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Will A Dehumidifier Help With Mold?

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

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

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Do Not Clean Mold With Bleach: Here’s Why

cleaning mold with bleach - homebiotic

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?

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

 

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What Causes Mold: Winter Edition

Mold can appear in any season, but in seasons where the moisture levels rise there is a higher chance of mold thriving within your home. Whenever mold is a possibility you can always ask yourself one question: What causes mold? It doesn’t take much to grow a large colony of mold microbes, often undetectable until it’s a much bigger issue. There are a few things mold requires to thrive: space to spread, food to eat, and warm moisture.

Whenever mold is a possibility you can always ask yourself one question: What causes mold? It doesn't take much to grow a large colony of mold microbes, often undetectable until it's a much bigger issue. Click To Tweet

In the winter moisture levels are high inside homes. A combination of people spending more time inside, tracking in moisture on boots, and other factors such as excessive condensation on windows all contribute to the perfect mold environment! Here are some great things to look out for in the wintertime that may be contributing to mold growth in your home:

condensation on a window - homebioticCONDENSATION CAUSES MOLD
Mold On Windowsills & In Bathrooms

For many people, their daily routine involved wiping the excess moisture off their windows in the morning. Why do windows collect so much moisture? This excess moisture occurs when the warm air inside the house meets against the window with the cold air outside of the house creating condensation that then drips down onto your window sill. Left unchecked this water sits in the sills, fostering serious mold growth and that black grime many of us dread cleaning.

Aluminum windows are commonly found in homes and tend to be more prone to condensation than their more modern vinyl counterparts. If upgrading the windows in your home is not a realistic solution keeping any mold growth in check is very easy! Just remember to:

  • Wipe up excess moisture regularly
  • Clean sills with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar often, especially in high moisture months
  • If not too cold allow some airflow through the window to help dry out the area & rebalance the area’s microbiome

Don’t forget about your bathroom! If your bathroom doesn’t have an extractor fan chances are those lovely, hot showers are creating serious condensation on bathroom windows, mirrors, and even in your cabinets. Be sure to always have at least one window open during your shower or bath, wipe up any excess moisture on surfaces afterward, and leave windows/doors open to encourage airflow through the room. Drying out as much moisture as possible, combined with regular cleaning measures, will keep your bathroom mold-free!

frozen pipes - homebioticFLOODING CAUSES MOLD
Snow Melting Or Burst Pipes

It is not uncommon for the effects of a serious snowstorm to be felt weeks after the initial fall. The surplus of water combined with cold temperatures can create chaos for homeowners. Many people with below-ground basement suites experience flooding as the snow melts and abnormally large volumes of water look for places to go.

Going toe-to-toe with mother nature rarely ends up as a win; however, there are some things you can do to help divert water away from your home:

  1. Remove any snow around it directly against the foundation of your home.
  2. Remove excess snow from your roof and gutters (also ensure your gutters are free of debris).
  3. Evaluate the drainage around your home in the drier months to ensure it is functional and moving excess water away from your home, ready for the winter.
  4. Closely inspect the foundation of your home for fractures or flaws that might make it susceptible to flooding.

Depending on where you live your plumbing may or may not be rated to withstand freezing temperatures. The snowstorm experienced only a few weeks ago throughout Texas was an unprecedented cold front that had catastrophic effects on citizens’ plumbing. When your plumbing is being serviced by an above-ground pipe, exposed to harsh cold this can cause parts of your plumbing lines to contract and potentially fracture, resulting in a burst pipe and flooding.

To prevent plumbing-related issues associated with extreme cold snaps it is recommended to leave the faucet dripping. This constant flow of water can prevent freezing in the line. If you notice a leak or any suspicious water coming from any area of your plumbing, use the water shut-off valve to terminate the water supply to your home and contact a professional to assess any potential issues. Smaller leaks on a frozen line are often a precursor for larger issues.

If you notice a leak or any suspicious water coming from any area of your plumbing, use the water shut-off valve to terminate the water supply to your home and contact a professional to assess any potential issues. Smaller leaks on a… Click To Tweet

These are two very serious sources of water damage, which is how a large number of mold issues begin. It takes as little as 24-48 of unattended water damage to allow mold spores to germinate and spread. Combine this with the fact that one of their main food sources is wood, water damage in your gold can escalate into a serious mold exposure situation almost instantly!

standing in flood waters in jeans - homebioticWET CLOTHING CAUSES MOLD
Water Seeping Into Carpets

Whether it’s snow or mud, kids or dogs, the wintertime is the season of wet outerwear. Once you come in from the cold it’s extremely easy to kick off those wet boots and leave them to drip into the floor. Whether you have hardwood, laminate, or carpet, water can easily work its way into all the nooks of your flooring without being noticed. This unnoticed moisture can result in undetected mold growth in your subfloor and undersides of carpets, all while exposing your entire household to toxic mold spores.

We are happy to report that this is an easy fix! For wet boots and shoes, we recommend utilizing a washable, absorbent rubber-bottom mat in doorways. This mat will easily catch the outdoor moisture, wick it away keeping your floors safe. Once it has become saturated or soiled, throw it into the washing machine to soak and wash with some vinegar, killing any present nasty microbes.

By monitoring these factors you can potentially stop a serious mold issue from happening! As always, we recommend working natural preventative measures into your cleaning routine. After remediating any visible mold with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, use Homebiotic spray to create a probiotic barrier over surfaces to keep your home balanced and protected

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The Dirty Side of Clean: 5 Carcinogens in Cleaning Products

yoxic chemical spilled - Homebiotic - 5 Carcinogens in Cleaning Products

Modern cleaning practices lead us to believe a spotless, disinfected home void of any sort of bacteria is the pinnacle of health standards. But what if we told you some of the ingredients in your cleaning products had the potential to seriously harm you and your family? Common household cleaners are not as ‘clean’ as they imply, they are often laden with toxic ingredients, some of which are labeled as carcinogens. Carcinogens are agents that have the potential to cause cancer in living tissue. We are going to dive into 5 carcinogens in cleaning products, showing you the dirty side of clean:

girls holding red lipstick and looking in handheld mirror - Homebiotic - the dangers of PhthalatesPhthalates

Typically Found In: Household products with added fragrance. The family of phthalates is found in a variety of man-made products from vinyl flooring to water bottles and has the potential to leech harmful toxins.

Why They’re Bad: In addition to being found in cleaning products the phthalate family of chemicals is found in personal products such as cosmetics and hair products, and in a large amount of PVC plastic products. These chemicals have been linked to liver and kidney disorders, and reproductive health problems:

“Recent studies also show that prenatal exposure to phthalates is associated with adverse impacts on neurodevelopment, including lower IQ, and problems with attention and hyperactivity,
and poorer social communication.”

Unfortunately, a large number of medical devices required for treatments contain significant amounts of phthalates and it is assumed that many people getting serious medical treatment can be exposed to harmful amounts of the chemical via leeching from medical products.

Unfortunately, a large number of medical devices required for treatments contain significant amounts of phthalates and it is assumed that many people getting serious medical treatment can be exposed to harmful amounts of the chemical… Click To Tweet

In addition to singular exposures, according to studies the risks from phthalates are cumulative, meaning the toxicity builds up over time, making its harmful effects much more lasting. They are also considered endocrine disruptors, linking their exposure to a variety of cancers.

white laundry on a clothes line - Homebiotic - is chlorine dangerousChlorine

Typically Found In: Toilet cleaners, laundry ‘brighteners’, and soap scum/mildew removers.

Why They’re Bad: At room temperature chlorine is a gas to it is typically processed and pressurized to be used in cleaning solutions. Chlorine is harmful whether it comes into contact with skin or mucus membranes, but can cause serious damage to the lungs if inhaled:

“Long-term complications may occur after breathing in high concentrations of chlorine. Complications are more likely to be seen in people who develop severe health problems such as fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) following the initial exposure.”

Other symptoms can be faster onset than pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), alerting you to potential serious exposure, such as dry cough and blurred vision. In addition to being extremely harmful to humans, chlorine is extremely detrimental to the environment. When washed into our waterways it can contaminate fish and other living organisms, leading to potentially harmful exposure to chlorine via ingestion by entering the food chain.

In addition to being extremely harmful to humans, chlorine is extremely detrimental to the environment. When washed into our waterways it can contaminate fish and other living organisms, leading to potentially harmful exposure to… Click To Tweet

While in its liquid form there is no evidence to support that chlorine causes cancer; however, when inhaled as a gas it can seriously aggravate existing respiratory conditions and is linked to many respiratory complications – including cancer.

storefront of dry cleaner - Homebiotic - 5 carcinogens in cleaning productsPercholoethelyne

Typically Found in: Carpet cleaning solutions and stain removing/spot treatments.

Why They’re Bad: Percholoethelyne, commonly called perc, is a staple in dry cleaning and carpet cleaning practices. It is favored because of its ability to remove grease, wax, and oil from fabrics. It is also capable of binding to a variety of materials making is a popular ingredient in paint removers, water repellants, and polishes. Although much of the population comes into relatively low amounts of exposure to perc, high exposure has a variety of serious consequences:

“Exposure to these higher levels of perc can lead to irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat and/or respiratory system. Short-term exposure to high levels of perc can affect the central nervous system and may lead to unconsciousness or death…”

The USDA made a ruling as of December 21st that any dry cleaning business operating in a residential building was no longer allowed to utilize machines using perc due to the risk to the building’s occupants. Aside from dry cleaners, perc is extremely common in automotive products and spot treatments – so don’t forget to read the ingredient list! Other names for perc include tetrachloroethene or PCE.

But is it a carcinogen? Yes! The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled perc as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means that it is most likely carcinogenic to humans. Similarly, the EPA has classified perchloroethylene as likely to be carcinogenic in humans by all routes of exposure (EPA 2012a).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled perc as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means that it is most likely carcinogenic to humans. Similarly, the EPA has classified perchloroethylene as likely to be carcinogenic in… Click To Tweet

pile of forks on napkins - Homebiotic - 5 carcinogens in cleaning productsAmmonia

Typically Found In: Metal polishes for things like silverware and jewelry. Also in bathroom/kitchen fixture and stainless steel cleaners.

Why They’re Bad: Because ammonia is used across a variety of industries it is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the United States. Ammonia is also produced naturally from the decomposition of organic matter, including plants, animals, and animal wastes. While much of the ammonia produced is used for the agriculture industry for fertilizer production, it is present commonly in household cleansers and products. These products are often liquids containing about 5-10% ammonia solution which produces a highly irritating, suffocating odor. Many people are harmed simply through improper ventilation while using ammonia:

“Most people are exposed to ammonia from inhalation of the gas or vapors. Since ammonia exists naturally and is also present in cleaning products, exposure may occur from these sources. The widespread use of ammonia on farms and in industrial and commercial locations also means that exposure can occur from an accidental release…

Anhydrous ammonia gas is lighter than air and will rise, so that generally it dissipates and does not settle in low-lying areas. However, in the presence of moisture (such as high relative humidity), the liquefied anhydrous ammonia gas forms vapors that are heavier than air. These vapors may spread along the ground or into low-lying areas with poor airflow where people may become exposed.”

While much of the ammonia produced is used for the agriculture industry for fertilizer production, it is present commonly in household cleansers and products. These products are often liquids containing about 5-10% ammonia solution… Click To Tweet

While ammonia alone has not been linked to any specific types of cancer, it is important that ammonia not be mixed with other chemicals, especially bleach! Mixing ammonia and bleach produce gases that are suspected to cause respiratory cancer in addition to being toxic enough in high concentrations to kill you.

slightly open dishwasher - Homebiotic - 5 carcinogens in cleaning productsTriclosan

Typically Found In: Hand soaps labeled ‘Antibacterial’ and often in dishwashing detergent

Why They’re Bad: Studies performed on animals showed that when exposed to high levels of triclosan, even in short term, reduced the level of thyroid hormones.  According to the FDA:

“Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products intended to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is added to some antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics—products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It also can be found in clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys—products not regulated by the FDA.”

In addition to showing signs of disrupting thyroid hormones, it is also thought to contribute to the development of bacteria and microbes resistant to antibiotics. This very reason is why we do not recommend cleaning mold with bleach or ‘antibacterial’ cleansers. Instead, try using hydrogen peroxide to clean and sanitize surfaces. Although little is still known about this chemical ongoing studies are investigating the potential of developing skin cancer after long-term exposure to triclosan in animals.

In addition to showing signs of disrupting thyroid hormones, it is also thought to contribute to the development of bacteria and microbes resistant to antibiotics. This very reason is why we do not recommend cleaning mold with bleach or… Click To Tweet

CONCLUSION

Many of us do not think twice about reading cleaning ingredients because our first instinct is to grab the one that works! Consider trying to find a more natural, non-toxic alternative for some of your everyday cleaning products to limit your exposure to these harmful substances. Opting for hydrogen peroxide or vinegar in place of things like carpet spot cleaners or mold removers will do wonders for the health of your home, and prevent harm to the environment as well!


RESOURCES

  1. https://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/
  2. https://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff/reports/phthalates-products-disclosure-data-2016
  3. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-triclosan
  4. https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm
  5. https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/perchloroethylene/#:~:text=Perchloroethylene%2C%20also%20known%20as%20perc,cleaning%20fabrics%20and%20degreasing%20metals.
  6. https://noharm-uscanada.org/issues/us-canada/phthalates-and-dehp#:~:text=Phthalates%2C%20a%20family%20of%20industrial,%2C%20lungs%2C%20and%20reproductive%20system.
  7. https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp