Mold thrives in moist environments, so logic would say mold dies if one of its key components isn’t available. But mold is a lot more complicated than that, which is surprising for such a simple organism.
The simple answer is no, mold does not die when it dries out.
But because mold can survive for indefinite amounts of time in a dormant state, it is not actually dead when it appears dry. During this dormancy, mold will not reproduce. Therefore, the colony doesn’t get any bigger, which is why most people would assume that the mold is dead in this state. But it is still alive and still needs to be removed via a professional mold remediation service.
What Does Mold Need to Survive?
Mold only needs moisture and a food source to grow. It prefers warm, dark areas where it won’t be disturbed, but these conditions aren’t absolutely necessary.
That’s why it is such a common problem. Inside our homes, mold is bound to find the perfect place to grow, and we offer abundant food sources and the precise levels of humidity just by making our homes comfortable.
Mold is common in high-humidity areas of the home like bathrooms and basements, but you may also see it in the garage, attic, or kitchen. It can even grow in carpet and upholstery. In short, your entire home is a potential breeding ground for mold.
Will mold die without these conditions?
It stands to reason that if you take away food and water – the two crucial elements for mold growth – that mold would die, right?
When the moisture source goes away, mold just reverts to a state of dormancy. Some mold species have been known to stay dormant for up to 100 years, in which time it is definitely not dead. With the reintroduction of a moisture source, the mold would begin to grow again immediately.
For this reason, it’s not enough to just get the humidity in your home back within a normal range in order to get rid of mold. You need to properly kill the mold, remove excess mold spores from your home (a process called mold remediation), and thoroughly clean or replace surfaces where mold was growing.
If you don’t follow these steps, mold can start growing back immediately.
Is Dry Mold Dangerous?
When mold is dormant, it can still cause allergic reactions like coughing, sneezing and irritated eyes. Although the mold is not growing, the spores can still release into the air, which is the cause of allergic reactions and mold sensitivity.
In addition to the most common side effects of mold (listed above), the following conditions can result after mold exposure:
- Respiratory issues including shortness of breath and wheezing
- Skin irritation, rashes and unexplained itching
- Mental issues like confusion, foggy mind, and depression
These symptoms are almost always experienced by people with allergies, but even those who do not normally experience allergic reactions can present with any or all of these conditions when mold is present.
Dry mold spores are actually lighter than those saturated with moisture, so it is even easier for dried mold to move around your home and make you sick.
Also, as these dormant spores float around your home, they may be lucky enough to find an area (like the bathroom, kitchen, or basement) that does have the right amount of moisture for growth. While this can be a blessing in disguise, since you’ll have proof that a mold problem exists in your home, you’ll just be getting started in the mold removal process.
How can you dry out mold?
Prevention is key. To prevent mold from ever growing in your home, you have to control the humidity levels.
After an area is exposed to moisture, mold can develop in 1-2 days, but you may not see until much later. Remove the excess moisture and dry out these materials as soon as possible to avoid a mold problem.
Back to the question, though: how can you dry out mold?
The answer is the same. Remove its moisture source. Reduce the level of humidity in your home to the 30-50% range to create less optimal conditions for mold. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Running your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans
- Using a dehumidifier in the most mold-prone areas
- Opening windows when outdoor humidity is low
Removing its food source also helps. Mold feeds on everything from dust and pet dander to leftovers in your fridge. To rid the mold food sources in your home, you have to be vigilant and keep a very clean home.
Although these strategies will help, we must add that drying out mold to the point that it no longer grows is very difficult. Mold needs very little amounts of moisture to grow, so as we said before, preventing it is much easier than stopping its growth.
Should you try to remove dried mold?
This question really depends on the amount of mold in your home.
Many times, your regular household cleaning removes mold spores that you didn’t even realize were there. Some of these may be dry spores.
If there is mold in your bathroom or kitchen, it is very easy to remove from most of those surfaces, whether wet or dry. Just be sure to use disposable cleaning cloths so you don’t risk spreading mold the next time you clean.
For large amounts of mold, we highly recommend calling a professional. Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois can assess the state of the mold and will use dry fogging for demo-free mold remediation.
The same advice stands for instances of flooding. There’s only so much you can do as a homeowner if your home has experienced a massive leak or storm damage. Trust a professional team to remove the excess water and prevent mold from growing in the first place.