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3 Healthy Home Hacks

3 Healthy Home Hacks | Grandparents jumping on a bed enjoying retirement in their mold free home

We’re lucky enough to be living in a time of great technological and biological advancement. We get to sleep in soft beds, enjoy indoor plumbing, and our houses are cool in the summer and warm them in the winter. In fact, as you’re reading this article you’re probably inside your home or office. We spend an average of 90% of our time indoors. This means that healthy home hacks are a very efficient way to improve your own health and well being. So, how do you keep your house clean?

What does “clean” mean?

If it looks clean and smells clean, is it clean? The answer to that is a resounding… “maybe”.

You’ll see lots of tips that share ways to keep your house dust-free or your carpets smelling fresh. Just because you can’t see it or smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there. For example, dust mites are there whether you can see them or not, and dust mite allergies are becoming common. It’s hard to know exactly what is in “dust”. For example, skin flakes make up about 80% of the material you see in a sunbeam. You’ll never look at sunshine streaming through your windows the same way again. So, let’s agree that there will always be microbes, bacteria, dirt and more in our homes, no matter how much you vacuum or how enthusiastically you scrub.

skin flakes make up about 80% of the material you see in a sunbeam. You’ll never look at sunshine streaming through your windows the same way again Click To Tweet

The next reaction may be to simply bleach everything so at least it’s all dead!

But, there are a few problems with this idea:

  • Not everything can be bleached, such as that beautiful wool rug in the living room.
  • Bleach doesn’t discriminate against what it kills, so it’s killing the good bacteria and fungi along with the bad, leaving you with an invisible wasteland. As the bleach evaporates, it contaminates the air and it leaves behind water.
  • The water left behind by the bleach is the perfect environment for mold, mildew and bad bacteria to grow in the post-bleach wasteland. Now you have opened the door to toxic mildew and mold that not only smells bad, but also lowers the quality of your air and triggers allergies in sensitive people.
  • Finally, if you kill off “most” of the good and the bad microorganisms, you’re killing off the weak and allowing the strong, pathogenic (bad!) ones to survive.

Think about it like landscaping your yard. If you just let whatever is already there grow without seeding it with “good” seeds, it will always have opportunistic weeds that get bigger and stronger, but no grass. You can mow the weeds down over and over, but that won’t create grass.

Using traditional chemical cleaners in your home are doing just that. At a microscopic level, you’re just mowing the weeds when you clean, but not making progress on the health of your home or the air you’re breathing. With a lawn, you need to put grass seed down and feed it properly. With your home, you need to provide the right microorganisms and nurture them so they keep the unhealthy ones in check for you.

So “clean”, from an overall human health perspective, should be redefined as a “healthy clean” that is good for both the naked eye and at a biological level. This results in a natural home (or office or car) that has the right balance of beneficial bacteria, and that is free of nasty mold and mildew.

To do this, you need the ability to know what the right balance is AND how to create it. So here are 3 healthy home hacks that are easy but impactful:

1. Use a good HEPA air filter. And keep it on while you clean!

This will help you with dust, tobacco smoke, and pollen, but isn’t going to have a measurable impact on Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold and other types of gaseous pollutants. There are bunch of options out there, so do your research. If a new filter isn’t in the cards, try turning your thermostat to “fan on”, which will turn the blower on and filter the air. It won’t heat or cool, it will just filter the air while you clean. It also means you’ll need to change your filter more often.

2. Stop using harsh chemicals, bleach and antibacterial cleaners.

They ruin the air and biodiversity of your home. You physically share a bunch of bacteria with your home, roommate, spouse, kids, and dog. We’re all connected with our environment. If you need another reason, stop using them for the good of the world. Triclosan, an antiseptic chemical still found in many antibacterial products, kills the easily killed bacteria and leaves behind the resilient ones — encouraging antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Plus, they often don’t work any better than traditional cleaning ingredients. Try something safer and more cost effective, such as vinegar (but not on natural stone) or baking soda.

Triclosan, an antiseptic chemical still found in many antibacterial products, kills the easily killed bacteria and leaves behind the resilient ones -- encouraging antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Plus, they often don’t work any better… Click To Tweet

3. Cultivate and support your home’s microbes.

This is where Homebiotic makes an impact on the quality of the air you breathe and your own personal microbe footprint. Your environment works with your body. There are billions of bacteria in your gut that you care for by ingesting probiotics through a pill, yogurt, or fermented foods. You also have tons of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites on your skin. Your environmental bacteria end up on you, impacting the biodiversity on your own skin. With so many microbes in, on and around you, be sure they are the good ones! In your home, you can balance out the bad microbes with good microbes (and spend a lot less time scrubbing).

homebiotic spray

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Cleaning Mold: Bleach vs Hydrogen Peroxide

Cleaning Mold: Bleach vs Hydrogen Peroxide | cleaning mold with hydrogen peroxide or cleaning mold with bleach

Although minor mold spots are easy enough to wipe away while cleaning, the mold often returns quickly. While you might think to reach for the disinfectant spray or prepare a bucket of bleach to douse the area to kill it once and for all, these are not the best solutions for fixing a mold issue. These disinfectants are named for their ability to dis-infect, or kill, microbes and while that may sound good, in many cases this can actually make a mold problem worse!

BLEACH 101

If you look underneath the sink of an average home, you’re most likely going to find a variety of disinfectants, including bleach. Bleach is often a go-to remedy for stubborn stains and is used for making areas of the kitchen and bathroom sanitized and clean, but have you ever wondered why?

The most common kind of bleach is chlorine bleach, a water-based solution containing sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Bleach removes stains from fabrics and non-porous surfaces by oxidizing and breaking down networks of double bonds between the carbon atoms making up the discoloration, removing the stain’s ability to absorb light. So the bleach doesn’t really neutralize and break down the matter creating the stain completely, just the bonds that make it visible to the human eye!

DOWNSIDES OF USING BLEACH

When you apply bleach to mold or mildew on tile grout, for example, it’s killing what’s on the surface and lightening the stain that the mold growth has caused, which makes it look as though it’s gone. But, that’s not the whole picture.

Bleach only works well on non-porous surfaces, and isn’t effective on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall or tile grout. While it may be effective at killing mold on the surface, the chlorine is unable to penetrate into the surface, so is either left on the surface or evaporates into the air of your home. Meanwhile, some of the water does seep into the surface and provides moisture to help the surviving mold grow back. And it does, more quickly each time it seems! If that wasn’t bad enough, you’ve now added harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home as well.

Bleach only works well on non-porous surfaces, and isn't effective on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall or tile grout. While it may be effective at killing mold on the surface, the chlorine is unable to penetrate into the surface,… Click To Tweet

Another reason to not use bleach to clean mold is even if the actively growing mold is killed, many of the health effects of mold are actually due to their byproducts, called mycotoxins, which bleach doesn’t affect. Bleach is also highly irritating to use, and should only be used with personal protective gear such as eye protection, a mask, and gloves, as well as good ventilation. For these reasons, we definitely recommend against using bleach to clean mold.

IS HYDROGEN PEROXIDE BETTER?

You may be more used to seeing a familiar brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your first aid kit than in your cleaning supplies, but it’s actually a very handy product to use for home cleaning! Hydrogen peroxide is often referred to as an oxygen bleach, because it acts as an oxidizer, chemically attacking the cell wall of bacteria, often rupturing it entirely. The oxidizing function when cleaning with hydrogen oxide means that it works similarly to chlorine bleach in killing microbes and eliminating stains, but without leaving toxic residues behind which pollute the air in your home – hydrogen peroxide leaves only water and oxygen as its byproducts.

Regular 3% hydrogen peroxide is effective at killing surface mold, and only needs to be sprayed on and left for 10 minutes or until it stops fizzing. Repeat as necessary until the visible mold is gone, taking care to not over-wet the surface.

Regular 3% hydrogen peroxide is effective at killing surface mold, and only needs to be sprayed on and left for 10 minutes or until it stops fizzing Click To Tweet

Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with other cleaning products, including natural ones. There have been many “DIY Cleaner” articles posted online which recommend mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, but this reduces the effectiveness of either the hydrogen peroxide or vinegar compared to when used alone, and it also creates peracetic acid which potentially toxic and irritates skin, eyes, and lungs.

I’VE CLEANED THE MOLD, NOW WHAT?

Regardless of what product is used to clean a surface, if the surface is left bare it will quickly be repopulated. If nothing is done, either sub-surface mold will grow back, or perhaps a harmful bacteria lurking in your kitchen or bathroom will move in.

The solution is to reintroduce friendly bacteria from healthy soil

These friendly bacteria naturally balance out these unwanted guests. When cleaning your home, and especially when cleaning mold growth, applying Homebiotic immediately afterwards will help keep these surfaces stay clean at a microscopic level. Homebiotic is colorless and scent-free, so you won’t even notice it’s there. It just forms a probiotic barrier for your home… naturally.

bathroom