About mold and mildew

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, July/Aug 2008

Hi Rose,
Please share any strategies and best practices that will help me deal with mold and /or mildew in guest room/ condo and carpet cleaning programs.
Thank you,
Moldy Molly

Aloha MM,
Yours is a loaded question, so the first step is to know and understand the culprits you are dealing with. Mildew, mold and algae have been around since the beginning of time. All are a fungus (plant) that thrives in damp, dark and warm places with no air circulation and are generally found in kitchens, bathrooms, closets and poorly ventilated environments. These pesky growths may be recognized by sight as colored woolly mats or by a foul, musty, earthy odor that often leaves black, gray, orange, white, bluish-green specks or blotches on surfaces that they affect. Often frustrating with these problems is that, while we can clean it, kill it and abuse it, if not maintained properly they show up again and again.

One of the most effective and safe methods to kill them is with a disinfectant cleaner and by dislodging it with brush agitation. Chlorine bleach and water are often used, but must be used with caution as it can be harmful to people and to surfaces. In daily room cleaning services, it would stand to reason that mildew and mold should not be a major problem, especially if disinfectant-cleaner chemicals are used. Here, I dare to say that cleaning disciplines and processes may be a key problem that housekeeping managers should focus on, particularly bathroom and kitchen cleaning. Preapplication of disinfectant cleaners with 10 minutes dwell time is an important process to kill and remove germs, bacteria, mildew and mold. Finish rinsing with hot water to enhance the killing power and drying time of the cleaned surfaces. For heavy mildew and mold buildup, simple disinfecting is not enough due to mineral buildup. A stronger acidic type of cleaner is necessary to penetrate and dissolve the minerals, mildew and mold at its root.

Ways to prevent growth in bathrooms:
• Prespray all surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner prior to cleaning.
• Allow for 10-15 minutes dwell (germ kill) time.
• Clean all surfaces with detergent/ disinfectant and water.
• Keep bathrooms well ventilated after cleaning.
• Keep a small opening on both sides of tub shower curtains or sliding doors for air circulation.

In kitchen areas, mildew and mold problems generally will appear in the sink and drain area and in refrigerators around and in between the rubberized sealers on the doors.

Ways to prevent growth in kitchens:
• Sanitize all kitchen counter surfaces frequently.
• Pour disinfectant cleaner or a drain treatment chemical down the kitchen drain periodically.
• Use a dishwashing detergent with running hot water in the sink drains to assist with cutting of grease buildup.
• Garbage disposals should also be treated and cleaned with a brush-type tool.
• Full disinfecting cleaning of refrigerators should take place during all checkouts.
• A cup of fresh coffee grounds, charcoal briquettes or a box of baking soda will keep long-standing empty refrigerators fresh and moisture and odor free.

Sliding doors of clothes and linen closets should have small openings on both sides after cleaning for air circulation. Chemical moisture absorbers may also be hung in clothes closets. A wipe down with a disinfectant cleaner of the closet shelves and dresser drawers is recommended.

Mildew and mold in carpets occur when there is moisture buildup from spills, toilet overflows and / or overwetting during carpet shampooing. Musty odor is a tell-tale sign. Extracting, drying and disinfecting treatments of both the top and bottom of the carpet will be necessary to kill the mildew/ mold buildup and odor. It is important to find and know the source of the problem as well as the type of carpet and carpet backing being dealt with. Housekeeping managers should be well informed of the various types of carpets installed in their facilities, and the types of surfaces the carpets are installed on, to determine the best and proper carpet cleaning and shampooing process to be applied.

General mold cleanup tips:
• Identify and correct moisture problems.
• Provide well-ventilated working areas.
• Clean wet surfaces with disinfectant, detergent or bleach and water.
• Use personal protective equipment: respiratory, hand and eye protection equipment.

Good luck on your mildew and mold cleaning and elimination programs.

Posted in Clean Talk Columns.

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