The oddly-warm weather here in Northern Indiana (it was 67’F today!) reminded me of this great post that Cassandra sent me about natural and SAFE ways to take care of mold and mildew…everyone’s favorite, I know! Here is her experience with some great tips and resources at the bottom!
One of my favorite things about living in Scotland is its state of perpetual Autumn. Sharing it’s latitude with the southern regions of Alaska, and the Gulf Stream that covers the rest of England and the UK, Edinburgh is the quintessential picture of Fall… with the exception of the seemingly constant rain.
Such deluges from the sky truly are a mainstay here in Scotland. With measurable rainfall occurring 175-250 days a year, the moisture and humidity combined with the pristine fall-esque climate, mold is nothing more than a permanent fixture here in Edinburgh. And despite how common it is, mold is certainly no laughing matter. Mold can be especially harmful for individuals with asthma and/or allergies.
When we first moved to Scotland, we were designated a small, two bedroom family flat located on the basement level of one of the University Accommodations. After taking one quick look around, we promptly corralled our ten-month-old daughter into the safest corner of the flat we could find, and proceeded to spend the next 36 hours scrubbing every nook and cranny from the ground up. We tried one cleaning product after another to no avail, all the while resenting the fact that we were using chemicals that we knew to be unsafe for not only us, but especially for our young daughter. Not to mention that we were literally scrubbing the paint off of the walls in our zeal to make the space what we considered to be ‘safe’.
At the end of the day, we wondered which was worse, the toxic film left by all of the cleaning materials, the questionable paint residue which may or may not have lead contents, or the mold that we feared would grow back in a matter of days.
One month later, we moved to another flat; this one clearly more suited for a family, and much better maintained. With a sigh of relief, we thought we were out of the proverbial woods and in the clear in terms of mold and mildew – until we walked into the bathroom…
The caulking on all of the bathroom fixtures had started to decay as a result of the mold that was growing, and the pipes under the sink had begun to turn green with mildew. Once again, we opened every window we could find, kept our daughter out of reach and began to pour on the cleaners. Every two or three days, I would scrub every inch of the bathroom, as well as scrubbing the tub before every bath night for our daughter, practically pinning her hands down so that she wouldn’t touch anything.
What we would soon find out from the accommodations manager, was that the rubber stopping around the bathtub and sink was replaced at least twice a year due to mold, regardless of what was done in terms of cleaning.
That settled it.
If we were going to have mold one way or another, I was not about to continue exposing my family or myself to countless chemicals.
My husband and I had already agreed that we wanted to start using more natural, non-toxic cleaning supplies. However, not knowing where we would be living for any given length of time, we had decided to wait to establish our ‘pantry’ of cleaners, so to speak. At that point, we decided that whether we are here for one month or fifty years, the safety of our family and anyone who comes into our home for that matter, is worth the investment. After a good bit of research, we decided on a combination of tea tree oil, essential oils and organic castile soap.
Anyone who has used essential oils as cleaners or antifungals will most likely know where I’m going with this. One bout of cleaning, and things that would not come up after numerous scrubbings were literally dripping off of the mop boards and pipes. I have not only been amazed at how well the essential oils clean, but have felt so much better about using them around my family. While this might seem like a shameless plug for getting back to the basics, believe me when I say it’s more about safety than anything else. As a PICU Nurse, I’ve seen one too many accidental exposures to toxic chemicals, making natural, safer cleaning supplies that much more appealing.
What we use:
15 drops of tea tree oil
15 drops lavender essential oil (we chose lavender rather than lemon grass simply based on scent preference)
A small amount of organic lavender castile soap
2 cups of water
*Note: We purchased 100ml bottles each of tea tree and lavender essential oils. According to the recipes above, this allows for approximately 81 batches of cleaning solution. Averaging about $13 (8 pounds in the UK) per 100ml bottle each of lavender and tea tree oil, as well as for a 16fl oz bottle of castile soap, means each batch of multipurpose cleaner costs approximately $0.50 to make.
In addition to treating mold, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent mold from occurring.
*Allow for as much ventilation as possible
*Avoid damp, humid conditions within the home; particularly in closed areas such as closets, bathrooms and kitchens
*Wipe down showers after use
*Maintain a warmer temperature indoors if possible. This helps reduce the moisture by ambient drying
There are many great resources out there if you’re interested in doing a bit of research for yourself. For starters, see the links below with helpful data sheets as well as additional natural cleaning solutions and accompanying measurements. This is one of the simplest things we’ve done in an attempt to provide a safer, healthier environment for our family, and we couldn’t be happier with how well it has worked for us- even here along the Eastern shores of Scotland!
What is your favorite homemade cleaning product?
This post was linked to Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Your Green Resource at Live Renewed, Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade, Fresh Bites at Real Food Whole Health, Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist, The Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, The Sunday School Blog Carnival at Butter Believer, Seasonal Celebrations at Natural Mothers Network, Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking Traditional Food, Simple Living Wednesday at Our Simple Farm, Women Living Well Wednesday at Women Living Well, Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable