Blue poly tarps are very popular with our clients because they are so versatile. They can be used to cover the bed of a pickup truck, build a lean-to, protect a wood pile, temporarily cover a leaky roof, and so on. With the right care, they are durable enough to last for years. So, what’s all this about mold? Why does it grow on tarps and, more importantly, what do you do about it?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in multicellular structures, as opposed to single cell fungi classified as yeast. As a group, molds are known to exist in a dizzying number of species with all sorts of interesting characteristics. Yet all molds have a few things in common:
1.They need the right temperature and moisture level to thrive;
2.They are not fussy about their food sources; and
3.They can be very difficult to eradicate once established.
When mold appears on a blue poly tarp, it is because mold spores in the air have come to rest on the tarp and found the right mixture of moisture, food, and heat. That combination is an open invitation to multiply and spread. What many people do not know is that mold spores can be present along before being seen with the naked eye.
Small but Powerful
Mold spores are a natural part of the environment and are all around us even though, individual spores are too small to see. Furthermore, mold growth is not a constant problem because the vast majority of spores never become airborne. However, all it takes is a windy day to change things. When a fair number of mold spores become airborne, they can easily find their way to any number of surfaces that provide the right conditions for multiplication.
Imagine a blue poly tarp covering your woodpile at home. A bit of wind could deposit mold spores over its surface without your knowledge. Some moderate light during the day, combined with overnight dew, make the top of your tarp a good breeding ground. There is also ample food for the mold by way of any dirt, debris and other organic matter that settles on the tarp. In just a few days, you could see the beginning stages of significant mold growth.
Removing Mold from Poly Tarps
Now that you know why mold grows on your tarps, you need to know how to remove it. Thankfully, it is not difficult. The process starts by spreading the tarp out on a flat surface in a sunny area. Spray the tarp down with a high-powered hose to loosen the mold and any debris surrounding it. Next, use a soft brush and a cleaning solution to scrub the tarp until the mold is gone.
You can purchase commercial mold treatments or make your own with baking soda and white vinegar. Regardless of your choice, you need to get close enough to clearly see the surface of the tarp. If you leave any mold behind, it could continue growing even after your cleaning efforts.
Lastly, hang the tarp up on a rope line – preferably on a warm day and in a sunny area. The faster and more thoroughly you dry out the tarp, the less likely it will be for mold to return. Be sure to fold the tarp and put it away, or re-apply it as it was before, as soon as it is dry. Leaving it to hang on a line for days is just another invitation for mold