There are many types of household mould the most common are Aspergillus, Penicillium and Cladosporium. These species produce white, green, olive green, brown and black colonies.
Moulds are everywhere; when the conditions are right, mould will grow. The level at which mould is a problem depends on a few things: the type of mould, the amount of mould and a person’s sensitivity and any underlying health conditions.
Some moulds may trigger allergic reactions (for instance asthma or hay fever) when spores are inhaled (often caused through direct handling of mouldy materials) or through accidental ingestion. Others cause more serious health effects, such as fevers and breathing problems in people who are immuno-compromised or suffer from respiratory diseases. Stachybotrys is known as ‘toxic black mould’ which can cause allergic reactions; it has a slimy texture. This type of mould requires removal and treatment by professionals when it is found in household walls, carpet etc. If you have been exposed to Stachybotrys you may experience burning sensations in your airways, a tightening in the chest, persistent cough, nose bleeds, fever and painful headaches.
Most moulds which are found in the shower, on clothing or on fabrics do not pose a health concern. They can easily be killed and their stains removed. Mould regrows because spores are everywhere, and on surfaces such as grout, their feet (hyphae) hook into the pores or the surface and remain.
It is a myth that chlorine bleach only discolours mould. At the right concentration, it will eliminate mould as well as remove any remaining stains.
Mould removal process
The two most effective methods to destroy mould are:
- Chlorine bleach (Sodium hypochlorite) is effective against both mould and mould spores. The concentration required depends on the type of mould and the amount present. It is inexpensive, readily available and environmentally friendly. See our information on Chlorine bleach to learn more.
- A 90/95°C front loader machine cycle is not suitable for items with elastics or PUL, including covers, AIOs or nappies with elastics.
See the Sanitise instructions for information on how to eliminate mould safely and effectively.
To remove any remaining stains after the Sanitise process on non colourfast items or PUL, use a laundry booster product such as Vanish. Follow the instructions listed on the packaging. Do not apply Vanish or any gel or liquid stain removers directly to PUL as it may delaminate it.
Vinegar and mould removal
4.2% acetic acid is effective against one type of mould, Penicillium chrysogenum, but it has a pH of 2, which is very acidic. This low pH is damaging to fabrics, therefore it is not recommended for use because it would need to be used undiluted. See this page for more information about Vinegar.
Clove oil and mould removal
Clove oil or cinnamon oil are only effective against mould at 250ppm. This information is not labelled, so there is no way to tell what the concentration of the active components (cinnamic aldehyde and/or eugenol) are. Therefore, there is no way to ensure that the oil will be effective.
- Department of Health South Australia, Mould in the house <https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/public+health/living+conditions+and+sanitation/household+mould/mould+in+the+house>.
- L Bullerman, F Lieu and S Seier, Inhibition of growth and aflatoxin production by by cinnamon and clove oils cinnamic aldehyde and eugenol <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1977.tb12677.x>.
- S Prabuseenivasan, M Jayakumar, and S Ignacimuthu, In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693916/>.
- K Reynolds, S Boone, K Bright, C Gerba, Occurrence of household mold and efficacy of sodium hypochlorite disinfectant <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23016564/>.