CofC Logo

Mold & Mildew Information

Molds grow naturally outdoors like other allergens and can be easily brought into buildings through open windows and doors, ventilation and air conditioning systems, clothing, or shoes. Molds come in a variety of colors including white-grey, as sometimes seen on a damp carpet; pink, often found on shower walls and liners not cleaned regularly; and black, as seen around vents or windowsills as a result of condensation. If given a source of moisture, mold can grow just about anywhere. Moisture control, air circulation, and good housekeeping practices are necessary to control mold growth.

Many people are fearful that any mold they see will result in a life-threatening illness. Although most people have little to no reaction to household molds, some people who suffer from allergies may be more sensitive. The information below is intended to provide a general understanding of mold growth and includes housekeeping tips to prevent an increase of allergens within living spaces and an action plan if preventative measures fail.

Tips for Preventing Mold

  1. Report any water problems (leaks behind a toilet or under sinks, dripping faucets, wet carpet, leak from a ceiling, moisture around windowsills or on walls, etc.) immediately by submitting a work order request to Facilities Management. You may submit a work order by calling 843.953.5550, through the Housing/Dining portal in MyCharleston, or via email to facilitiessupport@cofc.edu. Work orders can be submitted 24 hours a day; however, they may not be processed until the following business day.
  2. Keep vents in ceilings and walls uncovered to maintain proper airflow. Do not block vents with furniture, paper, etc. Small fans can help improve air circulation. Whenever possible, open doors between rooms, open drawers and closet doors, and reduce clutter as much as possible.
  3. Do not open windows or prop open exterior doors when air conditioning is in use. Report any issues with poorly functioning air conditioning units to Facilities Management.
  4. Close blinds early in the day to prevent the sun from heating the room. Turn off all lights when leaving the room.
  5. Routinely clean bathroom areas with a bathroom cleaner designed to kill mold/mildew and soap scum. Always follow the directions and read all precautions before using any cleaning product. Routine cleaning should include sink, vanity, toilet, tub, shower floor, faucets, walls, and shower door or liner.
  6. After showering, keep the bathroom door open and the exhaust fan running for an extra 10 to 15 minutes to remove excess moisture from the air. If it appears your exhaust fan is not functioning properly, please submit a work order immediately.
  7. Do not leave wet towels, rugs, clothing, or shoes lying around. Take measures to properly dry or air out wet items. Routinely wash and dry towels and bathmats.
  8. Good housekeeping practices (vacuum floors, wipe down counters, clean up spills quickly, wash out refrigerators, and take out trash regularly) should be shared by all roommates to help reduce the amount of food sources for mold growth.

What you should do if you see mold in your residence hall room?

  1. If you see a little pink around the bottom of your shower curtain, a little black on your windowsill or other possible mold growth, don’t panic.
  2. Check the area to see if there is a leak or a maintenance issue causing the excess moisture, if so, submit a maintenance work order immediately.
  3. If the problem is a result of condensation or poor housekeeping, clean the area with hot soapy water as soon as you see the first signs of mold to prevent further growth. You may also want to use a cleaner that has bleach in it.  Keep in mind that cleaning once will not result in never having to clean that same area again. Regular cleaning is necessary to prevent mold.

What will be done by Facilities Management if I can’t fix the issue?

  1. If you have followed the guidelines above and continue to have mold growth in an unusual area not typically prone to excessive moisture, submit a work order request and Facilities Management will inspect the area.
  2. Facilities Management will collaborate with the Environmental Health & Safety Office to determine the cause of the persistent moisture issue and take measures to correct the problem as quickly as possible.
  3. Upon resolving the cause for the excessive moisture, measures will be taken to thoroughly clean and dry the area affected. This work may be completed by Facilities Management staff and/or an outside contractor specializing in water cleanup and restoration.
  4. If necessary, dehumidifiers or fans can be placed in the living space and will need to remain operational until they are removed to enhance the drying process and preclude future mold growth.
  5. Facilities Management staff will return to check regularly on the progress until the situation has been resolved and may instruct residents in ways to assist in that process. 

Tips for Allergy Sufferers

The Lowcountry and particularly Charleston are known for high pollen counts. Unlike some places, Charleston sees pollen year-round. Typically, the heavier and more noticeable pollen is produced around March or April and lasts until June. Rain in combination with warm weather feeds the increase of pollination. This combined with our beautifully landscaped campus full of trees, bushes, flowers, and other pollen producing plants can create havoc for those typically sensitive as well as those who may have never suffered from allergies in the past. If you experience sensitivity, as with all health concerns, please seek the assistance of our Student Health Services and/or your physician. Below are also some suggestions to help cope during the high pollen seasons in this area.

  1. If medication has been prescribed to reduce your sensitivity, follow the instructions of your doctor and/or medical personnel.
  2. Track the pollen count at www.pollen.com, and on the days when the count is “high” try to stay indoors as much as possible.
  3. Keep windows and exterior doors closed to reduce the number of allergens entering your apartment or residence hall room.
  4. Vacuum/Sweep and dust regularly to reduce the number of allergens that may have hitchhiked into your space. If you find you are extremely sensitive, you may want to invest in a HEPA Filter vacuum cleaner to capture as many allergens as possible.
  5. Avoid tossing your book bag or the clothes worn outside on your bed to prevent spreading allergens to your sleeping area.
  6. Consider showering and washing your hair before going to bed to also avoid introducing allergens to your bed linens.
  7. Additionally, if you remain highly sensitive to allergens, consider investing in an air purifier for your space to remove as many allergens from the air as possible.