Bleach Vs Hydrogen Peroxide for Cleaning Mold
Bleach Vs Hydrogen Peroxide for Cleaning Mold
Although minor mold spots are easy enough to wipe away while cleaning, the mold often returns quickly. While you might think to reach for the disinfectant spray or prepare a bucket of bleach to douse the area to kill it once and for all, these are not the best solutions for fixing a mold issue. These disinfectants are named for their ability to dis-infect, or kill, microbes and while that may sound good, in many cases this can actually make a mold problem worse!
If you look underneath the sink of an average home, you’re most likely going to find a variety of disinfectants, including bleach. Bleach is often a go-to remedy for stubborn stains and is used for making areas of the kitchen and bathroom sanitized and clean, but have you ever wondered why? The most common kind of bleach is chlorine bleach, a water-based solution containing sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Bleach removes stains from fabrics and non-porous surfaces by oxidizing and breaking down networks of double bonds between the carbon atoms making up the discoloration, removing the stain’s ability to absorb light. So the bleach doesn’t really neutralize and break down the matter creating the stain completely, just the bonds that make it visible to the human eye!
Downsides of Using Bleach
When you apply bleach to mold or mildew on tile grout, for example, it’s killing what’s on the surface and lightening the stain that the mold growth has caused, which makes it look as though it’s gone. But, that’s not the whole picture.
Bleach only works well on non-porous surfaces, and isn’t effective on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall or tile grout. While it may be effective at killing mold on the surface, the chlorine is unable to penetrate into the surface, so is either left on the surface or evaporates into the air of your home. Meanwhile, some of the water does seep into the surface and provides moisture to help the surviving mold grow back. And it does, more quickly each time it seems! If that wasn’t bad enough, you’ve now added harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home as well.
Another reason to not use bleach to clean mold is even if the actively growing mold is killed, many of the health effects of mold are actually due to their byproducts, called mycotoxins, which bleach doesn’t affect. Bleach is also highly irritating to use, and should only be used with personal protective gear such as eye protection, a mask, and gloves, as well as good ventilation. For these reasons, we definitely recommend against using bleach to clean mold.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Better?
You may be more used to seeing a familiar brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your first aid kit than in your cleaning supplies, but it’s actually a very handy product to use for home cleaning! Hydrogen peroxide is often referred to as an oxygen bleach, because it acts as an oxidizer, chemically attacking the cell wall of bacteria, often rupturing it entirely. The oxidizing function when cleaning with hydrogen oxide means that it works similarly to chlorine bleach in killing microbes and eliminating stains, but without leaving toxic residues behind which pollute the air in your home – hydrogen peroxide leaves only water and oxygen as its byproducts.
Regular 3% hydrogen peroxide is effective at killing surface mold, and only needs to be sprayed on and left for 10 minutes or until it stops fizzing. Repeat as necessary until the visible mold is gone, taking care to not over-wet the surface.
Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with other cleaning products, including natural ones. There have been many “DIY Cleaner” articles posted online which recommend mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, but this reduces the effectiveness of either the hydrogen peroxide or vinegar compared to when used alone, and it also creates peracetic acid which potentially toxic and irritates skin, eyes, and lungs.
I’ve Cleaned the Mold, Now What?
Regardless of what product you use to clean a surface, if the surface is left bare it will quickly be repopulated. If nothing is done, either sub-surface mold will grow back, or perhaps a harmful bacteria lurking in your kitchen or bathroom will move in. The solution is to reintroduce friendly bacteria from healthy soil, which naturally balance out these unwanted guests. When cleaning your home, and especially when cleaning mold growth, applying Homebiotic immediately afterwards will help keep these surfaces stay clean at a microscopic level. Homebiotic is colorless and scent-free, so you won’t even notice it’s there. It just forms a probiotic barrier for your home… naturally.