Here's where that mildew is quietly living—and how to remove it.

By Megan Boettcher
March 02, 2020
Getty / tashka2000

Mold and mildew are common household annoyances—if you're a homeowner, the chances are high that you'll experience one or both over the years. After all, any damp place that can't be thoroughly dried out is at risk. And while black colored surface mold can be easily treated with household cleaners, black toxic mold, which is often found in poorly ventilated attics or basements with untreated leaks, can pose serious risks to your health; this type of invader should be treated by a professional mold mitigation company.

Regardless of the type of mold you may have, it's important to identify where in your home it's quietly living. As it turns out, mold often grows in some of the most unexpected places. Once you do find it (and rule out the toxic type), remove it by using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide—or, says Becky Rapinchuk of Clean Mama, add 10 to 15 drops of tea tree oil in four to five ounces of water to create a mold and mildew cleaning solution. This can also be sprayed onto rubber seals and window tracks to treat household mold. Ahead, more of Rapinchuck's best tips for removing mold and mildew—plus, where you might find either sneakily lurking in your home.

Related: How to Prevent Mold in Your House

Appliances

"One place mildew likes to hide is in the folds of the rubber seal around the refrigerator door," Rapinchuk says. "It also likes to hide in the seal around the washing machine door—but you can easily treat it with white vinegar." For appliances with moldy rubber seals, Rapinchuk recommends pouring white vinegar directly onto a paper towel or an old sponge (that can be thrown away afterwards) and wiping down the affected areas. Use a dry rag or paper towel to completely dry the area before closing the appliance doors.

Windows

Another sneaky place mold likes to grow? On window tracks. "When you open your windows for the first time in the spring, you may notice some black residue on the window track around the sill. That's dust and mold," Rapinchuk notes. "You don't want those fresh spring breezes to carry allergens back into your house." To clean the window tracks, Rapinchuk suggests spraying the area with hydrogen peroxide. Leave it for 15 minutes and then wipe it off and throw away the paper towel. "Depending on how dirty the area is, you may want to repeat this process a couple of times," Rapinchuk says.

This method also works well for mold stains on tile and caulking in the bathroom. "Hydrogen peroxide kills germs and whitens," she adds, "making it a great option to clean mold in the bathroom." However, if the caulking is old, cracked, and stained, Rapinchuk says it's good to completely start fresh by removing the old material and recaulking the area.

Kitchen Sinks

The underside of the rubber stopper in the kitchen sink is another place where mold and mildew are hiding in plain sight. Rapinchuk recommends removing it regularly and cleaning it with white vinegar to remove any odor-causing buildup. Be sure to allow the rubber stopper to dry thoroughly before putting it back into the sink to help prevent regrowth.

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