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clean mold/mildew organically

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15053
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
First, I have to warn you:  this is not organic.  This falls more into the space of organic-ish. 

But it does work better than bleach, and is thousands of times less toxic than bleach.

Borax. 

Borax has a very low toxicity (but keep in mind that it is still toxic).  Bleach will evaporate within an hour or two, but borax mixed with water can leave a borax residue behind which will continue to kill mold and mildew.  Just make sure that you only leave a residue where people won't be touching it:  ceilings and high walls.  Anyplace where somebody can touch needs to be rinsed.

It's been getting harder and harder to find.  I used to find it on the shelves at the grocery store, but the last few times it wasn't there!  This is what I use:



20 mule team borax


I also use a little in my laundry about once every three months.  Whenever something smells a bit off.  Just a little - because I worry about the microbials in the septic tank.  I try to imaging that I want the borax all used up in the wash so that it is inert by the time it gets to the septic tank.  Maybe this is nothing more than wishful thinking.

One box lasts me about six years.


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15053
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've also heard of some people mixing a little hydrogen peroxide with borax (instead of water) to clean mold/mildew issues.  That seems like a smart thing to me.

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Death valley is the place to be, 20 mule team borax is the cleaner for me...

Naturally occuring salts of boron, (B4O7Na2 more or less)... Its considered more of a health risk than enviro risk, mortal toxicity can occur at about 2-3 tbs ingested. not for food surfaces. cockroaches, fleas, ants dislike it, can kill them too. mom uses it for cleaning dog kennels, cats blankets, but Im in favor of baking soda and citrus oils.

I wonder about comparative use for dairy equipment cleaning?

I use borax almost exclusively for two things-I dont have mildew and mold problems, so might use for that if I did... ??

1) earthen wall additive. first 2-3 feet up on a cob wall/plastered strawbale/lightstraw clay it goes in the mix. tastes foul, keeps chewers away. inexpensive compared to the alternative of a critter gnawing in and making a home. 2) Laundry. if I get really naz-T from working in mucks, esp stream soils, which where I live are very humic, the borax helps lift the acid soils and is less toxic than alternatives. It will tend to push the ph of the discharge area, Ive never had a problem with this as I use it in limited quanity -had one box now for 3 years, half gone...


I do go through about 1 2lb box of baking soda for general cleaning purposes every 6 months. more benign, cuts grease, and is safe for food surfaces. Wouldn't doubt if it killed molds and mildews as well.

Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
I use white vinegar for mold and mildew - works great.
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Amazon sells plenty of Borax products, including the same 20 Mule Team box.  They also sell Boraxo hand soap, which we have used for at least 50 years that I can remember.

Bleach is still considered a safe disinfectant by the board of health.  Restaurants use it to disinfect eating surfaces, dishes and towels. 

We are connected to municipal sewer and occasionally use bleach in the clothes washer to rid it of moldy smells.  Have to give the borax a try.
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3753
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  79
I don't have a problem with mould/mildew. And yes, that statement can be taken a couple of ways...
I make my own washing liquid, and a lot of recipes use borax.
I plan to sort out a greywater system to my trees, and I've read that borax is very toxic to soil micro-organisms (no big surprise there: mould/mildew =fungus. Don't wanna kill off my fungally-dominated tree-beasties!
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i used it to get rid of an infestation of fleas, and it worked bigtime !!


Brenda

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Paula Edwards


Joined: Oct 06, 2010
Posts: 411
Baking soda and cleaning vinegar mixed (but not beforehand).
If you have a lot of mold problems then you either don't open the windows enough or your house has a construction problem, mostly in form of "bridges" where the cold get in and there the humidity condensates. Often above windows or in corners. Or there is an issue with water pipes.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I listened to a presentation of a permaculture group who did damage control in New Orleans after Katrina.  They brewed huge vats of compost tea and sprayed the tea in moldy buildings.  The military was spraying bleach all over, but in a few days the sterile environment was just re-infected with the bad sorts of fungi.  The tea worked more long term because it introduced a colony of beneficial fungi and microbes. 
                                


Joined: Jul 11, 2010
Posts: 20
I live in the berkeley hills in california where it is really foggy and my 90 year old house had mold/mildew problems for years. I have seen my mom try all different sorts of cleaning agents and bleach. three years ago we tried using vinegar, baking soda, and minced garlic and it has been the most effective means for controlling the fungus among us in our home. The mold comes back only occasionally and in little patches when the rains come but as soon as we use the vinegar, baking soda, and garlic (anti-fungal) its gone and doesnt come back throughout the foggy june/july.
                              


Joined: Oct 02, 2010
Posts: 2
Oaktree,
that is very interesting.
Please tell me exactly what kind of mixture you make!

Thanks already!
                                


Joined: Jul 11, 2010
Posts: 20
To clean mildew without expose yourself to toxic chemicals you’ll need some distilled white vinegar, an empty spray bottle, baking soda, garlic, gloves, and an abrasive sponge. The vinegar and garlic will kill mildew, germ,s and bacteria. The baking soda and sponges help remove mildew stains and make a nice corroding reaction.

Recipe for garlic bomb: mince up 1-5 cloves of garlic (depending on size) and put it in a shot or two of water and let it sit for 5 minutes. this will let the juices out and create a really intense solution. I will down this shot whenever i feel like it, especially if have been exposed to a cold or if i feel low energy.

Fill the spray bottle with vinegar and add the garlic bomb. Shake the bottle a little. Sprinkle a little baking soda on the mildew you wish to eradicate. Liberally spray all the affected areas and be sure to make epic laser or blasting sound effects as you do it. Mildew is easily intimidated and confused. Let it sit for an hour or two to allow the vinegar, garlic, and baking soda to corrode and penetrate and kill the mildew.

Come back and hour or two later with a sponge and more baking soda. Scrub scrub scrub til its gone. Maybe spray a little more vinegar/garlic.

If you can or you really want to, leave a clove of garlic by the spot where the mildew formed. I havent actually done this last part but i think it may help in the long run. I break up garlic where i keep my fresh fruit and it definitely preserves the fruit longer.


Ultimately, if the site where you had mildew gets really moist again, doesnt have adequate air flow, and no sunlight then the mildew is more likely to come back. Oh and if you can put the object that has mildew on it in the sun or do the treatment while the sun is shining (on a window for example) it will work better.
                                


Joined: Jul 11, 2010
Posts: 20
oh, and using a fan to increase air circulation will help in the long term maintenance.

and if you are really desperate like my mom then use a dehumidifier...but those generally use a whole lot of energy
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
This is interesting oaktree.  I wouldn't swallow white vinegar, we ingest apple cider vinegar, but to each his own.  However, I do use white vinegar on my moldy shower.  Works great like you say.  I'll have to try adding garlic to my mix next time.  Your right about the scrub power added by baking soda.  That's good to know.

I don't wait after applying WV, just spray and rub.  I've found that an old electric toothbrush dipped in white vinegar works super for the grout in between the shower tiles.  I only have to clean the grout a couple of times a year in the shower the whole family uses, great stuff that vinegar.

I bet if I add garlic my whole family will be stepping out of the shower hungry 

Thanks for sharing
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
The best way to deal with mold and mildew is to build well in the first place so it's not a problem. Borax does have staying power that bleach for instance lacks, for instance if you dumped a thousand gallons of bleach into your garden you could start again gardening next year and the bleach wouldn't harm a thing. If you dumped a single box of borax in the same spot you'd have to move your garden for a few years.
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
I think you have a point there, Emerson.

Nowadays people use housewraps such as Tyvek or similar and many times cause themselves mold and mildew problems.  They let water in but only vapor out.

Plain old tarpaper wiks moisture out then dries and goes back to being a vapor barrier, hence not the mold and mildew problems.

EM's could be useful for this type of cleaning also.  Used heavily in Asia ... just getting a good start over here.

http://www.emrojapan.com/about-em/about-em.html

- Glenn -
                          


Joined: Jun 29, 2010
Posts: 79
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
We use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning up tile grout and moldy spots on wood.  Hydrogen peroxide, when sprayed on a surface with vinegar, boosts the disinfectant quality of either product alone and will kill e-coli better than chlorine bleach (I think it was the University of Nebraska that did research on this).

Borax is a source of boron, which is essential for soil health and human nutrition.  It is a micronutrient and in soils we are talking a few pounds per acre only.  Spreading a box of borax over a large area is a good thing in our area as boron is lacking in soils in the midwest and needs to be added to ensure that crops grown will pass the mineral on to those that eat the crops.
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
I understand that Hydrogen Peroxide is much better for you than chlorine in Hot Tubs too. 
                              


Joined: Oct 02, 2010
Posts: 2
Thank you Oaktree!
May want to try it out one day!
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
hubby put 17 cord of firewood up damp in our woodshed and then he proceeded to seal off the cracks (big mistake) we got a lot of mildew and fungii..we will be spraying down the walls when we can get to them..still a lot of wood in there but likely in the spring..also opening up the cracks he sealed so it can get ventillation..

i planned on using bleach/water..but may try the borax..should I mix it with water to spray (bare wood ceilings and walls of woodshed)? do you know what ratio
Glenn Kangiser
volunteer

Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
Here is what I am using Brenda.  Introduced to me by the Secretary General of the MRPTA -Myanmar Rice and Paddy Traders Association, and he was also a medical Doctor.  Dr. Myo Aung Kyaw

Asia uses this extensively.  Just getting known in the US.

I have no affiliation with the company - just sharing info that is not well known in the US.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=9956.0

I used the info from flood damage and mixed mine at 1 to 20.  Much safer and better for you and the environment than bleaches etc.

http://www.teraganix.com/Flood-Damage-Solutions-s/268.htm
Jason Long


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
Buy 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide and dilute it to the proper ratio. This works really well and is a lot better than bleach.


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Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Keep in mind that 35% H[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]2[/sub] will eat a hole right through your hand.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3094
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
Brenda Groth wrote:
hubby put 17 cord of firewood up damp in our woodshed and then he proceeded to seal off the cracks (big mistake) we got a lot of mildew and fungii..we will be spraying down the walls when we can get to them..still a lot of wood in there but likely in the spring..also opening up the cracks he sealed so it can get ventillation..

i planned on using bleach/water..but may try the borax..should I mix it with water to spray (bare wood ceilings and walls of woodshed)? do you know what ratio


borax is also used in homemade flame retardant recipes.  probably not a good choice for killing mold on firewood.


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travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
It rained for about a week straight, a long time for here, and a bunch of mold, I think, appeared on my bedroom ceiling, in the corners of where the beams meet the tongue in groove. I'm trying to think of how to deal with this without having to move a bunch of furniture from out below...


update:
I scrubbed 5/6ths of the ceiling with a toothbrush and vinegar. I can't reach the highest part of the ceiling. I still kind of want to get some borax up there. Will borax remove wood stain?
                    


Joined: Sep 09, 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Bainbridge, Wa
Heya, terrible events, vents didnt get finished on a greenhouse, now that is has rained for a few days and has seed trays, a couple started to mold, I have evacted but want to be 100% sure by spraying grapefruit seed extract on tables, trays,

my question is wdo you think I can spray a formula of grapefruit seed extract mist on mold seedtrays, or will the gse hurt seedlings, and  not completely eliminate mold issues?

Thanks for your time,


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Pat Black


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
Sorry I have no experience with grapefruit seed extract. I use hydrogen peroxide to knock down mold on seedlings.
maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
Ruso wrote:
Heya, terrible events, vents didnt get finished on a greenhouse, now that is has rained for a few days and has seed trays, a couple started to mold, I have evacted but want to be 100% sure by spraying grapefruit seed extract on tables, trays,

my question is wdo you think I can spray a formula of grapefruit seed extract mist on mold seedtrays, or will the gse hurt seedlings, and  not completely eliminate mold issues?

Thanks for your time,


Chamomile tea will help prevent damping and die off. Does not hurt seedlings. I have used it often when sprouting and have concerns. It is anti-fungal and gentle, seems to increase seedling vigor.


.
Haru Yasumi


Joined: Apr 29, 2010
Posts: 102
Equisetum (Horsetail) extract can also be made which is supposed to be anti-fungal and help your seed flats cope.


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Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
IR-radiators (not the ones with a lamp) dry walls and dry walls repell water therefore stop mold from forming.

English Wikipedia doesn't have them listed under IR-Heating, German Wikipedia has them. They are quite a new technology. They look like panels. You can hang them up at the ceiling. They don't heat the air but surfaces and bodys through IR-Radiation like the sun.


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Joined: Mar 22, 2010
Posts: 31
Bleach does NOT kill mold it only bleaches it so it isn't visible.
This is a recipe my daughter uses and I rinse my shower with a bit of vinegar since I use it to also rinse my hair anyway, seems to keep the mold from starting.

3 parts water
1 part 35% hydrogen peroxide
(available at many pharmacies/drug stores)
1 cup boric acid for each one-half gallon of mixture
(water and hydrogen peroxide)
but i think i used the same amount of vinegar as hydrogen peroxide and no water
http://moldmart.net/boric-acid-instructions.htm

I've used salt in wheat paste recipes to stop mold also so could be worth adding a tablespoon or 2
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
Oh, this is a bummer about the borax. I make our laundry soap and it calls for borax, I was planning on saving that water and pouring it out on the plants but I guess that is a terrible idea. I've never seen a recipe that didn't call for it, what am I going to use now?..... 
                            


Joined: Mar 22, 2010
Posts: 31
Craftylittlemonkey:

Not sure why you are bummed about the borax,  unless your soil is super alkaline, it shouldn't be any problem at all.  Even here where ours is I still use grey water  and things grow just fine in the runoff from it.  And where the soil is acid it is excellent.
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
If borax is toxic do I want to be pouring it out on our plants? I don't know, doesn't sound like a fantastic idea...
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
The dose makes the toxin. More than anything the body needs additional Oxygen to survive. But you take oxygen at 10 atmospheres and you are dead pretty quick.
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
Well (sorry to veer off topic here guys) I have 2 kids so do a bit of laundry. I suppose if I were putting it in a different spot each time?
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
Here is a Google search on borax and toxicity, best to get more info on this topic -

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=borax+toxicity+and+laundry+soap&cp=31&qe=Ym9yYXggdG94aWNpdHkgYW5kIGxhdW5kcnkgc29hcA&qesig=N4jql8CHP_xH5WfIx90U_A&pkc=AFgZ2tnUIR7zedNwhRlOrPk1au-8C4qLXtecxfXJs5eTAIGsAYiQ8H1MiwvQXYN3_SzQfKzt9MpathhWoLnlc5s1_jwBN9y4xg&pf=p&sclient=psy&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=borax+toxicity+and+laundry+soap&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=7baa05c8a727054d

Fred Winsol


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
Preventing mildew is the only way to go in my book, that's sustainable + beyond organic... Like most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The Tropics and Marine industry are the leaders in this area.  Both use an incandescent light bulb in a small confined space to provide dry heat and light - which mildew doesn't like.  But that's an energy waster... and there's something about a light bulb being on 24/7 that doesn't sit well with me (personal bias).

So I'm thinking of taking a page from the 'archival storage' industry that has the best peer reviewed science in this area.  The problem is most cases is the outdoor (and indoor) humidity.  Archives take outdoor air, heat it up and then recool it and they can control the moisture to the nth degree. 

solar hot water collectors use the infrared spectrum of the sun to heat water.  i wonder if there's a way to tap into this phenom to heat the air, extract the moisture, and then let it cool through an insulated pipe (tilted... to let any moisture sink to the bottom).

Any insights into this or other ideas?

Life is too important to take seriously.
Sergio Santoro


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 238
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
One note of caution: the sources about natural cleaners for the house say that hydrogen peroxide and vinegar should be applied always separately, one after the other, but never mixed, or they become something nasty.

I have 50% hydrogen peroxide, and although I am VERY careful when I handle it, if I get lightly splashed or touched by it, it will just discolor my skin temporarily, but never made a hole in it.


Writing from Madhuvan, a yoga retreat/organic farm on the West Coast of Costa Rica.
Dj Guthrie


Joined: Nov 22, 2011
Posts: 2
Tea Tree Oil is highly effective against mold and mildew. In fact, there is evidence that it has a preventative effect from future mold growth. I had a mold problem a while back and I researched (Google, mostly) on what I should do. I found that a tea tree solution can be made by diluting the oil and putting in a spray bottle. Then, spray away at the mold. Wait a day or two and wipe it away, I did some further research to see if tea tree oil really is effective or if its was just another wive's tale. I did find at least several peer reviewed articles/studies on the efficacy of tea tree oil and thyme oil against mold, (Google Scholar). Needless to say it does work and it worked for me. And hey I love the smell too!
 
 
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