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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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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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Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?

Do Air Purifiers Help with Mold Growth? | Blog

Household mold is a costly and sometimes serious health hazard. Besides the uncomfortable musty smell, mold can cause a variety of health problems if left untreated. The best way to get rid of mold is to hire a professional mold remediation company as the process can be challenging and also a bit dangerous. Some species of mold can’t simply be wiped away and require more expertise to remove. This is especially important in the case of black mold, which is a very toxic and dangerous type of mold. But, what about mold and air purifiers?

The best way to get rid of mold is to hire a professional mold remediation company as the process can be challenging and also a bit dangerous. Some species of mold can’t simply be wiped away and require more expertise to remove. This is… Click To Tweet

Fortunately, an air purifier can help with a mold problem as well. Although they can’t fix mold that is settled and growing on household spaces, they can remove spores and with the right unit, they can actually kill the spores. This makes air purifiers for mold a great help. But even more so, they are fantastic for preventing any future mold problems. In this article, we’ll answer some popular questions regarding air purifiers and how they can help with mold growth.

illustration of woman sitting under air purifier - homebioticDo Air Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers help freshen the air in the room by removing toxic particles, allergens, and pollutants. Sometimes they are combined with dehumidifiers to keep the moisture levels lower in the home. An air purifier can remove mold spores, dust, and other pollutants to enhance the cleanliness of the air and reduce allergies and other health problems. There are many types of air purifiers and some work better than others for microbes such as mold.

Are air filters the same as air purifiers?

Air filters only clean the larger particles in the air such as dust and dander. However, air purifiers will sanitize the air using ozone, heat, negative ions, or UV and UV-c light. Most air purifiers also have a filter to remove those large particles. However, some air filters don’t have a purifying mechanism and thus just filter the air of large particles like dust.

Are there any mold-removing air purifiers?

No air filter or purifier can remove mold that has settled into household items like walls, kitchens, bathrooms or furniture. This means that an air purifier doesn’t work on its own to fix a mold issue. However, once mold has been cleaned and removed from the house, an air purifier can prevent mold from returning. Air purifiers can help remove spores and some models can actually burn up the spores completely.

black mold on drywall - Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?How Can An Air Purifier Help With Mold?

An air purifier equipped with a proper HEPA filter or carbon filters can keep mold spores from circulating in the air. This is one step to help reduce mold problems. Also, some air purifiers can help reduce the moisture in a home which is also helpful. However, it’s important that an air purifier has a good filtration system, which we will talk more about below. People with health effects from mold exposure can benefit from the use of air purifiers for mold.

Can an air purifier kill black mold?

Air purifiers don’t actually kill mold of any kind, but they do trap small invisible mold spores that are buoyant in the air. This means it can prevent those spores from settling in other spots and growing more colonies. Air purifiers with a HEPA filter or activated carbon filter can remove spores from room air.

Air purifiers don’t actually kill mold of any kind, but they do trap small invisible mold spores that are buoyant in the air. This means it can prevent those spores from settling in other spots and growing more colonies. Click To Tweet

The only way to kill black mold is to consult with a professional that provides mold remediation. A black mold problem can be very serious and cause many symptoms such as asthma, skin irritation, and other serious health effects. It’s best to have help in removing black mold from your home. But an air purifier can definitely help reduce black mold spores to prevent any further contamination of the home.

What Kills Mold Spores In The Air?

There are no instruments or products that can kill mold spores while they’re circulating in the air. However, air purifiers that have UV light or UV-c light can suck up mold spores from the air and into the purifier unit where they are killed by the UV light.

Do Air Purifiers Remove Mold Spores?

Yes, most air purifiers can remove mold spores and trap them in the filter. It’s best to use a true HEPA filter with a UV-c light as it is the best air purifier on the market. Filters with UV light can make a big difference in reducing mold spores.

changing air filter - Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?Do Mold Spores Grow Inside Air Purifiers?

Unfortunately, yes, mold spores can begin to erode the filter. This can happen even with the best true HEPA filters. This is why it’s recommended to find one with a UV light or UV-c light. HEPA filters don’t actually kill mold spores so they can build up and start growing right in the filter. This can be a serious issue because many people don’t realize that mold can grow inside air filters and purifiers as well. Once mold takes hold in the filter of any one of these units, the unit will begin to circulate mold spores in the room which defeats the purpose of the purifier. Always check and clean air purifiers well and consider getting one with UV light if you have or have had a mold issue.

Are Air Purifiers For Mold Covered By Insurance?

If an air purifier has been deemed medically necessary by a medical professional then many insurance companies will cover it. However, you should check with your individual plan to be sure that an air purifier has the capacity to be covered with that plan. Doctors will often deem an air purifier necessary if there have been serious health effects from mold or other household toxins and pollutants. People with health problems like allergies, asthma symptoms, pulmonary fibrosis, or mold sensitivities may require a medically necessary air purifier.

Doctors will often deem an air purifier necessary if there have been serious health effects from mold or other household toxins and pollutants. People with health problems like allergies, asthma symptoms, pulmonary fibrosis, or mold… Click To Tweet

My home doesn’t have mold, do I need an air purifier?

Mold is a very common household issue causing many health effects. Mold can grow in any home at any time if the conditions are right. If you don’t have mold growing in your home then that is good news. Air purifiers do more than reduce mold, they freshen up a home, remove toxins and other pollutants.

How do I know if I need an air purifier?

Air purifiers are often a matter of personal preference. However, if you or your family suffers from health problems related to air quality in the home then an air purifier would be highly recommended. Health problems that often prompt the need for an air purifier are allergies, asthma, breathing issues, headaches, or autoimmune diseases that are triggered by allergens. Also, if your home has a musty smell or has had issues with mold in the past, it’s highly recommended that an air purifier be kept in areas where problems have been noted.

if you or your family suffers from health problems related to air quality in the home then an air purifier would be highly recommended. Health problems that often prompt the need for an air purifier are allergies, asthma, breathing… Click To Tweet

Do you need an air purifier in every room?

It’s not necessary to place an air filter or purifier in every room. Instead, choose the best place where you feel the air quality needs more help. It’s also possible to move air purifiers from room to room if you wish to freshen the air in all rooms. Of course, if you own a large home, you may need two air purifiers to capture the problem areas in a large space.

Deciding which room to place an air purifier comes down to choosing the most problematic area. Be sure not to place too close to walls, furniture, or other electrical units. Sometimes people are tempted to place an air purifier right next to a problem area, but the unit will need space to pull in air and do its job.

air purifier turned on - homebioticDo I Need A HEPA Filter For Mold?

A HEPA filter is an efficient filtration system that can help reduce mold spores circulating in the air. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate arresting or high-efficiency particulate air. A true HEPA filter is considered the best air purifier on the market. It is also a good air purifier for mold. However, it won’t kill mold so you may need an air purifier that also contains a strong UV light or UV-c light. A UV light takes things one step further and can literally fry mold spores.

What is a true HEPA filter?

There are HEPA-type filters and then true HEPA filters. The main difference is in the efficiency of the filtration system. A true HEPA filter works almost 100% and can grab extremely small particles that a HEPA-type filter can’t grab.

What is the best air purifier for mold and mildew?

The best air purifier for mold in your house is a true HEPA filter with a UV-c light. Not only can this filter trap spores and remove them from the air, but it can also kill off spores so they don’t lodge in air purifier filters. Unfortunately, mold can damage filters if too many spores build up inside the HEPA filter system. Having a HEPA filter with UV-c light is the best solution as it will reduce mold spores and kill them.

Mildew is generally less harmful than mold even though it is a type of fungi as well. It usually grows on wet surfaces like kitchen and bathroom tiles and in moist corners where water builds up and remains. In this case, an air purifier can help with circulating spores but can’t actually remove mildew. Removing mildew is easy and requires a simple wipe using hydrogen peroxide or just vinegar and water.

Mildew is generally less harmful than mold even though it is a type of fungi as well. It usually grows on wet surfaces like kitchen and bathroom tiles and in moist corners where water builds up and remains Click To Tweet

dehumidifier - homebioticWhat’s Better For Mold, An Air Purifier, Or A Dehumidifier?

Air purifiers and dehumidifiers are two very different pieces of equipment. Often you can find units that have both an air purifier and a dehumidifier built-in. But they are also sold separately. An air purifier cleans the air whereas a dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the air. Both mechanisms are important in treating and preventing mold.

Mold needs the following circumstances in order to grow: food, moisture, and free space without competition. Mold grows by emitting spores into the air that settle on surfaces and multiply. Air purifiers can help grab mold spores out of the air before they settle anywhere. As we said above, it’s not the only way to prevent mold, but it certainly helps when the problem is simple or in a preventative manner. Dehumidifiers help reduce mold by taking excess water out of the air and surrounding items. This robs mold spores of the moisture that they need in order to grow. So as you can see, a combination of both an air purifier and dehumidifier can really help reduce and prevent mold.

How Important are air purifiers in reducing or preventing mold growth?

Air purifiers, especially those with a UV light or UV-c light, can be invaluable in reducing or preventing mold. However, one should never rely solely on air purifier units. Instead, adopt a more broad approach by preventing all the conditions necessary for mold to grow. Remember that mold needs space, food, and moisture so anything that can be done to prevent those conditions will help reduce and prevent mold and mold spores. Some ways to do this are: use fans, open windows, keep air circulating in the home, fix water leaks, prevent water build up, and remove food sources around moist areas. All of these measures plus the addition of an air purifier will help reduce and prevent mold spores and mold growth.

happy family - Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?Conclusion

Air purifiers can be a very beneficial investment when you want to reduce or prevent mold issues in your home. Although they can’t fix an established mold problem, they can certainly help with removing and reducing mold spores and improving air quality. Be sure to find air purifier products that have a UV or UV-c light as this is the best way to actually kill mold spores not just trap them in the filter. Remember that filters can get overrun with mold too which is why UV light is more effective.

In short, air purifiers can be a really helpful part in preventing mold growth and mold spores. If you’ve ever had a mold issue or you have family members with mold-related allergies or illnesses, it would be very beneficial to do some market research and get the right air purifier for your home.

References

https://www.epa.gov/mold/what-difference-between-mold-and-mildew#:~:text=Mildew%20refers%20to%20certain%20kinds,of%20multicellular%20filaments%2C%20called%20hyphae.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25007943/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206797/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165134/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3631655/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7277583/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587002/

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

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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

 

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What Causes Mold: Winter Edition

What Causes Mold: Winter Edition | Woman holding a mug inside of foggy window

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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Biome Basics: Home Biome

Biome Basics: Home Biome | Bright Living Room

We talk a lot about home biomes, but what exactly is a home biome? A biome, more specifically a microbiome, is the community of living organisms concentrated in the same habitat. Almost everything has its own microbiome: your skin, your gut, your garden, and even your home. Biomes function optimally when the microbes within them are balanced – enough good bacteria to keep the bad bacteria in check. When home biomes become unbalanced they can manifest physically noticeable symptoms such as mold. Considering how much time we spend indoors, especially during the pandemic, something that should be considered is the health of our home biome. To make you a home biome expert we need to discuss what makes your home biome unhealthy, how to tell if your home biome is unbalanced and how to fix it.

bright kitchen - homebiotic - home biomeWHAT MAKES YOUR HOME BIOME UNHEALTHY?

Modern cleaning standards and antibacterial cleaners make quick work of disrupting the home biome. Current socially dictated standards of cleanliness glorify the complete sanitization of the home, eliminating any and all present bacteria with chemical cleaners or bleach…or at least 99.99% of it. But what about that remaining .01%? 

Unfortunately, the bacteria that survived were able to withstand all of the chemicals and are now resistant bacteria. Surrounded by the other dead bacterium, with no good bacteria to keep it in check, this particularly strong bacteria has the two things it needs to thrive: space and food (yes, it’s going to consume its fallen, brothers). This then becomes a regular part of the cleaning cycle, continually creating chemical-resistant strains of bacteria within your home biome.

This cycle can be seen when treating mold. Instinctively people will reach for the strongest chemicals they have on hand – bleach, ammonia, etc. Sadly, this typically exacerbates mold problems by creating chemical-resistant mold strains.

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of moldWHAT DO IMBALANCES LOOK LIKE IN THE HOME ENVIRONMENT?

Keeping your eyes peeled for the symptoms of an unbalanced home biome can be the key to keeping your home biome healthy & your family safe. Visually obvious mold is an indication that your home biome has a serious imbalance. It shows that your home biome is lacking the good bacteria it needs to prevent bad bacteria overgrowths.

Prior to being able to see the physical manifestation of mold you might smell musty odors. These odors are stale, often wet smelling, commonly experienced in enclosed spaces such as cabinets or closets. These smells are often noticeable even if we are not able to actually see mold, but they are an excellent indicator that mold is forming. Bathrooms and kitchens are extremely susceptible to musty odors.

Prior to being able to see the physical manifestation of mold you might smell musty odors. These odors are stale, often wet smelling, commonly experienced in enclosed spaces such as cabinets or closets. These smells are often noticeable… Click To Tweet

Grime and black staining, commonly experienced in areas of excess moisture like window sills and showers, are also a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. While it can be next to impossible to prevent excess water in these areas, allowing water to accumulate and sit can create serious bacterial imbalances. So what can you do?

woman mopping floor in bright kitchen - homebiotic - home biome

HOW CAN YOU FIX AN UNBALANCED HOME BIOME?

BE PROACTIVE – create a biome-friendly cleaning routine to keep the population of healthy bacteria in your home biome thriving. Creating air flow through your home whenever possible is a great way to bring the microbial benefits of the outdoors inside, giving your home biome the beneficial boost it needs!

ELIMINATE EXCESS MOISTURE – especially in the winter months, homes are extremely susceptible to moisture and standing water. This is a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Immediately wipe up any standing water that might accumulate on windowsills, shower stall frames, around potted plants, etc. Removing the moisture promptly reduces the risk of it causing a bacterial imbalance.

CHOOSE NATURAL CLEANERS – kiss the bleach and ammonia goodbye (not literally…please)! It’s time to break out the hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or your favorite toxin-free cleaner – if you need a hand picking a cleaner, check our article on ‘Carcinogens Found in Cleaning Products’ to know what to watch out for on ingredient lists. Using 3% hydrogen peroxide on mold is just as effective as bleach; however, it does not produce chemical-resistant bacteria due to its oxidation properties and does not harm you or the environment.

REBALANCE – once any sort of cleaning is completed it’s important to re-establish the population of good bacteria. Replenishing this population takes away one of the things bad bacteria need to survive: real estate. With all the space taken up by the probiotics, bad bacteria will fail to thrive – defending your home with the science of microbial competition. Of course, we recommend using our Homebiotic spray. Each spray contains millions of probiotic bacteria making it easy to protect and rebalance your home biome.

homebiotic spray - homebiotic

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The Dirty Side of Clean: 5 Carcinogens in Cleaning Products

The Dirty Side of Clean: 5 Carcinogens in Cleaning Products | Toxic chemical spilled

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
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Soil-Based Microbes Provide Natural Mold Protection

Soil-Based Microbes Provide Natural Mold Protection | Sweeping dirt off of a tile floor

Did you know: soil-based microbes provide natural mold protection? One fact that surprises most people is that out of hundreds of thousands of microbes, only about fifty species actually cause us harm (1). These species include mold as well as dangerous bacteria that cause illness. So many microbes and yet so few are harmful. Yet, to this day, most modern research around microbes focuses on avoiding and removing them. As for the hundreds of thousands of microbes that are not dangerous, such as the many diverse bacteria that live in soil, we barely give them our attention.

In his book “Never Home Alone,” Rob Dunn recounts the many microbes that share our home environments. In modern homes, these microbes tend to be bacteria that live in and on human bodies. But there are many more microbes that have shared our living space throughout history (1). In fact, humans have always lived with many diverse microbes. However, in the last century or so, we’ve regarded them as a potential threat that we need to eradicate. And now, our modern lifestyle bears little resemblance to when humans lived closer to nature.

bright, airy home - homebiotic

As Dunn discusses, it’s only in the last century where humans have purposely lived in closed environments that are cut off from the outside. Before that, we lived together with soil-based microbes that created a vast and diverse microbial landscape (1). Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see the adverse effects of cutting ourselves off from a relationship with soil-based microbes. Indeed, experts have shown that when biodiversity decreases, human inflammatory illnesses increase (1,2).

Unfortunately, we're beginning to see the adverse effects of cutting ourselves off from a relationship with soil-based microbes. Indeed, experts have shown that when biodiversity decreases, human inflammatory illnesses increase Click To Tweet

Chronic illnesses such as allergies, asthma, irritable bowel disease, and autoimmune disorders have all been linked to dwindling biodiversity and a lack of beneficial microbes (2,3,4,5). Even worse, there is so much confusion out there about what makes microbes beneficial versus harmful. And most modern humans treat all microbes as a “nasty bug” that needs to be removed. More so, most people shudder when they hear that it’s a good thing to live with many microbes. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to learn when it comes to microbial education.

person in hiking boots standing on dirt - homebioticMold & Soil-based Microbes

We know that mold has the potential to make us sick, but most people don’t realize that mold was never an issue for human life before things got so modern.

For example, Dunn discusses research studies done in Amish environments where people live closer to animals and nature. Amish homes are teeming with microbes, but what makes them different from modern homes is that the microbial life is much more diverse. Not only that, but these homes also contain many species found only in soil (1,6,7).

Here’s what may surprise you – most of these homes don’t contain as much harmful bacteria or mold as many modern homes have. Why? Because diverse soil-based bacteria help keep the home microbiome balanced. Also, soil-based microbes keeps our human immune systems balanced and healthy (1,6,7,8).

Microbes, like any animal in nature, are opportunists. They grow wherever there’s food and space that allows them to reproduce. And for open environments where the outside and inside are more connected, species need to compete for food and space. This is what creates balance in nature (1,6,8).

One only has to observe biodiverse habitats like jungles or boreal forests to see how everything strives to live in balance. And wherever diversity is allowed to thrive, there is a healthy balance of microbes.

One only has to observe biodiverse habitats like jungles or boreal forests to see how everything strives to live in balance. And wherever diversity is allowed to thrive, there is a healthy balance of microbes. Click To Tweet

moss covered bridge in lush forest - homebiotic

Our modern homes are no different. Only a few species will thrive and reproduce if we remove the ability to create a diverse microbial balance. Unfortunately, this means that harmful microbes, such as mold, may have more chances to grow in a modern home precisely because it is void of soil-based microbes (9,10).

There’s a fascinating study looking at the mold and bacteria balance required to make cheese. Each microbe must live in balance with the other for the cheese-making process to happen at all. So, of course, bacteria and mold have ways to compete with each other and maintain balance (11,12). This same process happens in nature. And without this microbial competition, we wouldn’t have the life and death balance that actually helps nature to exist in the first place. As humans, we rely on our natural environment to survive. Thus, we absolutely need to live with and among diverse microbes.

woman laying in field of purple flowers - homebioticWhere Are Soil-Based Microbes?

The answers are fairly obvious. Soil-based microbes come from outside of our homes. But, our modern home structures, beliefs, and cleaning practices have made it almost impossible to live with soil-based microbes. Unfortunately, humans have never been more cut-off from nature than we are in the present day. Our homes are teeming with our skin, fecal, saliva, and food bacteria. However, studies show that most modern homes are void of outside soil-based bacteria (10,11).

So instead of creating a balance, we create opportunities for microbes like mold to grow. Almost all mold species love moisture, warmth, and the cellulose-containing materials that homes are made of. Therefore, we can see why modern homes are Petri dishes for mold (13). Research shows that homes containing more diverse soil-based microbes have fewer mold issues (10,11,13).

soapy sponge for cleaning - homebioticWhy Don’t We Have Them in Modern Homes?

We bleach, sweep, and do whatever we can to get rid of microbes because we mistakenly believe they’re bad for us. The good news is that we know the truth now, and there’s much we can do to live with soil-based microbes again. By understanding the need for microbial balance in our homes, we can allow soil-based microbes to enter and remain in our living spaces. This naturally reduces harmful microbes like mold and other dangerous bacteria.

So instead of running away from soil-based microbes, we can learn to invite them in again. This can be as simple as not using harsh chemical cleaners, spending more time outside, and not getting too upset about bringing in some dirt on our shoes. And if you have a dog living in your home, this is excellent news. Research shows that homes with dogs have more soil-based bacteria than homes without dogs (14).

Also, you can explore using products like Homebiotics probiotic spray. This product contains thousands of soil-based microbes that colonize and naturally protect against harmful microbes like mold.

Lastly, the more we learn and connect to our natural environment, the better we will be. Today’s answer to many health issues may be to enhance our biodiversity, not decrease it through fear and use of harsh chemicals to kill it off. We don’t need to go back to living on farms, but we can create a modern world that includes soil-based microbes and more connected to nature.


References

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

https://www.pnas.org/content/109/21/8334

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

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002

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

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23103806/?dopt=Abstract

https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

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

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.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304

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://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956425/