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4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home

4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home | Mold Growing on wall

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 Homebiotic Surface Cleaner to clean surfaces naturally without harsh chemicals that damage your home biome. The Homebiotic Surface Cleaner and Nano Sponge are extremely effective at cleaning without disrupting the microbiome.
  • Consider getting a probiotic solution, such as Homebiotic Probiotic Spray, to prevent the causes of musty odors in your home naturally. The Homebiotic Probiotic Spray is made with healthy soil bacteria and is 100% safe for your home, family, and pets.

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

 

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Got Dirty Kids? Great!

Got Dirty Kids? Great! | Kids making mud pies

Modern society tends to favor clean, perfectly kept children, but do dirty kids make healthier kids? There’s been some talk recently about the benefits of kids playing in dirt and that it may actually benefit their health. The discussion was sparked by research that showed how kids brought up on farms had healthier immune systems than those that had no exposure. It seems that exposure to farm animals, and the dust and dirt that comes with them, actually helps protect and build kids immune systems1.

It seems that exposure to farm animals, and the dust and dirt that comes with them, actually helps protect and build kids immune systems Click To Tweet

It makes sense that parents might then ask, “So, does this mean I should let my kids get covered in dirt or even eat dirt?” The question is valid and perhaps meant with some playful sarcasm; the answer, though, may surprise you. While it may be absurd to have your kids make a lunch out of dirt, having some healthy exposure to it may be a good thing.

WHAT IS HEALTHY DIRT?

When we speak of dirt, we’re really talking about outside soil. Many parents may get concerned about their kid’s health when playing in dirt. What they don’t know is that it contains some specific ingredients that can be healthy for us – microbes.

Outside soil contains microbes that are necessary for the health and wellbeing of all living things that depend on the soil for survival. The main essential microbes to consider are bacteria and fungi, and healthy soil requires balanced and diverse species of these microbes. Human beings, and the environments we live in depend on healthy soil to live well2,3.

WHY DOES A SOIL-BASED MICROBIOME MATTER?

The interaction of all the microbes in the outside soil is called a microbiome. It consists of microbes that co-exist as well as microbes that help or harm each other. Bacteria and fungi compete, help, and eat each other in a quest to find balance4,5.

Balance is essential because a microbiome that lacks balance will have microbes that have either decreased in numbers or and have over-grown. An unbalanced microbiome is called dysbiosis and can cause a range of health or environmental issues5,6.

We also have a similar internal microbiome in our digestive tract, skin, and reproductive organs. We know that the more diverse the microbiome is, the more balanced it is, and the healthier we are as a result5.

All living things are connected and need to live in balance. Although that may sound like a new age cliche, it happens to be a scientific fact. Studies show that external soil also affects the microbiome in our homes and within our bodies6,7. In a sense, microbes are always searching for a way to balance things out and survive.

Microbes within the home reflect the individuals living there as well as plants and food choices. Also, soil-based microbes outside of the house can be found inside depending on the movement of inhabitants and cleaning practices7,8,9.

What experts now understand is that the presence of diverse soil-based microbes inside the home can have a balancing effect against the causes of musty odors 7,8,9. Again, this is the essence of a healthy balance, which also parallels what we know about our internal microbiome. The more diverse our microbes are in our guts, the better our immune system and overall health will be.

HOW CAN MY FAMILY HAVE A HEALTHY EXPOSURE TO A SOIL-BASED MICROBIOME?

None of us want a pile of dirt in our homes nor do we want our kids to eat dirt, but we can begin to shift our ideas and take actions to help include soil-based microbes in our home. By making some changes, we can actually improve the overall health and balance in our home microbiome.

Here are some tips on how to promote a healthy exposure to soil microbes in your home:

Dogs are a big help with bringing in soil-based microbes.

This doesn’t mean you should get a dog if you don’t want one or can’t care for it properly. But if you have one, then you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Research has shown that homes with dogs have more diverse microbes, and many of them are soil-based7,9.

Encourage your kids to play outside more often.

A good exposure to the outdoors is helpful in so many ways. It promotes exercise, knowledge of nature, vitamin D exposure, and relaxation to name a few. Also, having your kids play outside can help introduce soil-based microbes into the home. Of course, you wouldn’t want to encourage them to bring in piles of it, but natural outdoor play may bring in small amounts that can be a help.

Adults can play outside too.

While we’re talking about kids, let’s not forget that adults need time in the outdoors for their health and stress relief as well. The more we can enjoy nature, the more we want to protect it and learn about it. And of course, we can also improve the soil-based microbiome in our homes by spending time outside.

Be careful with overuse of harsh cleaning products.

Research has shown that household areas cleaned with harsh detergents can obliterate the soil-based microbes. This may cause mold and bacteria to grow in more significant numbers than what you would want7,10. In fact, even environmentally friendly products can also cause trouble if used in excess.

Research has shown that household areas cleaned with harsh detergents can obliterate the soil-based microbes. This may cause mold and bacteria to grow in more significant numbers than what you would want Click To Tweet

Use Homebiotic Probiotic Spray to put natural soil-based microbes into your home.

This product is natural, easy to apply, and is the most effective solution since you get all the benefits of soil microbes without bringing the outside in.

 

CONCLUSION

So, should your kids eat dirt? Well, not exactly, but there’s a definite benefit for encouraging exposure to dirt for sure. By allowing a relationship to happen between soil-based microbes and your home, you can help improve the microbiome in the place you live, eat, sleep, and interact with your family.

There are several ways you can promote and encourage exposure to soil-based microbes. Having a dog and playing outside with your kids is a fun and easy way to bring in the soil without a lot of dirt. Also, being mindful of cleaning products and the frequency of cleaning can help ensure a balance. Lastly, using Homebiotic Probiotic Spray can quickly bring the benefits of soil-based microbes into your home, without the dirt.


REFERENCES

1.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137
2.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316303419#bib5
3.https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
4.https://escholarship.org/content/qt68c2j665/qt68c2j665.pdf
5.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
7.https://draxe.com/health/gut-health/microbiome/
8.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
9.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0966842X1630021X
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25707017
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

 

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Cleaning Mold: Bleach vs Hydrogen Peroxide

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

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

BLEACH 101

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

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

DOWNSIDES OF USING BLEACH

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

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

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

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

IS HYDROGEN PEROXIDE BETTER?

Hydrogen peroxide is often referred to as an oxygen bleach, because it acts as an oxidizer, chemically attacking the cell wall of bacteria, often rupturing it entirely. Regular 3% hydrogen peroxide is effective at killing surface mold, and only needs to be sprayed on and left for 10 minutes or until it stops fizzing. Repeat as necessary until the visible mold is gone, taking care to not over-wet the surface.

The Homebiotic Surface Cleaner is also an effective way to clean mold as it contains citric acid. Unlike conventional chemical cleaning products, that strip beneficial microbes from home surfaces, Homebiotic allows you to clean surfaces naturally without harsh chemicals that damage your home biome. Following up your cleaning with the Homebiotic Probiotic Spray will help you maintain a natural, safe balance of microbes on surfaces, which will protect your home and family against exposure to toxins that could negatively impact your health.

I’VE CLEANED THE MOLD, NOW WHAT?

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

The solution is to reintroduce friendly bacteria from healthy soil

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

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