Is There Mold in Your Appliances?

moldy refrigerator

Mold is a fact of life. Wherever there is moisture mold can grow and that includes within our homes and our appliances. Actually, according to PuriCleanse of Bethesda, of the over 100,000 known types of mold over 1000 of them have been found in US homes.

Due to the fact that mold likes to develop in wet places appliances that involve the use of water are particularly sensitive to mold growth, as are appliances where condensation occurs such as fridges and ice machines.

The last thing anyone wants is mold taking hold inside, and even more so not in appliances that you are using to clean your clothes or dishes or store your food. Mold is both unsightly and can have health implications, even more so if you have a mold sensitivity or have pre-existing health conditions such as asthma.

Allergic responses differ from person to person and on the type of mold, but can include sinus irritation, irritation in the lungs, headaches, a irritated throat and dry or itchy skin. Sinus and digestive tract infections can also occur by mold spores and are most common for those who have underlying health conditions.

Luckily there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your home free of mold and protect your health and the effectiveness of your home appliances.

Why Mold Develops in Appliances

Mold is a type of fungus and breeds just about everywhere. Our homes offer the perfect conditions for mold development due to the fact that molds thrive in the same temperature range that people do. As well as the ideal temperature, our houses provide water and organic matter.

The fact that our appliances use water and create moisture is one of the key reasons home appliances are susceptible to mold growth, this is made worse by poor and humidity. Not letting appliances dry thoroughly after use may encourage mold proliferation, but, even if you are doing everything correctly mold only needs a small amount of moisture to grow.

Mold also prefers darkness, making the the areas inside or behind home appliances are perfect hiding places for mold to grow.

Finally, mold needs organic matter for food which could be anything from dead skin cells that form dust around our homes and are on our clothes to scraps of food in the bottom of the dishwasher or the food we store in the fridge.

Preventing mold is easy enough but requires being aware of the conditions mold requires to breed and ensuring you clean hidden and hard to reach areas regularly.

Where Mold Grows in Home Appliances

As mold requires moisture it will grow anywhere water becomes trapped, including door gaskets, filters, drawers and in hidden areas inside your appliances.

The following list looks at some of the machines that are most sensitive to mold development and where on those machines mold is most likely to grow.

Front Loading Washers

Front loading machines have an air and watertight door seal that can trap moisture and dirt from clothes and provide the ideal environment for mold to grow. Mold is also often found in detergent drawers.

You can limit the chance of mold developing by leaving the door and detergent drawer open when the machine between uses.

Top Loading Washing Machine

In a top Loading washing machine, mold will often grow between the drum and the walls of the machine. This can be harder to see as it is not immediately visible when you open the machine.

Again, keeping the washer ajar between uses can reduce the chances of mold. Following instructions as to the correct quantity of washing powder can also help as washing powder residue provides a food source.

Refrigerators

Fridges are also prime spots for mold growth with mold often growing in the door gaskets as well as on old food. Fridges don’t use water in the same way as washing machines and dishwashers, but they are susceptible to condensation and thus moisture.

Keeping your fridge clean can help to prevent fridge mold.

Dishwashers

Bits of food and water left behind at the end of the cycle make dishwashers particularly prone to mold growth. With dishwashers, mold can develop in the filter, the door seal, the silverware basket and cracks and crevices inside the machine.

Again leaving the door ajar to allow the machine to fully dry can help, as can regularly cleaning the filter and removing any bits of food.

How to Tell If You Have Mold in Your Home Appliances

In most cases mold will be visible in your home appliances. Regular checking of the door seals for any discoloration, spots or obvious mold proliferation, not forgetting other hidden areas that mold may hide.

You may notice mold due to the smell before it is visible. Musty smelling clothes or a funky smelling fridge are good indicators of mold.

How to Get Rid of Mold in Your Appliances

If you notice mold in your appliances don’t panic, getting rid of it is a fairly straightforward process and will vary slightly according to the machine you are dealing with.

When you have dealt with the mold keeping appliances dry and well ventilated will help stop mold from returning, as will a regular cleaning regime.

Front Loading Washing Machines

For front loading machines you can clean the door seal and the detergent drawer with either white vinegar or bleach to get rid of mold and baking soda can be used to get rid of any lingering musty smells.

Once you have cleaned away any visible mold you should run the deep clean cycle on your machine.

This process may need to be repeated more than once depending on the severity of the issue.

Top Loading Machines

Top loading washing machines tend to be less susceptible to mold, but can develop mold in the area between the drum and the inner wall of the machine. Running a deep clean cycle or a hot wash with either bleach or several cups of white vinegar regularly should remove and prevent mold growth. Run another wash with baking soda if there is a musty smell.

Fridges

Door seals and other moldy places can be cleaned with white vinegar or a bleach solution. Ensure you empty the fridge before cleaning and clean all shelves and drawers as well.

Dishwashers

You can buy appliance cleaners that can be used to remove mold within the machine and any mold in the door gaskets can be cleaned using white vinegar or bleach. You can also place a cup of vinegar on the top rack and run an otherwise empty cycle at the highest temperature to get rid of mold.

It is important to protect your hands when dealing with mold and if you are sensitive you may choose to wear additional PPE such as a mask and eye protection or calling in the professionals.

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