What do you do when you see some black mold creeping up in the shower, or underneath the kitchen cupboard? Do you reach for the bleach, the Mr. Kleen, or some other heavy-duty cleanser? It’s tempting, for sure, but let’s take a closer look at what’s in those cleaners. They could be just as bad as the mold itself.
Mold feeds on moisture, which is why we often see it in bathrooms, around sinks and drains and in beachside communities, like Laguna Beach, where there’s a lot of moisture in the air. Mold is not just unsightly, it can cause allergies and trigger asthma, and a new study from the University of Cincinnati indicated that if infants are exposed to mold, it can cause childhood asthma!
And if you see a little mold, it could be the sign of a much larger problem—call us to check it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have small children, or have a baby on the way. “This study should motivate expectant parents, especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma, to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children,” says Tiina Roponen, lead author of the U of Cincinnati study.
You know what they say: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But what to use? Those cleaners with caustic chemicals such as bleach, formaldehyde and fungicides can actually cause more asthma and allergy problems for you and your family. In fact, the EPA has classified 275 different active ingredients in antimicrobial mold removers as pesticides. PESTICIDES. You’re spraying those all over your home! Your children (and you) are probably ingesting those pesticides daily.
So what do I use, you ask? And fair question, since we’ve just bashed the contents of your under-sink cleaning stash. Here’s a shortlist of our favorite chemical-free cleaners—some of which are sitting in another kitchen cupboard:
- White Vinegar and Baking Soda: These are some of the handiest cleaners around. Try baking soda on greasy dishes instead of that powder cleanser you have—magic! For mold removal, combine two parts baking soda with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, just enough to form a thick paste. Apply to offending mold, let fully dry on the surface, then scrub off. Rinse. Repeat if necessary.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil: This is a natural antimicrobial that also smells great and works fantastic on mold. Mix one little teaspoon with two cups of water, spray on and let dry. Keep this handy in a spray bottle—it has a great shelf life and can last for a few weeks. Do remember that essential oils are very concentrated, and can cause harm if ingested or put directly on skin. If you’re pregnant, stick to tea tree, eucalyptus and lemongrass essential oils.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: Tea tree oil fragrance too strong for you? Vinegar’s smell sting your eyes? Then reach for the grapefruit seed extract, which is odorless and works great. Mix twenty drops of it to two cups of water and put in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray directly on to any visible mold, but don’t wipe off. Just let it dry naturally.
- Borax and Dishwashing Detergent: One teaspoon of borax and some non-toxic dishwashing detergent added to a quart of warm water makes for a wonderful cleaner. Soak moldy areas (or soap scum and hard-water deposits) with the mixture, rinse off and allow to air dry. Sensitive skin can be irritated by the borax, so wear gloves. Also, keep it safely out of reach of pets and children. Just because it’s not a pesticide doesn’t mean that ingesting it in large amounts is good for anyone.
Cleaning more frequently is the best way to keep mold at bay, and these cleaners can be used daily or for those extra big cleaning jobs. Don’t forget to also keep the bathroom well ventilated during showers and baths, and wipe down the shower or tub after each use.
Mold problem still not going away? It could be a sign that the problem is larger than you think. Mold is like an iceberg—most of it is where you can’t see it! Call us for an estimate. Your family’s health could be compromised if you don’t get a mold problem fixed: (877) 732-8471