DO THIS DAILY TO AVOID GROWING MOLD IN YOUR GERMAN HOME
Did you know that the total amount of different types of mold in the world is estimated to exceed 200,000? Read on to discover the unexpected beauty that lies in each and every single one of them.
Just kidding, don’t worry.
Due to the way our houses are built, accidentally cultivating mold is an ever-looming threat in Germany. So, let me walk you through some simple steps you can take to prevent that.
WHY ARE GERMAN HOMES PRONE TO MOLD?
If you’ve read my article on How To Keep Your German House Cool During Summer, you know that the vast majority of German homes are made of concrete and brick.
This is what retains the warm air during winter but it also locks in moisture if you don’t open your windows. Mold loves that.
WHAT TYPES OF MOLD ARE THERE AND WHY IS IT SO DANGEROUS?
There are five categories of mold, you might bump into in your home – hopefully only figuratively speaking. Ew.
Apart from offending both the eyes and nostrils, each category may also cause various health conditions, some of which can be awfully serious.
- White Mold:
This type usually grows on food, but may cover walls, too. It looks white or grayish but can turn into black mold over time.
It may cause headaches, reoccurring colds and sinusitis, coughs and chronic bronchitis, skin conditions, joint pain, fatigue, digestive issues, and allergies.
- Yellow Mold:
This one is severely harmful, but luckily, it’s quite rare in industrialized nations. It looks yellow, ocher, or brown and may sprout on walls but also upholstery – mainly on cotton fabrics.
It releases aflatoxin, which can cause liver cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Red Mold:
Red mold can appear light orange, red, or rust-colored, and mainly infests paper, flour, or cardboard – so cellulosic materials. Often, it’s also found in kitchens and bathrooms.
Like most other types, it can cause allergies and asthma.
- Green Mold:
You’ve probably seen this one before – especially if you were expecting fresh German bread to last as long as American loaves.
It looks white or gray with a greenish surface and grows primarily on food, plant soil, and in moist areas – for instance on grout, under carpets, or behind wall panels.
It can cause allergies, asthma, headaches, as well as a weakened immune system.
- Black Mold:
Guess what color it is.
This type may pop up in the bathroom, the kitchen, on grout, walls, wallpaper, and ceilings.
It’s extremely hard to get rid of and very toxic as it can cause allergies, asthma, kidney diseases, and other health issues.
HOW TO PREVENT MOLD IN YOUR HOME?
- In the winter, heat all rooms equally – even the ones you’re not using. If any of them can’t be heated, keep the door shut.
- Leave a small gap (5-10 cm / 2-4 inches) between your furniture and the wall, especially to outside walls! You’ll drop items there all the time, but at least you won’t have to worry about accidentally discovering mold when fishing them back up.
- Open your windows every morning and evening – plus as needed – for at least 10-15 minutes. Even when it’s nippy out. Remember: We’re in Germany, so there is no bad weather – only bad clothing.
- Also open your bathroom window after every shower or bath. If it’s an interior room, there will be a Lüftung – leave that on, roaring at you during relaxing baths and showers and for some time after you’re done.
- Avoid hanging up your laundry inside the apartment – if you are forced to, guess what: open your windows regularly.
- You may also need to open them after cooking, if there was a lot of steam.
You get the idea: anytime the moisture inside a room increases, open your windows to get it all out (=lüften).
Important: Open them all the way – don’t be shy and just crack them. You want to completely switch out all the air in your room, preferably by creating a draft. Check out this post, where I walk you through that process.
HOW TO TEST FOR MOLD?
Sometimes, there may not be any visible mold, but that doesn’t mean it’s not secretly lurking in the shadows. It could be white mold on walls or it might be hidden behind panels, baseboards, or heavy furniture.
If you can smell it or suffer from unexplainable symptoms, it’s best to test your home.
There are test kits that come with a little container that you have to leave out in the respective room for a certain amount of time, before shipping it back to the lab. It’s a simple process, but it can take a second to get the results.
Alternatively, you can hire a specialist or someone with a mold sniffing dog to come out. You’ll find out right away what your risks and next steps are.
You’ll be going with the dog, aren’t ya? Yeah, so would I.
HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD?
Many people will tell you to scrub it off with vinegar or to sponge it down with mold removers from Hornbach, Obi, or Hagebaumarkt. While this might work for small areas it can be dangerous to your health, due to the fumes and mold spores being released.
The better way is to have the mold professionally cleared away, so it won’t creep back!
BE YOUR OWN MOLD-SNIFFING DOG
Whenever you look for a new place to live, take note of any signs of mold during your viewings. Subscribe to my mailing list by entering your email to the form in the left sidebar (or after the article if you’re on a phone) and snap up your free home viewing checklist to help with this.
Sometimes people try to cover up mold in rentals, so be vigilant.
Snuff and size up the typical spots: basement, walls, under the kitchen sink, bathroom (ceiling), around the windows, around radiators – and if anything seems off: rethink moving in.
As soon as you’re settled, stay on top of the mold-prevention game by following my tips.
Don’t get discouraged. Mold is easy to avoid if you don’t forget to lüften.