What Are Mold Mites & How To Get Rid of Them
Homeowners, property managers, and renters alike — unfortunately, everyone has to worry about mold.
It is a type of fungus that grows whenever organic matter enters the decomposition stage, or wherever there is an excess of moisture. It’s that ugly, green, purple, and brown sludge you’ve seen spreading out from the opening of a wall vent or splashed against the old concrete wall in the back next to the leaky spigot.
It sprouts up easily, it spreads fast, and it’s dangerous enough to your health on its own. But it also carries the risk of attracting mold mites. These pests are microscopic creatures that bring their own set of dangers and challenges, and they need to be understood before anything is done about them.
The following guide will walk you through what mold mites are, how to find them, how to get rid of them, and how to keep them away.
What Are They?
Mites are a class of tiny insect-like creatures that look like microscopic spiders. Unlike spiders, most don’t bite, but they can be dangerous. They’re also much, much smaller.
There are many different kinds of mites, and they are differentiated by what host surface they attach to in order to survive. There are kinds that live on the surface of an animal’s skin, that feast on fruit and vegetables, there are the well-known dust mites, which live under unswept furniture, and then there is the star of the show, the mold mite.
Where mold in a sense “feeds” on dampness and decomposition, the mites feed on the fungi itself. But they don’t remain strictly on the affected area. Once they have taken root in your property, they’ll gladly munch on foods left out that are high in fat and protein.
The little creatures are liable to spread anywhere in a home where dampness can accrue, such as a cellar, an attic, and within baseboards, ductwork, or insulation.
Are They Bad For My Health?
These organisms generally do not pose concerning or long-term risks to human health. They are in fact not attracted to human beings the way mosquitos and other parasites are, who live off blood or dead skin cells. Of the millions of mites that are out there right now, the vast majority will keep to themselves.
Most people think that the skin and allergy problems that living in proximity with the pests can cause come from their bites. But in fact, they don’t bite. Instead, the way they can affect human health is through air circulation.
Mites’ tiny, eight-legged bodies are covered with short, bristly fibers that are used for sensory perception. These fibers, or hairs, routinely detach to make way for new growths. When there is enough of an infestation in a closed space, the concentration of hair in the air can cause respiratory reactions, skin irritation, and the exacerbation of some allergies.
Most home cleaning and mold remediation services take care to look for mites and treat them in addition to removing the fungi. These are distinct but interrelated issues, so they must be treated together.
How Do I Inspect For Them?
Mold mites are so small that they can be difficult to see with the naked eye. Trained experts will bring in cameras with high definition zoom capabilities to attempt to distinguish them. Because mold can often be the same color as the mites which feast on it (brown, tan, and creamy white), sometimes technology is necessary to scope out an infestation.
But when they cluster outside contaminated areas, they can be easier to spot. If you’ve ever seen a bed bug infestation, you’ll recall the rusty-colored splotches on the corners and in the inseams of mattresses. Mold mites have a similar appearance.
They can appear as shapeless stains on walls, ceiling, or furniture, usually colored brown. They can also show up as a fine white or brown dust on pantry shelves, where high protein and high-fat foods have been left out.
It’s best to call a mold remediation specialist if you’re unsure whether your home has been infested. But as both are quite difficult to permanently, it’s always a good idea to seek professional intervention.
How To Get Rid of Mold Mites
There’s no beating calling a professional, but there are several methods you can try at home to eliminate both the fungus and the parasites that come with it. If you cut off their primary source of sustenance, which is the fungi, it’ll be much harder for them to subsist off scraps like stray pieces of bread and fruit.
On the note of food, do your best to keep food that is high in fat and protein, and moisture-rich food like berries, sealed and behind closed doors.
To vanquish these pests, follow these remediation steps, and try one or several of the killing agents. Bleach alone may not be enough, for example, so retreat the affected area with vinegar or a diluted lemon mix if that doesn’t work.
Identify the Infected Area
First, you need to identify the fungus-infected area. Sounds easy enough, but mold often grows within walls, under baseboards, and in other hard-to-access areas. One method of locating hard-to-spot areas is to perform a bleach test: soak a swab in diluted bleach and dab it around the walls. Where the spot lightens, you’ve found your source.
Spot the Mites
If you can’t see the mites with your own eyes, bring in the close-up photography equipment. Take a photo of the suspected area, zoom, and look for small, white to tan, wingless, hairy creatures with eight legs.
Treat the Mold
Treatment and remediation is truly an art of its own and would require a whole other how-to to fully cover. But the basic DIY approach to treating the fungus is to scrub it off the affected surface and surrounding surfaces with bleach, vinegar, soap, or another strong cleaning agent.
The next step in the removal process is dehumidification. Open as many windows as you can for a cross breeze, bring in industrial-grade room fans to keep air constantly circulating on the once-damp spot, and do whatever you can to keep moisture from returning, including plugging the source of the leak and laying towels.
Kill the Little Creatures
At last, it’s time to kill the mites themselves. Treating the mold will take care of most of it for you, but remember that mites spread far, and they spread fast. Try any of these methods to kill them off:
- Vinegar: Make sure to use white vinegar (red wine vinegar is seriously going to stink up your house, and rice vinegar just won’t work) in this approach. Dilute vinegar one to one with water, spray the affected area, and wait.
- Lemon: Lemon is a seriously underused natural ingredient that can be used in everything from cleaning agents to hair lightening toners. Lemon is also useful in the fight against them. Juice four lemons, pour the juice over the affected area, wait a few minutes, and scrub. Lemon also leaves behind a pleasant smell.
- Baking Soda: Another household all in one, baking soda mixture made with water can be effective in the fight against mites.
- Bleach and Borax: Bleach and borax are quite different substances, but are grouped together here because they’re a kind of household product’s last line of defense. They’re both quite intense and must be handled carefully. Borax and bleach must each be diluted 1 gallon to 1 cup of water, and gloves must be worn to protect your skin when scrubbing the affected area.
How Do I Prevent Them?
The best way to prevent mold mites is to prevent mold from ever spreading in your home again. That means little fixes, like purchasing more heavy-duty fans and stationing them in areas you know to be more moisture prone, as well as patching up any leaks that might have caused the spread in the first place.
Larger scale fixes are definitely worth considering too. That can mean having your home or dwelling’s pipework assessed and possibly even relaid. It can also mean having someone out to inspect the foundation of the property, and look into the insulation and crawl spaces. These dark, damp, cramped spaces are often havens for the fungi, and where mold spreads, so come mites.
Keep Your Family Safe
If you want to keep your family safe and your home clean, DIY approaches are often not enough. It can feel hugely satisfying to mix a cleaning solution out of things lying around the house. It’s also easier on your wallet.
For real, long-lasting protection against fungi and parasites, contact the experts at All Dry USA or give a call at (866) 714-9234.
Our residential and commercial mold remediation services are tailored to the size of your dwelling, and the scope of the infestation. We offer 24/7 emergency services, employ industry-grade technology to combat fungal and vermin spread of all kinds, and we also offer a full suite of restoration services once the treatment is complete.
Stop subjecting your family and yourself to the best you can whip up in your kitchen sink. Get fast-acting, comprehensive cleaning services from All Dry USA.