How to Naturally Clean Mold and Mildew

4 steps to rid yourself of dangerous fungi

Everyone wants a clean and inviting home of which they can be proud. However, mold doesn’t care about our wishes and wants, and it can ruin even the cleanest of bathrooms with a dark blow.

According the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the spores of mold and mildew — both are types of fungi — can waft in through open doors and windows and grow on just about every moist surface in your home. Unfortunately, that means every home is at risk. If you find mold and mildew in your home, don’t fret — you aren’t alone, and there are ways to control these pesky fungi. You could throw dangerous chemicals on your mold and mildew outbreak and hope to kill every spore, but as awareness of the negative impact of chemical cleaners on humans, animals and the environment grows, more and more people are turning to environmentally-friendly ways of cleaning mold and mildew.

Step 1: Control moisture

As a first step in managing mold and mildew in your home, the EPA suggests moisture control. If an area of your home gets wet, like your bathroom after a shower, make sure to air and dry out the area completely within 24 to 48 hours. Beware of leaky pipes, damp windowsills or other places in your house where moisture could sneak in. Patch and repair any problems you find immediately. This preventative measure can go a long way to stopping mold and mildew outbreaks before they start.

Step 2: Clean the infected area

Once an outbreak has occurred, the EPA suggests you wear gloves and clean any infected areas with a stiff brush, detergent and water. There are a number of environmentally-friendly detergents on the market that don’t have a lot of dangerous chemicals in them.

Step 3: Try a natural mold and mildew killer

Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends the following environmentally friendly recipes and ingredients to help safely kill mold and mildew in your home.

  • Tea tree oil and water: Mix two teaspoons of essential tea tree oil with two cups of water and pour into a clean spray bottle. Spray the moldy or mildewed area with the mixture and allow to air dry. The scent of the tea tree oil will be intense, but it's important not to rinse. The smell should go away within a few days.

  • White vinegar: Spray full-strength white vinegar onto the infected area, and let it dry naturally. Vinegar may be a little stinky, but the smell should vanish in a few hours.

  • Grapefruit-seed extract and water: If you can’t stand the smell of tea tree oil or vinegar, try adding 20 drops, or 1/4 teaspoon, of grapefruit-seed extract to two cups of water. Spray the mold or mildew with this odorless mixture, and give it a few hours to dry without rinsing.

Step 4: When all else fails, replace

Occasionally, mold and mildew can get to be too big of a problem to just clean up. This can happen after a flood or a problem area, unbeknownst to you, that was left untreated in a damp, dark area of your house. The best thing to do in this situation is to replace the materials in the infected area. Although this may seem like an extreme intervention, mold and mildew grow and spread quickly. The faster you replace the carpet, tiles or wood it has infected, the faster you can stop the problem. There are many companies that now offer green building materials and fabrics, so as you clean up the mold, you can make your house more eco-friendly.

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