30 Apr, 2024

Winter Wellness - Dry Homes

Winter Wellness Dry home banner image

In Aotearoa, 57% of renters said they had a problem with dampness or mould in their home. In this resource, we cover the importance of having a dry home, the risks of having a mouldy home and tips on how to keep your home dry this winter. Damp homes and mould are a serious problem in New Zealand. Many renters struggle to heat or keep their homes warm in winter. More than one in five landlords have admitted that their rental properties do not have proper heating. When homes are cold, the dampness sets on the walls and other surfaces, and this causes mould to grow.

Why is a dry home so important?

Moisture causes your home to be damp which makes mould grow. Mould is a type of fungus. It is bad for your health as it causes allergies and sometimes further health problems. Touching or breathing mould can cause:

  • A runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Skin rashes
  • Breathing problems
  • Lung infections
  • Asthma
  • Allergies

Some moulds can also produce toxins. These can cause serious health problems such as memory loss or heart problems.

Who is at risk from health problems caused by mould?

Some people are more sensitive to mould and can have more serious complications. This includes:

  • Babies and children
  • Elderly people over 65
  • People with skin conditions such as eczema
  • People with breathing problems such as allergies and asthma
  • People with a weak immune system

How do I identify mould and what can I do?

Mould is black, green or white fuzzy spots. It can sometimes look like a stain, can be smelly and might be a different colour. The colour of mould doesn't show how dangerous it is. Mould should always be removed and the moisture that helped it grow should be found and removed as well. To remove mould, wipe it with a bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 1 litre of water) or use white vinegar. The acid will help kill the fungus that causes the mould.

Tips to keep your home dry and mould-free

Eight litres of moistures builds up in Kiwi homes every day. For a dry and healthy home, follow these steps:

  • Wipe any moisture or drips off your windows and walls.
  • Open windows in the morning, while you shower, or while cooking.
  • Hang washing outside to dry or in a room with a window open.
  • When cooking, keep a lid on the pot, use your extractor fan or open the window.
  • Keep beds and furniture away from walls, leaving a gap so that air can move freely.
  • Keep wardrobe doors slightly open to prevent moisture building up on your clothes and shoes.
  • Avoid putting mattresses directly on the floor.
  • Open curtains during the day to let warmth in and close them at sunset to keep your home cosy.
  • Stop cold air getting into your home by sealing draughts around doors and windows.