The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms of the house, even if no one really cooks there. Whether people are popping something in the microwave, grabbing a drink from the fridge, or just hanging out with some friends, this room gets a lot of traffic. Still, there are some tucked away, infrequently looked at parts of this busy room that can be a veritable breeding ground for black mold. Thankfully, because there is so much traffic in the kitchen, noticing and then getting rid of black mold is usually relatively easy.
Kitchen Surfaces that Black Mold Loves to Grow On
- Although black mold and its closely related mold cousins will grow on virtually any surface, horizontal or vertical, porous or hard, it tends to really thrive in dark, largely undisturbed areas that have both warmth and moisture. The average kitchen has plenty of these types of areas.
- Under the sink is one of the most common places that you will find black mold, especially toward the back wall where there are two possible sources of the moisture. If there is a faulty seal around the faucet or the sink itself, then water will run back and down that back wall. Leaky pipes may also cause water to spill along the back wall. Pipes may also sweat, increasing the risk of a damp condition in the area under the sink cabinet.
- Under or behind any appliance that uses water is another likely culprit in the kitchen. The fridge, which is designed with a drip tray at the bottom, is one of the main offenders. First there is the drip tray itself. Many people forget that the tray is there and that it needs to be removed, emptied, and cleaned on a fairly regular basis. Inside of the fridge is another place that might see some black mold growth especially under the crisper and along the bottom. You might also see mold growing along the doors on the gaskets that help give the door a really tight seal.
- If your fridge has an icemaker and water dispenser, it increases the places where you might have black mold problems. The further your fridge is from a water source the more tubing or pipe had to be used to connect this appliance. The longer the tubing, the more places for leaks, condensation, and black mold.
- Another appliance in the kitchen that may see some black mold is the dishwasher. If you do not run the dishwasher frequently or it is not fully drying after a cycle, it may grow some mold. The first place the mold will grow will be along the bottom of the inside door, however you might see a thin coating of black mold on the inner surface, along the bottom, on the racks, or the tracks that they roll on. Running the dishwasher often, making sure it dries completely and using a commercial dishwasher-cleaning product every month or so can help minimize this problem.
- The floor under the sink can often be overlooked as a source of mold. This area gets wet during dishwashing or just rinsing dishes and may not dry quickly enough. That frequent wetting and rewetting can lead to black mold.
- Inside of the sink itself may also be a source of black mold. Under the gasket of the sink drain is a prime location for possible mold. If you have a garbage disposal, check it if you start noticing an odor in the kitchen. Make sure that you are flushing it frequently and use some of the cleaning methods recommended in our Chemistry Behind Cleaning article. A great idea is to grind some lemon or orange peels and plenty of water to keep the garbage disposal as clean as possible.
Finding the Black Mold
There are usually two ways to find black mold in the kitchen: on purpose because you were looking for it or smelled it and by accident.
- If you start noticing an unpleasant smell in the kitchen you might start looking for mold. Look behind and under all of the most likely sources. One strange place that you might look: under any mats or rugs in the kitchen, especially if they are rubber backed. The backing tends to hold moisture and also allows for warmth to build up so it is a perfect place for mold to grow.
- While looking for something in the kitchen cabinet you might see the typical growth pattern of black mold, which is along the back wall of the cabinet and possibly extending to the bottom section as well.
Once you find black mold the next steps are finding out where it is coming from, preventing it from spreading, and getting rid of it on a permanent basis.
Removal, Clean Up, and Prevention
All mold, whether it is black mold or not, should be removed in much the same way. If it is extensive or you are at risk from a health standpoint in any way, leave the task to the professionals. Otherwise, you can attempt to clean it up yourself.
- There are plenty of kitchen cleansers that advertise the ability to kill mold. Most will require decent ventilation and should be used only by adults. Wearing gloves and appropriate protective gear is a must as well.
- Scrubbing with detergent and water is an effective, budget friendly method for a wide range of needs including killing and removing mold from kitchen surfaces. The EPA discourages the use of bleach for mold removal purposes. Make sure the room has good ventilation and that you rinse the surface well when you are done.
- Washable items should be washed in hot water to kill the mold and then dried thoroughly. Rubber backed mats can be hung on an outdoor line instead of going in the machine.
For a mold free kitchen, repair any leaks that you find or the mold will come right back. Be more vigilant about spills and about cleaning the drip tray under the refrigerator.