Mildew might seem like a minor issue when it comes to cleaning your environment, as it is often not as visibly obvious as other forms of dirt, but it can become destructive and dangerous. In a building, it can cause loose flooring, installation problems, and make wood swell and warp, which results in a weakened home or other building structure. It can also result in serious health issues: apart from triggering reactions such as nasal congestion and skin irritations, it can place those with any weakened lung condition at greater risk.
Depending on what kind of flooring your home or office environment has, there are different products and treatments that can effectively remove mildew and prevent repeated future growth of this fungus.
If you are dealing with a surface mould, use a rag and a mixture of vinegar, soap and water to wipe it away. Then rinse with water and dry. As long as it hasn’t penetrated the finish, you can also kill it by washing it with a solution of chlorine bleach or a non-water-based hardwood floor cleaner.
Sometimes what looks like black discolouration on the surface can actually be a discolouration of the grain of the wood itself. In this case, the solution is not as easy and will involve stripping the finish and bleaching the wood or replacing the affected boards. Clean and thoroughly dry the surface of the floor. Use a hand sander to remove the finish from the affected area. Apply the chlorine bleach to kill the mould. Neutralize the bleach with a solution of one cup of baking soda per gallon of water. Rinse with plain water and dry thoroughly. If you find that black water spots still remain, you can treat those areas with a saturated solution of oxalic acid crystals and water. As you did before, you must always neutralize, then rinse, then dry.
If only one manageable area of your carpet is affected, you can pour a vinegar and warm water solution into a spray bottle before applying it to the spot. This means you don’t soak too many carpet fibres unnecessarily, as you could then be causing the risk of new mildew deposits. Then pour a generous amount of baking soda onto the treated spot. When it has drawn up and absorbed all the moisture, vacuum it up.
If a large area of your carpet has mould, use a mixture of Lyssol and water or bleach and water in your carpet cleaning machine to effectively kill the mould. Use approximately one cup of Lysol or bleach to a bucket of water. Spray the solution onto the carpet and let it soak down for about 20 minutes. After that, vacuum the area thoroughly.
A warning here: bleach is commonly known to be able to kill mould and mould spores because of the active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, which is the main ingredient in most mould-removal products, but if inexpertly applied, it can simply remove the colour from the affected area, leaving the mould still present, but merely invisible.
To remove the unpleasant, mouldy smell from your carpet, you can purchase a foam carpet shampoo, apply it to the affected areas with a sponge, and leave it to dry for 20 minutes before vacuuming.
Products such as bleach, ammonia or peroxide should not be used on linoleum flooring. Although it is very durable, it is a natural-based product made from linseed oil, pine resin, pigments and other ingredients. Clean off any surface dirt as usual, and then use safe products, such as vinegar and baking powder, on the area containing mildew. Use your vinegar solution first, and then sprinkle a light layer of baking powder over the problematic spot.
For concrete and asphalt, baking powder is also the best solution, as it creates an alkaline surface and mildews will not attach themselves to high PH surfaces.
Other affected areas
In any area where there is moisture, mildew is inclined to grow. Because baking powder is considered a gentle household cleaner and does not give off toxic fumes, it is always best to make it your preferred option. Use it as it is, or turn it into a paste which you can apply to any surface with mildew, like bathroom tiles or mirrors. Vinegar is equally safe and is often used in addition to baking powder because it kills a different species of mould. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used on most surfaces, such as fixtures, walls and appliances. You will need a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution which you spray onto the mould infestation. Again, be warned that it can bleach some surfaces.
Mildew will stubbornly recur if it is not treated thoroughly – it is best to hire a cleaning company with a good reputation and the requisite skills to do the job if you don’t have the patience, equipment, stamina, time or know-how to attend to it properly yourself. If you do tackle it yourself, take these final tips to heart:
- To cover or mask the astringent smell of the bleach, ammonia, peroxide or vinegar you are using, add a few drops of essential oils to the mixture to create a pleasant scent.
- Make sure that you keep the treated area ventilated, or use a dehumidifier, to help prevent future mildew growth.
CS Cleaning Solutions takes pride in offering our customers an accredited, professional and client-centric service that involves revolutionary new technology, green certified (US Standard) products, and meticulous attention to hygiene detail. Our approach to cleaning strives to uphold high-quality standards that are affordable, environment-friendly, quick and long-lasting. Added to our considerable experience in the cleaning industry, including both offices and hospitality establishments, we bring an awareness that the wellness of employees and guests is essential to healthy morale, a trustworthy reputation and the efficient level of productivity that creates and maintains a successful company.
Find out more by visiting us at www.cscleaningsolutions.co.za