Mold needs warmth and moisture to grow. However, just like we disinfect appliances with hot water to kill bacteria, we may ask: “does heat kill mold?” Find out how heat has big roles in reducing the level of mold growth, and how you can utilize it.
A. Determining Mold-killing Temperatures
The opinion about mold-killing temperatures clashes because of unresolved scientific reasons. National Association of Realtors declared that temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) would kill most mold. However, a 1987 report by Stanford University researcher revealed that mold dies in below-freezing temperature.
While there are no exact conclusions about what temperature kills mold, the public generally accepts that extreme heat and cold can prevent mold from growing. You can use both temperature extremes to reduce the risk of mold growth.
B. Killing Mold with Heater
A heater may be able to reduce the presence of mold in a house. The high temperature not only warms the house but also reduces humidity, which is an important factor for mold to grow. A central heater emits enough warmth to reduce the average humidity in the entire house, but it does not kill mold directly.
Central heater does not work well on specific spots with abundant mold colony. You can use a portable heater or even a hair dryer to do the job. The mold will shrivel and lose most of its ability to thrive.
Once the mold is dry, you can clean it using a simple method. Spray the moldy area with a white vinegar solution, and let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing hard. Wipe the area with mild detergent, rinse, and let dry (with the heat source on). Vacuum the clean area for the final step.
C. Killing Mold with Freezer
Below zero is the alternative mold-killing temperature. You can use a freezer to dry and kill mold before scraping it off the object. This method is ideal for cleaning mold from things that cannot get exposed to heat.
Here is how to do it:
- Wrap the object with plastic or put it in Ziploc bag
- Keep it in a freezer. Make sure the fridge works properly and provides the below-zero temperature you aim
- Wait for four to five hours
- Wash the object under running water. Use a disposable brush and mild detergent to scrape off the mold
- Dry with sunlight or mild heat from a hair dryer
When storing the moldy object in a freezer, don’t put another food item near that object. Clean the whole freezer properly before using it to store foods.
D. Killing Mold with Dryer
Heat treatment for mold using the dryer is effective for moldy stuff that cannot stand freezing temperatures. Fabric is an ideal option, especially since it fits the dryer’s actual function. Toss the moldy shirts, pants, or dishwashing cloth into the dryer, and set the temperature in the dry setting. Wait for 20 minutes.
After warming the moldy object, take it out for washing. You can handwash the object with hands, using a disposable brush and mild detergent to remove the mold. You can also use a washing machine, but make sure to clean all of its parts after using it.
E. Can You Use Oven to Kill Mold?
“What if I kill mold with heat from the oven?”
You might have heard this question getting around, especially since the heat method to remove mold is not uncommon. The oven can be used to clean non-fabric objects, such as wood and glass. If you place the objects on the oven tray and turn on the low setting, you can dry up most of the mold. It makes cleaning easier and prevents mold from spreading.
The same thing cannot be said for foods. We do not recommend heating bread or cheese to get rid of the mold. Remember, while the mold may go dry, the toxins in it do not. Heating foods will not stop the mycotoxins from spreading. If you see your bread or cheese growing moldy, play safe and just throw them out.
What about certain cheese types with mold? The only solution is understanding the different aroma between edible moldy cheese and spoilt cheese.
F. Tips to Use Temperature to Prevent Mold
You can use hot or cold temperature to protect your house from mold in general. Some useful tips include:
1. Letting sunlight and fresh air inside
Sunlight and fresh air are the best combinations to avoid mold. Fungi may like warm temperature, but good ventilation and the dry surface will prevent them from growing. Make sure all rooms have windows that allow natural light and proper ventilation system.
2. Install heater and humidifier
If you live in a four-season country, install a central heater. It spreads a warm temperature evenly in the house, reducing moisture accumulation.
3. Use the freezer/fridge properly
Make sure to keep your freezer and fridge cold by using them properly. “Warm” fridge leads to quicker mold forming on foods. Don’t store things excessively in the fridge and remove all spoilt items immediately.
4. Don’t store hot foods in a fridge
Wait until your hot foods reach room temperature before you place them in the fridge. Hot items in the fridge take longer to get cold. It is also an ideal habitat for mold and bacteria.
Try not using hot water every day, such as during summer or dry season. Hot water and steam in an enclosed space can encourage mold to grow. Keep the temperature balanced with occasional cold water.
G. Cleaning the Oven, Freezer, and Dryer
If you use an oven, freezer, fridge, dryer, and washing machine to kill mold with temperatures, don’t forget to clean properly. Remove all the contents before you start applying the cleaning solution to all surfaces.
Some of the most ideal home cleaning products include:
- White vinegar (undiluted)
- Hydrogen peroxide (3-percent, undiluted)
- Tea tree oil solution (from Melalueca alternifolia species)
- Baking soda solution (one part of baking soda and four parts of water)
Apply all surfaces in the appliances with one of these ingredients. Rinse everything properly unless you use tea tree oil. Repeat this step if necessary. Clean these appliances immediately after use to prevent residual mold from growing.
Heat and cold temperatures have roles in reducing the growth of mold. However, they cannot kill all fungi directly, so you need to clean properly. Combine hot and cold temperatures to reduce bacteria in easy ways. Next time someone asks, “does heat kill mold,” show this guide.