How to avoid and remove common mildew fungus

A dull black mold with a musty odor, mildew thrives in hot, humid places. It often attacks shoes, fabrics, books, luggage, wallpaper, basement walls, and shower curtains.

Eliminating dampness is the key to preventing mildew. Improve ventilation by opening doors, windows, closets, and dresser drawers on muggy days. Trim shrubs and trees that brush against or shade your house.

Absorb excess moisture in closets and drawers with small cloth bags containing silica gel or activated alumina (available at drug and hardware stores) or cornstarch, cornmeal, baking soda, or talcum powder. Leave closet lights on. To protect books, put a container of baking soda nearby.

Install exhaust fans in damp places such as laundry rooms and bathrooms. The basement is often the dampest area in a house. An electric dehumidifier may cure damp air, but if you have leaking or severely sweating walls, you’ll need to waterproof.

To tackle persistent mildew on ceramic tile or concrete, scrub with a mixture of 1 cup chlorine bleach to 1 gallon water; rinse and allow to dry. Scrub painted surfaces with 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/a cup baking soda per gallon of water. Ventilate the area and wear rubber gloves when using either solution.

Spread the pages of mildewed books fanwise to dry. Or sprinkle path cornstarch or talcum powder to absorb moisture. Wipe off loose mold with a clean, soft cloth.

Brush or vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses and air out mattresses and cushions in bright sunlight. For severe mildew, brush the material with a whisk broom; then sponge with a mixture of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water and follow with a fungicidal spray. A persistent moldy odor indicates deep penetration and may require professional fumigation.