Mould growth in the home can have a negative impact on health, especially for small children and those with respiratory conditions. It is therefore important to treat and prevent mould. Depending on whether you are a council tenant, private tenant or own your own home, sources of support will be different.
If you’re a private tenant or live in a home managed by a housing association, you should contact your landlord to fix the issue. If the landlord does not treat the mould, you can contact us for advice and assistance via our Private Rented Housing team at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 3821 1761.
If you’re a homeowner, you can use the self-management advice below.
Some of the ways of preventing damp and mould in the home (such as ventilation and putting the heating on during cold weather) are very difficult to achieve at the moment given the cost of living crisis. Please see the sources of support available to residents on our cost of living pages.
Treating mould in your home
You can clean and treat small areas of mould growth safely yourself, using the method below:
- Before you start to clean, always protect yourself from mould spores by wearing goggles, long rubber gloves, and a mask that covers your nose and mouth. These can be purchased from a DIY retailer.
- Remove other family members and pets from the room whilst you clean
- Open the windows within the room but keep internal doors closed to prevent spores spreading to other areas of the house
- Have a plastic bag ready to take away any soft furnishings, clothes and soft toys that are mouldy. Clothes and soft toys should be washed at a high temperature to kill any spores, and soft furnishings shampooed or dry cleaned.
- Fill a bucket with water and some mild detergent, such as washing-up liquid or a soap used for hand-washing clothes. Specialist mould cleaning fluids are available from most supermarkets or DIY retailers, but hot soapy water works just as well.
- Use a rag dipped in the soapy water to carefully wipe the mould off the wall. Be careful not to brush mould as this can release spores.
- When you've finished, use a dry rag to remove the moisture from the wall
- Put the rags in a plastic bag and throw them away
- Wipe down all hard surfaces in the room, including furniture, to make sure you have removed all spores
Repeat this at the first sign of new mould growth, as well as wiping down any surfaces where moisture settles.
What causes condensation, damp and mould
There is always some moisture in the air. You may notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath or shower. When the air is cold, it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny droplets of water appear. This is known as condensation.
Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather. It tends to appear on cold surfaces and in places where there is little movement of air, such as:
- in corners of rooms
- behind large items of furniture
- on or near windows
- inside built-in cupboards
Condensation is usually the main cause of mould growth in homes. It usually becomes noticeable when black mould starts to appear on surfaces, such as window frames, walls, and behind cupboards and wardrobes. It is generally worse during the winter months.
Damp is usually caused by water entering your home from an external source, such as:
- leaking pipes, wastes or overflows
- rain seeping through the roof where a tile or slate is missing
- a blocked gutter
- faulty window or door seals
- a cracked pipe
- rising damp because there is no damp-proof course or it is damaged (if it's rising damp, you will normally see a white tide mark about a meter above floor level, if you live on the ground floor)
You can tell the difference between condensation and damp, as damp will normally look like there is a wet patch, or it will leave a white tide mark on the wall or ceiling surface. If you can check the outside of your home, you may be able to see the cause of the damp. Damp requires a different treatment solution to condensation, sometimes structural.
Everyday living activities, such as cooking, drying clothes in the house, and washing produce condensation. Preventing the build-up of condensation is essential for treating it in the long term, otherwise it can cause mould. The current high cost of energy use may make some of these solutions more difficult than previously.
High condensation levels can be prevented or reduced by following the steps below:
- When you're cooking, put lids on saucepans and make sure windows are open or extractor fans are on
- If possible, try to dry clothes outside. If you need to dry your clothes indoors, make sure the door to the room is closed and windows are open. Try not to dry clothes directly on radiators as this will create more moisture.
- Make sure there is ventilation in kitchen and bathrooms. Ask your landlord to install extractor fans, or if you're a homeowner consider having these installed where possible.
- Check extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms are working. If not, you should get them fixed or replaced.
- If you use a tumble dryer, make sure it is vented to the outside. If you have a condensing dryer, make sure windows in the room are open.
- Put a small amount of cold water in the bath before you turn on the hot tap
- Do not run your shower for longer than needed and consider opening windows during and after showers
- Mop up any condensation you see on windows and sills
- Close kitchen and bathroom doors when cooking and washing to stop water vapour from spreading around your home
- Do not block vents or airbricks in windows and walls
- Pull furniture and wardrobes away from walls to allow air to circulate
- Do not fully draught-proof a room where there is a cooker or a fuel burning heater, such as a gas fire
- Do not draught-proof windows in the bathroom and kitchen
- If you can, use a dehumidifier to collect excess moisture in the air
- Make sure your property is sufficiently insulated