Do air quality monitors detect mold? (This one can)

Air quality monitors can’t detect mold spores or give specific details about mold such as the number of spores or the type of mold. However, they can help detect mold and mildew by detecting conditions that lead to mold growth such as high temperature and humidity. The Airthings Wave mini, for example, is specifically designed to detect mold-growing conditions based on ASHRAE standards.

Most air quality monitors are not suitable for mold detection since they cannot detect mold spores in the air. They normally measure a range of air quality factors such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and airborne particles. Some air quality monitors can also measure temperature and humidity, which are indicators of mold growth. However, temperature and humidity data from an air quality monitor do not directly help find where mold is growing.

Mold growth normally occurs when temperature and humidity are relatively high for an extended period of time. Additionally, factors such as a good place for growth and the presence of a food source determine if mold will start growing. On top of that, cleaning habits determine if mold gets a chance to establish.


A one-time mold test kit

If you just want to test for mold once or twice, you can use a DIY mold test kit instead of an air quality monitor. These test kits include a lab analysis that can directly tell if and what type of mold you have. Some test kits also offer to consult with an expert.

However, these test kits require you to take a sample of a surface you expect might have mold. This means that you can easily miss a spot where mold actually does grow. Additionally, keep in mind that you will need to pay for the shipping costs of sending the test to the lab. Therefore, the costs can go up and you might want to consider purchasing an air quality monitor instead.

If you plan on using a test kit, I recommend testing your HVAC system internally, in this way, you might detect mold or spores that are in your air.

You can find these test kits on amazon.com via this link.


What is the best air quality monitor for mold detection?

There are no air quality monitors that can detect mold spores in the air. However, one air quality monitor manufacturer has created an excellent feature to help determine the presence of mold.

One of the best air quality monitors manufacturers, Airthings, has designed their Airthings Wave Mini to help detect mold. This air quality monitor uses the data it gathers from the air in your house to give an indication of mold growth. At the end of this article, I go more into depth on how this feature works.

10% discount on the Airthings Wave Mini mold detector

If you are interested in purchasing an air quality monitor for mold detection, I highly recommend the Airthings Wave Mini. It is the only monitor that gives an indication based on long-term data collection crossed with industry standards from the ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers).

By using this link to the Airthings Wave Mini for your purchase, you will get a 10% discount when using my coupon code: 665381-10OFF at checkout!


How to use an air quality monitor to detect mold

For the following steps to give an indication of mold growth, you will need an air quality monitor that measures temperature and humidity. Additionally, the device needs to be able to display the results of several days in data or a graph for you to interpret. The Airthings Wave Mini is specifically designed to do just this and gives an indication for mold growth based on its data.

Following the next steps will give you a good indication if and where mold is growing.

  • determine the most likely places for mold growth (see below for what these are) and place the air quality monitor in this area for an extended period of time. (the airthings wave mini takes at least 2 days to make a first mold risk report)
  • measure the air temperature and humidity levels of this area for several days at least. If you measure longer, you will have a better idea of the risk of mold growth.
  • interpret the data:
    • are the humidity levels consistently below 70%? then you most likely do not have a mold issue.
    • mold grows best at temperature between 77 (25C) and 86 F (30C). However, they can grow at near freezing temperature as anyone who forgot to clean their fridge for some time can tell.


Following these steps only gives an indication of the possibility of mold growth in the area where the air quality monitor was placed. If you have multiple areas that you suspect could have mold. Follow these steps for each of those places.

Reading air quality data sent to your cellphone


What are the most likely places for mold growth?

Molds require certain conditions such as temperature and moisture to grow. These conditions are more easily found in the following areas of the house.

The areas with the highest chance of mold are:

  • the windowsill
  • behind or underneath funiture is rarely moved
  • on external walls near the floor
  • small closed areas such as the closet where the fuse box is situated (the electricity and water connections of the house)
  • the fridge (+ underneath and behind it)
  • the basement
  • the bathroom
  • the kitchen
  • the garage
  • the crawl space
  • the attic


What are the best conditions for molds to grow?

The following list contains the best conditions for molds to grow. If you have any of these conditions in a certain area, make sure you check for molds, clean them out and take measures to prevent mold growth.

The preferred conditions for molds to grow are:

  • an average relative humidity above 70% or the presence of water or damp
  • the most likely mold-growth temperature is between 77 (25C) and 86 F (30C)
  • the presence of oxygen (it is extremely unlikely for this not to occur)
  • the presence of a food source. Molds can grow on any organic matter such as wood. But even dust, which contains small amounts of skin cells and hairs, is enough for molds to grow. It is almost impossible to prevent the presence of a suitable food source as mold need very little.
  • Poor cleaning habits. Often and thorough cleaning helps prevent the presence of food sources for molds and removes the first establishments of mold growth. However, cleaning is not a foolproof measure since cleaning agent residue can function as a food source for molds.


Why we can’t create conditions to prevent mold growth

Unfortunately, we simply cannot create living conditions in our house that make sure molds will not grow. Molds prefer similar temperatures to humans and there will always be food sources available for molds. Oxygen deprivation is also not a feasible option as molds require only low amounts of oxygen.

Our best options are cleaning and moisture control. Cleaning regularly in areas that are prone to mold growth such as the kitchen and bathroom removes the first establishments of molds. On top of that, moisture and air humidity control help prevent the best conditions for mold growth.

One last option you can try is to use mold-preventing paints or primers. I have used some myself on an old moldy bathroom wall in our previous rental apartment. You can find anti-mold primer here on amazon.com.


What can be done to minimize mold growth?

If you are struggling with high relative humidity in certain areas of the house, a dehumidifier is a great option. A dehumidifier actively removes moisture from the air. With a dehumidifier, you can make sure the relative humidity never reaches 70% or higher (the ideal humidity for molds). You can find all kinds of dehumidifiers on amazon.com. Or, even better, you can do a small quiz to find the most suitable dehumidifier on sylvane.com.

Another option is to increase ventilation. This will refresh the air in the room often and hereby remove excess moisture from the air. You could also run your air conditioner to achieve the same result. However, when the outdoor air has high humidity due to rainfall or the season (autumn and winter), ventilating works less well.


10% discount on the Airthings Wave Mini

The Airthings Wave Mini is an exceptional mold-indicating air quality monitor. It has a special mode that determines your mold risk based on several factors such as temperature and humidity measured over time.

Among others, it calculates how fast molds can grow based on the data from your air. Based on this data and mold and moisture control standards by the ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), an indication is given for the risk of mold.

Readers of this website will get a 10% discount on the Airthings Wave Mini and other Airthings appliances when using the following link for their purchase: Airthings Wave Mini discount. Use my coupon code 665381-10OFF to get 10% off.