How to get rid of damp, mould and limescale at home
Help and advice
If you have damp, mould or limescale in your home, then you need to get it sorted straight away. Left untreated they can cause severe damage to your property and could present a risk to your health.
In this article, we’ll explain how to get rid of mould and limescale. We’ll also list the common causes for each and offer tips to prevent them from cropping up again.
What is damp and mould?
People often use the words “damp” and “mould” to mean the same thing, but it's actually the damp that causes the mould.
This dampness is also a safe haven for dust mites, which is bad news for people with allergies and respiratory illnesses. Damp can also lead to the rotting of wood in skirting boards, floors and window frames.
Mould is actually a type of fungus that thrives in damp environments and lives on dust, dirt, wood, carpet and paper. As mould grows, it causes damage to property and releases harmful spores into the air. So if you are wondering, is mould dangerous? Then the answer is yes, it can be, particularly to vulnerable people.
What causes damp and mould?
The main reason behind dampness is the build up of excess moisture, and more specifically, humidity in the air. This is often due to issues in your property, such as:
- Leaky pipes
- Rising damp
- Damage to your roof
- Poorly sealed window frames. Condensation is a main cause of mould, with moisture rapidly building up in the air from everyday household activities, such as:
- Using a washing machine, iron or tumble dryer
- Drying clothes inside the house
- Bathing or showering
- Breathing (especially in larger households)
All of the above add to a build-up of moisture in the air. When that air cannot hold onto any more moisture, it's deposited onto cold surfaces (such as windows, mirrors and external walls) in the form of water droplets.
The dangers of damp stem from the fact that if excess moisture is allowed to remain on a surface for more than 24 hours, mould may start to grow. Particularly if that surface is also dusty, or if it’s covered in paper − such as wallpaper.
How to get rid of damp and condensation
First, find what’s causing the dampness that’s fuelling its growth and apply the right damp treatment.
If your damp issues stem from leaky pipes, a problem with your roof or inefficient damp coursing, then you should reach out to a professional for help.
For damp issues related to condensation in your home, you can minimise this by:
- Covering saucepans with lids when cooking. It also helps to open the window and keep the kitchen door closed.
- Drying clothes outside or in a well-ventilated room.
- Keeping the bathroom door closed while showering and opening the window afterwards or running the extraction fan to fully ventilate the room.
- Opening your bedroom window for 10 minutes each morning before you head off to work to clear respiration moisture from the room.
- Keeping your home warm, either by improving the insulation or using heating once a day. If you go away, you should still set your heating to come on once a day for a short while to prevent condensation from forming.
- Leaving doors open to improve air circulation (apart from when you’re bathing or cooking).
- Leave gaps between furniture and walls so that air can circulate.
- Invest in a dehumidifier or moisture traps and keep them next to windows to prevent moisture from forming on the glass.
How to get rid of mould
Once you’ve addressed any issues with damp, clearing the mould is a relatively easy task. Here is what you’ll need:
- A pair of goggles
- A face mask (for your mouth and nose)
- Rubber gloves
- A bucket of warm soapy water
- A sponge or dishcloth
- Another separate dishcloth or towel
- Plastic bags
Only attempt to clear mould from areas one metre squared or less. Don’t try to tackle mould that stems from sewage water as this type is very dangerous. Always seek out professional help if you have any doubts.
- Put on your goggles, mask and gloves to protect yourself from the mould spores. You should also keep the doors closed to minimise the spread of airborne spores but be sure to open the windows for ventilation.
- Take away any nearby soft furnishings, such as cushions, toys, curtains, etc. that could be harbouring mould spores and either place put them into the wash or clean them by hand. If you can’t wash them right away, keep them sealed in the plastic bag until you can.
- Use the bucket of warm, soapy water and a sponge to wipe away the mould. Avoid the temptation to scrub hard or use mould treatment sprays as both have the potential to spread the spores around the room.
- Dry the area with a clean cloth when you’re done and vacuum the entire room to clear away any residual spores.
- Dispose of the sponge and cloths in a plastic bag and pour the soapy water away using your outside drain.
- If you have to repaint over mould damage, treat the area with antimould paint first. Or if you’re using wallpaper, make sure you use antifungal wallpaper paste.
How to get rid of limescale
Limescale is a calcium carbonate compound with an off-white colour and chalky texture. You can usually find a build-up of limescale in places throughout your home that come into contact with water on a regular basis, such as your kettle, taps and toilet.
Removing limescale is relatively easy using either a dedicated shop-bought limescale remover or a DIY solution made from equal parts white vinegar and water (or lemon juice and water if you prefer).
For taps, toilets and other areas of the kitchen and bathroom, soak a rag or cotton wool with your limescale remover and apply directly to the affected area. Removing limescale from taps is particularly important as limescale damage can affect the seals, resulting in leaks over time.
For kettles, coffee machines, dishwashers and other appliances use a descaler or your homemade mixture. Run the appliance with the mixture inside and leave to soak overnight before rinsing clean. Generally, the longer your limescale remover is in contact with the limescale, the better the result.