Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Mold and Allergies: 10 Ways to Reduce Symptoms

Do You Have Mold?

Older homes are prime habitats for mold, which thrives in a dark, damp, warm environment. If you have water damage, water leaks, a leaky roof, a washing machine that overflows frequently, that moisture can give mold a toehold.

In winter months, indoor heat inside the house will pull air from the crawl space into the living space, says Martyny. That’s one reason a mold allergy may get worse in winter.

"In some instances, it can be hard to see the water damage," he adds. "You may have to have a professional with a moisture meter and infrared cameras see if anything is leaking."

So what can you do to reduce your exposure to mold? Attack mold on two fronts -- removal and prevention:

  • Get your house tested for mold. A moisture meter test will help. Also, a dust sample from your carpet can show whether mold spores are in your home. Check with your state health department about mold testing. Or look in the yellow pages for environmental testing, Martyny suggests. 
  • Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. If you have mold in your crawl space or basement, locate the source and stop the water from coming in. 
  • If your crawl space has mold, call an environmental service to get rid of it. If a small area is moldy, you can try cleaning it yourself. 
  • Check inside drywall for mold inside the wall. You can usually smell mold even if you can't see it. Moldy drywall must be cut out and replaced. Moldy insulation also must be removed and replaced. 
  • Wash mold off hard surfaces. You don’t have to use chlorine bleach; soap and water, combined with scrubbing from a stiff brush, works to remove mold. Some people also recommend vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Non-toxic cleaners are also available. Allow areas to dry completely. 
  • Dry water-damaged areas and items (like carpeting) within 24 to 48 hours of flooding. Don't install carpeting in areas where there is a moisture problem. 
  • If ceiling tiles or carpet have become moldy, they must be replaced. Throw out all wet, moldy tiles and carpeting. 
  • Reduce indoor humidity by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources. Exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens can help. If you don’t have exhaust fans, crack a window in the kitchen when you're cooking or in the bathroom when you're bathing. 
  • Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers inside your home. Change filters regularly. Use a dehumidifier to get rid of dampness in basements. 
  • Add insulation to windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors where there is potential for condensation on cold surfaces.

If you're working in a moldy area, always wear a filtered face mask so you won't inhale mold spores. 

1|2
Reviewed on December 19, 2008

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
 
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?
 

woman sneezing
Slideshow
Bottle of allergy capsules and daisies
Article
 
Urban blossoms
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
Allergy prick test
VIDEO
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Tools
woman with duster crinkling nose
Quiz