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The World Health Organization estimates that 10% to 50% of residential homes and commercial buildings have damp conditions. That means up to 50% of buildings worldwide could provide ripe environments for mold to grow and thrive.
Mold can slowly destroy your home and your belongings. If you have a mold allergy, you can expect uncomfortable symptoms like nasal congestion, watery eyes, and more. Plus, it’s just plain gross to look at.
Of all the rooms in your home, having mold in your bedroom is one of the most high-risk, simply due to the significant amount of time you spend in there asleep, exposing yourself to mold.
Whether you own or rent your home, it’s up to you to protect yourself from mold exposure by preventing mold growth and removing it promptly whenever you find it. Keep reading to learn more about mold, how to prevent and remove it from your bedroom, and how to recognize the symptoms of mold exposure so you can enjoy mold-free sleep.
Mold is a type of fungus. It can live outdoors or indoors, any time of year, as long as it has a damp, warm environment. All it needs to thrive is humidity.
Due to their high levels of moisture, bathrooms and basements are the most likely rooms in a home to harbor mold, but mold can grow anywhere – including your bedroom.
When mold reproduces, it forms spores that travel through the air, enabling mold to spread throughout the area. These spores can survive even when they’re in a dry area not conducive to growing mold. Once the area develops moisture, the mold will grow.
There are different kinds of mold, but the ones you’re most likely to encounter at home include cladosporium, penicillium, aspergillus, alternaria, and stachybotrys chartarum.
Molds vary in appearance as well as where you’re most likely to find them. For instance, stachybotrys chartarum is colloquially known as “black mold” based on its appearance. You’re most likely to spot it on paper or household surfaces that have collected dust or lint, or within the building materials, such as wood, gypsum board, or fiberboard.
In the natural world, mold serves a purpose, facilitating the decomposition of plant life like leaves and compost. When it enters our artificial world through our homes, it poses an issue. Mold exposure can be dangerous for humans and it can damage the areas or objects in your home where it grows.
Mold itself is not dangerous or toxic, although there are some types of mold that produce toxic mycotoxins, such as black mold. For most people, however, it is the mold allergy or sensitivity that leads to uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, these go away once the mold is removed.
It’s common for people to be allergic to mold, although reactions vary from mold to mold and person to person. If you have a mold allergy, you will start reacting as soon as you are exposed to the mold. People experiencing an allergic reaction may display any of the following symptoms:
In some cases, the symptoms may be more severe. According to the Institute of Medicine, indoor mold exposure has been linked with:
A mold allergy can go from uncomfortable to dangerous for people with an already compromised immune system, such as infants and children, the elderly, and those with chronic lung disease, HIV, cancer, or liver disease."
Currently, the CDC acknowledges that indoor mold exposure may be a risk factor for asthma in young children, but more research needs to be conducted for confirmation. Likewise, research is still inconclusive as to a possible link 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.
Unfortunately, while everyone agrees that mold poses a health risk, there are as yet no governmental guidelines for residential buildings to follow regarding acceptable levels of mold. That means it is up to you, as a homeowner or renter, to know the warning signs of mold growth in your bedroom so you can keep yourself safe.
Mold is fairly easy to spot, pun intended. You may notice spots, perhaps with a fuzzy appearance, that have a brown, gray, green or black appearance. There may be a slight musky odor, too.
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms or smell mold, but you can’t see it, look for it in harder-to-find areas, such as 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 develop in areas you can’t see, such as inside your walls or under the carpet, it’s important to maintain mold prevention best practices in your home.
Mold can develop anywhere that is a moist or humid environment. Depending on the climate where you live, the quality of insulation in your home, and even the location of your bedroom within your home (basement-level bedrooms are most at risk), your bedroom may be more or less likely to develop mold.
Mold spores can also enter from outside your home, through an open window, or by traveling inside on your clothing or your pets.
Mold can also develop on your mattress, due to 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 found 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.
No, it is not safe to sleep in a bedroom with mold. 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 cause sleep issues, too.
When you sleep, it is essential for your body to breathe as easily as possible. Otherwise, your brain has to focus harder on keeping 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:
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.
The best defense against mold in your bedroom is a preventative defense. Mold spores can survive even in dry environments, so you should focus on preventing moisture from developing in your bedroom in the first place.
Follow these tips to prevent mold in your bedroom. Some of these tips you’ll want to follow on a daily basis; others can be done annually or less frequently to maintain your home and prevent mold.
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 growing in your mattress.
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 take depends on the scope of the problem.
In cases of small mold:
In cases of large mold (the EPA defines this as an area of 10 square feet or larger):
If you find mold in your 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.