A proliferation of mold and mildew around the house is often the hallmark of extremely hot and humid summers. This not only looks (and smells!) unpleasant, it can be dangerous to human health. Installing dehumidifiers helps to control the problem. In addition, there are many natural materials that can be used in spray form to kill mold and mildew. They are all excellent substitutes for bleach, which is much less environmentally safe.
Rid your home of mold and mildew using non-toxic and affordable ingredients that eliminate any need for a scrub brush.
Tea Tree Oil
According to Annie B. Bond, the renowned expert on green living, tea tree oil (an essential oil you can find in most health food stores) is the best natural solution for mold and mildew. Disadvantages of this broad-spectrum fungicide are its high cost and strong smell. (However, the odor usually dissipates within a few days.)
Use the following recipe on moldy ceilings, musty bureau drawers, less-than-fresh rugs, or mildewy showers:
Combine 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. Makes about 2 cups and lasts indefinitely.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is also expensive yet effective, but unlike tea tree oil, it is odorless. Use similarly to tea tree oil: Create a spray by combining 20 drops grapefruit seed extract with 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas and do not rinse. This makes about 2 cups, and lasts indefinitely.
Vinegar is by far the cheapest natural mold and mildew remedy. Undiluted 5 percent white vinegar reportedly kills 90 percent of mold. Pour white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing. Don’t worry about the strong smell -- it will dissipate in a few hours.
Use vinegar as a laundry pretreatment. For light stains, dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.
Baking Soda with Vinegar
Just because your plastic shower curtain or liner gets dirty or mildewed doesn't mean you have to throw it away. Try cleaning it in your washing machine with two bath towels on the gentle setting, adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your detergent during the wash cycle and 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle. Then let it drip-dry.
A bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide can also work wonders to clean mold and mildew. Pour undiluted peroxide directly on the offending area and wipe it clean.
Lemon Juice and Salt
When garments are stained with mildew, make a paste of lemon juice and salt and rub it on the affected area, then dry the clothes in sunlight. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. This works well for rust stains on clothes too.
This article is based on research by Annie B. Bond. Learn more about green home care.