3 Mold Hot Spots In The Kitchen + How To Keep Them In Good Shape

Mold Remediation Expert By Michael Rubino
Mold Remediation Expert
Michael Rubino is an international authority on mold remediation and the author of The Mold Medic: An Expert’s Guide on Mold Removal.
3 Surprising Places Mold May Be Lurking In Your Kitchen + What To Do

A kitchen can be an oasis of creativity, love, and togetherness. But while you're wining and dining family and friends, you'll want to be on the lookout for an uninvited guest: mold!

Mold growth in the kitchen is quite common. As a mold remediation expert, I've seen it countless times in kitchens across the country—and the culprits are almost always the same. To find the potential mold hot spots in your kitchen, simply look for the water sources. The two main sources are your sink and your refrigerator, but wet sponges can also cause issues. 

Let's break down some of the common causes of mold in the kitchen and the easy steps you can take to prevent them.

Hot Spot 1: Your sink.

Most mold in the kitchen occurs in the area around the sink. Whether your sink is an undermount sink or the edges of your sink sit on top of the counter, it's likely sealed with a silicone sealant. Over time, this sealant can break down and separate. Once it does, moisture can seep in and give mold an opportunity to grow.

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How to protect it from mold:

To protect your sink, you'll want to be mindful of its seal, look for pooling water around the faucet, and be sure to check your pipes from time to time:

  • Check the seal. Keep an eye out for mold or mildew growth around the seal of your sink, and fix any gaps in the seal immediately.
  • Look out for pooling water. Have you ever turned on your faucet and noticed water pooling on top of the counter and are unsure of where it came from? The faucet has rubber gaskets in it to prevent leaks, and over time, these gaskets can break down. If this ever happens, don't delay: Call a plumber and they'll change the rubber gasket or replace the faucet altogether. 
  • Check your under-sink pipes. If you take a look, you'll most see the following underneath your sink: Two valves (that can shut off the supply for both the hot and cold water lines) and the drain line for the sink. If you have a garbage disposal, you will likely see that connecting to your drain too. The last thing you'll probably encounter is the drain line and supply line for the dishwasher, if you have one. Over time, these can all begin to crack or loosen, creating opportunities for leaks. If you have a leak, it will leave behind water stains on the bottom of your sink cabinet. It's important to regularly check for water stains or slow drips and leaks because left undetected, they can damage the cabinet and allow for unwanted mold growth. 

Hot Spot 2: Your refrigerator.

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The space behind and underneath your refrigerator is one of the most forgotten areas of the home. If you're like most people, you rarely move your fridge to look behind it. No shame: It's heavy, it's loud, and it's a pain to roll out from the surrounding wall or cabinets. But I encourage you to take the time to look back there regularly, as it has two things that mold loves: a water source and dust to bind to.

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How to protect it from mold:

To stay on top of mold, roll out your refrigerator every month to clear the dust and inspect for any signs of water leaks. Your refrigerator runs the risk of leaking in several places, but pay extra attention to the water lines and the condenser. If your condenser is overworked or overheated (often occurring from a blockage on the exhaust for the freezer), the exhaust allows humid air to escape. If it's blocked, the condenser will work overtime and will start to leak.

Hot Spot 3: Your sponge.

When you leave a wet sponge on your laminate countertop, it will not completely dry. And if you leave it there long enough, it can cause the counter to de-laminate, allowing unwanted moisture or water to seep in. This can create an opportunity for mold growth.

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How to protect it from mold:

Every time you use a sponge, it's best to squeeze all the excess water out of it that you can. Then, keep it in the sink, away from stone or laminate surfaces. I also recommend tossing out any sponges that develop an unpleasant damp odor, as they run the risk of mold development. Once it gets to that smelly point, it's a sign you need a new sponge!

The bottom line.

Just as it's important to maintain your favorite cookware, it's essential to stay on top of the kitchen itself. Addressing these three main problem areas can go a long way in helping to prevent a moldy headache in the future.

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