How many times have you opened up your refrigerator, searching for something tasty, only to find it’s covered in slime? It’s happened to all of us. However, mold isn’t confined to the fridge. Mold can grow on other items aside from food. Read on to learn about what mold is, how it grows, and how you can prevent it from ruining your things when you move.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus. A fungus is an organism that isn’t a plant or an animal. Fungi can have one cell or more than one cell. They eat organic matter, which means that they consume anything that used to be alive, such as plants or animals.
No one knows how many species of molds are out there – there could be hundreds of thousands of them.
How Does It Grow?
Mold grows in warm, damp conditions with high levels of humidity. It spreads and reproduces by creating spores. Spores can survive in very harsh environments, such as dry climates. These environments normally wouldn’t support mold growth.
This type of fungus can also grow during any time of the year, provided it’s in an environment that can support life.
How Does Mold Affect Me?
Aside from its unsightly appearance, mold has highly negative effects. Firstly, mold eats away at whatever it’s living on. If it’s growing on upholstery, it’s eating away at the fabric.
Secondly, mold can make humans and animals very sick. People with mold sensitivities can experience a stuffy nose, coughing or eye irritation. People with an allergy to mold can have far more severe reactions. Those with compromised immune systems or chronic lung disease can contract serious lung infections if they come in contact with mold.
How to Prevent Mold from Affecting Your International Move
Mold doesn’t have to put a damper on your big move, especially if you’re shipping your goods overseas. Here are some tips on how to protect your belongings from this fungus.
About two weeks before you start packing, move your furniture away from the walls. Moisture can become trapped between the wall and upholstery, creating a breeding ground for mold. If you find mold, clean the walls. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to clean and then ship anything with moldy upholstery. Carpets with mold will also need to be disposed of, as they cannot be shipped.
You’ll need to continue to keep the furniture away from the walls until the furniture is shipped. Be especially vigilant about furniture that’s near air conditioning units. A great deal of moisture can accumulate near air conditioners, which leads to ideal conditions for mold growth.
In addition, take everything out of the basement that you plan on shipping. Basements and cellars are highly prone to dampness, making things stored in them prime candidates for mold growth. You’ll have to do a thorough inspection of your belongings that have been in the basement, especially for extended periods of time. If things are moldy, chances are you’ll need to get rid of them.
While you’re in the basement, check to see if you’ve got a furnace-mounted humidifier. How do you know if you’ve got one? A furnace-mounted humidifier is a small box that hangs from either the furnace itself or the ductwork next to the furnace. There’s a wire and a small hose attached to the unit. You’ll need to turn off your furnace-mounted humidifier before you move, as it produces the humidity upon which mold thrives.
Sort through the items stored in closets and cupboards. If you haven’t used something in a while, it might be contaminated with mold.
Lift up your mattresses and box springs. These items cannot be cleaned. If you’ve discovered mold, get rid of them. An international moving company will not accept them for shipment.
Do you plan on shipping your outdoor furniture? Check that for mold before you begin packing. Clean it off a few days before the move, and then dry it with a towel. Once the furniture is dry, bring it inside to prevent mold from growing.
About two days before you move, do your laundry. Make sure that it’s thoroughly dried. This is also the time to make sure that your outdoor furniture is dry and ready to be shipped if you’re taking it with you.
Remember, the key to preventing mold from growing is to control moisture. Invest in a dehumidifier, an appliance that removes humidity from the air. You can purchase them for under $100 at hardware stores or other mass retailers. The dehumidifier should be working virtually non-stop before you move to lower the humidity and prevent mold from forming. Make sure that appliances such as dryers and stoves are properly vented to allow condensation to escape. If your bathroom has a fan, leave it on while you shower. If there’s no fan, open a window. Run exhaust fans while cooking or when the dishwasher is operating. Fans in general are a great way to maintain air circulation without increasing the humidity.
Although there are beneficial types of mold (think Penicillin), you don’t want them growing on your belongings! Reduce the humidity before you pack, and your things will arrive at your destination mold-free.