Kitchens are spaces that can be especially susceptible to the development of mold. This is due to their frequent exposure to moisture, which condenses on colder surfaces, causing hidden mold, and even posing a risk to natural fabrics and materials.
Areas around windows and any external walls are often colder than other surfaces, making them common places to find condensation. However, there are a number of hidden spots in your kitchen we often forget to clean in which mold can thrive if not dealt with.
How to spot and get rid of hidden moldy spots in kitchen
'A kitchen is a very high moisture area due to steam created by activities such as cooking and washing,' says explains Carl Lewis, owner of The DIY Fix. 'This excess moisture raises the relative humidity in the air.
'If this moisture is not removed, it will be drawn towards cold surfaces. These surfaces are known as "dew points," when warm moist air comes in contact with a cold surface the water condenses, turning from a gas into a liquid.'
Michael Golubev, CEO of Mold Busters explains the reason mold builds in hidden spots in kitchens: 'These areas are typically out of sight and can retain moisture for extended periods. Combined with the organic material found in kitchens, such as food particles, it creates an ideal environment for mold to grow.'
1. Under the sink
Under the sink is perhaps the most common hidden spot for mold development. 'This area is prone to leaks from pipes, and if not dried properly, the moisture means this can become a breeding ground for mold,' warns Michael Golubev.
Rich Mullins, founder of H2O Plumbing advises, 'Regularly inspect the area beneath the sink for any signs of leaks, such as water stains or a musty smell. Fix any plumbing problems promptly and use a mold-killing solution to clean and disinfect the area.
You should also routinely wipe down the cabinet's interior, ensuring it's dry. Consider using moisture-absorbing products to keep the area dry, such as this Vacplus unscented moisture absorber, from Amazon.
Rich Mullins also says, 'Consider using a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels in the cabinet.' For this area, we suggest this KLOUDIC small dehumidifier, from Walmart, or you can run a dehumidifier in the kitchen during the quieter times of the day so it doesn't get in the way, leaving cabinets doors open to help lower the moisture levels.
2. Behind appliances
As an often overlooked place in a kitchen when it comes to cleaning, 'Mold often thrives in hidden areas behind kitchen appliances like the refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven,' says Rich Mullins. 'Over time, moisture can accumulate, creating an ideal environment for mold growth.
'To tackle this, periodically pull out your appliances, clean the floor and walls, and ensure they are thoroughly dry before pushing them back into place.'
Angela Rubin from Hellamaid says, 'If you spot mold, clean it immediately using a mixture of water and mild detergent. Ensure the area is thoroughly dry before moving the appliance back in place.'
'Use a mold-resistant sealant along the edges to prevent moisture penetration,' suggests Rich Mullins. We recommend this gorilla waterproof caulk and seal, from Amazon.
Hellamaid is an award-winning cleaning company in Canada that's been featured on multiple global media brands.
3. Inside cabinets and pantries
'Particularly those cabinets above steam sources like coffee makers or kettles. Steam rises and can get trapped inside, leading to mold growth,' says Josh Mitchell, HVAC technician and the owner of Air Conditioner Lab. 'Ensure you leave cabinets open occasionally to let them air out.'
Rich Mullins adds, 'To prevent mold in these areas, store dry goods in airtight containers to reduce moisture exposure. Periodically empty and clean the cabinets with a mold-killing solution, ensuring they are dry before restocking.'
You can find multi-surface solution mold treatment at Walmart.
4. Garbage disposal and drain
Garbage disposals and drains can be the ideal environments for mold to grow, with food residues and moisture build-up resulting in its growth.
You can also use a safe drain cleaner if needed. We love this earthworm drain cleaner from Amazon. Ensure safe practices by not putting certain items in your garbage disposal to prevent the build-up of mold.
5. Rubber seals on appliances
Rubber seals on dishwashers can trap food particles and moisture, leading to mold build-up. 'Refrigerator and freezer door seals are another common culprit. Make sure to give those a good wipe down during your regular cleaning,' recommends Rosie Elliott, owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer.
If mold is present, clean the seals and interior with a mixture of water and white vinegar, or mild detergent and ensure they are intact. Dishwasher seals can deteriorate and allow moisture to accumulate, leading to mold growth, so be sure to replace them if necessary.
Rosie is a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine who has been cooking professionally for over 15 years.
6. Behind backsplashes and wall tiles
'In kitchens with tile backsplashes, moisture can seep behind the tiles, leading to mold growth,' warns Rich Mullins.
'If you suspect mold, remove a few tiles and inspect the area behind them. Clean and disinfect any mold you find, then reseal the tiles with mold-resistant grout and caulk to prevent future issues.'
Tips for preventing mold
'Periodically check these areas for signs of moisture or mold,' begins, Micheal Golubev, CEO of Mold Busters.' Ensure your kitchen is well-ventilated, especially when cooking. Any spills, especially under the fridge or sink, should be cleaned up promptly. Clean and sanitize your kitchen regularly, paying special attention to the areas mentioned. Any leaks, especially under the sink or from the fridge, should be addressed immediately.'
'For cleaning, consider natural mold-fighters like white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide,' recommends Josh Mitchell. 'For persistent mold, you might need to consult professionals.' You can also use bleach to kill mold.
'To ensure your kitchen is well-ventilated, consider using exhaust fans or opening a window when cooking to reduce moisture build-up,' continues Josh Mitchell.
Can dishwashers collect mold?
Michael Golubev, CEO of Mold Busters warns, 'If not cleaned and dried properly, the dishwasher's damp environment is perfect for mold.
'The seal and the space below the door can collect water, leading to mold.'
'Mold can also develop inside the dishwasher,' says Hashi Mohamed. 'The warm, moist environment provides a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
'To prevent this, regularly clean the dishwasher's interior, including the door gasket, using a mixture of vinegar and water. Be sure to remove and clean the filter and utensil holders as well.'
After a wash, leave the door slightly open to let it air out.
Where will a refrigerator produce mold?
'The space behind and beneath fridges can accumulate moisture, especially if the drip pan overflows or isn't cleaned regularly,' comments Michael Golubev, CEO of Mold Busters.
The refrigerator can leak or produce condensation. This moisture, combined with the warmth of the fridge's motor, can lead to mold growth.
You should pull your fridge out and clean behind it at least once a year to prevent this from becoming an issue.
Drip pans in your fridge can also develop mold. These collect condensation, and food particles, and can harbor mold. You should also clean the drip pan regularly with soap and warm water to prevent mold growth.
Muffetta Kruger, owner of Muffetta's Domestic Cleaning Assistants shares a final tip for future kitchen renovations: 'Consider using mold-resistant materials, such as mold-resistant drywall or paint, during kitchen renovations to deter mold growth.'
In the meantime, she suggests natural remedies, such as vinegar or tea tree oil diluted in water to clean and disinfect areas susceptible to mold growth to prevent it from appearing.
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Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past five years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including recipe articles, reviewing products, writing ‘how to’ and ‘when to’ articles. Lola now writes about everything from organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate student, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.
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