Information about mould and mould disease
Mould can grow on clothes and other fabric materials just as easily as anywhere else. Non-synthetic fabrics are made of cotton, linen, ramie, jute, rayon, wool and silk fibers which are susceptible to mould degradation. Because they contain cellulose they are usually contaminated by cellulose “lowing” species of moulds. In the test with fabric materials Chaetomium globosum, Memnoniella echinata (toxic black mould) and Stachybotrys chartarum (toxic black mould) have all been used in testing the decay resistance of mould-proofed canvas and other cellulosic materials.
Toxic moulds are very efficient at colonising and deteriorating cellulose based fabric materials partly the production of toxins which help them to compete against other species. Moulds on fabric produce enzymes that breakdown the cellulose or protein to compounds which the mould use as food. Compared to clothes made from plant fibres, those made of protein fibres (such as wool and silk) are less susceptible to attack but they are also damaged by moulds capable of breaking down protein.
Natural fibre materials are generally more susceptible to mould damage then synthetic materials but these both types of material can get colonised just as easily. Mould on clothes can be recognised by initial musty odour which is often followed by formation of white strand of mould mycelium. Sometimes depending on type of materials and humidity black mould spots will appear.
Mould on fabric is not usually a health hazards mainly because the mould contamination is discovered relatively early and individuals do not get exposed to the mould for long periods of time. However, it is quite likely that a person wearing mould contaminated fabric still get a strong allergic reaction either respiratory or dermal. There is certain risk of mycotoxin poisoning if the clothes are infested by toxic moulds and are not effectively decontaminated before they are worn. I any case if you discover that clothes and other fabrics are contaminated by moulds either dispose of them or clean them thoroughly. Washing will remove mould from fabrics effectively.
Mould contaminated mattresses are I bit more complicated case to deal with mainly because they cannot be easily cleaned and are sometimes quite expensive. Mould usually develops on the underside of the mattress due to lack of air circulations. This is particularly a problem with solid base beds. Because we spend significant time on mattresses mould contamination of a mattress can be considered as a health hazard. The removal of mould from a mattress would in almost every case require involvement of a professional company. The issues that would need to be considered are the cost of the professional removal against the cost of the mattress, application of suitable decontamination method and selection of suitable toxin neutralisation method.
By far the most effective method for preventing mould on clothes is controlling the humidity in the storage area. Fabric storage areas should always be well ventilated and dry. Particular attention should be paid if you store your fabrics in less traditional places such as basements or lofts as these are quire prone to condensations and subsequent mould attack. Relative humidity in the area should be kept well below 65%. Sometimes the use of domestic dehumidifiers may be required to keep the dampness under safe level. Clothes which are not regularly used should be periodically checked for insect or mould contamination.
There are certain preventive measures you can take to reduce the chance of mould attack.