The 5 Best Natural Mold Killers Of 2022 For A More Eco-Friendly Approach

October 25, 2022

While we may not be considering it in our day-to-day lives, mold is everywhere. Researchers have identified over 100,000 species of mold so far, and we're routinely exposed to hundreds of them as we go about our daily lives. Mold is ever-present in nature and in the air we breathe, so it inevitably finds its way into our homes. Luckily, the best natural mold killers can help remove existing mold and prevent more from growing.

Many people believe that, unless they have a water intrusion in the home, they won't have to worry about mold—when, in fact, it requires very little water for mold to grow. Studies estimate that 30 to 50% of all structures have damp conditions optimal for the growth and buildup of biological pollutants, such as mold. In warm, moist climates, this percentage is likely to be higher. In other words, there are a few unsuspecting places mold could be hiding in your home.

According to certified mold mitigation expert and host of The Toxic Mold Podcast Steve Worsley, there's no such thing as a "mold-proof" home. Mold and mildew sightings are common between shower tiles, on the caulking around the bathtub, and under the kitchen sink. We've all tried to tackle these stains with bleach, but just how effective is that? And surely there are less toxic ways to spot-treat mold.

Read on to explore how to best control mold growth and to find our picks for the best natural mold killers.

First things first.

When it comes to a small, one-off case of mold on a nonporous surface (porcelain, glass, etc.), you can pretty easily treat the mold without much cause for concern. But for more extensive contamination (including mold growth on porous surfaces such as drywall and grout, you will need to seek help from a professional to ensure a safe and thorough removal. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you hire an expert for any mold growth that covers an area larger than 10 square feet.

According to Lauren Tessier, a naturopathic physician specializing in mold-related illnesses, there's a distinction to be made between 'killing' mold and 'removing' it. "When people think of remediation, or cleaning of moldy spaces, they often think of simply killing the mold or fungus," explains Tessier. "When remediating, it is more important to focus on the concept of physically removing the mold, and the moldy contents from the space, rather than just simply killing it."

If you're using a fungicide, there may be instances in which the mold (and spores) survive the fungicide. "Stressing a mold by applying a fungicide can cause it to initiate its natural defenses," says Tessier. These defenses, depending on the species, could be poisonous mycotoxins released as spores into the air.

And when you do successfully kill mold, it's crucial to remove all traces of the mold thereafter. "Dead mold is dangerous mold," says Tessier. "Any mold fragments that are left behind after fungicide use can harbor mycotoxins, which can result in local irritation and even severe allergies," she adds.

How to prevent mold from growing in the first place.

The most ideal solution to mold is not having any, right? On his podcast, Worsley is quick to highlight moisture as the most destructive home offender and says that the key to controlling mold is controlling moisture. If the humidity level is above 50% and you have organic debris as a food source (dust, dirt, etc.), mold is likely to grow. So, a good place to start is by monitoring humidity levels in your home.

Because we know mold can release spores into the air, an air purifier can be a wise investment to help enhance air quality by destroying pollutants such as bacteria, mold spores, and volatile organic compounds through a process of oxidation.

Can bleach actually kill mold?

While bleach does a great job of killing live molds, according to Tessier, it leaves behind two things that can serve as a wonderful growth medium for future molds: dead mold fragments and water. "Many people don't realize that once the active chemical in bleach (chlorine) evaporates, you are left with water, which is integral to mold's growth and survival," she explains.

So, while bleach can be a great fungicide for nonporous surfaces, it is not a good fungicide for porous surfaces because they can't be rinsed, scrubbed, and thoroughly dried. Instead, these surfaces can trap the mold fragments and water, possibly harboring ideal growing conditions for the next round of mold. Tessier stresses that if someone uses bleach to clean mold, that person could be on the receiving end of a double dose of toxicity, through exposure to mycotoxins and toxic chlorine.

How to find the best natural mold solutions.

When seeking a more natural solution for ridding your home of mold, many people favor a thyme-based fungicide, with studies demonstrating its effectiveness in suppressing mold growth in damp dwellings. However, Tessier cautions that these can be irritating to mucous membranes and can pose a risk to people who are chemically sensitive. It's important to remember that, while better for the environment, natural products do not always ensure safety.

Other antifungal agents, including vinegar and tea tree oil, have shown promise in combating mold.

Studies have indicated that vinegar (4.0% to 4.2% acetic acid) inhibited the growth and sporulation of one species but not the other, while tea tree oil was shown to inhibit the growth of both species. This raises the question: Could a 10% acetic acid be that much more effective? While it seems logical, there is insufficient evidence to prove it.

Tessier prefers the use of hydrogen peroxide (3% acetic acid) for its ability to kill mold without the toxic risk imposed by chlorine exposure. Hydrogen peroxide also bubbles when it is put into contact with living substances, which helps let you know it's doing its job. The downfall, according to Tessier, is that spores can still survive peroxide application, and it does leave behind water and mold fragments (similar to bleach).

Per Tessier, a growing body of research suggests that a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide, applied over a longer period of time, can potentially induce more fungicidal activity. However, there are some molds/fungi that are more susceptible to this (and other) fungicidal interventions.

Original Article: The 5 Best Natural Mold Killers Of 2022 For A More Eco-Friendly Approach 

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