When you see those tell-tale black spots beginning to appear in your basement, bathroom, gutters or damp carpets, you know you have a problem. Mold and mildew are pernicious in their infestations and to ensure they are completely eliminated. They reproduce via spores that can be carried by air and thrive in warm, moist and humid environments.
You might have seen white thread-like growths or clusters of small black specks along your damp basement or bathroom walls accompanied with a musty odor. These are sure signs of an infestation. Mold can also be found growing along walls where warm moist air condenses, behind dressers, headboards, or in closets which have articles stored against a wall.
Homes that have seen flooding, have a sewage back-up problem, plumbing problems, damp basements or crawl spaces, or are prone to high humidity, see a high proliferation of mold and mildew. They are also harmful to the health of the inhabitants of the house and are known to cause allergic reactions.
Basic Prevention Techniques to Avoid Mold Growth
- Plug all the leaks in the house. Leaking roofs, plumbing fixtures, leaking walls etc. should be identified and repaired. Go in for thorough basement waterproofing if there is regular seepage. You can also get a dehumidifier to aid you in keeping the basement dry.
- Increase the air circulation in your home. Use air conditioning or in case of naturally damp places like bathrooms and kitchens, exhaust fans.
- Keep the inside of exterior walls well ventilated and provide warm air to all parts of the house. Large objects touching the exterior walls should be moved a few inches ahead to help air circulation.
- Attics and crawlspaces should be insulated and ventilated. Earth floors of crawlspaces, if any, should be covered with plastic.
- Any water damage to carpets, clothing, bedding or upholstered furniture should be remedied within 24-48 hours. Consider removing and replacing damaged furnishings.
- Clean your home thoroughly; use a vacuum cleaner to be more effective.
Here are a few ways you can fight against mold and mildew naturally:
Sunlight and Air
Direct exposure to sunlight and fresh air are not conducive for the growth of mold and mildew. Portable items that have gotten infested can be placed out in the sunlight. But make sure you get them in before it rains or it may just make matters worse. If your bathroom or basement has a window, open it and let the fresh air in. Placing a fan inside the window can also be a good idea as it encourages air circulation.
Tea Tree Oil
Though an uncommon and slightly expensive ingredient in the battle against mold and mildew, it is highly effective. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and antiseptic properties making it the perfect candidate to kill mold and mildew. But beware, it is considered to be toxic in its pure form and can cause severe damage if taken internally.
Take a teaspoon of tea tree oil and two cups of water, and put this solution in a container or a spray bottle. Shake the container well and spray it on the affected areas and let it sit and dry out. This is a great solution for almost any infested item including cabinets, walls, drawers and even clothes. The smell of the oil is strong but it will dissipate after a couple of days.
It is a mild, white mineral powder usually available in the kitchen. Baking soda is ideal for scrubbing away remnants of mold and mildew as it is mildly abrasive. Moreover, it also absorbs moisture and works well in keeping mold away.
It works effectively on tough to get to spots like grout where stains can stay even after the mold has been killed. Make a paste of baking soda and water and scrub it into the surface with a brush or sponge. Rinse it with white vinegar to eliminate the baking soda residue.
Distilled White Vinegar
This not only kills mold and mildew but effectively removes all smell of it from the house. However, you need to use white vinegar in its pure form without mixing it with water. White vinegar can kill about 82% of mold and is one of the most effective home remedies for mold and mildew infestations.
Simply pour or spray white vinegar on the affected areas and let it sit. Once the vinegar has dried up do not rinse the area. Instead, wait for a few hours and lo behold, the mold and the acidic smell of the vinegar will have disappeared.
Having anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill mold on kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, floors and the walls. Use 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide poured into a spray bottle to saturate the moldy surface completely. Allow it to sit for ten minutes. Next, scrub the area to remove all the mold and mold stains. Give it a final wipe-down to remove all residual spores.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Slightly expensive, but incredibly effective, grapefruit seed extract is an odorless, natural and effective way to rid your house of mold. Add twenty drops of grapefruit seed extract with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake it well and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse.
While it may be highly effective in getting you hammered, it is even more effective in killing mold. You do not have to reach for the good stuff for this purpose; in fact, the cheaper the better. Spray straight vodka on the affected spots, allow it to sit for some time and then wipe the mold away with a rag or a sponge.
These non-toxic solutions are also some of the most effective and easy-to-implement methods of keeping your house free from mold and mildew. Not only are they easy to use but also safe for you and the environment. So do not depend on strong chemicals and toxins to kill another toxin. Help yourself to some baking soda, tea tree oil, or if you are in the mood, some vodka, and go to work on those infestations.