Mold & Mildew 101

December 01, 2020

Mold and mildew are fungi that occur naturally both indoors and outdoors and grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions.

Controlling humidity in large, heavily populated buildings is challenging, especially given Louisiana’s humidity and warm weather, but keeping indoor air quality in check is important to our health and safety in campus housing. 

As naturally occurring substances, mildew and mold or mold spores cannot be entirely eliminated in any indoor environment; however, conditions for mold growth indoors can be limited by controlling indoor air quality and moisture, per the EPA. 

Mold and mildew spores are generally considered an indoor air allergen like pollen, animal dander, dust, or dust mites. Mold produces tiny spores that are invisible to the human eye but are continually floating around in nature. When those spores make their way indoors and are exposed to wet or humid areas, they can begin to grow. 

Controlling room climate is essential to the success of managing indoor air quality and comfort.


Climate, Cleaning & Communication 

When we receive a work order for suspected mold or mildew, the three C’s air quality protocol begins:

  1. Climate: Our facilities team will inspect the space for excessive moisture, leaks, or signs of a mechanical issue causing an imbalance in the air.
  2. Cleaning: The custodial team will assist in cleaning and restoring items in the room and conduct thorough inspections of the walls, ceilings, vents, under the sink, cabinets, and closets to look for moisture areas. Cleaning up a patch of mold doesn’t guarantee it won’t come back. If mold keeps growing in the original location, we need to identify and eliminate the source of moisture that feeds it.
  3. Communication: Education about humidity in the air, properly working thermostats, or next steps for the space will come from our team.  

After these steps, Residential Life works with the campus Office of Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) to perform indoor air quality assessments as needed. LSU EHS Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) assessments include checking temperature, humidity, airborne particle counts, and a visual inspection. EHS recommends corrective actions when any deviation from normal conditions exists.

While every effort is made to address issues quickly, it is generally not a cause for alarm and most often it is safe for you to stay in your room. If you are concerned, contact your doctor, or make an appointment with the Student Health Center.

Report any concerns surrounding mold or mildew through official Residential Life channels:

Self-submit a work order in the housing portal, at your community's service desk.


  • Report any water problems (leaks behind a toilet or under sinks, dripping faucets, wet carpet, leak from a ceiling, etc.) via work order immediately.
  • Keep the thermostat between 68-72°F.
  • Leave A/C in the “auto” function, not “on.” Just because you don’t hear or feel the A/C running, doesn’t mean something is wrong. The “auto” function kicks the unit on when it’s needed to keep the room at the desired temperature, just like at home.
  • Keep return air vents open and unobstructed to maintain proper airflow. 
  • Hang up wet towels or clothing to dry in well-ventilated areas.
  • Let wet shoes dry out before placing in a dresser or closet.
  • Regularly wash your sheets, towels, and clothes. Leaving piles of soiled towels or damp clothes is an invitation for mildew to grow.
  • Regularly remove mattress toppers and mattress protectors to let the mattress and topper air out.
  • Use the built-in vent fan in the bathroom when showering to limit the amount of moisture in the room. After your shower, crack the shower door 1/4 open and the fan running for an extra 10 to 15 minutes to remove excess moisture from the air.
  • Good housekeeping practices (vacuum floors, wipe down surfaces, clean up spills quickly, empty trash regularly, wash out refrigerators, including wiping the doors, etc.) should be shared by all roommates to help reduce the number of food sources for mold growth. 

According to federal health and safety agencies, mold growth is commonly found in both indoor and outdoor environments. Some people are more sensitive to mildew or mold and may experience short-term reactions. Symptoms associated with exposure are not unique and cannot be readily distinguished from symptoms caused by other medical conditions, such as the common cold or seasonal environmental allergies.

Since some individuals may have more intense reactions, those with medical conditions or who experience symptoms should consult with medical personnel regarding their risk to mildew or mold exposure.

The first year in college exposes students to lots of new things that can impact their overall well-being, including environmental factors like pollen, sharing a room, community bathrooms, eating differently, sleeping less, experiencing stressful situations, and more.

We want you to live in clean, comfortable, safe environments and are committed to performing preventative measures for mildew and mold and to addressing concerns in a timely manner with minimal disruptions. Controlling indoor moisture levels is critical in controlling indoor air quality. 

Residential Life staff partners with the LSU Facilities Management team to maintain a balanced air supply system that runs on a building management program. Preventative maintenance is done on a routine basis to ensure systems continue to operate properly with cooling and dehumidification.

Custodial staff routinely clean residence hall spaces and manage work orders to maintain a healthy environment and rectify any issues. 

Despite significant prevention efforts, isolated mold and mildew growth incidents can occur in our residence halls and apartments, just as it does at other campuses and private residences across the nation. 

MYTH: Place an air filter over the vent in your room for an additional layer of filtration. 

FALSE: Keep air vents open and unobstructed to maintain proper airflow. Placing furniture in front of the air intake vent or taping a filter over the air vent impedes the system’s ability to work at an optimal level. Over time, this causes the system not to function as designed and can cause growth. 

Place a work order if you suspect mold or mildew growth. 


MYTH: Mattress protectors and covers will keep mildew at bay. 

FALSE: Students sleep on top of sheets and often mattress pads and toppers. When a student’s natural body warmth and sweat mix with the covers on top of the mattress, it’s like those items act like a Ziploc bag on the mattress, creating a warm, damp, dark environment perfect for mold spores to grow. 

Make sure you wash your sheets and remove mattress toppers routinely to let the items breathe and dry out.