Mold is a silent killer that can manage to slowly devastate your home and your things. If you have a mold allergy, you can expect difficult symptoms such as nasal congestion, watery eyes, and a whole lot more. Not only that, but it’s also just plain awful to look at.
Of all the rooms inside your residence, having mold in your bedroom is one of the most critical, simply because of the considerable amount of time you spend in there sleeping and exposing yourself to mold.
Whether you possess or rent your home, it’s up to you to safeguard yourself from mold exposure by keeping away mold growth and eradicating it swiftly the very moment you find it.
In this very useful guide, we will be discussing basic information about mold, how to prevent and eliminate it from your bedroom, and how to understand the symptoms of mold exposure so you can get some worry-free sleep.
The Definition of Mold
Mold is a type of fungus. It can live outdoors or indoors, no matter the time of year, as long as it has a damp, warm setting. All it needs to flourish is humidity.
Because of their high levels of moisture, bathrooms and basements are the most probable rooms in a home to shelter mold, but mold can grow virtually anywhere – which unfortunately includes your bedroom.
When mold replicates, it forms spores that make its way through the air, thereby allowing mold to spread throughout the space. These spores can live and flourish even when they’re in a dry area not conducive to cultivating mold. Once the area develops moisture, the mold will then grow.
There are different types of mold, but the ones at home include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria, and Stachybotrys chartarum.
Molds differ in appearance as well as where you’re most likely to locate them. For example, Stachybotrys chartarum is commonly known as “black mold” based on its appearance. You’re most likely to see it on paper or household surfaces that have gathered dust or lint, or inside building materials like wood, gypsum board, or fiberboard.
Places Where Mold Can Grow Inside Your Home
- Shower stalls
- Under sinks or plumbing areas
- Damp clothing
- Any area with high humidity, moisture, or water damage
In the natural world, mold actually has a purpose, as it facilitates the decomposition of plant life such as leaves and compost. When it enters our artificial world through homes, it then becomes a serious issue that needs your utmost attention.
Mold can damage the areas or objects in your home where it grows. Most importantly, mold exposure can be dangerous for people.
Can You Get Sick From Mold in Your House?
The mold itself is not dangerous or toxic, but there are some kinds of mold that generate toxic mycotoxins, like black mold. For most people, though, it is the mold allergy or sensitivity that results in very prickly symptoms. Fortunately, these go away once the mold is taken away or removed.
It’s not uncommon for people to be allergic to mold, although reactions differ from mold to mold and person to person. If you have a mold allergy, you will begin reacting as soon as there is exposure to the mold. People suffering an allergic reaction may display any of the following symptoms that we will be talking about in the section below.
What are the Symptoms of Mold Exposure?
- Watery, itchy, or red eyes
- Wheezing, sneezing or coughing
- Runny nose
- Skin rash
In some cases, the symptoms may be more dire. According to the Institute of Medicine, indoor mold exposure has been associated with:
- Upper respiratory tract issues, coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy people
- Asthma attacks in people with asthma
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in people with compromised immune systems
A mold allergy can transition from uncomfortable to dangerous for people with a compromised immune system, like that of infants and children, the elderly, and those with chronic lung disease, HIV, cancer, or liver disease.
At the moment, the CDC recognizes that indoor mold exposure may be a risk factor for asthma in young children, but more studies need to be done to confirm this hypothesis.
Likewise, research is still indecisive as to a possible association between black mold and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants and memory loss. Because reactions can vary, and there’s no way to predict your reaction, it’s best to avoid mold growth in your bedroom and to treat it as soon as it is found.
What are the Signs That Mold is in Your Bedroom?
While everyone agrees that mold poses a health risk, there are as yet no governmental guidelines for domestic buildings to follow regarding acceptable levels of mold. That means it is up to you, as a homeowner, to know the warning signs of mold growth in your bedroom so you can keep yourself safe.
Take Note of These Warning Signs
- You can see visible mold (fuzzy or slick black, grey, white, or brown spots)
- A musty odor is present
- You and/or your sleeping partner are displaying the allergic symptoms we listed above
- Recent flooding or water damage
Mold is rather easy to spot. You may see spots, perhaps with a fuzzy appearance, that have a brown, gray, green or black appearance. There may also be a slight musky odor, as well.
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms or smell mold, but you do not know where it is, look for it in harder-to-find areas, like on or underneath your carpet, floor, or ceiling; inside your walls; around the window sills; on any upholstered furniture or your mattress; or in your air ducts.
Since mold can grow in areas that are often not seen by people, such as inside your walls or under the carpet, it’s very crucial to maintain mold prevention best practices in your home.
How Does Mold Get in the Bedroom?
As mentioned above, mold can develop anywhere that is moist or humid environment. Depending on the environment that you live in, the quality of insulation in your home, and even the area of your bedroom within your home, your bedroom may be more or less likely to grow mold.
Mold spores can also penetrate from outside your home, through an open window, or by making its way inside on your clothing or your pets.
Mold can also cultivate on your mattress, because of the moisture from your sweat. Mattresses include soft, porous materials in their construction, such as cotton covers or foam comfort layers. Any of these can absorb moisture and cause your mattress to develop mold.
If you have discovered mold in one area of your bedroom, do a thorough sweep to ensure it’s not anywhere else in your home, as mold can spread easily.
And before you even consider sleeping in a room that has mold in it, take note that indoor mold of any exposure is worrisome, but mold in the bedroom is especially so, simply due to the number of hours you spend in your bedroom breathing it in while you sleep. Beyond the immediate allergy symptoms, mold exposure often causes sleep issues as well.
Can Mold Lead to Problems Involving Sleep?
A number of research studies have documented an association between mold exposure and sleep problems among different age groups:
- In otherwise healthy adults: A 1994 study of over 5,000 adults found that those who lived in damp housing were nearly three times more likely to report sleep problems than those in dry housing. They were also more likely to report poorer health overall, which increased according to the level of dampness in their home. Similarly, a 2005 study of over 16,000 adults found that those who lived in damp homes were significantly more likely to report insomnia.
- In children: A 2015 study of over 1,700 children compared the sleep quality of children living in damp bedrooms against those in dry bedrooms. Unsurprisingly, the children of parents who had spotted visible mold in their bedroom, as opposed to just dampness, tended to have a higher risk of sleep problems. These children were more than twice as likely to have difficulty sleeping through the night and to not get enough sleep overall (defined as 9 hours or more for children).
- In older adults: A 2015 study examined the effects of the mold odor alone on senior adults. Those who lived in buildings with a musty smell or mildew odor were more likely to have poorer overall health, including asthma attacks, skin rash, chronic bronchitis, sneezing, and sleep problems.
As the studies clearly indicate, the symptoms linked with mold exposure are not only uncomfortable but, if the mold is not taken care of immediately, they can substantially lower both the quality of your sleep and your overall health.
Mold-Related Sleep Problems
- Snoring or sleep apnea
- Sleep deprivation
- Daytime fatigue
When you sleep, it is important that your body breathe as easily as possible. Otherwise, your brain has to work harder to keep you breathing, lowering the quality of your sleep. As a result, people who sleep in bedrooms with mold may suffer from the following sleep problems:
- Snoring refers to any kind of noisy breathing during the night. Snoring may not wake you up, but it can result in insomnia for your sleeping partner, and it is a sign that something is disrupting the quality of your sleep. Snoring can also cause dry mouth.
- Sleep apnea is a serious form of sleep-disordered breathing where the individual basically stops breathing momentarily during sleep, resulting in a loud gasping or snoring sound while their brain catches their breath. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs from a blockage or narrowing of the airways, as can happen from the nasal congestion associated with mold exposure.
- Insomnia refers to difficulty falling or staying asleep. If you are dealing with wheezing, watery eyes, or a runny nose from mold, you may have trouble falling asleep. Meanwhile, the congestion you experience may make it difficult to stay asleep. Either way, being exposed to mold in your bedroom can result in insomnia, and prevent you from getting a full night of restful sleep.
- Sleep deprivation points to the physical, mental, and emotional state a person is in when they have missed out on a night of full sleep (defined as 7 hours or more for adults) on a temporary or chronic basis. When you are sleep-deprived, you are prone to mood swings, are less focused, and at increased risk of social isolation and health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep deprivation can also occur if you are ostensibly getting enough sleep, but the sleep is not high-quality, as can be the case when you’re snoring or experiencing apneas due to mold exposure.
- Daytime fatigue is one of the easiest signs of sleep deprivation. When a person is fatigued, they have lower energy and motivation, and their productivity and emotional well-being take a massive hit.
People with allergies of any kind report poorer sleep than people without allergies, and the more severe their allergic reaction, the more their sleep suffers as a result. If you are experiencing a mold allergy, you may experience more, or more extreme, instances of these sleep issues.
How to Prevent Mold From Growing in Your Bedroom
Preventing mold from growing inside your room is arguably the best measure that you can use against mold. Mold spores can live even in dry environments, so you should concentrate on preventing moisture from developing in your bedroom in the first place.
Bear these tips in mind to prevent mold from growing in your bedroom. Some of these tips you’ll want to follow on each day while others can be done every year or less frequently.
Daily Mold Prevention Tips
- Whenever water spills in your bedroom, immediately clean and dry the area.
- Keep your carpet clean with consistent vacuuming and cleaning. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to eliminate spores while you clean.
- If you reside in an area that’s prone to humidity, frequently run your air conditioner and ceiling fans, or use a dehumidifier to keep the inside air dry. Ideally, your indoor humidity level should be below 50%. Purchase a hygrometer so you can monitor your indoor humidity levels throughout the day.
- Keep your bedroom door open to make sure that airflow is circulating well.
- If your bedroom is connected to a bathroom, open the window or run the exhaust fan for 30 minutes after you shower. Hang your towel afterward to allow it to dry, instead of letting it clump up on the floor or in a hamper in your closet, where mold can grow. Don’t keep body wash and shampoo bottles in the shower as they can develop mold. Keep your bathroom clean, paying particular attention to the corners of your shower, under your sink, and the shower curtain.
- Your bedroom closet can be another danger spot for mold, since many clothes, like outwear, are not cleaned regularly and can bring in mold spores from the outdoors. Ensure all clothes are fully dry after cleaning them and do not fold them or put them away until they are. If you store clothes for the winter, ensure they are dry before you seal them in a box with can trap in any moisture.
- Place bedroom furniture slightly away from the walls, to allow for air flow and prevent mold growth. Wipe down all furniture regularly to remove dust.
- If you have plants in your bedroom, regularly check them for mold, particularly the soil. If you see any gray, there is mold. Scoop out the offending soil and repot the plant with new soil. To avoid mold, add anti-fungal to the soil.
Mold Prevention Tips That Can Be Done Every Year
- Have your home checked for water damage or faulty plumbing. Carefully assess the walls, windows, and ceilings for mold.
- Regularly maintain your air vents and clean drip pans to keep air circulating appropriately.
- Make sure that your windows, roof, and floor are correctly insulated and check them often. This will reduce condensation as well as keep mold spores from entering your home.
- During the frigid months, keep your house warm to prevent moisture or condensation from forming.
- If your bedroom is situated on a lower floor or in a basement, avoid using carpets. Use area rugs instead that you can regularly clean. Also regularly inspect outdoor areas to ensure water can’t enter your home from the outside.
- If you repaint your bedroom, add mold inhibitor to the paint or purchase anti-mildew paint.
Tips on Mattress Care
Due to body sweat and other moisture, mattresses are one of the top spots mold can grow in your bedroom. Worse, since it’s covered with your bedding, you may not realize the mold is there.
Follow these tips to prevent mold from growing in your mattress.
- Use a waterproof mattress cover. This not only keeps your mattress away from the moisture of body sweat but also from stains and other damage, helping you prolong the longevity of your mattress.
- Purchase a hypoallergenic mattress. While any mattress could possibly develop mold, some mattress kinds are more allergy-resistant than others. All-latex beds or organic mattresses are your best options.
- Clean your mattress often. This is one of the best ways you can prevent mold growth, and it’s easier than you think.
- Finally, try to sleep in a way that reduces how much you sweat during the night. Some of us are hot sleepers, but many of us also keep our bedrooms hotter than they should be. Set your bedroom temperature to 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleep naked, or wear pajamas made from breathable materials. Likewise, invest in breathable bedding, and use multiple layers so you can remove any if it gets too hot.
How to Remove Mold From Your Bedroom
If you’ve found mold in your bedroom, take action to remove it immediately. It doesn’t matter what type of mold it is; it’s all bad. The action you do depends on the scope of the problem.
If it is a small mold:
- If it’s on a hard surface, like your floor or wall, scrub vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush and cleaning products, soap and water, or a mix of 1 cup borax with 1 gallon of hot water. Ensure the area dries completely.
- Don’t use bleach. It’s commonly thought that bleach is a great answer for removing mold, but it’s quite the opposite. Bleach loses effectiveness over time and can actually contribute to continued mold growth over time.
- If it’s on a soft surface, such as your carpet, clothes, mattress, bedding, drywall, or furniture, throw it away.
- Never handle mold with your bare hands, even when cleaning. Always use gloves.
In cases of large mold:
- Call a mold removal expert. If the mold has spread ominously, these people are experts in identifying all areas that have been infected and removing the mold entirely from your home. Many offer free in-home consultations, as well.
If mold is on your mattress:
- Don’t just clean it off. Get rid of it, as per our advice for any soft-surface items with mold in your home. Here’s how to safely and responsibly dispose of an old mattress.
- After you’ve removed the mold and cleaned the area, follow the mold prevention tips we outlined above to keep the area as dry as possible moving forward.