Warm weather and humidity – just what we’re known for in the Northern Rivers – is a perfect recipe for mould.
The long-awaited rains have finally arrived so locals should be on the lookout for this unwelcome visitor in their homes. As the floodwaters subside in Queensland, mould is already rearing its ugly head; just as it did to us after the April 2017 floods.
We mostly recognize mould as ugly black staining in the grout of our bathroom tiles but moulds come in different strains and colours. On eco-glass windows for instance you can often see beautiful starburst shaped spores appear on interior surfaces.
Mould readily grows indoors, thriving in damp conditions, commonly in bathrooms – think bathroom tiles – and kitchens, and in your air-con unit if you have one. Mould also loves dark places that lack adequate ventilation, such as small rooms, wardrobes, cupboards, behind doors, on walls, and ceilings, and under carpets. Even in the door-seals in your fridge freezer.
Health Impacts of Mould
Mould is a health hazard in the home. It can cause respiratory problems for the young, elderly and sick and is known to trigger asthma attacks and worsen symptoms. According to the National Asthma Council Australia, 50 per cent of people living in mouldy homes have ongoing upper respiratory symptoms that resemble hayfever. Ridding your home of mould is an important part of having a healthy home environment.
Whilst you’ll never be able to prevent all mould in the home, you can do a good job with some simple techniques
- ‘No’ to Chlorine bleach. This is the typical solution for tackling mould in the home but it comes with problems of its own. The jury is out on whether bleach kills all mould or just bleaches the colour away Bleach can irritate your nose and throat and can make some people feel nauseous. It definitely affects people with respiratory health conditions. Plus bleach erodes and corrodes your tapware, and your grout, which makes the surface more porous and open to further attacks.
- ‘No’ to DIY remediation of major mould. Major mould contamination, for example after a major flooding event, can rarely be tackled without professional help. Mould can grow inside wall cavities, in the backing of carpets and in other impossible to reach places and cannot be remediated with simple surface cleaning. A professional with the right equipment is your only solution.
If you see mould in your home here are the pros and cons of the best and healthiest options
- White distilled vinegar. Mix 80 per cent vinegar to 20 per cent water in a bucket and apply with a microfibre cloth and leave to do its work. Vinegar overfeeds mould, causing it to explode! The tiny fibres in microfibre cloths are great for getting into corners and crevices. Clean your cloth between applications in a 50:50 solution, then in fresh water between applications to prevent recontamination.
Pros: cheap to use and readily available.
Cons: strong smell hangs around; leaves streaks on shiny surfaces; and needs plenty of elbow grease and a three-bucket process to be effective.
- Hydrogen peroxide. A 5 per cent hydrogen peroxide and surfactants combines to help the hydrogen peroxide seep into the mould. Simply No Mould is an off-the-shelf solution that’s made in the Northern Rivers by SimplyClean that attacks and burns mould from the inside, breaking down to just oxygen and water in the process. It can be sprayed and left in shower cubicles, or sprayed, left for a few minutes then wiped with a microfibre cloth elsewhere in the home.
Pros: very easy to use; very effective against mould; plus mild bleaching action fades unsightly black mould over time.
Cons: recommended for hard surfaces but not fabrics because of bleaching action. Store safely and keep out of reach of children.
- Oil of cloves. Clean mouldy surface with detergent before treating. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of clove oil in 1 litre of water and spray on. Leave for 20 minutes and wipe off, then spray again and leave for a further 24-48 hours to kill and dry out the mould spores.
Pros: seems to work well, although not scientifically proven.
Cons: strong distinctive smell might not appeal and it lingers for days; can stain grout brown; is expensive and in short supply during mould season; requires a long and drawn out process, and as a poison must be stored safely.
Prevention is better than cure and here are the easiest solutions
- Use a squeegee in your shower. A quick wipe down of shower cubicle walls and shower screens sends all that excess water straight down the drain. Combine this with a weekly spray treatments based on the above methods and mould spores will be kept at bay.
- Use your exhaust fans and open windows where possible in the bathroom and kitchen, to remove condensation during showering and cooking.
- Use moisture absorbers in small rooms, and wardrobes. The calcium chloride crystals absorb excess moisture in the air. Cheap, and safe for the environment.
Becky Thompson, BSc (Hons) Chemistry is the technical manager and co-owner at Simplyclean.
SimplyClean was launched in 2012 and is all about high-quality household cleaning products that are completely non-toxic, carcinogen-free, sensitiser-free and as gentle as possible on human health and the environment.