Mold isn't a pretty thing. It can be insidious, creeping in the dampness behind your walls or in your ductwork, or it can be obvious, showing up in exposed areas prone to moisture. It can be black or green, slimy or fluffy. The fluffy kind is actually mildew, an outgrowth of mold, but it's still a pest to deal with. Have a professional treat behind-the-wall or ductwork mold, but you can remediate the source of visible mold yourself. Prevent its recurrence by treating the mold accumulation with non-toxic home remedies -- white vinegar or baking soda.
The Vinegar Treatment
Don't spend your money on store-bought mold removers --- they'll just add more toxins to your air. Instead, buy a large jug of plain white vinegar. Its antimicrobial properties are the enemy of mold, and it kills 82 percent of mold species. Vinegar is highly acidic, about 2.5 on the pH scale, and it breaks up the molecular structure of the mold, making it an effective mold-eliminator.
Use rubber gloves if your skin is sensitive to mold and a mask if your respiratory system reacts to even the smallest amount of mold. Fill the spray bottle with undiluted vinegar and spritz away, covering the mold spots entirely. Let the mold absorb the vinegar for an hour, and then wipe the vinegar and mold away using clean water and the cloth. When you're finished, wash the cotton cloth in the sink, again using vinegar, and dry it in the sun. Don't fret over the vinegar smell that lingers where the mold was; it'll disappear, along with the mold.
If the vinegar odor is offensive, add a few drops of tea tree oil to the vinegar before spraying. You're doubling your attack, since the essential oil also has anti-fungal properties.
The Baking Soda Solution
You've probably used baking soda in your refrigerator to control odors; it's an effective deodorant as well as a strong moisture remover. The minerals in the powdered baking soda are non-toxic, making it safe for sensitive adults, children and even pets.
Fill the first spray bottle with the baking soda and top it off with water. Give it a good shake until all the powder is dissolved. Spray the solution onto the mold and then use the sponge or scrub brush to agitate and loosen it. Fill the second bottle with water and rinse the mold spots. Wipe the area clean of the mold. Give the same area one last spritz with the baking soda mixture and let it dry. The baking soda absorbs any additional or leftover mold and prevents it from recurring. Wash the cloth and sponge or scrub brush in a sink of water and baking soda and let them dry in the sun.
An alternative method to use with baking soda is to mix it with a small amount of water until you form a paste. Work the paste into the moldy areas using a scrub brush or a sponge and let it dry. Rinse the leftover dried baking soda powder with plain vinegar.
Keep a spray bottle of water and vinegar in the shower stall and give the walls and grout a good spray after every shower.
Fresh air and sunlight are natural mold preventatives. Air your bathroom out frequently, if possible. Dry moldy items after cleaning them in the sunshine.
Old Wives' Tales
Do not mix vinegar and bleach to kill mold. Bleach doesn't kill mold; only an anti-microbial will. Bleach removes stains, and takes away the surface mold temporarily, but the microflora that is mold remains, and most likely will return.