enough to solve your mold problems on random bits of tile, floorboards, linoleum, and such. We’d recommend the lemongrass scented Sevent Generation cleaner, sold at Amazon.
Good old vinegar, otherwise known as acetic acid, is the way to go. You can’t go wrong with this stuff. Sure it smells kind of strong when you use it, but that smell goes away in no time, leaving a bacteria-free, mold-free, mildew-free, water stain-free surface behind. It’s perfectly natural, biodegradable, and is comparable to dirty in terms of cost.