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Dangers Of Modern Cleaning Products

Dangers Of Modern Cleaning Products

Over the past century our cleaning strategies have become more modern and increasingly more sterile. This means we have adopted the idea that in order for our homes to be clean, they must be void of all microbes. Not only is this idea false, it’s also very harmful to our home environment, the external environment, and our health.

In the past decade, we’re learning that the health of our overall microbiome is an important piece to our personal and environmental health. A microbiome refers to all the microbial life that we live with every day. In order for a microbiome to be healthy, there has to be a diverse and abundant microbial life. In other words, we don’t want to harm all the bacteria and other microbes that we live with. The biggest reason why microbes die out is due to our cleaning practices. Let’s explore this in more depth so that we can learn how to foster our microbiome better.

happy family - homebiotic

Which Modern Cleaning Products Are Harmful?

Modern cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, antibacterial, and other harsh compounds can be harmful to our skin, gut, environmental, and home microbiome. Yes, these products will definitely kill harmful bacteria and viruses, but they also kill all the healthy and helpful microbes as well. There are times when we need to kill harmful microbes for sure, but we likely don’t need to do this all the time. Unfortunately, we’ve become so averse to any microbes at all that we often slather our homes in these products.

Modern cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, antibacterial, and other harsh compounds can be harmful to our skin, gut, environmental, and home microbiome. Yes, these products will definitely kill harmful bacteria and viruses,… Click To Tweet

heron fishing in swamp - HomebioticWhy Are Some Cleaning Products Harmful To The Environment?

We may intend to just clean our homes, but every time we use harsh cleaning products, they get washed down the drain and end up in our oceans, drinking water, and freshwater lakes. These products will also cause destruction in the healthy microbes in our natural environments. These environments rely on a balance of microbes to survive and function well. Many bacteria that can be found in soil, water, and plants are needed in order to continue the life cycle properly. What we may not realize is that this healthy microbiome is essential for the health of our entire world. Without them, nature would die and so would we. Although the use of harsh cleaners is just beginning to be understood, people are still manufacturing and using them daily in their homes, offices, and public buildings.

How Modern Cleaning Products Affect The Home Microbiome?

In our homes, modern cleaning products can decimate an entire population of microbes in one sweep. We are beginning to understand that this is not a good thing but we don’t exactly know why. Our home has a microbiome made up of human microbes, home microbes, and possibly pet microbes. All of these eventually settle into a balance if they are allowed to flourish.

The key thing that people need to understand is that this microbiome helps us considerably. A diverse set of microbes actually helps decrease harmful microbes like mold, fungus, salmonella, e.coli, and others. However, this can only happen if the microbiome is healthy and balanced. Without a balance, other microbes take over and grow out of control. Mold is a perfect example of this. Often, mold can be found in places where the microbiome is unstable and unbalanced. The same can be said for mildew and bacteria like e.coli. If we kill off the microbiome, then these harmful microbes can take over and then we will have to clean excessively in order to stave them off. Anyone who’s ever had a mold problem can tell you how difficult it is to get rid of the problem once it starts. But few people realize that they can do this by ensuring that good microbes have a place in their homes.

Several studies show that homes void of diverse microbes has an overgrowth of human and fungal microbes which are not helpful to the home environment. Even pests like spiders, beetles, and camel crickets are essential to a healthy home microbiome. However, these tiny creatures are also negatively affected by over-cleaning using harsh modern cleaning products.

Several studies show that homes void of diverse microbes has an overgrowth of human and fungal microbes which are not helpful to the home environment. Click To Tweet

wetlands - homebioticHow Modern Cleaning Products Affect The Environment?

Modern cleaning products actually kill bacteria and other microbes as they have toxic compounds that don’t support life. They don’t simply remove and wash away bacteria, instead they actually kill them along with all the good microbes too. This is a big difference compared to more natural cleaning products that simply wash microbes away without killing them.

Furthermore, these toxic compounds leave our homes through the drain pipes and end up in our external environment. This is why our lakes and oceans are struggling. Marine and terrestrial life can not be supported properly with so many toxic chemicals in their living space.

How Do Some Cleaning Products Affect Our Bodily Microbiome?

Our gut and skin microbiome are highly important for our health and wellbeing. Harsh cleaning products also affect these environments as well. Studies show that many human diseases and allergies began rising right after the invention of modern cleaning products. This is because, without a healthy skin and gut biome, our immune system doesn’t work the way it was intended. This leads to the development of allergies, autoimmune disease, and other immune-related conditions.

When we clean our homes with harsh cleaners, we are decimating the biome on our hands which affects other areas of our skin and gut microbiome. The more we erode our skin and gut microbiome, the less our immune system can work properly. This means we may get sick easier or develop conditions that never used to be around many years ago (i.e. autoimmune diseases). The serious rise in allergies is proof that our immune systems are becoming more eroded as our cleaning and living practices are infused with harsh and toxic chemicals.

The more we erode our skin and gut microbiome, the less our immune system can work properly. Click To Tweet

castile soap - homebiotic

Which Cleaning Products Would Work Better?

Ideally, natural cleaning products or those that use just plain soap compounds are much better. Essential oils can take care of most bad bacteria without killing off the good ones. However, we have to be careful with essential oils as well as too much of them can also harm the microbiome. Essential oils are things like concentrated lemon, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil. These oils are quite good at cleaning and refreshing the home.

Vinegar and water can also act much like essential oils do. Vinegar also neutralized odors so it makes for a good cleaning product. Again, don’t use too much as it can destroy the good microbes over time.

Soap-based cleaners are good as well. Soap molecules attach to dirt and microbes pulling them off the surface; these particles wash down the drain once the soap is rinsed off with water. This is why the rinsing process is also very important when cleaning with soap.

Woman reading book near plant - Homebiotic - ways to nourish your home biomeWhy Is It Important To Not Over-Clean Our Homes?

No matter what we choose to clean our homes with, it’s important not to over-clean. This means that we should clean lightly once a week using natural products that don’t instantly kill all microbes.

When we over-clean our homes using harsh cleaners, we are killing the beneficial microbiome in the home. As biological beings, we live in harmony with our environments so if we decimate the microbiome in our home, chances are we are also affecting the microbiome in our gut and on our skin. As we’ve discussed, this has a negative effect on our entire health and well-being. So it’s important for us to re-consider our cleaning practices in this respect.

Genty wiping surfaces once a week with natural soap or essential oils will be enough to keep our home environment clean. The only time we should use bleach or other harsh cleaners is if there is an infectious disease in the house or an area is soiled with a large number of harmful microbes like e.coli or salmonella. For example, using a small amount of bleach after cutting up raw chicken on the kitchen counter will be fine. Or if we have someone with a virus in the home, we may need to use antimicrobial cleaner around their living areas. But if all is well and there are no harmful bacteria or viruses present, then we really don’t need to use harsh cleaners to get the job done.

In Summary

The rise of modern cleaning practices is in direct correlation to many diseases and environmental problems. Harsh cleaners are not good for the overall microbiome and as biological beings, we rely on the natural environment to stay healthy. We can do our part by not using harsh cleaners like bleach, ammonia, antibacterial cleansers, etc. The only time these products are necessary is if someone is sick or there is an exposure of harmful microbes like raw chicken on a countertop. Otherwise, natural products like essential oils, vinegar, and natural soap are better choices to make for cleaning products. The more we learn about the danger of modern cleaning products, the more we can make better decisions for our home and wellbeing.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

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

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

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltext

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

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478930

https://journals.lww.com/pidj/fulltext/2000/10001/consumer_and_market_use_of_antibacterials_at_home.6.aspx

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/mdr.2009.0120

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com/

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Musty Tent? Fix It Fast

Musty Tent? Fix It Fast | Picture of Tent in open space

With social distancing protocols and travel bans in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are opting for a more traditional getaway: camping. Immersed in nature, sunlight and aromatic campfires, spending time in the great outdoors is a great way to boost your immune system, brain health, and nervous system. With that said, camping is primarily a summer activity, and anytime you combine moisture with a warm, enclosed environment, you are more susceptible to musty odors and mold. It might not be immediately visible, but they can sure put a dent in your relaxing vacation. In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons why your tent might have a funky smell, how to get rid of it, and how to properly store your tent to help prevent this problem in the future.

cup of coffee by a campfire

Why Does Your Tent Smell Musty?

Regardless of how you describe the smell — musty, dank, damp, or just plain BAD — there are many reasons why a tent might smell unpleasant. The most likely reason is because tents provide campers with protection from the [outdoor] elements. As a result of direct exposure, the tents are more likely to get wet from rain or condensation from the damp ground. If you’ve got the whole family snuggled in a tent, breathing the same air and/or sipping hot cocoa, the tent is likely to become damp from excess moisture.

Just like at home, if you’ve got moisture, you can get mold. This is the most common reason a tent can have a musty odor, but it takes a bit to get to that point. Tents are designed to repel water (they wouldn’t be very useful as shelters otherwise!) but the problem arises when the tent remains wet for too long. This can cause mold to grow, either on the tent surface itself, or on any dust or debris that may be trapped on the surface.

Just like at home, if you’ve got moisture, you can get mold. This is the most common reason a tent can have a musty odor, but it takes a bit to get to that point. Click To Tweet

With that said, it might not be mold! Tents can also develop an unpleasant odor from build up of dirt and grime, sweat/body odor from the occupants, or even from a chemical breakdown of the tent’s material itself, but we won’t get into that issue here today.

open front door of tentHow to Easily Clean a Musty Tent

If your tent’s odor seems stale rather than musty, it may just need to be aired out prior to use. This is a good first step in any case. You can set the tent up, or just hang it from a clothesline. The important part is getting every surface exposed to airflow. Fans can help if there’s no natural breeze. The offending smell may waft away on its own after a day or so.

If the odor persists, or if there is any visible soiling on any surface, the next step is to wash the tent. Tent fabric is usually treated with various coatings, so take caution when cleaning. Gentle dish soap or castile soap is recommended, but the use of stronger spray cleansers is not recommended as they could strip away any protective coatings. Spray the affected areas and gently scrub with a cloth or soft-bristled brush to remove any visible grime.

After all visible grime and/or spots have been removed, mist the tent surfaces with Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray to help eliminate musty odors at the source. Then let the tent dry fully, preferably on a sunny day.

If your tent has pockets, pouches or flaps, prop them up to encourage better airflow. If necessary, you can also use an ordinary box fan to speed up the drying process.

Keep airing out the tent for at least a day after it has fully dried to ensure there is no odor left. Then you can safely pack it up for storage or to go on your next camping adventure.

How to Properly Pack Up a Tent

Once your adventures are over and you’re ready to pack up, be sure to air out your tent as best as you can. If you’re packing up quickly due to bad weather (which many campers often face at one point or another), do your best to keep it as dry as possible. If this isn’t an option, you’ll need to dry it out as soon as you get to your destination by following the previous cleaning steps.

If you’re just packing it away for storage, there are a few steps you can take to ensure it stays fresh and free of musty odors:

  1. If your tent already has a musty odor, clean it and air it out prior to packing it away to prevent this issue from becoming worse.
  2. Lightly spray the tent with Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray if you have not already done so . This probiotic spray helps eliminate the causes of musty-smelling odors and keeps your tent fresher, longer.
  3. Always make sure that your tent is completely dry before packing it away.

orange tent on mountainHow to Properly Store Your Tent to Avoid Musty Odors

When it comes to storing your tent, there are two primary methods that work best: seal it up or keep it in a climate-controlled environment.

1. SEAL IT UP – This method involves packing your tent into a sealed container, like a snap lid storage tote, to keep moisture or pests out. This is a good idea if you’re storing your tent in an area that might not be well climate-controlled, like a garage or basement. If you are storing your tent this way, be sure to pack a moisture and odor absorbing object in with the tent. Good examples include a bamboo charcoal bag, some rice in a cloth bag, or a box of baking soda that is opened or has side vents.

2. AIRY BUT PROTECTED – In this alternative method, you’d leave the tent in its original bag and store it in a space that is climate-controlled. This could be a storage closet, or anywhere else it will maintain relatively stable temperature and humidity conditions. You may still want to add a charcoal bag or other moisture control device just for peace of mind.

In either case, proactively check on your tent every few months to ensure that it hasn’t accidentally gotten wet or developed an odor. It’s also a good idea to check it out at least a week before you intend to use it, as that will give you enough time to clean and dry it before camping if necessary.

Conclusion

When a tent is properly taken care of, it should provide years of use. Whether you’re escaping busy city life for a weekend, or you’re traveling cross country, these simple tent care tips can help you enjoy your next camping trip without worrying about musty odors.

Happy camping!

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What Kills Mold?

What Kills Mold | Moldy windows

Mold growth is a definite problem inside homes. Mold exposure can cause illness in certain people, and for that reason, it’s good to know what can kill mold and how to remove it. Many people get confused about what actually kills mold. We can simply wipe visible old away, but that doesn’t kill it. In this article, we will answer some popular questions about how to kill mold.

If I Wipe Away the Visible Mold, Does that Mean It’s Dead?

Wiping away mold is likely the first thing most people want to do. And although this can help remove mold, it doesn’t actually mean that it’s dead. Also, most mold species are pretty delicate and can become airborne when disturbed. This means that as we wipe away the fluffy, delicate mold, we release mold spores and pieces of mold into the air. They can quickly settle elsewhere and begin growing there. Also, mold that has been disturbed is more likely to make it into the respiratory tract, which can cause symptoms of mold illness or mold sensitivity. The best thing to do is hire a mold remediation and cleaning company as they know how to remove mold safely.

Wiping away mold is likely the first thing most people want to do. And although this can help remove mold, it doesn’t actually mean that it’s dead. Click To Tweet

soapy sponge - homebioticCan I Use Soap and Water on Mold?

Many people choose to clean mold with soap and water. While this may remove visible mold on the surface, it doesn’t kill the mold spores. And we discussed above, mold removal can be a bit dangerous for homeowners. However, if the spots are tiny, soap and water can remove the mold. You’ll just need to be careful not to break off spores or small particles of mold that may then circulate in the air. Whatever cloth you use should be discarded after. You’ll also want to wear protective gear like eye cover, gloves, and something to cover your body. This protection stops the particles from getting on your clothes or going into your eyes and mouth. Again, it might be better to consult with a professional mold remediation company.

Will My Air Purifier Kill Mold Spores?

Investing in a good air purifier is always a good idea. Not only do they keep your home fresh, but they can also help eliminate toxic substances like mold spores. Unfortunately, most air purifiers can’t kill mold unless they also have a UV or UV-c light. These are considered the highest quality air purifiers for the simple reason that they can burn up mold spores. UV or UV-c light creates a heat source that can burn up tiny mold spores and thus preventing them from settling on other surfaces in the home.

Will a HEPA Filter Kill Mold?

A HEPA filter is just a type of filter that can be found in various air purifiers. HEPA filters are much more efficient at removing toxic particles in room air. However, a HEPA filter alone can’t kill mold or mold spores. Again, you would need a filter that has a UV or UV-c light included in the product. To kill mold spores, they need to be burned up, and an air filter that has a UV or UV-c light is the only filter that can do that job.

A HEPA filter is just a type of filter that can be found in various air purifiers. HEPA filters are much more efficient at removing toxic particles in room air. However, a HEPA filter alone can’t kill mold or mold spores. Again, you… Click To Tweet

woman blowing nose - homebioticWhat Symptoms of Mold Illness do I Need to Watch Out For?

Not everyone who is exposed to mold will get sick. Mold illness varies widely based on genetics, current health issues, and sensitivity to the mycotoxins in mold. For those prone to mold illness, symptoms are typically respiratory oriented, although some people get skin rashes, eye problems, severe headaches, and systemic issues. For those who are immunocompromised, mold illness can cause serious problems with various organs, blood disorders, neurological issues, and systemic fungal infections.

Does Bleach Kill Mold?

Bleach has some mold-killing properties for sure. However, bleach can only kill mold on non-porous surfaces. Mold creates a kind of membrane underneath where it attaches to surfaces. Any mold growing on porous surfaces such as wood, particleboard, or drywall will create a membrane and lodge into the material. Unfortunately, bleach can’t do anything about this membrane; the chemical structure is such that bleach can’t penetrate it. Also, by adding more water (as you would when applying bleach), you may end up making the problem worse. Mold on porous material will inevitably grow back, and with added bleach, it has more moisture (from the diluted bleach) with which to thrive.

Bleach has some mold-killing properties for sure. However, bleach can only kill mold on non-porous surfaces. Mold creates a kind of membrane underneath where it attaches to surfaces. Click To Tweet

Does Vinegar Kill Mold?

What most people may not know is that vinegar is actually better at killing surface mold than bleach. Vinegar can get inside of porous materials and kill mold in there. This makes it superior to bleach, and it’s also not as toxic as bleach for the home environment. However, just as we discussed above, it’s important not to add so much water with vinegar as that can add moisture to the area, and spores left behind can grow back again. Even though vinegar is good for killing surface mold, it still isn’t as effective as professional mold remediation.

Are There Any Cleaning Products That Can Kill Mold?

Other cleaning products are somewhat similar to bleach and vinegar. They may help kill surface mold, but they are not likely to eradicate the problem for good. This is because mold is good at going dormant on surfaces. Also, it can go dormant inside porous materials while waiting for the opportunity to come back and grow again.

Do You Have to Kill Mold Spores Only?

Mold spores are tiny particles let off by mold. Mold spores float in the air as they find new spaces to drop and grow. It’s imperative to kill all the mold spores when doing mold removal and remediation. It’s also essential to remove all visible mold as well. That’s likely the most accessible part because you can see it with the naked eye. Unfortunately, mold spores are not very visible, so it’s hard to know where they are. A good air purifier with a HEPA filter and UV or UV-c light would be beneficial in this case. These air purifiers can capture mold spores and other small particles that we can’t see, and the UV or UV-c light can kill them.

How Do I Kill Mold Growing All Over My Basement?

Many people may wish for a quick solution to a widespread mold problem. Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution for mold growing all over a basement or anywhere else, for that matter. When a mold problem is extensive, it requires professional help to remove it safely. If mold is not handled safely, it can make you very sick, and also, it can quickly spread to other parts of the house. After professional mold remediation, you can buy a good air filter with UV or UV-c light to capture the leftover mold spores. It may also be wise to purchase a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in affected areas.

How Do I Kill the Mildew in my Bathroom?

The good news is that mildew is not as severe as mold. Although mildew is a type of fungus, it doesn’t have the same dangers as the dryer, fluffier kind of mold. Mildew is considered a wet mold, whereas the fluffy type is a dry mold. Dry mold is very fragile and prone to flying around in a room and landing elsewhere. Mildew can be easily removed using a wet cloth, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.

The good news is that mildew is not as severe as mold. Although mildew is a type of fungus, it doesn’t have the same dangers as the dryer, fluffier kind of mold. Click To Tweet

Does Bacteria Eat Mold?

The interesting thing about bacteria and mold is that they can either help each other or harm each other, depending on the circumstances. However, bacteria and mold will rarely eat each other. Instead, they compete for space, food, and resources. In some cases, like in cheese-making, bacteria and mold work together to grow and find new spots to settle in. In other cases, mold can secrete things like penicillin that can harm the outside of a bacterial cell wall. This can inhibit the bacteria, but it doesn’t mean that mold is eating bacteria either. Having diverse bacteria and fungus living together actually creates a balanced microbiome and stops any prolific growth by either organism.

macro bug on stick - homebioticDo Bugs Eat Mold?

Many types of microbes live in our homes, and they also share space with insects and other critters. Bugs and critters will eat bacteria and other microscopic substances found in the house. However, bugs and other critters rarely find nutrients through consuming mold. However, bugs and critters also compete with mold for space and food, so they can help maintain a healthy microbiome in the home.

What’s the Best Way to Kill Mold?

As mentioned before, the best way to kill mold or remove mold from the home is to hire a professional mold remediation company. Many of these companies also provide testing to see which microbes are in your home. They can then target their interventions accordingly. Other ways to kill mold are to use vinegar and a small amount of water to clean surface mold and mildew. Purchasing a good air filter with UV or UV-c light is also really helpful. For some small household materials that may have been damaged by mold, sometimes putting these items in the sun for a while can help. The sun naturally contains UV light. However, some mold spores can go dormant and grow back on these items, so special care needs to be taken. Unfortunately, once a mold problem sets in, it’s hard to fix it. For this reason, it’s best to practice preventative strategies to avoid mold growth in the first place.

How to Prevent Mold

The best ways to prevent mold growth in the home are to remove all the things mold needs to grow. Be sure to keep moisture levels to a minimum. This means cleaning and fixing any water damage in the house as soon as it happens. Using dehumidifiers, fans, and open windows will create a constant airflow that helps keep everything dry. Be careful with open windows during cooler months; condensation can form around windows when warm inside but cool outside. Condensation is another thing that can fuel mold growth.

The best ways to prevent mold growth in the home are to remove all the things mold needs to grow. Be sure to keep moisture levels to a minimum. Click To Tweet

Look into purchasing an excellent air purifier with a HEPA filter and UV or UV-c light. These purifiers can help prevent mold growth but should be used before mold ever has a chance to grow. However, once a mold remediation company has professionally removed mold, an air purifier can be an excellent preventative and maintenance item.

homebiotic spray on bathroom counter - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic sprayThe other way to prevent mold growth is to take care of your home microbiome. As stated above – bacteria, microbes, and critters all compete for space and food, so the more microbes you have the less mold may be a problem. You can foster a home microbiome by not overcleaning or using harmful cleaners as this will kill the existing microbiome. Stick to vinegar or essential oils when cleaning your home. You can also look into products like Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray to add more diverse soil-based microbes to the house.

In summary

Mold can be difficult to kill once it sets up residence in your home. Unfortunately, mold is a widespread problem in many homes. It’s best to get your home tested and treated by a professional mold remediation company. Products like air purifiers and dehumidifiers can help prevent mold before it becomes a problem. However, you can still use these products after your home has been professionally cleaned. These products will prevent future mold from growing. Be sure to fix and maintain any areas where water comes in or out of the house. This includes faucets, hoses, sinks, showers, and laundry areas. Water leaks and water damage is a prime source of mold growth. Bleach can help clean mold, but vinegar is more likely to permeate porous materials like wood and drywall. Another substance that can help clean mold is hydrogen peroxide. Again, if a mold problem is extensive, it’s better to consult a professional because handling mold can make you sick, and it can also help spread mold further in the home.

References

https://escholarship.org/content/qt68c2j665/qt68c2j665.pdf

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/29/579747917/the-cheese-does-not-stand-alone-how-fungi-and-bacteria-team-up-for-a-tastier-rin

https://restorationmasterfinder.com/restoration/what-kills-mold-bleach-vs-vinegar/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com/

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

https://www.jacionline.org/article/s0091-6749(02)00092-1/fulltext

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15143854/

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

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Why Is Black Mold Bad?

Why is Black Mold Bad? | Moldy windows

This article will look at what black mold is, why it’s bad, and how to fix or prevent it. We will also look at some basic facts around mold growth, health and wellbeing, and whether black mold is dangerous for everyone.

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of moldWhat is Black Mold?

Black mold is also known as Stachybotrys Chartarum, and it is a type of mold that can be dangerous to human health. The nickname “black mold” comes from its dark black or greenish color. Black mold has a more slimy appearance than other mold species that can grow more fluffy and tree-like. Although black mold is similar in appearance to other mold species like Aspergillus and Cladosporium, it grows somewhat differently and can have a more severe effect on health.

Where Does Black Mold Live?

Black mold likes to live in damp areas (as most molds do), and you can often find it behind kitchen appliances, embedded in walls, behind bathroom tiles, and in basements and attics. Black mold can grow pretty much anywhere that has moisture and cellulose-containing items like plywood, paper, cardboard, etc. You can also find black mold growing in hay, grains, and discarded outdoor gardening materials. Piles of damp old paper, books, and furniture that haven’t been cleaned or moved are vulnerable to black mold growth.

Black mold likes to live in damp areas (as most molds do), and you can often find it behind kitchen appliances, embedded in walls, behind bathroom tiles, and in basements and attics. Black mold can grow pretty much anywhere that has… Click To Tweet

How Does Black Mold Grow?

Black mold, or Stachybotrys, grows similarly to all other mold species. It creates spores that land on surfaces, and if there’s enough food, moisture, and space, it will begin to multiply and grow. Black mold starts as tiny white fluffy spores, and as it grows, it starts to turn more greenish and then becomes black in the middle. When black mold matures, it takes on the dark black color. It also likes to grow in a circular pattern. By the time it develops, spores could be deposited in many areas in the home. Black mold spores, just like other species, can go dormant when no food or moisture exists. Black mold doesn’t grow very fast, which is a good thing if you are trying to prevent or remove this dangerous mold type. Often, you have to do a microscopic analysis of black mold to determine the difference between Stachybotrys and other mold species.

woman blowing nose - homebioticWhy Does Black Mold Make Us Sick?

Black mold produces mycotoxins that can cause illness in humans. Many mold species produce mycotoxins, but black mold can cause severe disease in certain people. Not everyone is prone to get sick from mold. Things like genetics, immune system strength, and other immune-compromising conditions are usually present in people who develop mold illness. However, even healthy people can get temporary symptoms from mold exposure like respiratory symptoms, headaches, and skin rash.

Black mold produces mycotoxins that can cause illness in humans. Many mold species produce mycotoxins, but black mold can cause severe disease in certain people. Click To Tweet

The problem with black mold is that it has been associated with more severe illness than other mold species. However, the research conducted on black mold illness has led to controversy as study design and methodology haven’t always been sound in these studies. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that some people can get severe pulmonary fibrosis, bleeding, cancer, immune system, and neurological dysfunction.

Symptoms of Black Mold Illness

The symptoms of black mold illness are often similar to the signs that develop when exposed to other mold species. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Sneezing, congestion
  • Brain fog
  • Changes in mood and memory
  • Asthma
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic cough
  • Bleeding in the respiratory tract
  • Red, runny, and itchy eyes

These symptoms are general and don’t include more severe reactions. People with genetic issues or compromised immune systems can get very ill from Stachybotrys.

There was a case linking Stachybotrys, or black mold, to idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in infants. However, the evidence linking black mold with this condition wasn’t conclusive. Nonetheless, there were no other factors found to explain several cases of this condition, and so many people still wonder if Stachybotrys was the culprit.

Does Black Mold Make Everyone Sick?

Most people have some sort of reaction to large amounts of black mold. Often these reactions are temporary and relatively benign. However, a subset of people who have a genetic predisposition or a compromised immune system can get very ill. Some people can get severe lung, blood, neurological, and sinus illnesses. The problem is that it’s hard to tell which people will get very sick, so it’s best to prevent and remove black mold if it’s found in your home. Removal requires skilled and professional help as moving the black mold can be pretty toxic.

black mold on wall - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesDoes Black Mold Always Grow in Every House?

No, black mold isn’t found in every house, but it is a common mold and can be mistaken for other less dangerous molds depending on their age and appearance. Like many mold species, black mold grows in damp places where there is a lot of cellulose-containing material to eat. They especially love industrial areas where there’s a lot of space, undisturbed dampness, and lots to eat.

However, they are also frequently found behind paint and tile in kitchens and bathrooms as they like to feed on the insulation and subflooring behind the paint layer. Basements and attics are also places they grow but only if there’s cellulose-containing material. Nonetheless, even when all conditions are met, it doesn’t mean that every mold you find is black mold.

How Do I Know if I Have Black Mold in My House?

The only way to know for sure if you have black mold growing in your home is to get it properly tested. Black mold, or Stachybotrys, is usually included in a test by almost any mold testing company. However, when in doubt, always ask that their tests do include Stachybotrys Chartarum.

Also, black mold is routinely found by homeowners when they’re doing major renovations to kitchens and bathrooms or even bedrooms where there may have been a water leak at one point. Any area that has had water leaks is vulnerable to black mold. It’s imperative to have these areas tested and cleaned by a professional mold remediation company.

What Can I Do to Prevent Black Mold?

Any type of mold is difficult to remove once it begins to increase in any home area. And unfortunately, once mold starts to grow, it can spread to other areas as well. The best way to stop mold is to prevent it in the first place. As discussed above, be sure to fix and clean any areas damaged by water. Water leaks are the number one source of mold growth in any home or industrial site.

To prevent mold growth from any species, not just black mold, you have to avoid all conditions that help mold to grow. This means having good air ventilation throughout your home as it will keep all areas dry. Use fans and open windows at crucial times to get proper airflow through the house. Most kitchens and bathrooms have built-in fan systems, so be sure to use those. If the fans are not working in those locations, get them repaired. You can also use portable fans in key areas of the home to ensure airflow through the house or apartment. Also, you can use dehumidifiers or air filters with a built-in fan.

To prevent mold growth from any species, not just black mold, you have to avoid all conditions that help mold to grow. This means having good air ventilation throughout your home as it will keep all areas dry. Click To Tweet

Be sure to remove clutter, especially in areas typical for mold growth like basements, attics, kitchens, bathrooms, and other damp areas. Many people like to store old memories, books, or unused furniture in basements and attics. Be sure that these places are kept dry, and that clutter is not kept in areas that are known to be damp. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle (or as minimal as possible) can help.

Another excellent mold prevention strategy is to use air filters and purifiers. They can grab spores out of the air, and some units can use UV heat to fry the spores.

Lastly, most mold species need free space void of other microbial competitors to grow and increase. There are products available now, like Homebiotic spray, that can add soil-based microbes to your home, which can compete with mold. Also, be careful with cleaning practices. You will want to declutter your home, but you don’t want to douse it in harsh chemicals as it will kill all the beneficial microbes that keep mold at bay.

How Can I Protect Myself From Getting Sick From Black Mold and Other Mold Types?

As discussed above, some people have genetic predispositions or compromising immune conditions that make them prone to getting sick from mold. However, even a healthy, strong person can get some mold illness symptoms. Preventing illness from mold may not be possible for certain people, which is why mold removal and prevention are so necessary.

even a healthy, strong person can get some mold illness symptoms. Preventing illness from mold may not be possible for certain people, which is why mold removal and prevention are so necessary. Click To Tweet

However, there are a few things to consider when promoting health and preventing mold illness. For one, making sure that your immune system is healthy is good in preventing any illness. Eating well, sleeping properly, maintaining good mental health, and getting some kind of exercise are always suitable health-promoting activities. We can also improve our microbiome by healing leaky gut or taking probiotics to maintain gut health. Research shows that proper gut health has a significant impact on how well our immune system performs.

Lastly, for children, research shows that exposing them to different microbes and allergens at a young age can help build their immune system and prevent sensitivities to things like mold. So we shouldn’t be afraid to let our kids play on the floor, get out in nature, and interact with pets. These things help build their immunity and make them stronger.

Can Black Mold Affect Pets?

Unfortunately, pets are very similar to people, and they can also get sick from black mold. Pets usually have robust immune systems, so they are not likely to get seriously ill unless, just like humans, they have a compromised immune system. In this case, pets can get respiratory symptoms, skin rashes, nosebleeds, and other mold illness symptoms.

How Do I Get Rid of Black Mold?

It’s imperative to get rid of mold safely and professionally. This is because mold is rather delicate, and when you disturb or move any part of it, spores and small pieces of mold can fly into the environment. This is when mold exposure is the most dangerous. Also, moving spores and bits of mold can encourage it to take up residence in another area of the house. For this reason, you will want to consult a professional mold remediation company. Their services may be expensive, but it’s worth it so that you or your family don’t become exposed to toxic mold or spread it around.

What Products Can Help Me Prevent Black Mold?

It’s possible to clean some mold species using hydrogen peroxide and wiping it away, but when it comes to black mold, it’s recommended not to touch it at all. Instead, inquire about proper removal. However, you can do a lot to prevent black mold from growing in the first place. As stated above, be sure you have adequate ventilation. You can look into purchasing some fans to help with this.

Since mold prevention often requires decreasing moisture and stopping the spread of spores, products like dehumidifiers and air purifiers with proper filters can be beneficial. A dehumidifier can considerably reduce moisture and dampness in a home. You may only need one unit for a small house. If you have a damp basement, you may need to put one dehumidifier unit down there and another one upstairs. Dehumidifiers don’t kill mold; they just reduce moisture, thus preventing mold from growing in the first place.

Dehumidifiers don’t kill mold; they just reduce moisture, thus preventing mold from growing in the first place. Click To Tweet

You can also invest in a good air purifier with a HEPA filter. These units can do an excellent job in cleaning the air and will grab mold spores as well. Unfortunately, air purifiers, even with HEPA filters, can’t kill mold. However, you can get an air purifier unit that also contains a UV or UV-c light. These units can not only grab mold spores but fry them up with the heat. This is a good option for those wanting to prevent or kill mold. Unfortunately, none of these products will kill active mold infestations; you will need to hire a professional remediation company for that.

soapy sponge - homebioticWhat Kills Black Mold?

It can be pretty challenging to kill black mold or any mold for that matter. But professional mold remediation companies can remove mold very effectively. Once black mold begins to grow inside the home, the only option is mold removal and remediation. After that, you can help prevent further growth by following the prevention advice given in this article. While UV and UV-c light can kill mold spores, they can’t kill black mold growing on walls or other areas of the home.

Summary

In summary, yes, black mold is bad, and you don’t want it growing in your home. However, black mold doesn’t always grow in every house. If you happen to see mold somewhere, don’t panic, as there are many mold species. Also, black mold is not dangerous all the time and for everyone. However, the risk is high enough that you’ll want to learn about black mold and how to prevent or fix it.

This article gives plenty of facts and information about preventing and fixing black mold should it become a problem in your home. There are lots of ways to stop this problem from becoming a problem. After all, education is key to preventing any problem. When in doubt, consult a professional mold testing and remediation company if you suspect you have black mold in your house. And be sure to look into all the prevention strategies mentioned n this article.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC145304/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11770686/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828207/

https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://www.jacionline.org/article/s0091-6749(02)00092-1/fulltext

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com/

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltext

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

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Contaminated Potting Soil

Contaminated Potting Soil | Blog

If you are a lover of houseplants, with an ever-growing collection, chances are you’ve encountered contaminated potting soil. It is not only annoying to deal with, it can seriously harm even the most robust leafy beauties. Types of contamination can vary from bugs to harmful microbes, all requiring differing remediation techniques.

succulents in pots - homebioticHow Does Potting Soil Become Microbially Contaminated?

Potting soil contains a combination of organic, such as steer manure and composted vegetation, and inorganic material, such as rocks and sand. This mixture is often composted at warmer temperatures with a considerable amount of moisture, breaking down the material quicker for the sake of fast production. This creates the perfect environment for bad microbes and fungus to grow. Any time you have a small portion of microbes, given the perfect conditions they can multiply at an extremely high rate.

Common strains of harmful microbes found in potting soil are norcardia, legionella, and clostridium simply as a result of the components. What initially would have been a small population of these harmful microbes, has been given the perfect conditions to grow and thrive during warm composting. High levels of legionella exposure can cause Legionnaires disease, which is a form of atypical pneumonia and symptoms include high fever, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and headaches.

Common strains of harmful microbes found in potting soil are norcardia, legionella, and clostridium simply as a result of the components. What initially would have been a small population of these harmful microbes, has been given the… Click To Tweet

macro bug on stick - homebioticHow Does Potting Soil Become Contaminated With Bugs?

Bug eggs and larvae are extremely small, they would be absolutely impossible to see in a bag or container of potting soil. The eggs get mixed into potting soil either by contaminated tools or organic matter. From there the bugs finish their hatching cycle and appear, almost out of thin air, buzzing around your living room.

Getting rid of bugs in your soil and plants is extremely important. As the larvae hatch they feed on small roots and any fungus present in the plant biome, which can cause irreparable damage to your plants. They also tend to have a very small life cycle, meaning they quickly and continually recontaminate the soil by laying more eggs. They also can easily infect all of the plants in your home that are growing in soil by laying their eggs.

Getting rid of bugs in your soil and plants is extremely important. As the larvae hatch they feed on small roots and any fungus present in the plant biome, which can cause irreparable damage to your plants. Click To Tweet

Types of Common Contamination Issues & How To Fix Them

If you’re struggling with any of these issues it can seem like there is no end in sight. With patience and perseverance, you can overcome serious soil contamination without reaching for toxic pesticides, getting rid of, or damaging your plants. Here’s what we recommend:

fungus gnatFungus Gnats

An extremely common pest found in mass-produced soils. They are very small black flies, their larvae are impossible to see in the soil. Multiply quickly and can contaminate all plants in the home. Chances are if you have a significant amount of indoor plants it will be more difficult to get rid of fungus gnats because you will have to treat all plants.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Control moisture in the soil – don’t overwater or have excessive amounts of water around your plant, gnats love warm wet soil. A great way to avoid overwatering is a method called ‘bottom watering’ which means you set your plant, pot and all, in a container of water allowing it to soak up what it needs. This removes the chance of having excessive wet soil accessible to gnats.
  2. Sticky tape traps – this is an extremely simple but effective way to control the gnat population and stop adult gnats from laying eggs. Yellow sticky tape traps can be bought on small stakes to put directly into the affected plant’s soil, catch gnats buzzing around them, stopping them before they can further the gnat population. Use a few, placed strategically in different plants, to make the biggest impact.
  3. Neem oil – neem oil is an effective, natural insecticide. How neem oil works are that it inhibits important brain functions of the gnats, preventing them from performing essential functions, which eventually kills them. It also has a smothering effect as well, making it a great natural option for pest control. To use mix 1.5 teaspoons neem oil, 1 teaspoon mild natural soap, and 1 liter of room temperature water. Generously spray this mixture over the infected plant, removing it from the sun to completely dry. Use this treatment weekly for the best results!

mold on soil - homebioticMold

Much like your home microbiome, mold is an indicator that the delicate balance of microorganisms in your potting soil is off. The soil you’re using lacks the necessary beneficial bacteria to prevent harmful colonies from thriving. The mold typically found in potting soil appears as white, fuzzy areas on the soil surface. In addition to this being facilitated by over-watering and poor drainage, potting soil can come to you contaminated through improper composting techniques or storage. The best plan of attack is to treat it early on to prevent spreading to other plants/soil.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Scrape off the top 1/2″ of soil – this is the best way to stop a mold outbreak in its path. By removing contaminated soil (be sure not to reuse the tool used to scrape the soil on any other plants before sanitizing it) you stand the best chance of getting rid of the mold issue altogether.
  2. Do not overwater – mold, like fungus gnats, loves wet soil. Ensuring you have proper drainage and are not watering your plants too often will go a long way in the fight against soil mold.
  3. Treat soil regularly – if the soil you are using is microbially contaminated, it would be wise to continually treat the soil to ensure you keep away mold issues. Using hydrogen peroxide on the soil surface will help kill any active mold spores, it also gives your plants a boost of oxygen which they love! Treating with Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray is also a great option to boost the beneficial bacteria population, offering probiotic protection against microbial imbalances.

spider mites - homebioticSpider Mites

Unfortunately, this pest is extremely contagious to any plants that may be close by AND very difficult to get rid of. They can attack plants both indoors and outdoors, commonly getting into households on plants being brought inside for the winter. Often visible on the undersides of leaves, spider mites act like tiny plant vampires, piercing the leaves to suck out all the fluids. This will eventually kill the plant while the spider mite colony thrives. Most people do not realize they have a spider mite infestation until they see fine webbing all over their plant, at which point the population of mites is quite large.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Remove infected leaves and wipe plant clean – the first step in the battle is to physically remove any visible spider mites from the plant. The easiest way to do this is to trim off leaves that are infested with mites and to take a wet paper towel to wipe off infested stems. This is not a sure-fire way to get rid of them but it will help decrease their numbers, making the remaining bugs easier to get rid of.
  2. Beneficial predatory insects (outdoors) – if at all possible, the best way to get rid of spider mites is to introduce beneficial insects into the area. Ladybugs are sold during the summer months at farm supply stores and are a great, natural way to control spider mite populations.
  3. Natural insecticide options – there are a few natural insecticide options available, many containing either citrus oil or neem oil, that not only kill spider mites but will also interrupt their reproduction cycle. This will make getting rid of the spider mites a lot shorter of a task.

References

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/03/29/health/potting-mix-bacteria-partner/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/index.html

https://getbusygardening.com/neem-oil-as-organic-pest-control/

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Will A Dehumidifier Help With Mold?

Contaminated Potting Soil | Humidity on Window

In this article, we will look at dehumidifiers and how they can help fix and prevent a mold issue. We will talk about types of dehumidifiers, how they work, where they go, and why they are useful. We will also learn about how mold grows and spreads as well and what you can do to ensure your dehumidifier unit doesn’t make things worse. Most importantly we will ask: will a dehumidifier help with mold?

Mold issues and illnesses are on the rise in the modern age. It’s worth looking at how to prevent mold from growing in your home as mold can cause many health problems like a disease of the respiratory system, allergies, asthma, skin rashes, headaches, and can even be deadly for those with compromised immune systems. Mold grows when excess humidity (ex. water leak) is present along with enough food for mold to eat and space void of other microbial competitors.

Mold issues and illnesses are on the rise in the modern age. It’s worth looking at how to prevent mold from growing in your home as mold can cause many health problems like a disease of the respiratory system, allergies, asthma, skin… Click To Tweet

Although a dehumidifier can’t solve all mold problems, it certainly is a great prevention strategy and works well to control mold in combination with mold remediation or prevention techniques.

dehumidifier - homebiotic

Does A Humidifier Prevent Mold?

A humidifier is a device that adds more moisture to the room air inside household spaces. People use humidifiers for the specific purpose of adding more humidity and moisture inside a home.

Mold requires the following conditions in order to grow – moisture, food, and space void of other competitors. A humidifier helps reduce the dryness in the air but adds more humidity to a room. So, unfortunately, no humidifier does not prevent mold and in fact, may only increase the moisture level in household areas. There’s no point in adding another moisture source to your home if you’re trying to prevent or remove mold.

Do Humidifiers Get Rid Of Mold?

Unfortunately, humidifiers will not get rid of mold. Instead, they may add to a current mold problem or can even cause one. Also, since mold needs moisture to grow, you can even find mold growing inside humidifier units. If you’re trying to prevent or kill mold then you need to remove the moisture from the air rather than adding to it. Humidifiers are only necessary when the air inside a room is so dry that it’s causing significant health problems. However, health problems will only get worse if a humidifier activates more mold growth in the home. If you’re trying to get rid of mold or prevent mold growth, a humidifier may not be the best solution to the problem.

black mold on drywall - homebiotic - types of moldWill A Dehumidifier Kill Mold?

A dehumidifier is a device that removes excess humidity and moisture from the air. People use dehumidifiers for the express purpose of removing water, condensation, humidity, and moisture from the home environment.

Many people ask – does a dehumidifier kill mold? The answer is no, dehumidifiers don’t have the capacity to kill mold. Mold grows by reproducing spores into the air. Those spores land on surfaces and if there’s moisture, food, and space, the mold spores will grow. Dehumidifiers can remove moisture but they can’t actually kill mold spores or active mold growing on surfaces. These units also can’t do anything about mildew in kitchens and bathrooms. However, when included with other interventions, it can absolutely help prevent mold in the home.

How Do Refrigerant And Desiccant Dehumidifiers Work?

A refrigerant dehumidifier works like condensation on a window. It features a refrigeration system that creates a cold area that is colder than room air. As air is drawn into the unit, it draws moisture out of the air and condenses it into a separate compartment.

Desiccant dehumidifiers use a silica-like gel to draw and trap moisture out of the air. Air is drawn into the unit and passed over the silica where moisture is drawn into the material. These units are typically used when the air needs to be very dry.

Are Refrigerant Dehumidifiers Better, Or Should I Choose A Desiccant Dehumidifier?

Both units are effective for removing excess moisture and humidity from the air. Refrigerant units work well for buildings that have plaster and concrete that needs to be kept dry. Desiccant units are best suited for environments where moisture absolutely must be kept to a minimum such as pharmaceutical buildings. Desiccant units are also good for places where access is limited like storage tanks.

 

The best dehumidifier would have a mix of refrigerant and desiccant properties. They balance each other out and effectively remove large amounts of moisture and humidity from the air inside the home.

air purifier turned on - homebioticWhat Type Of Dehumidifier Is Best To Get Rid Of Mold?

In terms of getting rid of mold and mildew, no dehumidifier is going to help with that. Although dehumidifiers can effectively prevent mold, they can’t kill mold spores or an already established mold problem inside the home. It’s important to consult a professional when determining how to get rid of an established mold issue. You will likely need professional mold remediation. In the case of mildew, you can use hydrogen peroxide and wipe those surfaces.

How Do You Stop Mold From Growing?

As we discussed above, mold needs three conditions in order to grow – moisture, food, and space to grow without competitors. In order to stop mold from growing, we need to prevent all three conditions from happening. Limiting food is difficult as mold can eat many things readily available in our home. These are things like drywall, paper, furniture, cloth, dead skin cells, other microbes, etc. However, we can do a lot to prevent moisture build-up and ensure there are competitors to limit space for mold growth.

mold needs three conditions in order to grow - moisture, food, and space to grow without competitors. In order to stop mold from growing, we need to prevent all three conditions from happening. Limiting food is difficult as mold can eat… Click To Tweet

The following are ways to reduce moisture:

  • Ensure there is proper airflow through the home
  • Use fans and keep some windows open
  • Use dehumidifiers and air purifiers
  • Fix any water leaks or damage around water sources in the basement, kitchen and bathrooms
  • Reduce condensation around windows and doors
  • Use a hygrometer to test the humidity level in the air and ensure it’s at an optimal level

Lastly, to increase the number of competitors for mold we can do the following:

  • Nurture your home microbiome
  • Use home probiotics like Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic Spray
  • Don’t use harsh cleaners so that more competitive species can grow
  • Limit the frequency of cleaning
  • Don’t be afraid of a little outside dirt, it brings in soil-based microbial competitors

steamy showerWhich Type Of Humidity Grows Mold?

Actually, any humidity or moisture can be used by mold spores to propagate and grow. Humid air contains microscopic water particles and if there’s too much of it in your home, mold can use it to grow. Likewise, water sources such as condensation, water leaks, and water damage can all cause mold to grow. It can also cause mildew to build up at well. Humidity can be found in all areas of the house including the basements, kitchen, bathrooms, water tank, and attic.

Which Kinds Of Mold Grows From Excess Humidity?

All kinds of mold species can and will grow if conditions are right, including high humidity levels. There are thousands of mold species but the most common ones are aspergillus, cladosporium, fusarium, and stachybotrys. All mold species have the potential to add allergens to household spaces and cause health issues like allergy symptoms, asthma, skin rashes, and other allergy triggers. However, stachybotrys, or black mold as it’s commonly called, is a very toxic mold and should be removed by a professional mold removal company.

All kinds of mold species can and will grow if conditions are right, including high humidity levels. There are thousands of mold species but the most common ones are aspergillus, cladosporium, fusarium, and stachybotrys. All mold… Click To Tweet

Do Dehumidifiers Spread Mold?

Yes, dehumidifiers can be a source of mold and can spread mold in other parts of the house. In the case of refrigerant dehumidifiers that hold water in the unit, this moisture source can be a breeding ground for mold if it’s not removed or cared for properly. Even though these dehumidifiers can help decrease humidity in the house, they need to be cared for properly. Be sure to check all the operating and cleaning instructions upon purchasing a dehumidifier. Adhering to those instructions will ensure that the dehumidifier will not hold and propagate mold spores.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of moldWill Mold Die If Moisture Is Removed?

The goal of dehumidifiers is to reduce the relative humidity in a home. This will help prevent or reduce a mold problem but it will not kill mold once it has taken hold inside the house. The problem is that mold spores have a survival tactic whereby they go dormant when they don’t have enough food or humidity to help them propagate. In this way, they’re able to survive for long periods of time; waiting it out unless the arrival of more food and humidity. However, if a home is void of any mold, a dehumidifier can reduce the humidity level in a home which is an effective strategy to keep mold growth at bay.

Other strategies to reduce humidity levels are to ensure there is enough ventilation in the home without causing too much condensation in the cooler weather. If the weather outside is cold, there will be more humidity around the windows and doors, especially if the home is very warm inside. It’s best to keep a warm room temperature in the home, but not too warm. In this case, a dehumidifier works well to decrease relative humidity inside the house.

Signs You Need A Dehumidifier

Ideally, a dehumidifier would be purchased before any signs of mold are present. In the case of mold control, it’s best to stop mold before it starts. However, if mold is present or a musty mildew smell is detected in the house, a dehumidifier can help reduce the problem in combination with other interventions. In areas of the house that tend to have a lot of water and higher humidity levels such as a basement, attic, AC units, kitchen, water tank, and bathrooms, or anywhere that has excess moisture, a dehumidifier can really help. Also if there has been a water leak anywhere inside the house, be sure to fix that problem first and then use a dehumidifier to prevent any problems from happening. Mildew often grows in kitchens and bathrooms due to a lot of water content, so you’ll want to pay attention to those areas as well. The good thing is that mildew doesn’t cause as much damage like mold. Once mold damage takes place, a dehumidifier won’t help much. At that point, a mold remediation company should be called in to help remove the mold and fix the damage.

How Does A Dehumidifier Prevent Mold?

A dehumidifier prevents mold by decreasing relative humidity and moisture levels in the home. You don’t necessarily need one in every room, however, you may need multiple units if there are many areas of the house that have high humidity levels. By placing a dehumidifier ahead of time, meaning before any mold growth or moisture damage takes place, it can significantly help prevent mold problems from taking hold. Consider a dehumidifier one of a few strategies to keep mold growth from becoming a problem in the home. You can check if your dehumidifier is working by placing a hygrometer in the room or area where you want to reduce the humidity level.

What Size Dehumidifier Do I Need And How Do I Choose One?

For large rooms (ex. basement) that may have water damage or leaks, you will want to choose the largest units with a few features like an air filter or purification system, energy star certified (to reduce energy consumption), a defrost feature, a fan (with a good amount of fan speed) auto shutoff, humidistat, and other benefits. These units will provide the best function and service for what you need in large damp rooms. It may be good also to get a unit that has a combined refrigerant and desiccant system.

happy family - homebioticIs A Dehumidifier Enough For Dealing With Mold?

No, a dehumidifier alone is not enough to deal with mold. It’s a fantastic preventative, but it won’t kill mold or stop a mold problem on its own. A dehumidifier can help prevent mold in rooms that have high humidity but don’t have mold growth yet. A dehumidifier, along with other interventions can help reduce a mold problem, but it can never be relied upon as the only intervention.

So, will a dehumidifier solve my mold problem?

A dehumidifier can help solve a mold issue in combination with other interventions such as mold remediation, air ventilation, fixing or preventing water leaks, enhancing the home microbiome, and decreasing clutter around moist areas. However, relying on a dehumidifier alone can be very faulty thinking and likely won’t work.

In conclusion, a dehumidifier is a fantastic way to help prevent and fix a mold issue. It’s one of the best courses of action for mold prevention and control, but it will not kill mold or its spores. This is important to know as many people often buy dehumidifiers hoping to kill mold in their home and it doesn’t quite work that way. But it can help reduce it and prevent it.

 

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16268830/

https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=

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

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltex

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

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5105267/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6472009/

 

 

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5 Must Haves For Natural Cleaning

5 Must Haves For Natural Cleaning | Blog

The idea of using natural cleaning products or products with more natural ingredients in place of their readily available, toxic counterparts has seen a massive rise in popularity in the past 5-10 years. A large part of this drive is the realization over time what these chemical cleaners are not only doing to our health but the environment.

Individually many of these ingredients can cause serious mucus membrane irritation, respiratory distress, and other seriously concerning health effects. Many readily available multi-purpose cleaners are a Laundry list of these chemicals mixed together, amplifying their toxicity. So we look to natural cleaning alternatives to preserve the health and safety of ourselves, our families, and the environment.

soapy sponge - homebiotic

How natural is natural?

The rise in demand for natural cleaning products has resulted in the practice of greenwashing. Originating in 1986, the term greenwashing is used to reference companies and their products that are designed, marketed, and labeled to appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are.

The rise in demand for natural cleaning products has resulted in the practice of greenwashing. Originating in 1986, the term greenwashing is used to reference companies and their products that are designed, marketed, and labeled to… Click To Tweet

leaf on sandy beach - HomebioticWhile there are instances of greenwashing occurring unintentionally, a more troubling trend is companies utilizing false environmental claims as a marketing strategy to capture consumers. A common form of greenwashing is the use of nature imagery to convey the idea that the product comes from natural origins.

Another common instance is when products claim to be made from “recycled” or “post-consumer” materials; however, these products are made by workers in exploitive conditions in factories that are not environmentally friendly. Almond milk, for instance, exploded on the market as a more ethical and environmentally friendly milk alternative to traditional dairy. We now know that although no livestock is required to make almond milk, the amount of power, pesticides, and water needed to create almond milk is not responsibly sustainable.

It takes 15 gallons of water to make 16 almonds. This is an issue because many of the crops used are grown in California, a state already suffering from significant drought issues and soil erosion due to lack of natural groundwater. On top of water usage, almond crops require multiple pesticides, many of which kill the already endangered honey bee population.

It takes 15 gallons of water to make 16 almonds. This is an issue because many of the crops used are grown in California, a state already suffering from significant drought issues and soil erosion due to lack of natural groundwater. Click To Tweet

tall trees in a forest - homebioticWays To Be More Environmentally Friendly

The perfect opportunity to make a lower environmental impact is to clean up your cleaning supplies. There is a laundry list of toxic ingredients often found in cleaning products, some of which are known carcinogens. Here are some readily available options to keep your home clean:

Vinegar

USE IT FOR – window cleaner, keeping laundry fresh, removing hard water build-up, removing mold, washing floors, home-made multi-purpose cleaner

Create your own multipurpose cleaner using a 1:1 ratio of cleaning vinegar to the water. This mixture can be used on almost any surface in your house to keep harmful microbes in check. It’s important to remember that vinegar is extremely acidic and should not be used on hardwood, granite, natural stone, and used in irons.

While vinegar is completely environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable, it’s important to know that many mass-produced kinds of vinegar are processed in very non environmentally friendly ways using petrochemicals. Be sure you’re purchasing all-natural vinegar with no chemical additives.

hydrogen peroxide for plant care - homebioticHydrogen Peroxide

USE IT FOR – killing mold, removing stains, disinfecting, plant care

Using readily available 3% hydrogen peroxide is one of the best, most effective ways to successfully kill mold. When hydrogen peroxide breaks down you are left with only water and oxygen, no additional chemicals to potentially harm yourself or the environment.

When using hydrogen peroxide it’s important to allow for about 5-10 minutes of active oxygenation to ensure an adequate amount of time to disinfect the area.

If you are purchasing oxygen bleach, typically created using hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate, ensure that what you are purchasing is chlorine-free. Chlorine causes significant irritation to mucous membranes and when washed into waterways it can pose a toxicity threat to organisms in the water and soil.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

USE IT FOR – laundry deodorizer, pest control on houseplants, multipurpose cleaner, antifungal cleaner

Tea tree oil is a distilled oil from the leaves of the melaleuca plant. It has long been admired for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. It poses little to no risk of dermatitis when applied directly to the skin which makes it a great option to add to your own multipurpose cleaner. Dilute a teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle to make a ready-to-use antiviral spray for surfaces.

castile soap - homebioticCastile Soap

USE IT FOR – laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, multipurpose cleaner

Castile soap is a blend of oil and either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. All of these ingredients are biodegradable. When selecting a castile soap ensure that there are no palm oils used. The palm oil industry is responsible for a significant amount of habitat loss for orangutans and other endangered animal species.

Using castile soap is extremely easy in many instances. Washing floors or your car? Add a couple of tablespoons to a full bucket of water. To make an all-purpose cleaner mix ¼ cups of castile soap with 6 cups of water.

Homebiotic

USE IT FOR – maintaining microbial balance, preventing grime build-up and musty odors.

Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray is the perfect way to end any natural cleaning routine. Replenishing the probiotic population in your home and on your surfaces helps protect against an overgrowth of harmful microbes. Microbial balance is extremely important in any biome. Without beneficial bacteria, harmful microbes thrive causing issues such as toxic exposure and musty odors. Prevent them before they become an issue by using Homebiotic.

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

Resources

 

https://sustainability.ucsf.edu/1.713#:~:text=The%20main%20issues%20associated%20with,the%20world’s%20almonds%20are%20grown.

https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-does-vinegar-affect-the-environment&ved=2ahUKEwj6hN6TzuDvAhWKt54KHYyLDyMQFjALegQIHxAC&usg=AOvVaw3pg-lcwfDMtieEwez_jPal

https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/non-toxic-disinfecting/

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn2873spec

https://medium.com/disruptive-design/what-is-greenwashing-how-to-spot-it-and-stop-it-c44f3d130d5

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Do Not Clean Mold With Bleach: Here’s Why

Do Not Clean With Bleach: Here's Why | Blog

A fairly common experience for homeowners is to find a small patch of mold and immediately reach for some sort of antibacterial cleaner, namely bleach, to deal with the issue. But did you know, you shouldn’t clean mold with bleach? We know, this raises a whole host of questions about modern cleaning practices:

  • But what if you’re cleaning your house all wrong?
  • What if you’re making it easier for the spots of mold to take over?
  • What if there is such a thing as too clean or too sterile?

Sadly, mold removal is never as simple as it looks on TV. But the good news is that it’s straightforward and safe to tackle small outbreaks of the mold without having to call in a professional – and without dealing with bleach fumes.

cleaning sponge - homebioticUsing Bleach To Clean Mold

We’ve all done it. Noticed a spot of mold in the shower, sprayed bleach then scrubbed away the discolored patch on the wall or grouting. That’s that.

Bleach works fantastically on tiling, and other hard surfaces, where moisture and humidity provide a friendly environment for mold. But bleach-based cleaners are not suitable for dealing with mold in the home, and, despite the convincing commercials, powerful antibacterial sprays that target black mold simply aren’t worth the money.

The truth: bleach is an excellent disinfectant, and fantastic at making everything look sparkling clean. A whitening appearance means that all the dirt and nasty stuff has gone, right? But appearances can be deceiving.

A common misconception is that mold behaves similarly to bacteria. While both live in colonies and are classified separately from plants or animals – mold is part of the fungal family, and bacteria are single-celled microorganisms1. Mold plays an important role in aiding the decomposition of dead matter in the wild and can be found in humid wet places2. Meanwhile, bacteria can be found all over our planet, in soil and water, inside plants and animals.

A common misconception is that mold behaves similarly to bacteria. While both live in colonies and are classified separately from plants or animals – mold is part of the fungal family, and bacteria are single-celled microorganisms Click To Tweet

Their behaviors are distinctive – mold reproduces by releasing spores into the air, while bacteria generally only release spores when there is no alternative: they usually reproduce asexually. In the same way that mold and its function is not inherently bad, different bacteria strains have different purposes in the soil, in water, and in your gut microbiome – and these are just a few examples. Both bacteria and mold are important to the ecosystem, and so cannot be dismissed out of hand as bad. But they are not the same thing, so it seems odd that we attempt to clean them up with the same cleaning products.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of moldWhy Is Bleach Bad For Cleaning Mold?

Bleach is an antibacterial product, often used for sterilization, normally with a chlorine base. Sodium hypochlorite is used in the production of liquid bleach. There are a handful of reasons that bleach is not the answer for cleaning mold:

Spores – Bleach is unable to kill off mold spores, which is their way of reproducing. Mold releases spores in order to create new colonies. Bleach can’t neutralize mold spores and mycotoxins, meaning they remain stuck to surfaces that are otherwise “sparkling clean”.

Porous Materials – Bleach is adequate for removing mold on non-porous materials such as work surfaces, sinks, hard plastic floors, tiles, and glass. However, on porous materials, bleach struggles to make an impact: killing the visible mold on surfaces such as wood, fabric, and drywall, but unable to reach the mold which remains underneath the surface ready to grow again3.

Available Mold Resources – Cellulose, the organic matter that feeds mold, can stop the bleach from fully sterilizing the area. Organic matter turns bleach inactive4.

Lack of Beneficial Bacteria – Bleach is an excellent antibacterial agent, but it works too well as a biocide, rendering places where it’s used completely sterile5. Not all bacteria are bad: some types of bacteria can do a lot of good, including the microbiome in your gut. Some bacteria in your home and in the wider world have the purpose of feasting on mold colonies. But if you kill off these friendly bacteria, you leave a vacuum where mold can flourish.

Not all bacteria are bad: some types of bacteria can do a lot of good, including the microbiome in your gut. Some bacteria in your home and in the wider world have the purpose of feasting on mold colonies. But if you kill off these… Click To Tweet

You may find it difficult to wrap your head around this information, after years of mopping, scrubbing, and spraying mold with bleach. Bleach may still have a purpose – though here at Homebiotic, we’d argue that a sterile home should be very low on your list of priorities. There are many more health benefits to encouraging friendly bacteria in your home.

soapy sponge - homebioticWhat Kills Mold Spores?

Since using bleach is highly not recommended, what is a suitable alternative to not only kill mold spores but ensure your family remains protected from harmful chemicals? The good news is that mold only releases spores when it’s thriving, so your plan of action is simple:

  • Cut the mold off from its creature comforts: Reduce the moisture and condensation in your home, and get your leaky roof and rickety plumbing sorted out once and for all6.
  • Control the humidity in your home: Dehumidifier machines are great for this, but depending on the climate of where you live, simply cracking open the window can help.
  • Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner: Frequently suck up any dust and mold spores that may be hiding in the carpets and upholstery. Mold spores can lie dormant for years7.
  • For killing mold on porous surfaces, use borax (sodium borate): Wipe clean the surfaces using borax. Borax is not an antibacterial substance: instead, it changes the pH of the area you’re cleaning, making it inhospitable for mold.
  • Additionally, you can use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar: Both options are effective, natural options for killing mold spores. When using hydrogen peroxide on fabrics be sure to use it on light fabrics ONLY at the risk of discoloration. Always allow the area to dry completely.
  • Replenish your beneficial bacteria population: Stop using antibacterial products, and spray Homebiotic Environmental Spray once a week to reinstate friendly bacteria – to consume mold, and to protect the natural microbiome of your home.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8120/
https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/6969z1338?locale=en
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK214356/
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-10/documents/moldguide12.pdf
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-10/documents/moldguide12.pdf
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/2901/2901-7019/2901-7019_pdf.pdf

 

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How Fast Does Mold Grow After A Water Leak?

How Fast Does Mold Grow After a Water Leak? | Blog

Mold growth from flooding and water leaks has always been a nightmare for a homeowner. Not only is it difficult to remove, but it can also be costly for both finances and health issues. A water leak can happen in the home at any time of the year but is especially problematic after huge weather events like the winter storm of February 2021 in the southern US. Many people may be concerned right now about water damage and potential mold growth, mold spores, and how to prevent it in the home. Also, many people may not understand the importance of proper mold removal and the use of companies that fix water damage.

standing in flood waters in jeans - homebioticHow Long Does It Take Mold To Grow In A Flooded Home?

Unfortunately, after water damage or a water incident, it doesn’t take long for mold to grow in the home. If conditions are right, mold begins to grow aggressively within 24 to 48 hours (1). In the aftermath of a disaster or serious storm, cleanup and remediation within 48 hours might seem rushed but this is the critical period to stop mold from growing and damaging your home and personal property.

Unfortunately, after water damage or a water incident, it doesn’t take long for mold to grow in the home. If conditions are right, mold begins to grow aggressively within 24 to 48 hours Click To Tweet

What conditions need to exist?

Mold likes to eat fibrous material often found in home construction materials. Mold eats things like cardboard, paper, particleboard, bacteria, dust particles, and even furniture. However, it also requires moisture often from water leaks or water damage from natural disasters or a burst pipe. Anywhere there’s lots of humidity and moisture without airflow to dry it out you will see mold grow (1,2,3).

How soon after water damage do mold spores begin to grow?

Mold reproduces through the development and release of spores. As soon as it begins to grow, it also begins to reproduce fairly quickly. These spores are like tiny seeds that float in the air and settle on a surface. Wherever they settle, mold will grow in a new place. It’s very difficult to see spores with the naked eye and they do not become visible until they colonize and start to grow which is why it’s difficult to detect them early on. However, since mold is very opportunistic, most species will find a way to grow if the conditions are right (1-3).

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of moldDoes Water Damage Always Cause Mold Growth?

Mold requires food, space, and moisture in order to grow. If one of these things is missing, mold will have a harder time growing and reproducing (1-3). Although mold doesn’t always grow after moisture damage, it’s highly likely since many homes lack proper airflow, especially within walls. This is why home prevention and mold remediation strategies focus on these areas. A mold problem is only as bad as the conditions are ripe (4). Water damage restoration and removal of damaged materials are very important, but prevention is also needed.

Mold requires food, space, and moisture in order to grow. If one of these things is missing, mold will have a harder time growing and reproducing (1-3). Although mold doesn’t always grow after moisture damage, it’s highly likely since… Click To Tweet

Does water damage always cause dangerous black mold growth?

Black mold, or Stachybotrys, is one species of mold, but it is one of the most dangerous for the wellbeing of all living beings in the house. If this species is detected, it requires very skilled mold remediation and removal (1,5). Black mold can cause serious allergies, lung problems, immune issues, and exacerbation of pre-existing illnesses (5,6,7). Although black mold is dangerous, other species like aspergillus can also cause serious health problems (5). Although Stachybotrys is a risk, it doesn’t always grow with every incident of water damage.

leaking outdoors pipe - homebiotic - mold after water damageCan Mold Grow After A Leak Is Fixed?

Unfortunately, mold can still grow after a leak or flood damage has been fixed. Often this happens because the problem wasn’t fixed properly the first time. Occasionally, moisture is left behind or becomes hidden under floorboards or inside wall cavities. If this is the case, then spores can easily be deposited and cause a new colony of growth (1,2).

How to prevent mold after water damage?

The ideal is to prevent mold growth in the first place, but this may not always be feasible. Disasters like the recent ice and snowstorm in the southern US can happen, which greatly increases the amount of water damage and leaks in the house. Once moisture damage has taken place, it’s recommended to have a restoration company provide proper water damage restoration (1,3,6). Although many people believe they can do this on their own, it’s very easy to think the mess is cleaned up when it’s not. And without a proper restoration process, mold can begin to grow in a very short amount of time (1,7).

How to prevent further problems?

First, stop the moisture source! In the case of a pipe leak, shut off the main valve to cut off the water pressure.

Be sure that there’s sufficient airflow throughout the home to help the space dry out. Temperatures permitting, open up windows, or use fans, dehumidifiers, or air purifiers (1). The important thing is to move air through the home to dry out household objects, wall cavities, ceiling, floors, and furniture, and lower ambient humidity. This is especially crucial if there was any serious flooding. Be sure to remove and thoroughly dry any objects that were soaked. Personal property, drywall, or flooring may all need to be replaced if seriously damaged. Lastly, it’s highly recommended to work with a water damage restoration company that has mold removal experience to help repair any major problems after a water leak or flood (1,2,3).

Conclusion

Mold growth after water damage, leaks, and flooding is a serious problem that needs repair and remediation. This is especially important to consider after weather disasters and other climate issues. Mold growth can definitely cause health issues which can be deadly for specific people with compromised immune systems or existing health problems. The best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it in the first place, but once the water has leaked into the home, it’s important to find professional help in order to fix the problem and prevent mold before it takes hold.

The best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it in the first place, but once the water has leaked into the home, it’s important to find professional help in order to fix the problem and prevent mold before it takes hold. Click To Tweet

Lastly, fungus can’t grow in dry places void of food that has a good balance of other microbes to provide natural competition. This is why it’s not good to over-clean a home with antiseptic products. Instead, allow for a good balance of household, human, and soil-based microbes. Be sure to have good ventilation, remove clutter around places where water tends to leak, and consider investing in fans, dehumidifiers, and an air purifier.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/mould-growth

https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892134/

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

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022