Have you ever opened a closet door to be welcomed by a stale or musty odor? Maybe you have found some spots growing on leather shoes or a jacket that have been stored in the closet for a while. Worse yet – you’ve seen some dark spots on the painted walls or ceiling of the closet.
Our office receives lots of calls each year from people who believe they have a mold issue in a closet. Unfortunately, the caller is usually correct as once we are on site, the problem is very real. Whether on personal goods or walls, it is not acceptable for mold to grow in a closet or anywhere else indoors.
There are several reasons why mold likes to take up residence in closets. First, these are often dark, cool spaces with little air movement. Add a damp coat, pair of sneakers, a wet umbrella or an exterior wall and mold will seize the opportunity to grow. Many closets are repositories for the ‘stuff’ we don’t want others to see, and some are literally stuffed to capacity with clothes, games, luggage, old shoes, gym bags, you name it. Think of stuffed closets as huge petri dishes for mold and bacteria to thrive.
What can you do to prevent mold in a closet? You guessed it! Avoid the urge to stuff the closet to capacity. Keep the closet door open as much as possible so air can flow in and out. Make sure items are dry before you put them in the closet.
What if you already have mold on your stuff? Chances are some of your goods can be cleaned and used without a safety issue. If you have a mold allergy, it may be best to replace items that have become moldy, especially soft goods such as clothing and shoes. Consult with a professional if you are not sure how to handle your moldy stuff.
If the closet walls have visible mold on them, you will want to verify that there are no plumbing leaks. If you’re confident that nothing is leaking, you should carefully remove everything from the closet and place items in airtight containers. If the mold is thick and/or covers a fair amount of drywall, you should consider having the drywall replaced. It’s best to avoid cleaning and painting over drywall where mold has grown.
If your closet is on an exterior wall, controlling dampness becomes more of a challenge. It may be necessary to use a dessicant or dehumidifier to keep dampness in control.