By Jason Wachob
mbg Founder & Co-CEO
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth.
Mold has quite the sinister reputation, which makes sense given the fact that it loves to hide in dark, secluded areas. And according to mold remediation expert Michael Rubino, author of The Mold Medic: An Expert’s Guide on Mold Removal, a little bit of mold may be inevitable at some point. After all, “Mold can grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours,” he says on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, and it can crop up in unexpected places. Take front-loading washing machines, for example: These typically have a rubber gasket around the door to create an airtight seal, which creates the perfect humid environment for any lingering moisture.
If you were shocked by that nugget of knowledge (we were, too), you may want to keep scrolling. Below, Rubino shares four more sneaky yet common hotspots for mold.
You may have heard that coffee itself can carry a specific type of mycotoxin (meaning, a toxic chemical product produced by fungi), but you should watch out for the machine itself. “I had this automatic De’Longhi Italian [machine] that grinds the beans and pours it all out,” says Rubino. “I went away on vacation, and I forgot to empty the grinds out of the coffee machine before I went, so all those wet grinds were sitting in this plastic tray. I come back and [mold] is just all over the inside of this machine. I literally had to throw it away.”
He sees similar issues with Keurig machines, too: “[Mold] gets into the drain lines, into the supply lines…” he adds. “Pretty much anything that has a rubber gasket is going to have some potential to trap moisture and water.” Which, in turn, can lead to mold growth.
Speaking of rubber gaskets, dishwashers, too, have a rubber seal that keeps water from spilling onto the floor–and when water becomes trapped in those folds, it creates the perfect environment for mold. That said, you might want to leave the dishwasher door open after each wash cycle so the machine can fully air out.
Not to mention, dishwasher filters can easily become a mold hotspot. “Most people never, ever unscrew that filter and check it, but those grow mold pretty well,” Rubino adds.
How often have you checked your toilet for mold? While you may think the shower is the most common bathroom hotspot, don’t ignore your toilet tanks: “Most homes that have a mold issue, if you go to their toilet tank, take the lid off, flip it over, and look on the underside of the toilet tank cover, you’ll find mold,” says Rubino. “And usually a lot of it.”
It makes sense why mold can easily grow there–it’s a dark spot with lots of water. Rubino recommends checking your toilet tanks periodically, but don’t freak out if you notice some mold growth. “If there’s mold there, shut the water supply off, and flush it. That water will remove itself from the tank, and then clean the inside of the tank really well,” he explains. Or you can always consult an expert to remediate the situation in a snap.
4. Sippy cups.
“I can’t tell you how many [of my kids’] sippy cups I had to throw away that were getting moldy,” Rubino shares. Again, anything with a rubber fold that gets exposed to water is fair game, even if the parts themselves are super small. “They have these intricate rubber pieces that water gets trapped behind,” Rubino adds, which can become a breeding ground for mold over time. When washing these cups, make sure they dry completely before storing them away–you may even want to take them completely apart so all of the water evaporates fully.
Indoor mold is super common–so much so, that it’s nearly impossible to live a completely “mold-free” life. However, you can make minor changes to your routine to ensure that it never becomes an issue. Check these hotspots periodically for potential mold growth, and be on the lookout for toxic black mold; here are some signs you should never ignore.