Mildew thrives in cool, dark, and humid conditions. It is not only unsightly, but mildew can also be a health hazard. When leaving your Florida home for the summer, the following tips may help prevent mildew and ensure an easier clean up when you return.

To Prevent Mildew While You Are Away:

  1. Close all windows before you leave (especially bathroom and kitchen windows) and seal sliding glass doors.
  2. Close all south and west facing blinds and curtains.
  3. Put plastic wrap over toilet seats (this prevents water from evaporating).
  4. Turn your refrigerator and freezer off. To prevent doors from closing, put towels over the doors.
  5. Clean or replace your air conditioning filter.
  6. If you have a garbage disposal, coat it with vegetable oil to prevent rusting and pour a small amount of oil in sink traps.
  7. Turn up spreads and dust ruffles on couches and chairs. Pin if needed. Stand your couch cushions on end.
  8. Open cabinet drawers and closets (especially bathrooms and bedrooms). Keep in mind that you want air to circulate, not remain stagnant.
  9. Put your lanai furniture inside the air-conditioned home. Set on a sheet in the living room. This will eliminate cleaning when you return.
  10. Turn the hot and cold water off. This should be done even if you are gone for a short time.
  11. Turn all your circuit breakers in your home off except your air conditioning unit breaker.
  12. Set the dehumidistat and thermostat properly. The dehumidistat turns the air conditioner on by humidity increase rather than temperature increase. The suggested settings are 50% humidity and 80 degrees temperature – wired in series. This means that the temperature must get over 80 degrees and the humidity over 50% before the air conditioner turns on. Your thermostat should be set to automatic and cool. Call us and ask for a dehumidistat sticker with these settings and we would be happy to mail one to you!
  13. Ask a neighbor to check your home once a week or after a storm. Any damage is your responsibility, but at least you will be aware.
  14. Pay attention to your electric bills. If “0” kw electric is used, your A/C unit may not be coming on. There could be a problem with the unit or a tripped breaker. If your electric bills have increased, you may have “unnatural” moisture in the home. Give us a call if you experience either of these events, and we would be happy to come and check to make sure your A/C is working properly.
  15. Your air conditioner is your dehumidifier. While you are getting ready to leave, run your A/C more than you normally would to help remove as much moisture as possible from your home before you leave.

Have a safe journey! We will be glad to see you when you return.

Should mildew occur, the Florida Cooperative Extension Service recommends the following clean-up solutions:

  1. For painted surfaces inside – Scrub mildewed paint or plaster with a solution of ¼ household bleach to 1 gallon of water. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry thoroughly.
  2. For wooden furniture – Remove mildew with a vacuum cleaner and then clean with a soft cloth dipped in a mild detergent and water solution. Work on a small area at a time, rinsing with a cloth dipped in clean water. Dry each area before going on to the next. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag as it will contain mildew spores.
  3. For upholstery, mattresses, and rugs – Vacuum/dust off mildew. Dry the item in the sun, if possible. If mildew remains, sponge with a cloth moistened with 1 cup of denatured or rubbing alcohol mixed with 1 cup of water. Dry thoroughly. Rugs/carpets should be shampooed and dried as quickly as possible. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag as it will contain mildew spores.