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Kitchen Mold: The 'Spring Greenery' No One Wants

Under the sink in a southern US home.
Under the sink in a southern US home.

Although the temperatures may be just as low as before the official first day of spring, sunnier days are coming up soon. As the year plods on, and everyone is still stuck inside, there are a few signs of spring renewal that are always unwelcome. The recent Chobani recall might have temporarily scared a few folks, but be proactive. Mold in food almost always comes from the environment it is stored or prepared in, and for most of us, that means our own kitchens. Be on the lookout (and use your nose!) and check your own abode for those subtle smudges of black, green, blue or white that might mean your nice warm indoor air has some extra spores in it.

As temperatures warm, food spoilage rates increase dramatically

1. First, walk into your kitchen (or bathroom, or other suspect space) and inhale deeply. What do you smell? If there is a chalky or damp scent to the air, your suspicion is likely already confirmed.

2. Look anywhere there is dark and dampness. If a mushroom would enjoy the location, so will other molds and funguses. Check under your sink (move aside all those cleaning supplies and really check) at the back of your kitchen drawers as well as underneath them, and behind your stove or refrigerator, where condensation or spilled liquids from food preparation might have given mold colonies a chance to get established.

3. If you find nothing, congratulations! Now use some of those cleaning supplies and do a thorough wipe-down of any areas that you haven't looked at lately. Prevention is a lot cheaper than fixing things.

4. However, if you sadly find those tell-tale spots or even full streaks of fuzzy growth, you have a problem. Although some folks just splash on bleach and figure that will fix it, here is one home repair that is likely not going to be an easy DIY. Mold spreads quickly, and often in places that are impossible to easily access, such as inside walls or under your flooring. Call in a professional to do an assessment. Some will give free estimates, so you're not out any money, but it's better to know what you're dealing with and do any repairs or restorations as soon as possible.