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Mold can often be found in otherwise clean bathrooms and kitchens because it thrives in moist, wet areas. It’s important to fight mold as soon as you find it, because there are about 50 kinds of mold that are toxic to humans, plus it can cause damage to your house that’s very expensive to repair. Use these green techniques to fight mold and protect your family from harmful chemicals.
Mildew Note: If you found some mildew instead of mold, you can use these exact same steps to solve the problem!
Safety Note: If you have discovered an extensive mold problem in your house, or suspect it may be behind your walls, it’s best to contact a professional to make sure the issue is dealt with properly.
Need a hand? If you're interested in hiring a professional to tackle any mold problems, check Angie's List to find a service provider in your area.
Using tea tree oil. If you find mold in your house, there are a number of products you can use to get rid of it, including bleach, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. However, tea tree oil is by far the most effective, natural option. It’s a little bit more expensive than the alternatives ($10 for a 2 oz. bottle), but a little bit goes a long way, and it works extremely well. Think of tea tree oil as mold kryptonite.
Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water in a plastic spray bottle. If you’ve found a lot of mold and need more than a cup of water to spray, make sure you also add some extra drops of oil. Note: Tea tree oil is naturally-occurring and considered safe for adults. However, it can be toxic to small children and pets (especially cats and dogs) in high doses. If you have little ones in the house, be sure to store your tea tree oil bottle in a safe place. When you spray tea tree oil on a moldy area, keep kids and pets away from the area until you remove it entirely. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health.
Vigorously shake your spray bottle to blend the concoction. Remember, once you’ve made this mixture, you can store it for later use. (Tea tree oil takes a long time to lose its potency).
Spray your tea tree mix directly onto the mold and let it sit overnight. Because it’s natural oil, it’s safe to leave it on the affected surface. Note: Tea tree oil does have a potent, pine smell, but it will dissipate within a day or two.
By the next day, the mold should be dead. Dip a rag in vinegar and scrub the remnants away until the area is squeaky clean. Dead mold can sometimes be tough to remove, so don’t be afraid to put in a little elbow grease! Note: When done, it’s best to dispose of the rag immediately or wash it in scalding hot water to prevent mold spores from multiplying elsewhere.
Using hydrogen peroxide. If you don’t want to spring for tea tree oil (or don’t want to deal with the smell), hydrogen peroxide is an effective, less-expensive option. Hydrogen peroxide is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It works best on hard surfaces like kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures and tiles.
Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well. If you need a larger mixture, double the amount.
Saturate the moldy surface completely and then let the peroxide mix sit for about 10 minutes.
To remove the dead mold, dip a rag in vinegar and wipe the surface completely. This will also remove any residual peroxide, which isn’t extremely toxic, but can cause vomiting if ingested by kids or pets