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How Do You Use Homebiotic Spray?

We love our Homebiotic spray (we may be slightly biased). We also want you to love our Homebiotic spray. It is the perfect addition to any natural cleaning routine and it is extremely user-friendly. So how do you use Homebiotic spray?

Homebiotic is classed as an environmental probiotic – but what does that mean?

You’ve surely heard of probiotics for your gut – well, Homebiotic works similarly. Your gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria – recent research suggests that you have one bacteria organism for every cell in your body!1 Humankind and bacteria have been living in harmony for millennia – the bacteria need you for access to the food you consume, and in return, they make enzymes that are beneficial to your digestion2 as well as many other hidden benefits for your body. When you consume a probiotic, you’re adding to the colony in your gut, and aiding the friendly bacteria in protecting you from the more harmful species – as well as fungal growth.

You’ve surely heard of probiotics for your gut – well, Homebiotic works similarly. Your gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria – recent research suggests that you have one bacteria organism for every cell in your body! Click To Tweet

homebiotic spray by sink with blue cloth - Homebiotic - how do you use homebiotic spray

PROBIOTICS FOR YOUR HOME

Unless you’re permanently armed with cleansers, a sponge, and a manic gleam in your eye – your home is covered with bacteria. And that’s a good thing. Because bacteria, on the whole, are not the enemy – sure, there are species that are good to protect against when preparing food or handling basic bodily functions, but there’s absolutely no reason to fear the majority of bacteria in your home.

Homebiotic is:

  • An all-natural, carefully formulated blend of probiotic soil bacteria suspended in pure water – our proprietary blend of bacteria only includes harmless species, also found in digestive probiotics or fermented foods.
  • Free of artificial scents.
  • Free of preservatives, color, and enzymes.
  • Safe around humans and pets.

You need Homebiotic when there’s an imbalance in your home microbiome. Where you may have used disinfectants, all the bacteria are wiped out – but unfriendly bacteria returns first and takes over. This bad bacteria doesn’t compete with mold, so mold in your home is allowed free rein to grow.

You need Homebiotic when there’s an imbalance in your home microbiome. Where you may have used disinfectants, all the bacteria are wiped out – but unfriendly bacteria returns first and takes over. This bad bacteria doesn’t compete with… Click To Tweet

Homebiotic isn’t a fungicide or a cleaning spray – however, it’s perfect to use once you’ve identified and fixed the underlying cause and physically removed existing mold.

black mold on door frame - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic sprayMOLD & HOMEBIOTIC

You may be excited to start spraying your bottle of Homebiotic around your home, but if you’ve already got a mold problem, there are steps you need to take first. If the mold issue is minor, you can remedy it with the steps below. If it’s more serious, we recommend contacting a local mold remediation service.

1. Repair The Underlying Reason For Mold

Mold thrives in a humid environment with enough delicious food around – the cellulose in wood and drywall is a favorite.4 You can reduce the humidity by fixing the source of moisture. If there’s a leaky pipe it needs to be dealt with before you begin cleaning – same goes for leaky windows or condensation issues.

2. Clean Up The Mold

At Homebiotic we favor the use of hydrogen peroxide or borax to clean up the mold. We recommend avoiding the use of bleach when tackling mold, as it can’t remove mold from porous surfaces such as wood, and can actually cause mold to become more harmful. Bleach will also kill your home microbiome indiscriminately – including the helpful bacteria that actively help protect against mold.

For hard surfaces:

  • Wear gloves, a face mask, and goggles when using hydrogen peroxide to remove mold. A concentration of 3%-7% works just fine, and there isn’t usually a reason to use anything stronger.
  • Spot test first, as hydrogen peroxide can cause discoloration on some materials.
  • Spray hydrogen peroxide on the moldy area.
  • Leave the hydrogen peroxide to work for five minutes or so (you’ll know when it’s time because it stops foaming).
  • Use a paper towel or other disposable cloth to wipe the area and remove the remainder of the mold.
    Allow to dry.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary.

For soft materials:

  • Wear gloves, a face mask, and goggles when using borax to remove mold.
  • Dissolve ½ cup borax in 1-gallon hot water.
  • Soak the material for two to four hours.
  • Wash material as normal
  • Repeat if odor or mold spots remains.

3. Apply Homebiotic

After dealing with a mold issue, we recommend spraying Homebiotic on the affected areas of your home once a day for a week, to help the friendly bacteria colony to reestablish and take charge. After this period, a light mist in each area once per week is usually all that’s needed. Most Homebiotic users apply it as the last step of their regular cleaning routine.

Homebiotic can be sprayed in the following areas to prevent mold:

  • Around windows and doors
  • Under sinks
  • Basement
  • Car or other vehicles – even boats
  • Carpets near external doors
  • Cabinets
  • Mattresses
  • Dog or cat beds
  • Camping equipment
  • Soil of houseplants
  • Air conditioner – spray directly on the coils and drip pan, and into the ducts
  • Shower
  • Washing machine

If you’re spraying areas in contact with water – like the shower and the washing machine – be aware you have to reapply Homebiotic after every use, as Homebiotic is water-soluble and may be washed away.

Store Homebiotic at room temperature with other cleaning products, out of direct sunlight. Be mindful of the use-by date – as Homebiotic is a living probiotic solution, it can become less effective after that point.

homebiotic spray on bathroom counter - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic spray

BUILD A HEALTHY HOME DEFENSE WITH HOMEBIOTIC

Homebiotic is a safe and reliable way to keep the sources of musty odors, black staining, and grime at bay – instead of splashing around chemical-heavy disinfectants. The spray can be used in a wide variety of places to keep your home healthy. Homebiotic is a natural choice to balance your house’s microbiome without compromising your health.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5847071/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18086226
4. https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/2901/2901-7019/2901-7019.html

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3 Ways To Nurture Your Home Biome

Do you know how to nurture your home biome like we nurture our gut biome? The last decade, we’ve heard more evidence about how the gut microbiome is key to our health and well being. If we’ve learned anything about environmental science, we know that a microbiome is an environment as well. In fact, our gut environment works together with all microbes to protect and maintain the gut’s health (1). Subsequently, this helps preserve and protect our health.

Woman reading book near plant - Homebiotic - ways to nourish your home biome

But did you know that our home is also a microbiome? Just like the gut, the home has a host of microbes that need each other to keep the house clean and healthy. More and more, we’re learning that to nurture environments means to create balance and future stability, whether that environment is internal or external (2).

Since all living things exist in a symbiotic relationship with other living things, it seems straightforward that our bodies and homes co-exist (3). We’re doing better at nurturing our gut biome, but what about our home biome?

The truth is, most people don’t know how to maintain and nurture their home microbiome. However, it’s surprisingly easy, and once you understand how, you’ll be able to nurture your home microbiome as easily as you would your gut biome. Here are 3 easy ways you can nurture your home biome:

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic QuarantineChoosing The Right Cleaning Supplies Will Decrease The Death of Healthy Microbes

Let’s compare a home microbiome to the gut microbiome. There’s one thing we know that decimates healthy microbes – antibacterial substances. We know that taking antibiotics (even though it may be necessary for an infection) will kill off beneficial gut microbes. The same happens in our homes (3,4).

In circumstances like infections or outbreaks of dangerous microbes, we would definitely need to use antibiotics and bacteria-killing substances. However, we need to proceed with caution and not go overboard.

If we use copious amounts of harsh antibacterial chemicals to clean our homes, we will lose all our friendly microbes (3,4). Instead, we can choose less harsh cleaners that will keep our homes fresh, reduce harmful microbes, but will spare the healthy ones. Using things like vinegar, essential oils, or environmentally friendly cleaners will help.

If we use copious amounts of harsh antibacterial chemicals to clean our homes, we will lose all our friendly microbes Click To Tweet

Less Cleaning Will Enhance The Growth & Health of Your Home Microbiome

However, even if you use less harsh cleaners, you can still kill off too many good guys if you clean too frequently (4,5). A good rule of thumb is to clean once a week with the cleaners mentioned above. If your home feels too dusty, you can always just wipe surfaces with water rather than using cleansers.

Again, if you’ve had an outbreak of salmonella or dangerous mold growth, of course, you will need to take care of it. But in the absence of those issues, there’s no need to over-clean.

If you think about it, we never “clean” our guts. At times we may need antibiotics to “clean” out microbes that could be making us sick, but other than that, we don’t think about cleaning our guts. Our home environments do get cluttered, dusty, and full of grime. But really, it’s only the grime that may need cleansers. Everything else just needs tidying up and wiping with a damp cloth.

Our home environments do get cluttered, dusty, and full of grime. But really, it's only the grime that may need cleansers. Everything else just needs tidying up and wiping with a damp cloth. Click To Tweet

bathroomAdding More Soil-Based Microbes Acts Like a Probiotic

Most people don’t know this, but a little dirt is actually good for you, and it’s also good for your home. Dr. Josh Axe writes about the benefits of soil-based microbes in his book “Eat Dirt.” He says that we can re-establish the symbiotic relationship that we’ve always had with them by increasing our exposure to diverse microbes (6). This relationship keeps us healthy and shapes our immune system. Certain microbes not only keep harmful microbes at bay, but they also strengthen our immune systems (6).

For a while, we only focused on enhancing our guts’ microbial diversity, but this is also essential in our home environments. In the book “Never Home Alone,” biologist Rob Dunn looks at the variety of microbial, insect, and animal life alive in most homes. He noticed that many illnesses in modern society increased simultaneously as the microbial life inside of modern homes decreased (5).

It seems that the more we nurture our relationship with soil-based microbes, the more we create balance and health in our homes, which, in turn, enhances our health. Perhaps a new version of “clean” in our homes is one where we allow a bit of outside dirt to come in. Playing in nature with pets and other humans will naturally bring outside soil-microbes into the home (4). We can also explore the use of home probiotics that foster our microbial relationship (7). Our Homebiotic spray is the perfect way to add soil based probiotics to your home, keeping it balanced & fresh!

It seems that the more we nurture our relationship with soil-based microbes, the more we create balance and health in our homes, which, in turn, enhances our health. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

These are the top three ways to nurture our home microbiome. It’s time we think of our home health in a similar way as our gut health. Instead of creating an overly clean and sterile environment, we can strive for a more balanced approach.

Of course, no one wants a dirty home that smells bad. But maybe the definition of a clean house is one that includes a more natural and symbiotic relationship with the world we live in. Perhaps a clean home is one that allows some microscopic dirt to accumulate without the use of harsh cleaners.

By nurturing our home microbiome, we create a healthy environment that goes back to the basics before the advent of bleach and antibacterial cleansers. As humans, we depend on our home environments’ symbiotic relationship, just as our gut microbes rely on us for their home environments. In this way, a healthy home microbiome is a part of promoting our personal wellness too.


References

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/dr-josh-axe/eat-dirt/9781509820955

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

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7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free

You’re stuck in that cycle. You clean for HOURS then a couple days later those pesky musty odors are back! So we bet you’re wondering: How do I keep my home mold free? How do I keep those stale smells away?

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap.

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap. Click To Tweet

But maybe you need to readjust your relationship with mold. After all, mold is a natural organism that’s been on planet Earth for far longer than humans! Mold is going nowhere. Do you know what isn’t natural? An over-clean, sterile home!

While wiping down with bleach and spraying antibacterial cleaner around may seem to beat back the mold, these cleaners can actually do your environment further harm. And though it seems unbelievable, mold isn’t a problem in itself. Unsafe levels of mold is a problem – for both your health and quality of life. Controlling mold in your home is as easy at this 7 step check-list:

1. CONTROL MOISTURE & CONDENSATION

Mold adores a moist, warm atmosphere, and the right conditions are key to how it reproduces, spreads, and forms new colonies. By taking control of the moisture that enters and circulates your home, you can gain the upper hand, and keep your home – and the air you breathe – healthy. That said, if you are living in a property that has previously been flooded, it may be wiser in the long run to move.

Now is the time to consider:

  • PROPERLY REPAIRING HOLES IN YOUR ROOF OR GAPS IN YOUR WALLS1 – mold spores can come through the gaps in external walls, while a leaky roof can be all too encouraging for mold.
  • FIXING PLUMBING – while dealing with that slow drip under the faucet might not be top of your chore list, not dealing with it is a way to foster mold.
  • REMOVE WET CARPET OR OLD CARPET THAT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY WATER DAMAGED – it’s very difficult to remove mold from carpets.
  • REDUCE MOISTURE AROUND WINDOWSILLS – using moisture eliminating products like absorbers or traps on your windowsill if you have condensation, as otherwise mold may eat at wooden frames, or collect on PVC window seals.

2. CONTROL HUMIDITY

Mold loves humidity, and in your home it’s not enough to simply remove the sources of moisture. When you breathe out, you’re exhaling moisture, and many aspects of daily life, like cooking, and using a clothes dryer, produce more humidity.

The most straightforward thing you can do is invest in one or more dehumidifiers to help control the humidity inside your home, making it far more difficult for mold to multiply. Keeping the humidity in your house at 50% is best – it’s the sweet spot where mold growth is inhibited but not so low that it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, use an exhaust fan or open a window while you cook.

Do not install a Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) purely for dealing with humidity – it’s a common misconception that ERVs work as a dehumidifier – they do not. Instead, they allow the exchange of heat or coolness between the air indoors and the air coming in from the outside, which can be helpful depending on the climate in which you live, but a ERV is no alternative to a dehumidifier.

3. CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT

You rely on your air conditioning unit to cool your home, and often heat it as well, and it’s easy to take it for granted. When tackling mold, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and maintain your air con on a regular basis. Unfortunately, mold colonies can live in air conditioning ducts, meaning that the spores and toxins they emit can spread throughout your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend hiring a professional to clean your air conditioner if you suspect a mold infestation2. Above all, DO NOT run your air conditioner if you suspect it contains mold – it spreads the problem to other places in your home, and potentially re-contaminate areas of your home you may have already cleaned.

4. INSPECT INDOOR PLANTS

Houseplants can harbor mold, as the moisture and warmth of the soil is very beneficial to growing mold. Although houseplants are often an easy way to improve air quality in your home, if their pots of soil have mold, the health drawbacks can often outweigh the positives.

If you have this issue, consider keeping plants outside or in a dedicated greenhouse and avoid keeping the plants indoors where possible.

5. TACKLE YOUR CARPETS

As stated above, if they have been affected by flooding, you must throw the carpet away, as no amount of cleaning can eradicate the particular water-based molds that can attach to the fibers3.

But if you have carpet in your home that you suspect has been compromised by mold, it’s crucial to clean your carpet more thoroughly, removing any mold spores. With a true HEPA vacuum cleaner, you’re able to eradicate mold spores with the powerful motor and high quality filter.

Remember:

  • To empty your HEPA vacuum cleaner outside, to avoid spreading a cloud of spores back into the air.
  • It takes time to remove all mold spores from your carpet – it’s not an overnight solution to your problem, and the vacuuming needs to be done in combination with the other items on this list before you see or feel any improvement.
  • To try to vacuum from several different angles in order to suck up as many mold spores as you can.
  • Professional steam cleaning can help keep a carpet free of irritants including mold

6. USE BORAX ON FABRIC, SURFACES AND WALLS

Borax is the best substance to use on fabric because it’s a lot gentler than bleach, but it’s also amazing on porous surfaces such as wooden furniture, worktop and table surfaces, and walls4.

Though bleach can work wonders on sinks and floors, it’s simply not suitable for combating mold. Bleach can not:

  • Kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall
  • Remove mold toxins and spores
  • Sanitize organic surfaces that mold prefers to feed on5

Unfortunately, bleach also removes the friendly bacteria that normally consume mold, potentially making your mold issue worse!

By choosing borax (sodium borate), you’re using a natural mineral to change the natural pH of the surface or fabric. The alkaline of borax disrupts the environment for the mold, making it unwelcoming. Use a combination of disposable wipes, microfiber cloths and diluted borax to clean porous surfaces. Soak fabric for half an hour in a mix of one cup of borax to one gallon of water before putting in the washer to clean. Always wash your hands after using borax.

7. USE HOMEBIOTIC TO BALANCE YOUR HOME

Mold is a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. Once any visible mold has been appropriately remediated you need to make sure you make appropriate efforts to rebalance your home, keeping away musty odors & grime. Homebiotic spray rebalances your home biome using non-toxic, chemical free probiotics. Our proprietary formula used soil-based probiotics that are safe for your family, including the furry ones!

Homebiotic Spray - Environmental Probiotics

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Mold Growth Can Be Caused by Over-Cleaning: Here’s Why.

Mold growth can be caused by a variety of things, including over-cleaning. A recent University of Oklahoma study reveals that instead of the intended effect, over-cleaning a home actually leads to increased mold growth due to a lack of natural competition. For many years, those who live in urban homes have believed that keeping our homes squeaky clean will protect us from harmful pathogens such as bacteria and fungus.

A recent University of Oklahoma study reveals that instead of the intended effect, over-cleaning a home actually leads to increased mold growth due to a lack of natural competition. For many years, those who live in urban homes have… Click To Tweet

Indeed, we’ve developed chemicals that kill off harmful bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli, and staphylococcus aureus. But we know now that these chemicals are causing resistant bacteria as well as killing off good bacteria too. However, in the past decade, more discussion has taken place around microbial resistance and destruction of the helpful human and environmental biomes due to our cleaning practices.

Some of us are unsure about how seriously we should take this issue. With the rise of dangerous and resistant bacteria, many of us are feeling confused. Do we want to decrease our cleaning frequency? Should we switch to other products that create microbial balance rather than killing them off?

The findings from a new study by Laura-Isobel McCall, a biochemist from the University of Oklahoma, may help us make some decisions 1. These study results not only back up existing knowledge around the role bacteria and fungus in the home biome, but they give us some new information to consider.

Study Results: Over-cleaning Causes Increased Mold Growth

The study compared fungal diversity between urban and rural settings in the Amazonia region of Peru and Brazil. Fungal diversity refers to the number of different species of fungus found in a specific area. The urban settings studied were apartments and homes in city environments, whereas the rural settings were in remote villages where people lived amongst nature. The study also looked at the fungal diversity for both the feet and guts of inhabitants in both locations.

The results showed an increase of fungus in urban settings compared to rural ones. Urban environments have much higher quantities of harmful fungal microbes, such as aspergillus and candida. Whereas, they have much lower amounts of helpful fungal microbes.

The results showed an increase of fungus in urban settings compared to rural ones. Urban environments have much higher quantities of harmful fungal microbes... Click To Tweet

Conversely, helpful bacteria are found in much lower numbers in urban homes compared to rural settings. And while there are more harmful bacteria found in rural settings, they live in better balance and harmony with other diverse bacteria and fungus. The researchers also found that the human feet and guts of those who lived in these urban settings showed the same distribution of harmful versus helpful fungal quantities.

These results also show that the environmental microbiome has a significant influence on the microbiome of our bodies.

While we strive to decrease harmful pathogens in our home environments, we may be doing more harm than good by wiping out the balance between the microbes. And this appears to have a direct effect on our physical health and well-being. The researchers also isolated several chemical compounds in high diversity in urban homes. So not only do our homes contain more fungal diversity and less helpful bacteria, but they also have more harmful chemicals than ever before 1.

Why Do Fungal Microbes (Mold) Thrive in Urban Environments?

The researchers noted several reasons why fungus grows more abundant in urban environments, to begin with. Our homes are more closed off, which increases internal temperature and limits natural light and air. These are all issues known to worsen fungal growth. Also, urban homes contain more CO2 and more surfaces that aid the growth of fungal microbes 1,2.

However, the study also looked at cleaning compounds which are used in higher amounts in urban settings. The study results showed that these fungal organisms are likely resistant to the cleaning products. Also, once bacteria were killed off, fungal microbes are allowed to grow in more significant numbers 1.

What we do know is that fungal microbes have stronger cell walls than bacteria, so they are more apt to become resistant. Also, bacteria and fungal microbes are known to live in balance (or competition, depending on how you look at it!) together, keeping each population in check 3.

Some bacteria have special enzymes, such as chitinase, that can break through the sturdy cell walls of fungus, lowering their numbers and creating a balance between bacteria and fungus 3. But what happens when those bacteria aren’t present in the local environment anymore?

Does Killing Bacteria Create More Opportunities for Fungal Growth?

Indeed, the study results obtained by Dr. McCall shows that once we kill off all the bacteria, it provides more opportunities for fungal microbes to grow. And since urban homes already have optimal conditions, this helps explain why fungal organisms are found in greater diversity there 1,2.

These results leave us with some challenges for sure, but they’re also promising and give us more food for thought as we work to create a more balanced microbiome in our homes. In turn, this will also help improve the microbiome in our bodies.

Interestingly, while we’ve managed to largely eliminate the threat of harmful bacteria that cause various infections and gastrointestinal illness, fungal-related diseases such as allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune issues are on the rise. So, it appears we may have swapped one group of illnesses for another 4,5,6.

...once we kill off all the bacteria, it provides more opportunities for fungal microbes to grow. And since urban homes already have optimal conditions, this helps explain why fungal organisms are found in greater diversity there. Click To Tweet

Reconsidering How We Clean

For those of us in urban settings, these new facts present some challenges and opportunities. Most importantly, we need to consider our cleaning practices. Because even though there’s not much that can be easily done to change the structure of our homes, we can do something about our cleaning practices.

  1. DECREASING THE USE OF CHEMICAL CLEANERS: an important place to start. We can ease up on how often we clean and choose less chemical-based cleaners. Natural cleaners like vinegar and essential oils would make better choices. But we also need to reconsider our ideas and biases around living with microbes in our homes. We now understand that disrupting the balance of microbes has adverse effects on overall microbial diversity in our homes 1,6. The next issue is how we can create new practices that help us have more balance and harmony with microbes. By increasing beneficial bacteria in our homes, we not only decrease harmful bacteria, but we also keep fungal microbes to a minimum 2,6,7.
  2. REINTRODUCE BENEFICIAL BACTERIA BACK INTO YOUR HOME: That’s the easy part! Homebiotic naturally and efficiently re-introduces helpful bacteria back in our homes in a convenient spray. It is applied after cleaning any surface to restore a healthy bacterial layer. Just as we improve our gut health through oral probiotics, Homebiotic is a probiotic for our home.

Homebiotic spray - the probiotic for your home

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What Can I Learn by Testing My Home Biome?

In the past several decades, modern life has revolved around a shared understanding of our homes. We see our homes as safe sanctuaries for living, relaxing, and raising our families. And as such, we’ve developed codes of conduct around keeping our homes clean, tidy, and void of anything unsafe or unsanitary. But have you thought, “What can I learn by testing my home biome”?

However, in recent years we’ve seen a rise in new health issues, which has sparked questions around the safety and health of our homes. We realize that our closed-in living spaces no longer include a relationship with our outdoor environment.

More importantly, researchers and experts are beginning to see that the lack of biodiversity inside our homes is problematic.

This has prompted some crucial discussions and research about what’s living and not living in our homes. Indeed, this may be the start of a new era of modern life where we change our ideas about what safe and healthy actually means for our home environments.

What Is A Home Biome, And Why Does It Matter?

The home biome refers to everything that lives in our homes. It may be surprising to hear that humans are the minority inside our own homes. In the book “Never Home Alone,” author and biologist Rob Dunn recounts the myriad of life that resides in our living spaces 1.

Not only do we live with other creatures like spiders and crickets, but we also share a home with thousands of tiny microbes, most of which are beneficial to us. The home biome matters as much to our health and well being as does a healthy diet or whether we get enough sleep each night 1.

Most of us have heard about the importance of a balanced gut biome. Yet, few understand that a balanced home biome is also essential. And that balance includes having many diverse microbes living in harmony with us 1,2.

Most of us have heard about the importance of a balanced gut biome. Yet, few understand that a balanced home biome is also essential. And that balance includes having many diverse microbes living in harmony with us Click To Tweet

In his book, Dunn refers to several studies looking at the differences between the home biome of modern people versus those who live surrounded by more biodiversity. For example, one study compared the microbes in modern homes with those of homes that were more open and connected with nature.

It turns out that the children raised in homes that contained more biodiverse soil-based microbes did not suffer from allergies, asthma, or other inflammatory conditions 1,3.

Dunn also discusses other expert findings that reveal a relationship between our modern lives and inflammatory disease. It turns out that when the biodiversity around us decreases, human inflammation increases 1,3,4,5.

The presence of microbes in our home biome are required for our immune system to develop appropriately. A balanced home biome makes for a balanced immune system that neither under- or over-reacts. The exact evolutionary reason for this health benefit isn’t completely understood yet. However, we do know that a closer connection to outdoor biodiversity is what brings balance to the home biome 1,3,4,5.

In short, our physical and environmental health depends on living with diverse microbes. And these microbes must include those found in the soil and natural environment.

We also know that a balanced home biome is a strong defense against the few harmful pathogens that can live with us. It’s interesting to note that out of thousands of microbes, only a few are actually harmful to us 1. Microbes such as mold, salmonella, and e.coli are the main ones that we try to avoid in our homes.

We now understand that a balanced home biome that includes soil-based microbes is what keeps these harmful pathogens from becoming a problem. We just need to figure out how to nurture a healthy home biome in this modern age.

 

What Can I Learn by Testing My Home Biome?What Is Home Biome Testing?

The first step in fostering a healthy home biome is to know what’s growing within its borders in the first place.

We know a musty smell points to mold growth. Or if we prepare food and someone gets sick, this may point to salmonella growing on our cutting boards or countertops. Our first reaction is to get rid of harmful microbes, but we rarely think about how to bring in good microbes that may be of help to us.

But really, if we don’t know what’s growing in our homes, then we can’t do anything about it. So testing our home biome gives us an incredible tool for understanding the health of our home.

Many of us have used the ERMI test, which covers about 36 species of mold, while the HERTSMI test includes about 5 species. In this way, we no longer have to guess what’s happening with our home biome. Instead, we can understand the health of our home by identifying any potential dysbiosis.

Over-Cleaning Causes Increased Fungal Growth in Urban HomesWhat Is Environmental Dysbiosis?

Again, we are beginning to understand what happens to us when our gut biome is out of balance. By now, many people have heard of dysbiosis in our gut and the accompanying health issues. Now, we need to look at dysbiosis in our home environments.

Dysbiosis refers to a biome that is out of balance. This means that certain harmful microbes are growing unchecked, while other good microbes are not growing enough 7.

The reasons why we have dysbiosis in our gut are actually similar to why we might have it in our homes. In essence, we kill off too many good microbes, which allow the bad ones to grow. In the case of our homes, this often happens by over-cleaning with harsh antimicrobial solutions 8,9,10.

Research shows that mold can indeed be much more common in household areas that are “too clean”. And in the regions that are less cleaned, there is a higher diversity of microbes and less mold 8,10.

What Can I Learn From The Results of My Home Biome Test?

By testing the home biome, not only can we learn which harmful microbes may be growing in our homes, but we can actively do something about it. Also, we can understand more about the levels of beneficial microbes as well.

Through a home biome test, we can see if we have a mold problem or not. Mold growth says a lot about the dysbiosis of our homes because we know that rampant mold growth means a lack of diverse microbes 8,9,10.

Through a home biome test, we can see if we have a mold problem or not. Mold growth says a lot about the dysbiosis of our homes because we know that rampant mold growth means a lack of diverse microbes Click To Tweet

Through a home biome test, we’ll know the exact species growing in our homes, which means we can take the necessary steps to improve balance. Some of these steps include bringing in more soil-based microbes while easing up on our cleaning practices.

Where we were once obsessed with getting rid of dirt, perhaps now we need to relax more. Because having a bit of outside dirt in our homes, is quite frankly, exactly what we need.

While it may sound like a radical idea to bring in more dirt and clean less, the research is clearly showing that this is necessary for reducing environmental dysbiosis 1,7,8. In turn, this improves our own health too 1,4,5,7.

As our modern homes are less connected to the natural environment, this means soil-based microbes are no longer living with us the way they once did. And as mentioned above, without this balance, we’re seeing a rise in inflammatory disease.

Conclusion

Indeed, new developments in home biome research are making us pay attention to what’s living or not living in our homes. An increase in mold likely means we don’t have enough beneficial microbes. And this means that our homes may be in a state of dysbiosis.

By testing our home biome, we can arm ourselves with the knowledge we need to prevent or fix dysbiosis. And since we now understand the connection between home dysbiosis and the rise of inflammatory conditions, we must take steps to prevent this.

As our modern dwellings continue to change and evolve, we’ll need to figure out how we can maintain healthy homes that somehow include a relationship with our natural environments. As creative and intelligent beings, there’s much we can do to restore balance. And testing our home biome is an excellent step towards creating that balance.


REFERENCES

1. http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/
2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489
3. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/21/8334
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895627
5.https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791814/
7. https://letthemeatdirt.com
8.https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf
9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304
10. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

 

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How Mold Impacts the Environment

You may be familiar already with some of the health effects associated with mold exposure, but have you considered how mold impacts the environment? The environmental impacts can go much further than the initial mold issue. Specifically, the impacts of traditional mold killing remedies can have far-reaching environmental effects.

Many people tend to reach for a bottle of bleach (or other bleach-based products) when tackling household mold issues, but as we’ve discussed before, bleach is not a good choice for dealing with mold. Beyond the health impacts of exposure to bleach, its use can lead to significant environmental impacts within your home and the areas around your home.

Negative Impact: Air Quality

According to the EPA, Americans spend roughly 90% of the time inside,1 where the concentrations of some pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher than concentrations typically found outdoors2. This situation is made worse when we consider that the people who are most vulnerable to poor air quality (eg. infants and children, the elderly, and anyone suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease) tend to spend more time indoors than others3.

In recent decades, as buildings have become more and more airtight for energy efficiency (itself not a bad thing, of course), indoor pollution levels have risen sharply. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient mechanical ventilation in sealed buildings to allow adequate air exchange, as well as the rise in popularity of industrial-strength cleaning products now marketed for home use4.

In recent decades, as buildings have become more and more airtight for energy efficiency (itself not a bad thing, of course), indoor pollution levels have risen sharply. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient mechanical… Click To Tweet

Usually, because these products tend to be extremely irritating to your eyes and mucous membranes (nose, throat, lungs), it’s suggested that they are only used in a “well-ventilated” area3. While this certainly can remove the pollutants from the immediate vicinity of the person using them, it does still result in noxious fumes being released to the outside air. In past decades, the phrase “Dilution is the solution to pollution!” was often repeated, but despite the catchy rhyme, it’s definitely not a solution. It’s also not just for air. This applies to what goes down your drain as well.

Negative Impact: Water Quality

If you live in a rural area or are on a septic system, you’ll no doubt already be aware that flushing bleach down your drain is a big no-no. But did you know that it’s also bad even if you are on a city sewer system? Nearly every wastewater treatment system uses bacteria to break down sewage, and exposure to antiseptic products within the wastewater can disrupt the beneficial bacteria. This can result in a reduced or incomplete breakdown of the biological material. In addition, many wastewater treatment systems are not designed to break down chemicals and so often they pass right through the system and are discharged into a lake, river, or other nearby body of water – sometimes the same body of water where drinking water is sourced from!

many wastewater treatment systems are not designed to break down chemicals and so often they pass right through the system and are discharged into a lake, river, or other nearby body of water - sometimes the same body of water where… Click To Tweet

It gets worse.

Common household bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite, contains a reactive chlorine atom which readily reacts with both organic and inorganic material in water to form a group of substances called trihalomethanes. The 4 trihalomethanes are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform5. These are all byproducts of the reaction of disinfection products with non-purified water, such as is found in household wastewater. Each of these is a Cancer Group B carcinogen (substances shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals). 

Trichloromethane (chloroform) is by far the most common in most water systems. Dibromochloromethane is the most serious cancer risk, (0.6 ug/l to cause a 10-6 cancer risk increase) followed in order by Bromoform (4 ug/l), and Chloroform (6 ug/l). EPA regulations strictly limit these chemicals at a maximum allowable annual average level of 80 parts per billion (80ppb) when used in drinking water purification systems, but there are no such controls for household wastewater6. With either a compromised city wastewater system or a rural septic system that could potentially contaminate a well or nearby body of water, these pose significant health and environmental hazards.7

Is There A Better Choice For Cleaning Mold?

Rather than using toxic cleaning products that create harmful fumes (Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs) that must be vented to the outside environment or using products that create disinfectant byproducts that are known to be carcinogenic, consider a more eco-friendly alternative.

Hydrogen peroxide, h2o2, can be as effective as bleach in disinfecting a surface but lacks the numerous negative side effects. The reaction uses oxidation rather than a chlorine reaction and produces only water as a byproduct, and no harmful fumes. Hydrogen peroxide, at a concentration of 3%, is effective for killing minor mold growth and disinfecting affected surfaces. It may discolor some materials, so be sure to spot test in an inconspicuous area first. This concentration of hydrogen peroxide is easily found at most grocery stores, drug stores, and of course online. A higher concentration of 7% can be found at chemical supply shops, beauty supply shops, and from online retailers including Amazon, and is more effective, but should be used with caution.

Hydrogen peroxide, h2o2, can be as effective as bleach in disinfecting a surface but lacks the numerous negative side effects. The reaction uses oxidation rather than a chlorine reaction and produces only water as a byproduct, and no… Click To Tweet

How To Use Hydrogen Peroxide On Mold

A common spray mister cap can be attached straight to the hydrogen peroxide bottle and sprayed onto mold spots. This will most likely generate a fizzing reaction for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Carefully wipe the spots away after the fizzing has subsided and at least 10 minutes have passed, and let the surface dry. If there is still mold visible, or it has left stains, you can repeat the hydrogen peroxide application several more times as needed. It’s advised that personal protective equipment be used when cleaning even minor mold spots, including a proper mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection. While the use of reusable microfiber cloths is advisable in many situations, this is not one of them. The mold should be wiped away with a disposable cloth such as a paper towel, which should be discarded immediately. You will likely want to have a fan operating nearby to help remove any excess humidity, although it is not required for the removal of fumes as there will not be any produced.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/6958939-report-congress-indoor-air-quality-volume-assessment-control-indoor-air-pollution-final-report
2. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/5936245
3. https://rais.ornl.gov/documents/EFH_Final_1997_EPA600P95002Fa.pdf
4. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-08/documents/nas_report_for_web.pdf
5. https://water-research.net/index.php/trihalomethanes-disinfection
6. http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/stage1/
7. http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/ard/documents/ard-ehp-13.pdf