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  • Writer's pictureCorey Provencal

Less-Toxic Cleaners for Mold and Mildew

By Lynn Marie Bower

If mold or mildew becomes a problem in your bathroom, some less-toxic solutions are available for combating it other than the typical mildew-removal spray products sold in grocery stores. For example, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is one highly effective mold killer. (Note: This is the 3% dilution sold in pharmacies for use as an antiseptic.) To use this clear, odorless liquid, simply pour the hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and thoroughly spritz the affected areas: the bathroom fixtures, tile, and/or grout. Wearing protective eye wear is probably a good idea whenever you do this. Because hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, avoid spraying it on shower curtains made of colored fabric. By the way, you can use alternative laundry bleaches made with hydrogen peroxide, too.

Another mold-killing option is full-strength white vinegar. Just apply it to the moldy areas, either with a sponge or a sprayer. Then leave it there a few minutes and rinse it off. (Some sensitive persons might find the vinegar odor bothersome.)

Yet another natural alternative is a solution of unscented borax and water, which can be used to sponge the affected areas. Try 1 tablespoon in 2 cups warm water. If that doesn’t remedy the situation, experiment with other dilutions. Afterwards, be sure to rinse. Be aware that borax also has a mild bleaching effect.

Another natural fungicide is pure tea tree oil. Try using it in a ratio of 2 teaspoons to 2 cups water and apply to the affected areas. Tea tree oil for mold killing can be purchased at most health-food stores.

In addition, some individuals have used antiseptic solutions, such as a diluted benzalkonium-chloride/water solution to deal with their mold and mildew problems. A benzalkonium-chloride/water solution may be available in your drugstore, although you may have to special order it. Suggested use is to apply the solution directly to the mold or mildew problem area. Rinsing it off is probably a good idea. This solution is relatively expensive and tends to have a mild, somewhat medicinal odor. Yet, many sensitive persons have found that they tolerate this product very well.

If you don’t feel like making your own homemade cleaners, there are also ready-made mold and mildew treatments that can be found without harsh chemicals or scents.

Note: Very sensitive persons, or those with mold allergies, should never do mold and mildew cleanup work themselves. Remember, also, that many mold-killing cleaners require from 1/2 minute up to 10 minutes of surface contact time to work properly. So don’t rush.

• John P. Lapotaire, CIEC • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

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