Like a lot of Mums, I love a long hot shower. Unfortunately heat and water are two things mould loves. So many bathrooms have a battle with mould and mine is no exception. Bleach has long been the ‘go-to’ when it comes to ridding our homes of mould. But there is a better, natural way to tackle mold without bleach. Read on to find out how.

What is mould?

Mould is a type of fungi. To grow mould needs water, warmth, oxygen and a food source. Mould will consume any organic matter. It also secretes digestive fluids that aid in material breakdown. Mould can’t get the nutrients it needs from synthetic materials such as concrete, glass and plastic. But it can attach itself to such materials and feed off organic materials like dust and skin cells. Mould can also draw moisture from the air even if the surface it is living on is dry.

Mould spreads in two ways. Either by the extension of tiny root hairs called hyphae, or by releasing spores into the air. These spores are then carried by water or air to a favourable location to grow. [1] It is easy to see how mould spreads quickly and why the bathroom is an ideal place for it to grow.

Why is mould a problem?

Mould is everywhere. Outside many different types of mould surround you. It is inside the home where you want to try and limit mould exposure.

Mould and its spores can trigger all sorts of health issues. The most common is an allergic reaction. Other problems include respiratory and/or immune system response. This could be an asthma attack. Chronic cough. Constant sneezing and runny nose. Throat infections and sinus congestion. Some moulds produce mycotoxins. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can cause neurological disturbances and even death. [2]

Why bleach doesn’t actually work.

Many people, especially product manufacturers, suggest bleach as the ideal way to fix a mould problem. Unfortunately this doesn’t work. Ever wondered why, even after treating a spot with bleach, the mould reappears at a later date? This is because the bleach didn’t actually kill off the mould. It simply caused it to become transparent instead. The microfibers of the root system remained. [3]

Bleach in the right concentration can kill off surface mould on non-porous surfaces. But on porous surfaces bleach is unable to penetrate and the root system remains intact. Most commercial mould-killing products only contain about 5% bleach. The recommended concentration is actually a 10% solution. Bleach also degrades with time and after only 90 days in the bottle it has lost 50% of it’s potency. Bleach can also damage wood and tiles. This makes them more susceptible to further infestations. It also can’t be used safely on soft furnishings or clothing.

How to tackle mold without bleach.

Luckily there are a few more natural alternatives you can use to tackle any mould problem in your house. The only one I haven’t been able to solve is mould growing in silicone. Unfortunately this means you will probably have to replace the silicone, as the root system is too hard to get to.

Option 1

This is my preferred option as it is cheap, easy to put together and works. Clove Oil. Clove oil is naturally anti-fungal. [5] And unlike bleach it has the ability to penetrate porous surfaces. There are two options you can use to make your own Anti-Mould spray.

Mix ¼ teaspoon of pure Clove Bud Essential oil with 500ml water in a spray bottle. Liberally spray the affected surface and leave overnight. Wipe off the next day.
Source housekeeping Guru Shannon Lush (ABC radio)

If you want to save even more money you can make your own clove oil by following this tutorial here:

http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Make-Clove-Oil-Kill-Mold-29730039

Option 2

It is not recommended to use Clove oil while pregnant, as it is a uterine stimulant. The safest option for you during this time is vinegar and water.

Mix 7 parts vinegar with 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray the mould and wipe off with a microfibre cloth. [5] Make sure you use fermented or distilled vinegar. It has been shown to be more effective than the cheaper diluted acetic acid vinegar.

Prevention is better than cure.

The most important step in any mould removal is prevention of recurrence. There are a few steps to take to keep your home mould free. An easy one is to diffuse Protect or Thieves Oil for half an hour a day. These kill mould spores in the air along with viruses and bacteria. Both are also an immune booster so good for all round health. Don’t have an essential oil diffuser? You can buy one from many online sources.

Eliminating moisture from the home is vital to control mould. Check for any leaks or water sources and fix them. Wipe condensation from windows in the morning. I use a window vacuum for this and it is fast and effective. Air out the house by opening windows as often as you are able. Wipe down shower walls and floor after bathing. And ensure you have a good exhaust fan in the bathroom.

References:
1.http://www.intuitiveenvsol.com/What_Is_Mold_.html
2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold_health_issues
3.https://www.normi.org/articles/bleach-mold.php
4.http://blacktoxicmolds.com/bleach-kill-mold.php
5.http://www.ajofai.info Antifungal activity of essential oils derived from some medicinal plants against grey mould (botrytis cinerea)