How To Prevent Mould In Offices & Homes

Mould is a common problem that many offices and homes suffer from, and while many of us will have seen and dealt with mould before, treating it properly and preventing further outbreaks can be a challenging, but critical, task.

Not only does it make for a nauseous sight, but mould poses serious health risks for anyone who touches or breathes in the spores. According to the NHS, moulds produce allergens, irritants, and toxic substances, which can cause a whole host of health issues, including allergic reactions, skin rashes, and even asthma attacks. As a result, mould is often considered a biohazard.

This can create big problems for a businesses’ workforce, especially if coming into contact with mould every day (like toilet cubicles or kitchens). Illnesses will skyrocket, productivity will suffer, and visiting clients or interviewees will leave with a terrible impression of your business. The same is true for homes, with mould harming your family’s overall health and turning guests away in disgust. As a result, treating instances of mould is extremely important.

In today’s article, we’ll explore what causes mould to form, how it can be tackled to help prevent outbreaks, and how Vanguard Cleaning can keep your premises biohazard-free, healthy, and productive.


What Causes Mould?

Mould is a type of fungus that can grow on your walls, surfaces, floors, and even on food. Multiple different species of mould exist, each with their own individual characteristics, such as the spotted brown Aureobasidium, the food-bound Penicillium, or the typical greenish Alternaria. However, these species share one key commonality – all are caused by the build-up of excess moisture.

This can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as humid air, condensation, water leaks, or poor weather conditions, and results in surfaces and items becoming too damp. Combine this with poor ventilation, which prevents excess water escaping, and you create the perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew. As a general rule, indoor humidity levels of 50% or more will start to develop mould, so it’s best to keep humidity low, especially in winter.

Naturally, mould is more prevalent in some areas rather than others. Kitchens and bathrooms create lots of steam, containing water droplets which fall on surfaces and collect in corners, whereas basements and attics often don’t have windows, and therefore lack a way to properly ventilate the space. Walls are also prone to dampness, especially if water pipes leak, trapping moisture behind the paint and within the structure itself.


How To Spot Mould

With almost two-thirds of UK residents reporting problems with mould in their homes, it’s an increasingly common issue for properties across the country. However, spotting mould early on can help you find the source of the moisture and act before it becomes a bigger problem.

There are usually multiple different signs of mould growth. The most obvious is visual, with spotted mildew and discolouration being a clear indicator. Other signs include a damp or musty smell when you enter the affected area, or wallpaper that is peeling and appears distorted in some way.

One of the most common signs is a general decrease in health, such as a new persistent cough or allergy flare ups. If these remain unexplained, it could be that your office or home has a hidden source of mould that is releasing spores into the air. Of course, if your property has had previous problems with moisture, a new outbreak is more than likely to be the culprit.


How To Prevent Mould

Preventing mould will sometimes take a degree of trial and error, as you can’t always know whether your precautions have addressed the moisture at its source. Regardless, here are some tried and tested methods to remove excess moisture and stop those troublesome spores from further plaguing your premises.

1. Ventilate Your Space

Increasing the ventilation of your premises is an important tool in preventing the formation of mould. If not ventilated, warmer and more humid air will create condensation on your surfaces and walls. However, by simply opening a window, you allow air with high concentrations of water vapour to escape, while warmer air will be cooled by an influx from outside.

This may seem like a grim prospect in winter, but it works wonders in preventing dampness. A research paper from the University of Nottingham found that mould growth can be reduced by a whopping 50% in warehouses by simply ensuring adequate ventilation. The same principle can be applied across properties of all types, including offices and homes, for an easy, cheap, and effective way to fight mould.

While opening windows might be one of the more obvious ventilation methods, other great options do exist, such as air conditioning units, ceiling fans, and air ducts. All of these allow you to regularly rotate air, preventing the build-up of water vapour and reducing the amount of mould-causing condensation. This can be critical for vulnerable areas like bathrooms and kitchens.


2. Check For Water Damage

Large mould patches in walls and floors are often the result of water damage. This is caused by any number of problems, such as leaking water pipes, serious flooding, or extreme weather conditions, all of which will spread damp through your structure and provide the ideal conditions for mould to thrive.

Checking for possible water damage should be a top priority, especially if you notice a damp or musty smell that lingers. Beside the typical signs to look out for when checking for mould, water damage can be recognised by stains on your walls or ceilings, the sound of dripping or trickling water, or even an unexpected increase in your water bills. All of these are telltale signs of water damage, and if not dealt with quickly, mould will soon grow.

With over 2,650 domestic pipes bursting in the UK every year, and total damages coming in at over £50 million, water damage is a common and serious enough problem to warrant close attention. Catching it early will allow leaks to be fixed as soon as possible, and waterproofing material to be added, which will prevent the rapid growth of mould and save you from dearly expensive maintenance work.


3. Use A Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers are pieces of equipment that can be set up in an area to actively collect moisture from the air, thus reducing the overall humidity of the room and preventing condensation. They are best positioned in the centre of a room, away from any walls or fixtures, to ensure the most extensive coverage.

Perfect for offices and homes, dehumidifiers are especially useful in the winter when it becomes less appealing to open windows or turn on air conditioning systems. In this way, they act as a great way to remove excess moisture without any of the hassle – simply switch on and forget about it.

There’s a range of dehumidifying products on the market – from refrigerant models (which use cold coils to create condensation from warm air) to desiccant products (which instead use an absorbent material to attract water). Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s a good idea to do your own research before purchasing to find out which product will serve you best.


4. Stay On Top Of Cleanliness

One of the most under-utilised methods to prevent mould is simply by keeping your environment clean. Regular cleaning, dusting, and hoovering will prevent the build-up of spores, while a tidy and uncluttered room will allow for more air circulation.

Make sure to pay special attention to problem areas like bathrooms, kitchens, laundries, and basements, which will help avoid the horror stories that many face daily. There are even specialist mould cleaning products that can be used to better root out mould from your office space or home.


How Vanguard Can Help You Keep Mould At Bay

While these home remedies may help prevent the growth of mould, some cases are so serious they require professional assistance to resolve. Mould on walls will need to be scrubbed off to prevent spores being released into the air, while pockets of mildew in showers or bathrooms present a key health risk if touched. These biohazards are a particular concern for those with reduced immune systems, such as patients in medical centres or residents in care homes. To resolve this, hiring a professional cleaning company may be the answer.

With over 22 years in the industry, Vanguard Cleaning understand the biohazard threat that mould spores pose, and can deploy the appropriate methods to eliminate mould and mildew in your business, regardless of its size or severity. With availability across the entire UK, we can tend to your premises wherever it may be, and swiftly take action against troublesome mould patches.

Our staff training procedures are accredited by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc), equipping our cleaners with the necessary skills to handle damp and mouldy areas. It also means our staff are mindful of the effect their cleaning can have on your property, making sure to properly dry surfaces to reduce the likelihood of leaving excess moisture behind. Without this consideration, cleaning could make the situation even worse, which is an all-too-common occurrence. Small details like this make the difference between amateur cleaning and a professional service from Vanguard.

To find out in more detail about how we can conduct a biohazard clean, please contact our team to receive an entirely free, no obligation quote.