The kitchen in any home is a big deal.
It’s where you prepare meals that you put into your body.
But it can be one of the coziest places for mold to thrive.
At the end of this guide, you’re going to learn how to get rid of mold from your kitchen safely without putting yourself and family at risk.
3 Main Causes of Mold in Kitchen
By now you’ve probably heard that mold needs moisture, the right conditions, and a food source for it to grow.
Your kitchen provides a good source of both, which makes it the perfect habitat for mold growth to develop.
In kitchens, mold can create a major problem and it’s critical that you understand how it grows, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it in the first place.
Here some the common reasons why mold might grow in your kitchen.
A leak that makes cabinets, walls, and other building components get wet creates the perfect environment for mold problems.
The leak can come from many sources’ kitchens.
Some of the more common leaks come from, drain lines under the kitchen sink, water supply lines, damaged refrigerator water supply line.
And even leaks caused by dishwashing machines.
These items leak for many reasons like improper installation, broken or worn out gaskets, or they degrade over time with constant use.
When a leak occurs, the first thing you should do is fix the leak, then dry out the area.
Doing this within 24 hours will prevent any mold from developing.
It’s essential to check your kitchen regularly and look for any leaks.
This will help you to identify any moisture issues early and can help you avoid the high cost associated with mold remediation fees.
2. High Humidity Levels
Mold love high humidity environments.
That is if the humidity levels stay high long enough.
Too much humidity, usually Relative Humidity (RH) 60% or higher can cause mold development.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that RH should be maintained between 30-50% to maintain a healthy indoor environment.
To check the humidity levels in your kitchen, you can purchase a humidity meter from your local hardware store or online.
These meters are simple and easy to use.
The next time you cook or use your dishwashing machine, keep in mind that they generate moisture and can cause the humidity levels to increase.
When surfaces are damp due to high humidity, mold can develop quickly.
To avoid mold problems in your kitchen, always run your exhaust vent to help control humidity levels.
One other thing to point out, whenever possible, it’s best to make sure the exhaust from the range hood vents outside.
While cooking, keep pots covered – well except when you want to check on the food.
Keeping pots covered while cooking will cut down on the amount of moisture pumping in your home.
For your dishwashing machine, make sure you frequently check the seals and gaskets for leaks.
3. Garbage Disposal
The garbage disposal is another breeding ground for mold in your kitchen.
If you fail to keep the disposal clean, mold can develop quickly in these areas.
Rotting food, grease buildup, and constant moisture makes the garbage disposal the ideal place for mold growth.
Also, keep in mind that the plastic tubing that connects the garbage disposal to the drainage system could leak.
This causes water to seep under the base of the cabinet and allow mold to grow unnoticed.
If you clean the disposal a couple times a week with vinegar, it will help to prevent mold growth in your garbage disposal.
Mold on Kitchen Cabinets Can Become Expensive
Imagine walking into your kitchen and getting ready to make dinner for your family.
You open your kitchen cabinet and to your surprise, a strong whiff of foul odor smacks you in the face.
What would you do?
Do you keep on making dinner? Or, do you try to find out where that smell is coming from?
Well, I had a similar experience that turned out to be a big mold issue.
The issue was not in my home. It was in the house of a family member.
One afternoon while visiting my uncle, I decided to help with making dinner.
As I opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink to get some detergent for washing my hands, a familiar musty odor greeted me.
A strong musty, earthy odor…
Being a health and safety practitioner, I know what causes that type of odor.
The smell was so strong that it made my eyes water and my throat itch for a short while.
I had to step back and close the cabinet.
In short, let’s just say he had a huge mold problem that required filing an insurance claim to cover the repair cost.
As we all know by now, mold can thrive in damp areas of your home.
Unknown to my uncle, he had a small leak that caused mold to infest several of his kitchen cabinets and the adjacent walls.
Below is a picture was taken when the back panel and the drywall was removed
The mold was growing on the cabinets, walls, and the floor.
Several cabinets were replaced because the moisture from the leak caused them to swell, not to mention, the back of the units were covered with mold.
There was no salvaging these cabinets, they all that had to go.
In the end, 5 cabinets, trim material, and about 40 square feet of drywall was removed and discarded.
How much did this small leak cost?
It ended up costing over several thousand dollars to get it remediated.
All this from a small leak in the water supply line.
So How Can You Prevent Mold In Your Cabinets?
To avoid mold development in your cabinets:
You should inspect the under the cabinets – especially those under the kitchen sink for any signs of leaks.
Leaks can come from water supply lines, dishwasher, and the drain lines under the sink.
Checking inside of the cabinets will allow you to detect any early warning signs.
Inspect for dark spots, water damage- swollen wooden components, warping or moldy base plates, and unexplained musty or foul odors.
Also, make sure you allow pots and pans to dry thoroughly before placing them under the cabinets.
This will eliminate the possibility of mold development.
How To Remove Mold From Kitchen Cabinets
NOTE: If your cabinets are severely damaged by water, have a heavy mold infestation, or the mold is caused by sewer backup, they should be discarded. Sometimes depending on the severity, a professional restoration company may be needed.
These steps should only be used on cabinets that have minimal mold growth caused by potable water or high humidity.
First, make sure you inspect the area to find and fix the moisture source that is causing the mold growth.
Things you’ll need:
- Vacuum with HEPA filter
- Microfiber cloth
- Scrubbing pad
- Detergent and Lysol(wipes-optional)
- White distilled vinegar
- Small bucket or thick bristle brush.
Here are the steps:
- Put on gloves, mask and eye protection.
- Open windows to allow ventilation – if you have windows are in the kitchen.
- Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, remove the mold from the surface of the cabinets. A HEPA filter will stop spores from spreading all over the home. These filters are capable of trapping microscopic particles such as mold spores.
- In a small bucket, mix mild detergent (Dawn + water), or you can use ½ cup of white distilled vinegar +to a half-gallon of warm water
- Dampen the cloth/scrubbing pad with the cleaning solution, then begin by cleaning the cabinets that has mold growth. Always avoid over-saturating the material because that could worsen the condition.
- Sometimes when the mold has been removed, stains will still remain. Remove stains by using a thick bristle brush. Scrub until the stain has been removed.
- After the area has been scrubbed and molds have been removed, use a cloth to dry the area.
- Wipe down the affected areas and surrounding cabinets with a sanitizer such as Lysol disinfectant wipes. This kills any remaining spores on the cabinet.
- Leave the cabinet doors open for about a day. This will allow air circulation which will help to dry the cabinet out.
Tip: To speed up the dry put process, use a small fan to help with the air circulation. After about 24 hours the area should be completely dry.
Extra Steps You Might Find Useful
If the mold was growing on the unfinished surface (inside and back) of the cabinet, you could sand the area lightly with a 100-grit, sandpaper then finish with a 120-grit or 180-grit.
Using this method helps to remove stains and creates a smooth surface where you can apply a sealant.
After, you can use a polyurethane type sealer to make the unfinished surfaces impervious to moisture and humid air.
Apply the sealer as indicated by the manufacturer.
Removing Mold in Kitchen Sink & Drain
Mold loves to grow in the dark, and your kitchen sink in the perfect breeding ground for mold colonies.
In addition to growing around the sink, and in the garbage disposal, mold will develop in the tailpipe that connects the sink to the drain lines as well.
The best way to remove mold from your sink and surrounding areas is by using baking soda – sodium bicarbonate and white distilled vinegar.
- You can pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, then wait about 5- 10 minutes then pour 1-cup of distilled white vinegar down the drain.
- Allow the baking soda + vinegar solution to sit for about 30 minutes.
- Then, flush with warm or hot water.
A VERY IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Do not pour vinegar down the drain if you already tried to use another chemical such as DRANO. Doing so could create toxic gases in your home.
If you still notice growth, you can use an old toothbrush to scrub those hard to reach areas.
Using some good elbow grease will help to break up the mold growth.
After you scrub the area, apply a vinegar and water solution to sanitize the area and rinse with warm water.
Another method you can use the get rid of mold in your kitchen sink drain is to pour a cup of over the counter hydrogen peroxide down the drain.
It will begin to foam when it meets microbes such as mold and bacteria.
The hydrogen peroxide bubbles up when it comes into contact with the microbial growth because of the presence of an enzyme called catalase.
This is a sign that the peroxide is reacting with the microbes in the sink drain.
Allow the hydrogen peroxide to sit for about 10-15 minutes then rinse the area with warm water.
Preventing Mold In The Kitchen Sink And Drain
The best way to avoid mold in your sink and kitchen drain is by making sure you clean these areas frequently.
Also, you should never wash grease drown the sink.
Always run the garbage disposal until the debris have been removed from the drain lines.
Frequently inspect and remove scum and buildup of food particles when observed in areas around the sink.
Removing & Preventing Mold in Keurig (The Coffee Maker)
If you’re like me, coffee is a part of your daily regimen.
With that being said, the last thing you want to see or smell is a moldy Keurig coffee maker.
Not only does it mess up the flavor of your coffee, but it’s also unhealthy.
So, it’s important that you follow the cleaning directions provided by the manufacturer.
Frequently cleaning your Keurig or any coffee maker will prevent the buildup of mold and other hard water deposits.
So how do you know if your coffee maker needs to be cleaned?
Here are a few signs that you should look out for:
Do you see visible mold on any part of the coffee maker?
For example, mold can develop in the water reservoir, in the overflow tray, and even in the cup tray.
Do you smell a foul odor coming from the coffee maker?
This could be another sign of mold growth somewhere in the coffee maker where moisture is present.
Places like the water reservoir or the over the drip pan.
If the brewer has a slow drip, this can signal buildup or possibly a moldy funnel.
Mold growing on coffee grains that accumulate in the cup holder
Bitter or unusual tasting coffee unusually
How To Clean Mold From Your Keurig Coffee Maker
If you see or suspect mold growth in your coffee maker, use these simple steps to clean your unit.
Things you’ll need:
- White distilled vinegar
- Warm water
- Small toothbrush and microfiber rag
Here are the steps:
- Unplug the coffee maker from the power source
- Remove the drip tray- this is a section where your cup sits while the machine is brewing
- Open the lid- remove the K-Cup holder and funnel – the funnel is under the lid where the K-cup is placed.
- If the items are dishwasher safe- run them through a cleaning cycle. For items that are not dishwasher safe, place them in a mixture of ½ cup white distilled vinegar and ½ gallons of warm water and let them soak for 5-10 mins.
- Then rinse under warm running water. For buildup use, a small toothbrush to clean buildup from the hard to reach areas. Be careful and avoid the sharp needle inside the holder.
- Rinse all the components with warm, clean water. This includes the drip pan as well
- Remove the water reservoir and pour out any water
- Combine vinegar and water and pour in the reservoir
- Use a clean cloth wash the sides and bottom of the container and then discard the water.
- Place about 4 cups of warm water in the reservoir place install the lid and gently shake for about 30 seconds. Then discard the water.
- Use a clean cloth to clean the water outlet port at the bottom of the reservoir. This will remove any mold or buildup.
- Dry the parts and then reassemble.
- Fill the water reservoir with distilled water and run a couple of cycles through without a K-cup.
How To Prevent Mold In Your Coffee Maker
Uese these steps to prevent mold, bacteria, and scum in your Keurig
Always remove used K-cups from the brewer. Leaving a K-cup in the brewer can cause mold development over time.
Especially on K-cups have loose leaf teas.
Mold development can begin in a couple days.
Check the drip tray frequently especially after spills caused overflows.
Leaving excessive amounts of water can cause mold growth after about 48 hours when conditions are just right
Change the water in the reservoir frequently.
Unused water that remains in the tank for long periods can create the perfect situation for mold spore germination.
So, if you haven’t used your coffee maker in a while and the water in the reservoir has little spore that looks furry, you may want to discard the water and clean the water reservoir thoroughly.
Clean the brewer tray frequently and remove any coffee granules you find.
Removing & Preventing Mold in Kitchen Fridge
Can mold develop and grow in your refrigerator?
Molds is a resilient organism and can develop and tolerate cold environments.
It can grow in your refrigerator on seals- gaskets, old food tucked away in the back of the fridge, on shelves and in compartments.
Why does this happen?
A refrigerator provides a suitable environment for some mold species to grow.
It has little to no air circulation, has moisture, and oh yes it has a food source.
Food like that old bunch of tomatoes in the bottom bin of the refrigerator.
There is no need to freak out.
You can safely remove the mold growing in your refrigerator without calling a “remediation contractor”.
You can use these simple steps to remove mold from your refrigerator
Things you’ll need:
- Regular rubber gloves,
- Vinegar or regular detergent
- Small bucket
- Microfiber rag
- Warm water
- Baking soda
- If the mold is growing on old food such as veggies or leftovers from last week, you should place the item in a small bag and seal it. Then, place it in the trash.
- After all the moldy items have been removed and discarded, remove the remaining items from the refrigerator.
- In the small bucket combine a Half cup of white distilled vinegar and half gallon or warm water. You can also use regular detergent because most of the surfaces in the refrigerator are nonporous so there’s no risk of mold getting into the parts.
- Dip the clean rag in the water + vinegar solution and begin to wipe the refrigerator starting from the top to the bottom.
- It there is visible mold, use a scouring pad to scrub the area allowing the vinegar to sanitize and remove the growth.
- Next, discard the cleaning solution and get a fresh bucket of clean warm water.
- Wipe down all the surfaces in the refrigerator.
- Finally, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the areas down thoroughly.
- Place a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb any lingering odors.
Before placing the items back in the refrigerator, you can mix another vinegar and water solution and wash your fruits and veggie.
Make sure you allow them to dry off before putting them the fridge.
Prevention Is The Best Solution
How can you prevent mold from growing in your refrigerator?
Follow these simple steps to prevent mold in your refrigerator.
- Clean up spills on trays, bins and other surfaces inside the fridge.
- Clean your fridge regularly, in most cases monthly or depending on your specific situation.
- Do not store cooked food in the refrigerator for more than a couple of days when prepared foods remain in the fridge longer than a couple of days; they begin to spoil which can result in mold and bacterial growth.
- One final tip, before purchasing produce (fruits, veggies, etc.) from the grocery store, always inspect them for mold growth. You don’t want to bring home moldy items that can spread in your refrigerator.
Mold On The Kitchen Ceiling
If you find mold growing on the ceiling in your kitchen or any area of your home, you should act quickly to find out the cause.
It could be a roof leak, plumbing leak, or humidity issue that is promoting the mold growth.
Whatever the cause, it’s important that the first step is to find and repair the water – moisture problem.
After you’ve found and fixed the problem, you can use these safe and effective steps to help resolve this mold problem and stop it from coming back.
These steps are used to remove molds from ceiling areas affected by minor surface growth only.
Not for areas where drywall and components are damaged by mold and moisture. Before starting the process, put on your gloves, mask and eye protection.
- Open the windows for ventilation.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to carefully remove any mold spores on the surface. HEPA vacuums contain filters that are capable of trapping tiny particles such as mold spores. This will stop mold spores from dispersing into the air.
- Once the wall has been thoroughly vacuumed; begin by applying the detergent to the brush or directly on the surface.
- Begin to scrub in a circular motion. Avoid oversaturating the ceiling.
- After scrubbing the area, and the mold have been removed, use a cloth or paper towel to dry the area. If your ceiling has a textured surface, you may have to remove and replace the texture to remove the molds growing on the surface.
- Clean the area by wiping it with sanitizers like Lysol disinfectant wipes. This helps to remove any remaining spore on the surface of the ceiling.
- Dry the area with a cloth. It is normal to still see some stains on the surface of the wall at this stage.
- Use a fan to circulate the air and allow the area to dry for 24 hours. This ensures that there is no remaining moisture on the wall from the cleaning process.
- After 24 hours, check
- After the ceiling has been dried, some stains will still be visible. At this point, the ceiling can be retextured and painted. The molds will not resurface if the source of the initial moisture problem has been repaired.
Preventing Mold On The Kitchen Ceiling
Preventing mold from growing on your kitchen ceiling is a pretty simple and straightforward process.
The main thing you must do is to take action when there is a problem or at the first sign of a mold problem.
The two main indicators you have a mold problem is the growth on the ceiling itself and the fowl musty odor that is caused by mold when its growing.
To prevent mold in on your kitchen ceiling:
- Find and Repair all plumbing leak, roof leaks, or water intrusions as soon as they occur.
- Always use kitchen exhaust when cooking
- Ensure air conditioning system is serviced as recommended by the manufacturer. AC systems help to remove excess humidity that can lead to mold growth.
- Maintain humidity levels between 30 – 50 percent. Humidity levels over 60 percent indoors can promote mold growth.
- Clean and dry all wet and damp materials within 24 – 48 hours. Mold will begin to grow on items that remain wet for 48 hours or longer.
Prevention is always better
As you can see, mold is not only a nuisance but It can lead to high repair coast, unsightly and cause unhealthy indoor air.
Plus create health problems for some individuals.
So, when you spot mold growing in your home, take action.
Find and fix the moisture source quickly.
A certified Environmental Health & Safety professional who has performed successful mold investigations and remediation projects for years.