In the tropics, when there are small water leaks that are not fully resolved and a house is left closed for a few months, bad things happen! In our case these things involve mold of every color and in large quantities.
We knew there were problems before we arrived and others had tried to deal with them as best they could. Unfortunately there is no mold abatement team to call where we live so short of ripping out the kitchen and bathroom I was it. I knew that bleach had not seemed to work in stemming the growth so I researched a bit.
Here is what I learned:
- Bleach is great for solid, non-porous surfaces like tile, glass and enameled metal. It is not only ineffective, but counter-productive on porous surfaces because it can’t get into these materials (in my case wood and concrete) and so only kills the fungus on the surface but leaves behind the fungus in the material. In time the left behind fungus actually thrives in the presence of bleach. More research to see how that can be true is needed – I see a Biology student project here!
- Vinegar is effective in entering porous surfaces and it kills fungi within them. So do borax and hydrogen peroxide. I had vinegar and it is cheap and readily available. I obtained some hydrogen peroxide and borax to use in the final stages of mold destruction.
- Removing mold is a messy, smelly and tiring job. I should have known that – I guess I did but kept hoping it would not be so bad. Mold loves the underside of the countertops inside the cupboard. This means you get to crawl inside. 🙁
- After all this work make sure the plumbing is COMPLETELY fixed.
- My Norwex Envirocloth (and yes this is a plug for them) was a workhorse and really did make the job bearable and keep me from having too much mold floating about. It really did “pull” mold from the surface.
And I also learned that my body is not too keen on breathing in vinegar mist – so I will skip the oil and vinegar dressing on my salad. Please pass the Ranch!