While houseplants and gardens can indeed create a beautiful addition to any home, they can unfortunately create some pretty bad issues as you care for them - mold being one of them. To decrease your risk of exposure to mold, there are a few things you can do.
Decrease your exposure to mold by cleaning mold from the leaves of your houseplants. Mold found on living plants can easily be wiped away. Warning: never do this with a dry paper towel, or you'll wind up spreading the mold spores in the air.
Replace the paper towels when you're cleaning to prevent the accumulation of dust & mold from spreading. Make sure you're cleaning in a well-ventilated area, and use a spray bottle to make the cleaning overall easier.
Removing mold from the soil itself will take a bit more effort. You need to scoop the top layer of soil that's infested with mold using a spoon or a spade to strip that layer and place it into a plastic bag for easy disposal.
Replace the stripped top layer of soil with new potting soil - but only after you've removed all traces of visible mold. If the infestation is too far gone, you'll need to replace more than just the top layer to prevent further exposure to mold.
Add a natural, organic anti-fungal substance to your soil to keep any mold spores from growing. Cinnamon is a great option, and will deter the growth of mold and is harmless to the plant itself.
To prevent mold from growing back, place a thin layer of gravel on the bottom of your potting mix, allowing for a much more effective method of draining.
Keep your houseplants in a well-ventilated area. Mold thrives in areas with poor ventilation, so make sure you open a window, use a dehumidifier, or run proper ventilation fans.
HOUSEPLANTS, PREVENTING EXPOSURE TO MOLD:
Start with sterile soil. When bringing a new plant into your home, re-pot it using sterile soil because your plant may originally have come home from the store with mold in its soil. Do this by gently removing all the soil from the plant's root ball and re-potting it.
Water your houseplants only when they're dry. Exposure to mold usually happens when a plant is kept continually moist. This happens when you either over-water your houseplants or water on a schedule instead of by touch. Always check that the top of your houseplant's soil is dry before you water it.
Add more light. Mold loves the dark, so a great way to control moisture on indoor plants is to make sure they get plenty of sunlight, and more importantly that the sunlight falls on the soil.
Add a fan. As discussed above, adding a fan will reduce your exposure to mold because mod in the soil will stop happening if you make sure there is good air circulation around the plant. A simple oscillating fan set on low will help with this.
Keep your houseplants neat. Dead leaves and other dead organic material add to the problem of exposure to mold. Be sure to trim dead leaves and stems regularly.
WHERE ELSE CAN YOU FIND MOLD IN YOUR HOME?
Exposure to mold isn't limited to houseplants. Worst of all, mold is sneaky. To find it, check in these unusual places that provide mold with the food and water it needs to grow:
Also you can't forget about the guts of your home including:
Drywall, Subflooring, Heating and air conditioning filters, and the HVAC ductwork
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT EXPOSURE TO MOLD?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold exposure can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, and skin irritation. People with serious allergies to molds may have more severe reactions including fever and shortness of breath; and those with chronic lung illnesses, like obstructive lung disease, may even develop mold infections in their lungs.
Exposure to Mold is Worse for Infants
Because of their not-yet-developed immune systems, infants and young children are of special concern when it comes to mold spore inhalation. Infants are more vulnerable to toxic exposures and ingest more dust than adults since they (and their toys) spend a lot of time on or near the floor. (Scientists once thought children were getting lead poisoning by chewing on windowsills but we've since learned that it's actually caused by lead being a component of toxic dust and mold.) Environmental Working Group found that ingestion of these spores can cause deficits in learning as well as motor skill and memory development.
Check out our post to learn about proactive cleaning methods.