Design & DIY

6 tips for dealing with mold at your cottage

Moldy corner

OK, all cottages get a little musty. They’re shut up for long periods, leaks don’t always get fixed right away—but it’s nothing a little fresh air can’t cure, right?

Well, maybe. But there’s a difference between a little stale air and a really big problem: mold.

Mold is everywhere. It’s a natural part of life, both inside and out. When mold gets out of hand inside, though, it can be a serious health hazard, causing allergic reactions and potentially severe respiratory symptoms.

With a few careful steps, you can make sure mold doesn’t become a blooming problem.

Know what you’re looking for

Mold grows in areas that are damp or leaky, like underneath carpets, around windows, or in drywall that’s gotten wet. Even furniture can sprout mold if it’s allowed to get wet and not dried properly. The mold that may be growing in your cottage doesn’t look much different from the mold that grows on your old bread or expired yogourt: look for brown, black or greenish “blooms” on walls, floors, around windows, or any damp areas. If you can’t see any obvious blooms, smell the air. Does it smell musty and earthy, even if you air the space out? Mold may be the cause. As well, mold in the walls may cause cracked, peeling paint or bulges in wallpaper.

Use the right equipment

If you’re not sensitive, many types of mold won’t cause serious health problems, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Always wear gloves, goggles, long sleeves, and a painter’s mask or respirator when dealing with mold.

Control your humidity

Mold is quick-growing—it can take hold within 48 hours—but it can’t grow unless the environment is damp, so take steps to control the humidity in your cottage. Run a dehumidifier, turn on the exhaust fan, or open a window when taking a shower or running water, and fix any leaks right away. Make sure kerosene and other heaters are vented outside. Dry your bathing suits and towels outside if you can. If you’re building a cottage, make sure the ground slopes away from your cottage’s foundation, so water can’t collect. And finally, clean and repair your gutters regularly.

Remove the mold stains

Dead mold can still cause symptoms, so it’s important to completely remove all traces of stains. Bleach can be toxic to humans and pets, so try a safe, non-bleach cleaner to kill mold spores, remove stains, and prevent future infestations. Concrobium makes a range of products that are safe to use around children and pets, including the sprayable Mold Control, which works as it dries to crush mold spores at the roots, leaving behind an antimicrobial barrier—all without bleach, ammonia, or VOCs. For stubborn infestations, Concrobium’s Mold Stain Eraser is easily dissolved in water to create a powerful cleaner that eliminates even black mold stains.

Throw away what can’t be salvaged

Porous things that have gotten moldy—like carpets, upholstery, insulation, ceiling tiles, mattresses, or drywall—will likely need to be thrown away. Non-porous items like metal, concrete, countertops, appliances, and decking can be cleaned with an eco-friendly product like the ones mentioned above.

Know when to call in the pros

If you’re dealing with a large infestation (more than 10 square feet), call a professional to assess the situation and clean up. Make sure the company you’re dealing with is going to remediate the mold, not just enclose or encapsulate it. They should also offer contacts for a third party to conduct clearance testing to ensure the problem is gone. And, ideally, you’ll get a written guarantee. Your insurance company may be able to recommend a reputable clean-up firm.

For more tips and products for eliminating mold at your cottage, visit