Cleaning Mildew on Various Surfaces
First, there was nuclear waste, then came contaminated ground water. Polluted streams, rivers with fewer fish and oceans laden with oil slicks followed. You would think that the moment that you walked thorough your front door of your home that you would be safe and secure. Not! There’s radon, carbon monoxide gas and more. Inside pollutants can be almost as dangerous as any of the others that we just mentioned.
Mildew may seem like a docile organism to some, but to many mildew comes with a number of pretty serious consequences. An allergic reaction to mildew spores can result in an extended hospital visit. At best, mildew is a nuisance of the highest order. So, with that in mind, this week’s offering includes our “old stand-by formula” with a few new twists. But first a bit about where the black, fuzzy stuff comes from.
Mildew and mold spores are everywhere. And your home is a primary candidate as a perfect breeding ground. Condensation and humidity are the culprits. If you live in a humid area you are destined to have mildew whether you like it or not. That’s because humid air ends up causing damp surfaces and that is exactly where mildew loves to settle. In other climates where the relative humidity is lower there is still the chance for growth. Condensation can occur in the desert. Maybe not to the same extent as in the Florida Keys or in New Orleans, but condensation can occur anywhere. And where there is moisture in the air or on ceilings and walls – or even in walls and ceiling and below floors – mildew can (and usually does) settle in. Look out you sod busters, mildew is everywhere just waiting for enough humidity, condensation or puddled water to get-a-grow’n. Go ahead, leave the shower and don’t dry off the walls and see what grows there. Even if you do squeegee your shower every time you use it you may still end up having a visit from the “Mildew Fairy God Mother”.
Our advice is always the same. One can battle mildew by eliminating the feeding ground. Keep the house dry and mildew will simply not find a damp surface upon which to grow. You keep the house dry by circulating the air, by exhausting damp air (in bathrooms, at the stove and in the laundry, etc. – where ever water vapors appear) so that condensation can’t occur. Opening windows after a shower helps as well. In very humid areas a dehumidifier is a must. But, if you have a portable one be sure to empty the drain pan. Oh, and don’t forget the drain pans in your air conditioner and refrigerator. Also, keep in mind that swamp coolers work best in extremely arid locations. If you live in a warm humid climate and you have a swamp cooler you can count on having mildew and mold year round.
As promised here is our famous all purpose mildew cleaning formula followed by a couple of neat alternatives:
- For outdoor mildew removal mix a quart of liquid chlorine bleach and a third of a cup of powdered laundry detergent into three quarts of hot water. Stir until thoroughly mixed and place in a spray bottle.
- For counters, shower walls and for the bathroom in general use one and a half cups of bleach mixed with one gallon of water.
- For mildewed clothing – don’t you just hate it when that happens – use two tablespoons of bleach in one quart of water (or soapy water). We like the soapy water. Be sure the fabric is colorfast.
- On painted surfaces you can use the outdoor formula. However, you may have sensitive paint. If so, use one and a half cups of bleach and a third of a cup of powdered laundry detergent in a gallon of hot water.
For wood, plaster, plastic and metal surfaces – indoors or out – mix vinegar with borax. What a cleaner. Mix as much borax into the vinegar as you can. Keep mixing until the borax will no longer dissolve. Scrub this onto the surface and watch the clean get cleaner.
If you go to a janitorial supply store to get your spray bottle you will be in for a surprise. The bottles and sprayers are sold separately. It’s the same spray unit, except that with the shorter bottles the drawtube on the sprayer is cut shorter. The bottles in the janitorial supply store or a little bit sturdier than the ones you find at the grocer or at the hardware store. The big surprise is when the bottle is filled and you start squirting. It’s amazing. You can set a janitorial grade sprayer to hit a spot from across the room. Amazing!
Cleaning can be more fun when you know what works best. Our cleaning concoctions we have mentioned in this article can be made for about a tenth the cost of commercial mildew cleaners. Now, you can be mildew free and save money too! And, good luck!
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