Mould and mildew love humid, dark and warm places to grow. Unfortunately, the perfect environment is normally in the last place you want it to be – your home. Bathroom’s, kitchens, laundries, bathrooms and even bedrooms can create conditions mould and mildew thrive in. Humidity levels in the home increase whenever we cook, wash, clean and breathe, making good ventilation a must.
But what can you do when you discover mould or mildew taking up residence in your home? Is it really possible to clean mould properly with household cleaning products? Do DIY mould treatments actually work? And what can be done to prevent it from occurring in the first place? Fear not as we’re here to answer all of these questions and more.
When it comes to the best cleaning solutions to remove mould and mildew, the internet is filled with DIY remedies and methods – which aren’t always as safe as what they seem. For small areas of isolated growth, they may provide temporary relief. But in the long-term, professional treatment is the fail-safe way to get rid of it.
Think of DIY treatments as a band-aid placed over a leaking water pipe. They will hold back the flow for a short while, but sooner or later it’s going to drop off, and the problem is going to rear its ugly head yet again.
Some of the more popular household cleaners used to clean mould and mildew include:
Once the physical mould growth has been removed, things get a little bit easier to control. While mould itself is actually quite fragile, easily killed by most abrasive and acidic chemicals, these often don’t get to the root of the problem – and it only takes a small area left untreated, to kickstart another infestation.
If you can stomach the smell of vinegar, it’s probably the safest route to take on your own. Combined with a good quality microfiber cloth, you can agitate the bulk of the problem away. If you don’t have vinegar, a product stocked at your local supermarket is a good second choice as a mould remover. Avoid dry agitation. Vigorous rubbing can send spores airborne and make it easier for mould to migrate around the home.
To clean mould on walls, a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution in a spray bottle will provide a quick fix. While available in higher concentrations, 3% is usually enough to take care of most types of mould. However, you must be careful when using hydrogen peroxide as the fumes released have no odour, and can be hard to tell if you are breathing in a considerable amount of fumes. Hydrogen can be toxic if ingested, inhaled or contacted with the skin, therefore using this as an option should be carefully considered and completed in a well ventilated space.
If you have a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, begin by vacuuming down the walls to remove any loose spores. Then take a spray bottle with the hydrogen peroxide solution and completely saturate the mouldy area. Leave it to work for a good 15 minutes and then scrub at it with a Scotch-Brite sponge.
Next, take a damp cloth and wipe down the surface to remove any excess liquid. Finish off with drying the surface with a microfiber cloth. If you have a dehumidifier at home, put it in the room you just cleaned and close the door. This will help to remove any additional moisture.
The treatment you will use for cleaning mould on soft furnishings all depends on where you find it. If you find mould on a floor rug or carpet, baking soda can help. You can sprinkle it over the affected area, work it in with a hard-bristled brush and then vacuum it up after 2 or 3 hours.
For curtains, sofas and cushions, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with 500ml of water in a spray bottle and give the affected furnishings a generous spraying down. When dry, vacuum down and repeat two more times. If the sofa and cushion covers are removable, put them through the laundry at a high temperature and hang out to air dry.
Mould and mildew can both leave stains behind. Especially on light coloured fabrics. If this is the case, soak them in a one-part household bleach 10 parts cool water bath for 50 minutes. Then run them through the laundry machine on a cool wash and allow to air-dry outdoors. White vinegar can be effective at combating mould and mildew, but its strong odour makes it less than ideal on soft furnishings.
Wood can be a tricky surface to take care of – especially if it is porous or untreated. Sometimes, if the item is heavily water damaged, the only real solution is to throw the mouldy or mildew ridden wood away. However, this is one area that white vinegar can actually help with. The acidic nature of vinegar makes it effective at combating up to mould growth; but this acid could damage varnished surfaces – so be cautious.
Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar and liberally spray down the mouldy or mildew covered surface. Leave it to sit for a good hour or two so that it can soak in a little and kill any spores in the lower layers. For varnished or treated wood, dilute the vinegar to a 1:3 ratio.
Vigorously brush down the surface with a soft hand brush and then apply one more coating. Open the windows and allow it to dry. You’ll have to put up with the smell of vinegar for a couple of days, after which it will start to fade. If vinegar is too overpowering for you; a cap of bleach or Dettol mixed with a litre of water in a spray bottle will help reduce spores and growth. Avoid mixing chemicals as the reactions can sometimes be worse than the problem itself.
When treating mouldy or mildewy areas yourself, select a product that is proven to treat mould effectively. There are plenty of chemical solutions available in supermarkets and stores; but remember, these are quick fixes and not a genuine solution to the problem.
If mould or mildew keeps reappearing weeks after cleaning it away, it’s time to discover the root of the problem and have it taken care of properly. Finding the moisture source should be the first priority, and then followed on with a treatment using specialist equipment and solutions.
Mould Cleaning Australia is the largest mould cleaning company in the country – keeping mould out of residential, commercial and retail properties. We don’t just treat the problem, we solve the issue from the ground up, backing everything up with our 12-month guarantee.
If DIY mould treatments aren’t working for you, then contact us today for a completely free no-pressure inspection. We don’t upsell products and our transparent pricing means the only ones left surprised when we’re finished are your mould and mildew infestations.