If you’re one of the Sydneysiders currently living in a damp and mouldy house, welcome to the club! Now take a break from blowing your nose to read this.
The absolutely atrocious rainy weather in Sydney is sadly the perfect environment for mould to grow in. Great! You can’t do your washing and now you’re breathing in mould spores too.
Mould absolutely gets off on air with loads of moisture in it. So if you’re living in a damp, poorly ventilated house (aka every rental in Sydney) there’s a chance you could have mould growing.
Why is mould in your house bad?
Mould is pretty gross to look at even if you’re a blue cheese lover like myself. And along with the aesthetic yuckiness of a big ‘ol mould patch, there are also some health consequences.
If you’re constantly coughing or snotty but are testing negative for COVID, there’s a chance your symptoms could be triggered by mould. Plus it’s pretty telling if you find yourself feeling better when you’re out of the mouldy house.
NSW Health lists a whole load of mould symptoms. The most common ones are a runny or blocked nose (or both if you’re me!). Some people also develop a cough or wheeze and eye or skin irritation.
The effects of mould can also be particularly bad if you’re asthma or allergy prone. As if carrying around an inhaler everywhere wasn’t annoying enough.
In serious but rare cases, some people can develop a severe mould infection in their lungs.
Can you prevent mould?
As with many things in life, the best way to deal with mould is to prevent it. Though there’s a limit to how successfully most people can do that when it’s pissing down rain 99% of the time and hardly any young people own their own homes.
Keeping your house ventilated by leaving windows open and using exhaust fans is a good start. So is trying to remove some of the humidity in your house, so humidifiers are a no.
Dehumidifiers though? A potentially good and sexy purchase, especially if you’re a renter or unable to make big structural changes to your house.
Academic Michael Taylor weighed up some of the pros and cons of dehumidifiers for mould in an article for The Conversation.
“A dehumidifier might reduce moisture in a house but it won’t fix the underlying problem if your house has insufficient systems to re-route moisture outside,” he said.
“But if you’re renting or short on cash, and circumstances prevent you adding an extraction fan, a dehumidifier will at least help keep things under control.”
You can also buy moisture absorbers like Hippo or DampRid. Like the name “moisture absorber” implies, these products suck moisture and humidity out of the air. Slay behaviour.
If you’re a renter you also have certain rights when it comes to mould.
According to the NSW Government’s Department of Fair Trading, if the mould develops because your property doesn’t have adequate ventilation then your landlord is responsible. That also relates to stuff like mould developing ‘cos your landlord won’t fix a leaky window.
But if mould develops because tenants don’t open their windows or use the property’s ventilation and extraction fans then it might be considered their responsibility. If you have mould you should let your landlord know ASAP.
So if you’ve got ventilation fans, blast them till the cows come home. And if you don’t have them, get on to your landlord and cross your fingers they’ll be arsed to do something about it.
The mould gremlins have gotten into my house, how do I remove them?
The best way to remove mould is white vinegar. Come through Pinterest cleaning hacks! NSW Health recommends a solution of four parts vinegar to one part water.
The water/vinegar concoction is pretty safe for most surfaces and actually kills mould at the source rather than just on the surface (like bleach). You can even use the vinegar/water on your mouldy shoes and leather jackets!
If you’re doing a vinegar shop you can pick up some Advil for your mould-induced, snot-filled headache too!
Ah, living in rainy Sydney. As Phoebe Bridgers and MUNA once said: “life’s so fun, life’s so fun!”