Natural Ways to Get Rid of Mold and Mildew
Thinking about disgusting mold and mildew reminds me of my first apartment way back when...
One day, I pulled the shower curtain back and noticed this pink colored cast to the shower curtain, bathtub surface and shower walls.
I didn't know what it was at first because I hadn't realized that mold came in a rather pretty shade of pastel pink; but once I found out that it was mold, I learned how to get rid of it fast.
For those interested: The color of mold and mildew varies depending on the exact type of organism, the moisture level and the medium it is growing on.
Whether it's black, green, red, orange, brown, yellow and pink... mold is not pretty...even if it's pink.
While mold and mildew can be tough to eradicate from your home if it begins to take over, it is possible to remove mold and mildew naturally and easily with the right cleaners and little elbow grease. I've got the tried and true methods down pat.
So are you ready to get rid of your mold and mildew then? Let's get busy cleaning!
Mold and Mildew Spores are everywhere-Literally!
No one wants to admit that they might have mold and mildew growing in their bathrooms or under their rugs, but the simple fact is that fungi lurks in every home worldwide.
The air we breathe is a virtual jungle of fungal spores. (That's a tongue twister, but true!)
No matter how clean you may be, if you live on the planet earth, mold and mildew spores are in your house where they have taken hold and will thrive if the environmental conditions allow it.
The only real way to keep mold and mildew completely under control is to control the environment and limit the amount of moisture.
How to Naturally Remove Mold and Mildew, Odor and Spores
Mold thrives in warm, dark and damp places. Once you notice the dark stains of mold and mildew have invaded your space (in your home, basement or garage), the fungi has already had a chance to implant itself in your woodwork, tiles, grout, carpet and more.
Not only can mold and mildew ruin expensive items in your home, it doesn't just look bad, it can be harmful; mold spores can cause cold-like symptoms, allergic reactions and for those that already have respiratory ailments, it can cause breathing issues.
There are several ways to get rid of mold and mildew and I'll begin with the most natural and least toxic first, as there are quite a few methods to choose from before you reach for the strong chemicals like chlorine bleach!
Sunlight and Fresh Air
Don't discount the natural effects that come from simple sunlight and fresh air!
Sunlight and a fresh breeze are about as "anti-mold and mildew" as it gets because mold and mildew love dark damp areas of stagnating air. Sunlight and fresh air are especially helpful to clean things that cannot go through a wash such as mattresses, books, couches or other furniture including wood tables. It also will do wonders for drapes and large rugs or delicate fabrics that have mildew odors.
Take the musty item outside and shake it out. If you are shaking an area rug or fabric item or even wiping down an item to remove surface mold, it is best to wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in any dusty debris and mold or mildew spores.
I like to keep my lungs healthy and spore free- I'm sure you do too. :)
Place the item in the sun or hang the cloth items outside on a clothesline or fence. The sun's penetrating rays will work to:
- sterilize mold and mildew
- reduce or eliminate any mildew odor
- lighten mild staining
The sun will brighten fabric, and it will dry damp items which will allow you to simply brush powdery mold and mildew away.
The sunlight also makes things smell so fresh and clean. I love that part!
Baking Soda (Alkali & Mild Abrasive)
Baking soda cleans wood, linoleum, tile, glass and sealed surfaces of mold and mildew stains and spores.
Baking soda is a base (alkaline) substance which helps to discourage mold and mildew growth. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, so keep that in mind. It can scratch delicate surfaces, so be sure to use a soft touch.
Baking Soda Cleaning Solution
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 1 quart warm water
- 1 Tbsp. mild dishwashing liquid like Dawn
- Mix the solution thoroughly and apply with a sponge or spray bottle.
- Scrub slightly with a green scrubby or soft bristle brush.
- Rinse completely.
- Towel dry.
Vinegar (Mild Acid, Disinfects & Deodorizes)
Vinegar cleans wood, linoleum, tile, glass and sealed surfaces of mold and mildew stains and spores. Do not use vinegar on natural stone surfaces.
Mold and mildew can't grow in an acidic environment. Distilled white vinegar is acidic, so it kills mold and mildew by creating a less hospitable environment.
Vinegar is also a natural deodorizer. Whatever surface contained the mold or mildew will not just look better after being cleaned with vinegar, but it will smell better too. Just let it dry completely.
The only drawback with vinegar is that it although it is a disinfectant; it is not an aggressive stain remover. Heavier mold and mildew stains may need further treatment after being cleaned with vinegar.
Vinegar Cleaning Solution
- 2 cup plain white vinegar
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 Tbsp. mild dishwashing liquid like Dawn
- Using a spray bottle and the mixture above, spray on all of the surfaces.
- Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes and then wipe it all down with a damp sponge.
- Rinse completely.
- Towel dry.
Rubbing Alcohol (Solvent and Sterilizer)
Rubbing alcohol cleans wood, linoleum, tile, glass and sealed surfaces of mold and mildew stains and spores. Rubbing alcohol is a solvent and works well to remove stains from items like fabric and paper.
Rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol) makes a great mold and mildew remover.
- Dip a clean cloth in rubbing alcohol and wring out OR
- Using the spray bottle, spray the stained area.
- Dab the area with the cloth, blotting up the darkened area.
- This will both clean and disinfect the mold and mildew stained area.
Denatured Alcohol (Solvent and Sterilizer)
Denatured alcohol is a solvent very similar to what dry cleaners use for removing stains. Be sure to always test in an inconspicuous place first to make sure that your fabric is colorfast.
Denatured alcohol and water (equal parts) dabbed on to upholstery can be very effective in ridding furniture of mold and mildew stains.
- Start by dipping a clean cloth into the solution.
- Be sure to start by using a light touch and dab the area.
- If the stain is stubborn, you may use a soft bristled brush to work the solution in.
- Reapply until the mold or mildew stain is removed.
Using a mixture of bleach and water on hard colorfast surfaces can help to eradicate mold and mildew from your home.
Bleach is very effective and is perfect for glass, tile, counters etc. Bleach will remove color, so DO NOT use it on delicate fabric and ALWAYS test in an inconspicuous place first. It is also best to use bleach in a ventilated area.
The easiest method is to use a clean spray bottle and mix:
- 1/2 cup Bleach
- 2 Quarts Warm Water
- 2 Tbsp. non-ammonia liquid laundry detergent
Warning: DON'T MIX bleach with ANY other cleaning product unless the manufacturer specifically allows for its use. Bleach can react chemically when combined with other cleaning products and produce toxic gases. Always rinse surfaces completely in between using different cleaning products.
- Spray the surface with the Chlorine Bleach solution.
- Allow the cleaner to sit for 5 minutes.
- Wipe down lightly with a cleaning rag.
- Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Preventing Mold and Mildew from Coming Back
Clean and Disinfect Regularly
Keep poorly ventilated areas like bathrooms, closets, basement, etc., as clean as possible and disinfect regularly. You can keep the vinegar/water spray bottle in the shower and spray after each use (provided you do not have marble or natural stone). This will inhibit mold growth.
Keep the Humidity Level Low
Mold and mildew thrive in dark, damp areas of the home. Using humidifiers and dehumidifiers in your home is a great way to keep moisture levels at the right percentages (30-50 percent).
Let the Sun Shine In
Keep drapes open as often as possible. Sunlight is mold and mildews (and vampire's) worst enemy.
Of course, while doing everything to try to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, it may not be possible to keep it from returning 100% of the time (especially it in certain areas of your home).
You may still find the nasty fungi growing in some places, but whenever you do find mildew stains, be sure to attack them with quickly.
Image courtesy of ZNash_ru, CC BY-ND.