The bathroom in my new apartment has a rather common problem found in older buildings: mold. Sometimes it can be a battle to kill mold naturally without resorting to toxic products.
Built in the 1940’s, designing the bathroom to be efficiently ventilated when bathing was not high on the builder’s list, leaving a tiny window that struggles to open even using all my might. No fan and no air circulation leads to mold and mildew growing in and around the tile grout in the shower.
Typically, the first thing someone does when facing a mold problem is head to the store to buy bleach. It’s a sure-fire way of killing mold spores and making your bathroom sparkling “clean” again. However, bleach is toxic for people and the planet and while it certainly gets rid of the mold, what’s the point of eliminating one toxin with another? Bleach releases dioxin, furans and other organochlorines into the air and studies have shown a relationship between dioxin exposure and cancer, birth defects, and developmental/reproductive disorders. It kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning the bathroom in the first place. There will be bad mold cases when bleach is your only choice to initially remove the problem, but if you find it necessary to use it, please use caution. Wear gloves, protect your eyes, and open any windows to ventilate the space. That all being said, I say you should still avoid it if possible. Ammonia is also said to kill mold, but I don’t like using that either.
So if we shouldn’t use bleach, what can we use without potentially hurting ourselves in the process? Luckily, there are a few ingredients that are safer and that are a decent way to kill mold without the toxicity of bleach. Let’s take a look at each.
Expensive, but it works. Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia. It can be found at most natural food stores and for a little less money at Amazon.com. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic qualities and has also been shown to help with skin and acne issues. Combine 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil per cup of water in a spray bottle and you have an efficient way to kill mold naturally. Spray it right on the mold, let it sit for a few, and wipe it down if necessary. Letting it sit and not wiping it off could help inhibit new growth. Not only will it kill mold, but it makes your bathroom smell pretty good too.
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