Mold and mildew are commonly found anywhere that maintains a high concentration of moisture for extended periods. Basements, bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor storage are frequent hosts to mold and mildew. Plumbing- or roof-leak locations are also areas to find mold and mildew.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are microorganisms akin to fungi. They feed on moisture and damp conditions. Mold is everywhere, both indoors and out. Some molds perform very important functions, but indoor mold typically is more harmful than beneficial. Though the negative health effects of mold are far from settled, researchers recognize that mold and mildew, and the spores produced by them, cause problems for allergy sufferers and people with asthma.
Vinegar is one of the natural biocides used to kill bacteria and microorganisms, along with salt and citrus oil. Vinegar, as purchased on the store shelf, is a diluted version of acetic acid at a 5 percent concentration. According to Gina Marino, the microbiologist for Good Housekeeping magazine, vinegar reduces mold by 90 percent and has a 99.9 percent kill rate on bacteria. It is safe to drink and its strong smell disappears after it has dried. It works on porous surfaces such as grout, as well as on nonporous surfaces.
Using vinegar to clean mold or mildew is very simple. Wipe a cloth wet with undiluted white vinegar straight from the bottle over surfaces or spray them with the same vinegar and leave it to soak in before wiping with a clean cloth. It is important to use a clean cloth both before and after cleaning moldy areas so that the mold does not spread. However, vinegar or any other mold killer will not keep mold away unless the long-term damp conditions that caused the mold or mildew to occur are corrected.
Vinegar can also be used to clean mold off heavy-duty leather goods such as horse tack. Wiping the tack down with a cloth soaked in white vinegar mixed with water and letting it dry thoroughly out in the open removes and kills the mold and mildew. A follow-up with a leather conditioner that contains a mold inhibitor will return the tack's suppleness.
Vinegar is an effective natural mold and mildew killer, but chlorine bleach is one of the most commonly used agents. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends against bleach because it is only effective in killing surface mold, and does not affect the root system of the organism. This means that the mold will keep coming back. Chlorine bleach is very harsh, especially when used in tight spaces, and the fumes can exacerbate the problems of asthma and allergy sufferers. It causes respiratory and eye irritations even in those without asthma and allergies. Chlorine bleach that is not properly disposed of can also pose an environmental risk.