Mold is everywhere in nature. If it wasn’t for mold, we would be up to our heads in dead dinosaurs and such. Molds are nature’s way of helping to clean up our environment through decay. And even though some molds are good to have around, like those that are used to create penicillin and blue cheese, we don’t want to share our homes with most of them. Many of these molds consume the materials they live on, possibly impairing the integrity of your home’s structural materials and furnishings, or your clothing.
When you do find it in your home, how can you clean mold naturally, using natural products rather than harsh chemicals that could cause additional injury or damage to occupants, pets, or your home’s environment? In this case harsh chemicals refer to anything from biocides and chlorine bleach to borax.
While not everyone is affected, some people are sensitive to mold and mold spore exposure. Issues such as those listed below may develop after as little as 48 hours of exposure. These symptoms may include, but are not be limited to:
You could dilute vinegar with water but it works best on mold straight out of the bottle. Put some in a spray bottle and apply it directly onto any moldy surfaces. Allow it to dwell for a couple of hours and then gently scrub the mold with a brush. The smell of vinegar may be offensive to some people, but the smell will dissipate rather quickly. If you are really bothered by the smell you can add a few drops of any essential oil to it to help mask the odor. Vinegar is reported to kill about 82 percent of mold and its spores. If left to dry on its own, vinegar is known to help prevent mold from returning in the future.
Spray hydrogen peroxide onto the mold and leave it for at least 10 minutes. Then wipe with area with a damp cloth to remove any mold residue. If possible, buy hydrogen peroxide in a stronger solution than the 3 percent solution you find at most markets and drug stores. Many beauty supply stores sell hydrogen peroxide in 6-8 percent strengths. Also, make sure to buy a new bottle if you intend to use it on mold. Hydrogen peroxide loses strength as it sits around and ages.
It is best to mix baking soda with water or vinegar when using it to clean mold naturally. Dissolve the baking soda in either water or vinegar, place it into a spray bottle, and then spray it onto the surface of the mold. Let it sit for a while, then scrub and wipe the surface with a damp cloth. Remember to use a cloth that you can throw away after using it. You don’t want to accidentally carry any mold to unaffected areas of your home. One of the best reasons for using baking soda is that it will not leave any scent behind and it is a very mild product. Great odor elimination is why we sometimes leave an opened box of baking soda in our refrigerators. Keep in mind that baking soda is mildly abrasive and could scratch delicate surfaces, so use caution.
Tea Tree Oil
One of the more expensive methods of cleaning mold naturally is to use tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca Alternifolia. This oil can cost anywhere from $15 and upward for just 4 ounces. You should mix two teaspoons of tea tree oil with two cups of distilled water. Spray it onto the mold and do not rinse or wipe it off. The oil’s odor will last a couple of days, but will then dissipate.
Citrus Seed Extract
One of the great benefits of using citrus seed extract for cleaning mold naturally is that it has no odor. Citrus seed extract is made from the seeds and pulp of grapefruit. The seeds and juiceless pulp are ground and then mixed with glycerin to create a solution. Place about 20 drops of citrus seed extract in two cups of water, place the solution in a spray bottle and spray it onto the mold. Do not rinse it away.
***Note: The problem with citrus seed extract is that many laboratories claim that is usually of poor quality and won’t destroy fungus (another term for mold).
Sunshine & Fresh Air
The ultimate method for cleaning mold naturally is to use nature itself. Sunlight and a gentle breeze are nature’s way of eliminating mold. Now, I realize that you can’t take your walls outside, but if the mold you are trying to remove is on an area rug or furniture, setting them outside on a sunny day can have a great effect. When shaking, vacuuming, or brushing your item, make sure not to breathe in any mold or mold spores. Always wear a N-95 rated dust mask or respirator when dealing with mold.
One important thing to remember when cleaning mold naturally is that you can clean all of the mold that you want, but it will return if you do not identify and eliminate the source of the mold problem. And the problem is usually associated with unwanted or excess water or moisture. Mold needs an organic food source, water, and a warm, dark environment. So you need to eliminate leaks, seal the cracks, and possibly run a dehumidifier or an exhaust fan to remove any excess moisture from areas where mold is likely to grow.
When it comes to finding and eliminating mold in your home, it is not always a task for the average do-it-yourself homeowner. The good news is that there are qualified mold remediation specialists that can assist you. They will provide you with free inspection and remediation estimate with no obligation on your part.
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Written by Mark Huey.