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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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7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free

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

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

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

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

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

1. CONTROL MOISTURE & CONDENSATION

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

Now is the time to consider:

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

2. CONTROL HUMIDITY

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

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

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

3. CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT

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

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

4. INSPECT INDOOR PLANTS

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

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

5. TACKLE YOUR CARPETS

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

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

Remember:

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

6. USE BORAX ON FABRIC, SURFACES AND WALLS

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

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

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

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

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

7. USE HOMEBIOTIC TO BALANCE YOUR HOME

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

Homebiotic Spray - Environmental Probiotics

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4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home

Mold is often an issue for many home-owners and home-buyers. No one likes that musty smell, which is a tell-tale sign of mold growth in your home. And once mold has taken up residence, it’s hard to get rid of it. In this article, we’ll look at what causes mold, which homes are more affected, and what types of mold are dangerous to our health. Then, we’ll look at some simple tips to prevent mold in your house.

The trickiness of mold makes prevention a critical issue when considering the health and safety of your home. Prevention is much easier than having to clean and eradicate mold that has already spread to several areas of the house.

The trickiness of mold makes prevention a critical issue when considering the health and safety of your home. Prevention is much easier than having to clean and eradicate mold that has already spread to several areas of the house Click To Tweet

CAUSE OF MOLD GROWTH IN HOMES

Mold needs three important things to grow: consistent moisture, limited airflow, and food. Any areas that remain moist without airflow have the potential for mold growth. Mold likes to feast on materials such as drywall, carpet padding, dust, mites, and some plant and bacterial cellulose1,2.

WHICH HOMES ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE MOLD ISSUES?

A common myth is that older homes are more likely to be full of mold, but this may not be true. In fact, older homes tend to have more airflow, and the positioning of water faucets and bathrooms help prevent widespread water issues. Also, older homes tend to have a more diverse and rich microbiome that helps naturally balance out mold2,3.

Newer homes, on the other hand, are more tightly built, which reduces air circulation. They also contain more building materials that mold likes to eat2,3. Lastly, newer homes have a less diverse microbiome because they are cut off from outside soil-based microbes that would otherwise balance out mold3,4.

Mold is also likely to be an issue in homes situated in humid climates or where there has been a catastrophic flood. Also, over-crowded homes tend to have more problems with dampness and poor ventilation. Lastly, low-income rental units have higher mold issues due to less money spent on renovating and cleaning moldy areas in-between renters3.

However, the reality is that any home can be prone to mold if the conditions are right for their growth.

WHICH SPECIES OF MOLD IS DANGEROUS TO OUR HEALTH?

Common household mold includes species such as Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. The commonly feared toxic mold, otherwise known as black mold, is called Stachybotrys Chartarum5.

Common mold can cause allergic and asthmatic illness. In some cases, the illness can be severe if the person has immune issues or severe asthma and allergies. However, toxic black mold can be life-threatening, especially in people who have weakened immune systems. Thankfully, toxic mold is less abundant than common molds5.

Common mold can cause allergic and asthmatic illness. In some cases, the illness can be severe if the person has immune issues or severe asthma and allergies. However, toxic black mold can be life-threatening, especially in people who… Click To Tweet

No matter which mold you have in your home, they can all cause health issues depending on your medical history and immune system. Mold spores themselves can cause immune system issues, but more likely, illness occurs from the exposure to the mycotoxins produced by certain mold species2,6,7.

There’s no doubt that mold can be a real nuisance, and the best way to deal with it is to prevent it from growing in the first place.

4 TIPS TO PREVENT MOLD IN YOUR HOME

There are several ways to prevent mold from growing in your home. Some suggestions are more straightforward than others, but it’s worth looking into all of them to ensure that your family is safe and healthy.

1. Keep moisture as low as possible

Moisture collects in several ways: leaky faucets, condensation, accidental spills, flooding, a build-up of humidity in kitchens and bathrooms, and leaks around the shower and bathtub, to name a few.

Here are some tips to help keep moisture levels low2,8,9:

  • Make sure that all leaks or water accidents cleaned and thoroughly dried. Be extra vigilant to look for places that water may have escaped, such as under carpets or floor tiles.
  • Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are prone to mold because of their high-incidence of water leaks and condensation. Be sure to check hidden areas for moisture build-up. Check faucets and water tubes for leaks or condensation. Make sure the exhaust pipe from dryers is intact.
  • It might be worth it to buy indoor humidity monitors to put in a few locations around your home. They are relatively inexpensive and can help you understand moisture changes throughout the seasons.
  • For high-moisture areas, consider dehumidifiers or renovations that keep moisture in check.

Next, we’ll talk about ventilation because you can’t keep moisture low without proper airflow.

2. Proper Ventilation

Good ventilation is vital in helping to keep moisture levels down, and it requires both air flow and circulation. Proper overall ventilation will help prevent moisture build-up in areas that are hidden from view such as tight corners, under carpets, or behind furnaces.

Here are some tips to improve ventilation in your home2,8,9:

  • If the outside air is dry and warm (not humid), open the windows to let air come through.
  • In cold weather, when there’s more condensation, keep the windows shut but use fans to circulate the air. Check for condensation around windows and doors in the colder months.
  • Be sure that your air ducts and filters are obstruction-free and operating correctly. Also, be sure to check for mold in these ducts, furnaces, and air-conditioning units as they can continue to spread mold throughout the house.
  • In areas like the bathroom or kitchen, make sure the ceiling and stove fan is working well.
  • In areas prone to moisture that are also low-traffic (such as basements, laundry room, and crawl spaces), consider a dehumidifier that also has a fan to circulate air.

3. Make Small Structural or Cosmetic Changes

Making a few changes around your home will help prevent conditions with which mold will take up residence and grow.

Here are some ideas for structural or cosmetic changes that can help prevent mold in your home2,8,9:

  • If possible, remove carpets in favor of hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring. Be sure that the floor underneath is dry and mold-free before putting down new hardwood, tile, or laminate.
  • Don’t store items on the floor or in paper boxes. Mold loves to eat paper and dust that accumulates in these items. Mold growth in stored items is especially problematic if they’re kept in damp areas like basements. Consider purchasing shelves or storage bins to keep things off the floor and protected from moisture.
  • Consider upgrading or repairing your heating, air-conditioning, or ventilation system in your home if required. Many issues of mold, due to problems with these systems, can be prevented by ensuring they’re operating well and up to code.
  • Ensure that outside water drainage moves water away from the foundation, rather than towards it.
  • Make sure that materials used in renovation and construction (i.e., drywall and wood) are adequately sealed if they’re near a water source. Mold loves to feast on these materials, so don’t give them any moisture to help them grow.

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic Quarantine4. Choose Your Cleaning Products Wisely

Many of us think that applying bleach and corrosive cleaning products will eradicate mold, but this is not the case. These products can often disturb the environmental microbiome as well as adding vapors that contribute to chemical sensitivity in humans. We are learning that a healthy microbiome in the home provides a balance against these microbes naturally10,11.

Here are some tips around choosing cleaning products to help prevent mold growth:

  • Consider using water and vinegar as a cleaning solution. Mix one part vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle and use on all surfaces, including floors. This solution is extremely effective at cleaning without disrupting the microbiome.
  • Consider using baking soda for stuck-on stains and grease. However, avoid using on surfaces that may get scratched by the baking soda.
  • Consider getting a probiotic solution, such as Homebiotic spray, to prevent the causes of musty odors in your home naturally

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, you know more about how mold grows, which homes are more affected, and how mold can be dangerous for our health. The prevention tips discussed above may help you in making decisions about reducing moisture, ensuring proper ventilation, making structural or cosmetic changes, and choosing cleaning products.

Mold will likely always be a part of our lives, but we can learn to live with it in better harmony while improving our mold prevention strategies.


REFERENCES

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoor_mold
2.http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304
4.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022
5.https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm#Q3
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492391/
7.https://www.who.int/bulletin/archives/77(9)754.pdf
8.https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.8-emergency-salvage-of-moldy-books-and-paper
9.https://iseai.org/your-definitive-mold-clean-up-guide/
10.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
11.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137