White vinegar, essential oils and other common household items serve as natural alternatives to potentially hazardous mildew cleaners such as skin- and eye-irritating bleach, lye or lauramine oxide. Treat mildew early and often, because the slimy substance poses potential health problems such as respiratory complications and allergic reactions. To ward off commonly occurring mildew, work safe and earth-friendly cleaners into your normal housekeeping routine as a preventative measure.
Making a simple and eco-friendly mildew remover is as easy as filling a spray bottle with white vinegar, which even comes in organic varieties. This all-purpose household cleaner cuts through mildew thanks to its strong antimicrobial properties, which reduces the the presence of mold by about 90 percent. Spray the mildew down and allow the vinegar to penetrate for about 10 minutes, and then wipe it away with a damp cloth. Repeat if necessary.
Extracts and Oils
Natural tea tree oil, available at health food stores and essential oil suppliers, works as a mildew-busting, broad-spectrum fungicide. For extra mildew-fighting power, add tea tree oil to your vinegar spray, using about 20 drops of tea tree oil per cup of white vinegar. Alternatively, 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil diluted with a cup of clean water makes for a gentle cleaner with a pleasant scent. Use the spray-on, wipe-away technique for this mildew remover, just as you would when using vinegar.
For an odorless alternative to vinegar or tea tree oil sprays, 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract mixed with a cup of water does the trick. A paste of acidic lemon juice and rough sea salt serves as a mildew-removing abrasive scrub. Alcohol-heavy vodka, another multipurpose household cleaner, can be applied straight just like vinegar. Use a toothbrush rather than a cloth to wipe away stubborn mildew after treating it with the homemade cleaner of your choice.
In the fight against mildew, prevention -- a completely natural, nontoxic and hypoallergenic solution -- is your best weapon. Quickly address leaks and spills and other sources of moisture, and encourage plenty of fresh air and sunlight flow throughout your home, especially in moisture-prone areas. In particularly damp areas, use a dehumidifier to curb mold and mildew formation. Some commercially available mold-prevention sprays also rely on natural ingredients, such as mold-inhibiting Chitosan, a renewable resource made from recycled crab shells.
- Hearts: Green Recipes for Mold and Mildew Remover
- The Vinegar Institute: Frequently Asked Questions
- Organic Authority: Naturally Rid Your Home of Mold and Mildew
- Esquire: 10 Weird Uses for Vodka: Clean Away Mold
- Care2: Three Ways to Kill Mold Naturally
- CBS News: Forty Eight Hours: Heloise Hears a Hint
- Zep Clear Shell: About Clear Shell
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Mold Resources
- Good Housekeeping: Nine Cleaners You Can Make Yourself