Mould, mould, mould. It’s an unsightly pain in the backside, right? It can sneak up on most of us, and even when we treat it, it seems to simply come back again, and again, and again…
Mould is an aesthetic issue, but it can also be quite a serious health concern. It has been recognised as a key indoor biological pollutant that may cause adverse health effects to the building’s occupants. It affects almost 1 in 3 homes and around 24% of the population cannot create the right antibodies. So every time they go into a water-damaged building, the result is inflammation of the brain and body which can be misdiagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or even worse, a mental illness. (source)
Each individual’s responses to mould exposure will vary depending on a number of factors such as health status, genetic makeup, allergies etc. (source). The main source of concern is inhalation of mould spores. Those spores are tiny and when they’re disturbed, they become airborne and easily inhaled.
Mould can be visible (think black mould), and hidden. It can typically be treated easily when it is present on non-porous surfaces.
Hidden mould could be identifiable from a persistent earthy smell, or ongoing symptoms that can’t be addressed any other way, although it can’t always be recognised this way. Caution needs to be taken when investigating hidden mould as the spores may be disturbed/released/aerosolised leading to the cross-contamination in the property. Professional help may be required if mould or dampness is suspected but cannot be observed. (source)
Dealing with the source of mould is the first step
Dampness/moisture is a key area of concern for mould growth in indoor environments. Dampness can be defined as any visible, measurable or perceived, unwanted and excess moisture in an indoor environment. (source)
Once moisture sits on a surface for more than 48 hours, the microbes on the surface will attempt to take over the space by producing endotoxins, mycotoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds which can dramatically impact the indoor air quality and affect the health of the occupants. (source)
For the purpose of this blog post, I am going to suggest a method to treat everyday, surface mould in your bathroom. If you notice mould elsewhere in your home, or if you suspect your mould issue is extensive and hidden behind walls and flooring, I strongly suggest finding a mould specialist (Nicole Bijlsma, building biologist and wealth of information, recommends looking here).
What about commercial versus natural methods?
Did you know that the chlorine bleach many people use to deal with mould does not kill fungi? It may turn the mould white, but doesn’t actually kill the spores. Clove oil (and tea tree oil) are effective fungicides, although some research suggests that the amount required to treat mould can be an issue for those who are chemically sensitive; sodium percarbonate/hydrogen peroxide will help to remove the colour.
Cleaning Your Shower
Step 1: Clean your shower (screens and tiles) with this recipe.
Step 2: Wearing a mask (you could wear gloves too), treat areas affected by mould by applying either of these options:
* Paste option – 1⁄4 cup of sodium percarbonate, 2 tablespoons of hot water and 5 drops of clove (or tea tree) essential oil, mixed into a paste.
* Liquid option – 1⁄4 cup of hydrogen peroxide (3%) and 5 drops of clove (or tea tree) essential oil, combined in a spray bottle (dark-coloured glass is best here).
Step 3: Smear the paste or spray the liquid directly to affected areas. Leave it for as long as possible (at least 4 hours) and then rinse.
Step 4: Repeat until you can no longer see the mould stain, or until you are convinced the mould discolouration is set too deep for surface treatment. For deep-set mould discolouration, in grout and silicone seals, you may want to consider re-grouting, grout paint and resealing.
*Nicole Bijlsma’s protocol is to vacuum the affected non-porous surface using a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter, then wipe with a damp microfibre cloth (soaked in ½ litre of water and a generous squirt of dishwashing liquid), and vacuum again. The cloths should then be rinsed thoroughly before reusing, and discarded (along with the HEPA filter and disposable vacuum cleaner bag) at the end of the process. You might like to try this method, and then hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate/water paste to help reduce discolouration.
AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING
Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 50,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids. She offers honest and gentle guidance, education and 100+ free natural DIY recipes on her website.