Storage containers and boxes are a convenient way to eliminate clutter from your home. You can use them to preserve items you aren’t going to use for a while or store things you regularly use to free up space for your guests. However, you must watch out for mold growth within the containers—high humidity in a closed space can lead to mold formation, causing damage to the items inside.
While you may not think this will be an issue for you in Utah’s dry climate, Davis County mold clean-up pros will tell you that with all the snow we get every year, mold and mildew accumulation can quickly become a serious problem. Many homeowners have found their items soiled, damp, and in certain cases, unsalvageable due to mold outbreaks inside their storage containers. To ensure you don’t experience the same, we’ll share some tips to help prevent mold growth in your storage.
Common Causes of Mold Growth
High humidity is only one of the things that creates the ideal environment for mold to grow. Below are some of the factors that can result in mold, mildew, and rust inside storage cases.
- Improper cleaning – If the containers are not regularly cleaned and maintained, this can lead to the buildup of dirt and debris that can attract mold.
- Poor ventilation – If the area where you store your items is not properly ventilated, this can create high humidity and mold growth inside boxes and other receptacles.
- Lack of sunlight – If the storage area does not receive enough sunlight, this can cause mold growth. Sunlight helps to dry out the boxes and prevent mold from growing.
- Water damage – If the containers have been exposed to water or leaks, this can lead to mold growth.
- Organic materials – If the containers contain organic materials like paper, cardboard, and fabrics, they can act as a food source for mold to grow.
- Old or damaged boxes – If the boxes are old or damaged, this can cause mold growth as they may not be able to seal properly or be more prone to leaks.
- Porous surfaces – If the boxes are made of porous surfaces like wood, they can absorb moisture and provide a suitable environment for mold to grow.
Potential Damage Caused by Mold
The presence of mold inside your storage containers can lead to:
- Deformation – The mold can cause deformation of the box, making it difficult to open and close or making it unusable.
- Discoloration – Mold may discolor the storage container, making it look dirty and unsightly.
- Warping – If the mold is allowed to grow for an extended period, it can cause the box to warp or become misshaped.
- Structural damage – If the mold is not removed and treated, it can cause structural damage to the container and the surrounding area, which can be costly to repair.
- Loss of valuables – The mold can cause the loss of valuable items stored in the container, which can be emotionally and financially devastating.
As such, it’s important to take preventive measures early to protect the property you place in storage.
How to Prevent Mold
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of mold growth inside your storage units:
Put desiccants in your box
Desiccants are substances that absorb moisture to the point where they’re completely saturated. While packing, you can place desiccants like silica gel packs in your boxes. These drying agents will help keep the atmosphere dry for a long period.
Note that most desiccant packets have expiration dates, so you’ll need to replace them to maintain proper temperature inside the containers.
Install a vapor barrier
Installing a vapor barrier in a storage box can help prevent moisture from damaging stored items. This can be a plastic sheeting or a special vapor barrier bag that is used to cover the items inside the storage box. You can find vapor barriers in almost every hardware store. Proper usage of the vapor barrier will keep moisture in the ground from seeping into the storage area.
Check the container for leaks
As a best practice, inspect the storage box for potential leaks before putting anything inside. Seal any holes and gaps to keep water out of your container. Cracks, regardless of their size, put your belongings at risk. Repairing them is crucial to keep mold from growing in the storage box.
Depending on the size and location of the leak, you can use a variety of materials to seal it. Some options include duct tape, silicone sealant, or epoxy. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any sealant.
Sun-dry your belongings before storing
One damp item can become the cause of mold growth. And when mold arises, it can rapidly spread inside the container, going from one reserved item to another. Avoid this from happening by drying your items under the sun—sunlight would kill any mole spores on the object.
Consider Professional Help
If your storage boxes have already been contaminated by mold, it’s best to seek professional assistance. Trained Utah mold removal specialists can help address the root cause of mold overgrowth. Correctly diagnosing the problem and having the right equipment for the removal of fungal growth is key to truly eradicating the issue of mold.
Additionally, professionals who do mold cleanup can also point you toward the best location for keeping your containers. Plus, they will sanitize the storage location and treat surfaces with antimicrobial agents.
Finally, remember to inspect your storage containers on a regular basis. Checking them every 2 or 4 months ensures that you detect any signs of mold before it becomes widespread. All these steps are important for safeguarding your belongings and ensuring your containers remain in good health.