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Apr 27, 2022 Diet & Nutrition Movement & Exercise Recipes Wellness Tips Hayley Derwent 6,420 views

I live in Sydney and have mould in my house. Let’s face it, is there anyone living on the eastern coast of Australia who doesn’t have mould now???

The good news is that there is something that you can do about it. The bad news is that it does involves rolling up your sleeves and putting in some good old elbow grease.

Top Spots for Mould Growth

Mould can grow in any area of your home or building. Most commonly, it is where water is used, including:

  • Bathroom: Mould can appear around sink drains, in the shower recess and even on the walls and ceilings if the room is not well ventilated. Toothbrush holders can also be harbouring mould.
  • Laundry: Front-loaders are especially prone to mould, so wipe them down after each load. Regularly clean the detergent dispenser. If you use a tumble dryer, ensure the room is well ventilated and always use an exhaust fan.
  • Kitchen: Old food in the fridge can quickly develop mould. Regularly clean out the fridge to prevent this from happening.
  • Wardrobes: Improperly stored clothing can become a breeding ground for mould. Ensure all clothing is well dried before placing them inside the wardrobe. If the wardrobe does not receive adequate air-flow, consider investing in a moisture absorber (charcoal products are a great natural option). (1)

Mould can also grow around leaks in the home, so check gutters and roofs or ceilings to make sure there are no leaks. Repair and leakages that you do find.

Prevention

We all know that prevention is better than a cure. So here are some ways that we can prevent mould starting, or even getting worse:

  • Dry wet areas quickly. Dry the walls and floors of the shower after use (a squeegee is really handy for this) and hang wet clothes from the washing machine as soon as possible.
  • Direct water away from your home. If you live on uneven land that slopes toward your house, water may build up and create the perfect place for mould to grow. Direct water away from your home by levelling out the ground. Repair any broken drains or gutter straight away.
  • Keeping air flowing throughout the house will minimise the chance of excess moisture in the rooms. Open doors and windows, and turn on exhaust fans in the bathroom, laundry and kitchen (get that rangehood going while you are cooking).
  • Use a dehumidifier. If your home is prone to dampness, investing in a dehumidifier can help to prevent mould by reducing the moisture in the air. You can also use the “dry” mode on your air conditioner (this is usually the symbol with the water drops – check your manufacturer’s guide for instructions).
  • Avoid drying clothes indoors. If you dry clothes indoors, moisture will move from the clothes into the air. If you have to dry your clothes inside, make sure that adequate ventilation is in place.
  • Keep your home clean. Mould needs organic matter to grow, such as dust or dead skin cells. Make sure to keep up with regular vacuuming and dusting. (1,2)

 

How to Remove Mould

Choice recommends 3 steps in removing mould:

  1. Assess the damage. Before starting, work out what kind of surface the mould has attached to:
    1. If the mould is on something that’s super-porous, like a textile, clothing or furniture, there’s a good chance it can’t be completely removed and it may need to be thrown out. Anything like wicker baskets, textiles, paper and cardboard or carpet needs to be chucked away – don’t even bother with these surfaces. (And don’t just let carpet dry out if there’s been water damage, as mould spores will be left behind, buried in the carpet fibres.)
    2. Non-porous surfaces such as hard plastics should be relatively easier to clean.
  • Semi-porous surfaces will be variable.

Mould in bathroom grout or silicone

These areas deserve a separate mention. Once mould gets its grip here, getting rid of it is almost impossible. When mould grows, it develops hyphae, or roots, which grow into the grout or silicone. You can clean the surfaces of the grout or silicone, but not deep into it. In those cases, you have to replace the silicone or re-grout your bathroom.

  1. Vacuum the mould. The next step is to vacuum the mould, but your vacuum cleaner needs a good HEPA filter, otherwise you could be making the problem worse by spreading the mould around.
  2. Remove the mould. Using a solution of vinegar and water causes mould to overeat and die.

How to use vinegar to clean mould:

  • Pour a concentration of 80% vinegar to 20% water into three buckets.
  • Grab a microfibre cloth, dip it into the first bucket, then use it for cleaning a patch of mould.
  • The same microfibre cloth should then be rinsed in the second bucket, then rinsed again in the third to ensure cross-contamination doesn’t occur.
  • Microfibre cloths, which reach deep into tiny crevices and have a slight electric charge, can be bought cheaply and washed on a hot cycle in the washing machine with vinegar up to 100 times.
  • After using vinegar there may still be streaks or discolouration on surfaces which you should be able to remove with bleach. (2)

 

Can I use bleach?

Bleach and commercial mould cleaners do a good job of taking the colour and smell out of mould, making it invisible. It may remove the mould on the surface, but there will likely be more left that you can’t see or smell.

Most commercial mould cleaning products use bleach as an active ingredient, so will work similarly to a bleach solution that you make up yourself.

Warning: Never mix bleach and vinegar together – it creates a toxic chlorine gas. (2)

 

Clove Oil and Mould

Clove oil is a popular mould remover as it kills the spores of the mould rather than just bleaching and hiding them. There are a few things you should know before you use clove oil:

  • Safety first. Similar to other essential oils, it’s important to follow the safety instructions when using clove oil. Although it’s natural, it can still cause skin irritations and some people may have an allergic reaction. It should be kept away from children and those on blood thinning medication shouldn’t use it.
  • Get the right mix. Cleaning expert and co-author of Spotless, Shannon Lush, recommends oil of clove for cleaning mould from hard surfaces. She suggests you first clean the surfaces with a mixture of 4 litres of hot water, 1 tablespoon bicarb of soda and half a cup of vinegar. Then, mix a quarter teaspoon of clove oil per litre of water, put it in a spray bottle, lightly mist on mouldy surface. Leave for 20 minutes and wipe off.  Spray again and leave.  It will take between 24-48 hours for the mould spores to dry and drop off.
  • Turn to chalk. To prevent mould in homes, put a few drops of pure clove oil on jumbo sticks of blackboard chalk, then place or hang them in cupboards around the house and allow the scent to waft around killing mould spores. Add a few more drops of oil every month or so once the scent has disappeared. This avoids spraying any more moisture in an already moist house. (3)

 

 

References/Bibliography

  1. Mackinnon O, 2022, How to Prevent Mould Growth in Your Home, viewed 8 April 2022, https://www.homestolove.com.au/how-to-prevent-mould-growth-in-your-home-2953
  2. Browne K, 2022, How to Get Rid of Mould, Choice, viewed on 8 April 2022, https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/laundry-and-cleaning/surface-cleaners/articles/getting-rid-of-mould
  3. Biome, 2020, 6 Things to Know About Using Clove Oil for Mould Removal, viewed on 8 April 2022, https://www.biome.com.au/blog/6-things-to-know-about-using-clove-oil-for-mould-removal/

About The Author - Hayley Derwent

Hayley is a holistic nutritionist whose vision is to inspire and educate patients about food and lifestyle to positively enhance their health and wellbeing. She provides a safe and caring environment by listening, teaching and supporting people and working in partnership with them to strive towards good health and happiness.

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