Orange mold is very, very common, and having some in your home should not be a source of shame.
Chances are you have already come into contact with it on numerous occasions.
If you own a home anywhere with moisture or humidity, you will most likely contend with orange mold at some point during your time in that home.
Where Can Orange Mold Appear?
In nature orange mold most often appears in forests or areas ripe with decaying wood or other plant matter, especially in areas with lots of moisture.
Inside homes, orange mold can grow on food and on walls, as well as in toilets and in bathtubs. It can appear on wood, under flooring, and inside ventilation systems. It grows quickly, lasts a good while, and needs very little to sustain itself.
Outside homes, orange mold can appear on consistently wet concrete, on stacked firewood that has not been kept dry, and on wooden exteriors that have not been properly sealed.
Types of Orange Mold
Important note: while it is, as its name suggests, most often orange, orange mold can sometimes look yellow, pink, or even grey. When you see orange mold, you are usually looking at a variety of different organisms growing together at once.
Some orange molds are fungal, others are bacterial, and others still are single celled organisms that are more akin to algae or amoebae. Orange mold can appear lumpy, slimy, or furry. Below are four of the most common kinds of orange mold:
This mold takes approximately five days to mature, as it grows more slowly than most of the others. It can develop a leathery appearance as it matures, and can also be pink or yellowish in color. It only negatively affects the health of immunocompromised people, the very young, and the very old.
2. Aleuria Aurantia
Often called orange-peel fungus, this type of orange mold is easily identifiable by its telltale orange-peel appearance. It is very common, and vibrantly orange in color. This type of mold, while bright and unsightly, is perfectly safe and is actually edible.
3. Fuligo Septica
Often called “dog vomit slime,” this mold is incredibly unsightly and not something you want in your home. You will most often find it outdoors in patches of orange or yellow. When it runs out of resources to consume, it can begin to look like other mold strains, but when flourishing it is often mistaken for animal vomit or feces. It can be yellow, orange, or even brownish in color. While largely nontoxic to humans, inhaling its spores may cause irritation in the throats of extremely sensitive or allergenic people.
4. Orange Slime Mold
As its name suggests, this mold has a viscous, moist appearance, leading to its eponym “sludge mold.” It is found most often outdoors on trees or piles of rotting lumber and decaying grass clippings. While very disgusting in appearance, it does not have very deleterious effects on most people.
Dangers of Orange Mold & Problems it can Cause
Orange mold can lead to a variety of problems under the right conditions, and can put the people in your home at risk if left unattended. Below are a few of the risks:
1. Bad Smells
Mold breaks down organic matter and is an important part of the decay process in nature, breaking down dying mushrooms and plant matter. This process of breaking things down returns many nutrients to the soil, but also releases gases that may smell.
You do not want anything in your home decaying, though. Many orange molds release a strong, unpleasant, musty odor that can be bothersome and embarrassing whenever you have guests.
2. Unsightly Stains
If the mold bloom is visible in your home, it may make your walls appear slimy or your sinks appear hairy while also staining and discoloring them. This too can be embarrassing whenever you have guests, and is an eyesore disrupting the feng shui of any living space.
3. Lowering Home Value
If your home smells musty and has visible mold stains or blooms, your home’s value may plummet. You will find it difficult to sell your home if it seems so unpleasant, and depending on local laws, you may even suffer financial penalties for selling your home to someone without revealing and/or removing the mold damage.
4. Structural Damage
If orange mold gets onto load-bearing wooden beams or even the foundations of your home and is allowed to flourish without being mitigated, it can do irreparable damage to that wood and threaten the structural integrity of your home.
Proactive work is better than reactive work. Replacing your foundation and load-bearing beams can be incredibly costly. Later we will talk about the preventative steps one may take to proactively reduce chances of an infestation.
5. Spreading to Other Rooms and Structures
If you try to get rid of orange mold yourself and do not do so carefully, or if the mold is allowed to mature and begin releasing its own spores, the spores will find new damp places to cling and grow.
A moldy garage can lead to a moldy kitchen floor, a moldy bathroom, moldy vents, or even moldy external structures like tool sheds or barns. The mold can even spread to your neighbors’ houses, which means your home could get reinfected by mold even after you handle the initial outbreak.
Can Orange mold make you sick?
Depending on the individual and upon the strains of mold in your home, orange mold may pose health risks in addition to structural ones. Below are some of the health risks that may harm you and your family:
It is common for individuals to have allergies to specific mold strains, and living in an orange mold-infested home can trigger chronic allergic responses in the body. Rashes, rhinitis, itching, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis are all possible allergic responses to orange mold in your home.
Respiratory Irritation of Throat and Sinuses
In some sensitive individuals or those who are immunocompromised, including the very young and very old, certain orange mold infestations release spores that cause chronic sore throat, coughing, runny nose, and symptoms similar to allergies even in individuals without allergies.
Headaches and Fatigue
Also in those who are immunocompromised, including the very young and very old, certain mildly toxic orange mold infestations release spores that cause chronic headaches and fatigue in sensitive individuals. This can make your home a hard place to live in.
Fungal Infection of the Lungs
In very rare cases, orange mold infestations can cause fungal infections that can spread to the wounds and even lungs of human beings who are immunologically compromised.
Most Common Causes of Orange Mold
Whether you live in humid climes or you take hot showers, humidity is sure to be a factor in the development of orange mold in your home. Humidity from the outdoors will condensate on cool surfaces, such as the part of your home that is in the shade most of the day or on the wooden windowsill of your air-conditioned house.
Inside your home, humidity is most likely to condensate in your poorly ventilated bathroom from steamy baths and showers, or in your kitchen from hot or boiling water. Orange molds thrive in humid environments and can grow on wood, on walls, in the bathtub, in the toilet, and in sinks.
2. Water Damage
For the same reasons humidity can cause orange mold to crop up in your home, so too can water damage. Some water damage goes a very long time without being discovered, and in addition to the profound damage that a small leak can do to the inside of your home over an extended period of time, so too can leaks and other water damage allow orange mold to flourish.
Water damage can be found inside walls, on wall and ceiling surfaces, on and under floors, and even between bathroom tiles. Orange mold can also grow in your pipes, ruining the taste of your water or on very rare occasions causing a blockage. Sometimes it can even grow in your home’s ventilation system.
3. Unsealed Porous Surfaces
This applies to wood more than anything else, as wood is a porous, organic surface, the kind of thing full of nutrients that will feed a fuzzy orange mold colony well. Bamboo and certain concrete mixes are also vulnerable porous surfaces good for spores to cling to.
Orange Mold in Shower and Bathroom
One of the most common places for furry orange mold to grow is in the shower and bathroom due to all of the moisture common to this area of the house. In the sinks, on the walls, in the tub and on the grout and caulk, even down the drains are great places for orange mold to thrive thanks to dark and damp.
Best ways to Get Rid of Orange Mold
When deciding how to tackle your orange mold problem yourself, you must first determine whether or not the mold is only on the surface or if it goes deeper, as that will determine what your best approach is. In other words, the surface tips are how to get rid of mold in the shower, whereas the deeper-than-surface tips are best for porous things like wood.
Important note: safety is paramount. To avoid overexposure to mold spores, be sure to wear eye protection, a dust filter mask, and gloves during your time removing mold. Dispose of everything when you are done your work to prevent further mold spreading.
On the surface:
A 50/50 bleach and water solution is strong enough to clean most molds off the surface of things like tile, grout, linoleum, waterproof paint, et cetera. Spray, let set for a minute, then scrub the mold off. A final spray once you have cleaned everything off is never a bad idea.
Distilled white vinegar, undiluted, is potent enough to clean off most orange molds and kill whatever is left. Spray, let set for a minute, then scrub the mold off. A final spray once you have cleaned everything off is never a bad idea.
For a little foaming cleaning action, add a capful of hydrogen peroxide to the vinegar. Spray, let set for a minute, then scrub the mold off.
If you have some in your home, you can use this too for scrubbing surface mold off. Spray, let set for a minute, then scrub the mold off. A final spray once you have cleaned everything off is never a bad idea.
Deep in porous material:
You do not want to use bleach, peroxide, or vinegar on wood or most other porous surfaces. Not only can they cause permanent stains or interact with the finish of the wood, but they will only add to the water content inside the wood that the mold can use to feed and flourish.
Look for a deep-penetrating fungicide in your local hardware store. Depending on the brand (always follow directions on the bottle), you may need to leave the fungicide on the surface for some time before wiping it off. Other brands may require you to scrub vigorously to encourage absorption.
Preventing Orange Mold
The number one thing you can do to help prevent mold is ventilation. Having consistent air flow helps keep your home dry and fresh, preventing the accumulation and stagnation of moisture in your home.
Air flow also helps prevent mold spores from clinging long enough to grow on any of your home’s mold-vulnerable surfaces. Consider installing ventilation fans in damp areas of your home like the bathroom and kitchen.
You can use wood oils, lacquers, latex paints, and epoxies to seal wood against mold. Giving the porous surfaces in your home a proper sealant can help prevent orange mold from ever developing on or inside them.
Using Mold-Resistant Paint
Despite its name, Kilz paint and other mold-resistant paint brands do not kill mold once it is already there; they are preventative measures to keep mold from ever growing on the surfaces in the first place.
If you know you live in a humid area or have a humid room in your home like a bathroom or laundry room, it is strongly suggested that mold-resistant paint be used to paint those areas and save you the trouble of orange mold removal later.
Using Pressure Treated Wood and Plywood
Pressure treated wood has been treated with antimicrobial chemicals that makes it very resistant to mold and rot. This makes it incredibly good as a building material in humid areas or areas with poor ventilation, so long as it is kept dry.
Excessive water exposure beyond humidity can strip the pressure treated wood of its protective chemicals, usually as a result of water damage.
Preventing Water Damage
Maintaining your roof, cleaning your gutters, and keeping windows closed during inclement weather are all key to preventing water damage, but sometimes it still happens, or even comes from water spillage inside the homes via overflowing sinks, tubs, toilets, or damaged pipes.
When these things happen, water can get onto and inside of your walls and floors, making them ripe for orange mold development. Handling the water damage as soon as possible by drying things out yourself or even involving a professional is key to preventing future mold growth.
Microorganisms can build up inside your toilet bowl, leading to the growth of orange mold or a “ring” on the porcelain. Flushing the toilet completely after every use will reduce the amount of microorganisms in the water and slow or prevent mold growth entirely.
When to call a Professional
If you have noticed orange mold or any other type of mold developing in your home and covering larger than a ten square foot area, it can be very hard to remove it and may be time to call a professional.
If you have already tried to remove the mold and it keeps coming back or has spread to other parts of your home, it may be time to throw in the towel and involve a professional.
If the mold has spread to any load-bearing wood or the foundation of your home, you must call a professional to prevent any further damage to your home.
If the mold growth is a result of a leak or flooding, get a professional involved immediately, as there could be far more mold in your house than you can see, in addition to water damage.
You should also call a professional if you do not feel comfortable handling this issue on your own. Always err on the side of caution.